Fun Fact Friday 3-19-2021

A Leaf-Strewn Carriage Road, Acadia National Park (Maine)

Ever heard of “mud season?” It’s a term used in northern climates and starts around the end of March, lasting through the beginning of May, more or less – it starts when the weather becomes warmer, snow and ice melt, and the rains begin. It can really, literally, muck up roads and trails, creating potholes, ruts, and exacerbating erosion of those roads and trails.

Right now, it’s the start of mud season at Acadia National Park, so park staff are closing the carriage roads until things dry up a bit. There’s even an article about this in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To read the article, click on the image above.

The image above was captured many years ago. I was telling my sister the other day that someday, when I actually feel like flying and cramming myself in with a jillion other coughing, sneezing, hacking people on a plane, I may take another autumn trip out to that national park. And while I’m there, stuff my face with as many lobster rolls as I possibly can. 😉

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Acadia National Park, Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography

Photography In The National Parks: Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Paddling the lake in the Whiskey Creek area, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (California)

The National Parks Traveler has (finally) published my article about my photographic visit to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, just 8 miles west of Redding, California. I’d made the visit last fall, during a time when smoke from the surrounding wildfires wreathed this park, which suffered its own wildfire back in 2018, devastating 97 percent of its 42,000 acres. Like a phoenix rising, this recreation area has rebuilt most of its infrastructure and there are signs of regrowth on the landscape, and people continue to visit and recreate here.

To read the article and see the photos, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Travel and Photography, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Careless Visitors Gain Arches National Park An Ignoble Designation

New Year’s Eve Morning At Turret Arch, Arches National Park (Utah)

The National Parks Traveler has run a number of articles about graffiti in the national park units. I even wrote an op-ed for the Traveler regarding graffiti, and one commenter rightly said that the people who really need to see the articles are not the ones who read the Traveler, or probably even anything else regarding behavior and the Leave No Trace Principles in national parks, except how to make lodging reservations or how many miles away it is from where they live.

So, I thought I’d write this post and embed the link to the latest article about Arches in the image above, captured back in 2017 – a year before I retired from my day job and moved up to central Washington.

To read the article, click on the image above.

To read other articles published in the Traveler about graffiti in national parks, click on this link.

Feel free to pass this post with its links on to others. The more people that understand it’s NOT ok to leave graffiti in a national park, or otherwise trash a park unit with garbage, human waste, and pet waste, the less cleanup that will need to be done to the precious natural resources within a park unit.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler

Steps Up The Trail

A leading line shot, Flood of Fire Trail, Foree Area, Sheep Rock Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

It’s Saturday, folks! Or does it matter? For the past year, the days have all run together and I’m glad I have a calendar (a real paper one, no less) to which I can refer and find out what day it actually is ;).

This photo is looking up the very short .4-mile round trip Flood of Fire Trail in the Foree Area of the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, in Oregon. It was the last trip I made pre-pandemic, before things shut down. Not the last trip I made during the entire year, mind you, but the last regular trip I made prior to Covid.

Anyway, if you are ever looking for a nice little road trip to make, a trip to any of the three units within this national monument will allow you to stretch your legs, since the few trails in each of the units are short. I really wish there were more, longer trails, but I have a feeling that perhaps, national monuments don’t get quite the love (or money) that national parks get. Then again, national monuments probably don’t get the visitor headaches that national parks get – or do they?

Last year, I saw a post, either on Facebook or Instagram, by this national monument asking that people park responsibily in the Painted Hills Unit. Apparently there was a crowding issue, brought on by people wanting to get out and away from Covid for a little bit. Many of those people were probably the kind who are only accustomed to water parks or theme parks, and a trip to an actual, outdoor, in-the-wild-type park unit is a new experience for them – an experience for which they don’t know how to practice the Leave No Trace etiquette.

But, I digress. Central Oregon is a place of winding roads, slower driving (so as not to hit the cattle ranging freely), stunning geology, awesome landscapes for your camera, but few large towns or gas stations. If you prepare accordingly, it’s a great excuse for a road trip.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, National Parks, Oregon, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, Travel

Fun Fact Friday 3-12-2021

Velvet Landscape, Painted Hills Unit
Folds Of Velvet – A Telephoto Landscape

Here;s a wide-angle and a telephoto shot of the same area in the Painted Hills Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, located in east-central Oregon. The telephoto image focuses more on those beautiful folds of maroon and olive hills, which was the objective with the telephoto shot. This is also to prove you can get some really nice telephoto landscapes, too. Telephotos are not just for wildlife, birds, and sports.

It’s #FunFactFriday , so here’s some interesting facts about this national monument located in Oregon. There are three units in this national monument, and each unit is about an hour’s drive from any other of the two units (the roads are winding so it’s important to drive the actual speed limit). The monument, as a whole, contains fossils of plants and animals that date back as far as 44 million years. The varigated colors of the hills denote periods of climate change, between wetter and drier periods. The darker colors of the hills represent wetter atmospheres, in which water oxidized (rusted) the iron minerals within the soils.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, National Parks, Oregon, Photography, telephoto lens, Travel

National Parks Quiz And Trivia #26 – Superlatives

A Lakeside View, Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

Crater Lake National Park is one of the parks mentioned in my latest National Parks Quiz And Trivia piece, published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. Jumpstart your Monday with a test to see how much you know about the national parks – you might even learn something you didn’t know!

To look at the quiz and trivia piece, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Crater Lake National Park, National Parks, National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, Oregon, Photography

Fun Fact Friday, 3-5-2021

Chief Mountain

It’s #FunFactFriday ! Meet Chief Mountain. Half of it is in the eastern portion of Glacier National Park, and half of it is in the Blackfeet Reservation. Named Ninaistako by the Blackfeet, it’s a place of sacred ritual and ceremony going back thousands of years.

According to the National Park Service’s Geodiversity Atlas for Glacier National Park, it’s also a premier example of a klippe: “a geologic term for the erosional remnant of older rocks in a thrust sheet completely detached from comparably aged rocks trailing behind. Like the Lewis Overthrust itself, Chief Mountain is considered one of the world’s outstanding examples of a klippe; its images grace the pages of many geologic textbooks.” Come to think of it, I believe I *have* seen this mountain in one of my geology textbooks.

Back in 2017, when I told my editor I was heading into Glacier National Park, he asked me for images of Chief Mountain to go with a National Parks Traveler article about bison, I think. On the day I traveled over to this area, it was really hazy with smoke from the Sprague Fire over on the west side of the park. So getting a clear image was impossible – on that day, at least – and took a little bit of editing and Adobe Lightroom’s dehaze slider to bring forth any details.Veiled with wildfire smoke or not, Chief Mountain is an impressive site.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Glacier National Park MT, Montana, National Parks, Photography, Travel

Snowfall Over The Lower Falls

An Autumn Snowstorm Over The Lower Falls, Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

There are a gazillion images of Yellowstone National Park’s Lower Falls, but I posted this one to talk about capturing snowfall in an image.

There’s this sort of Goldilocks and the Three Bears choice when capturing a decent snowfall image, imo: too slow of a shutter speed means you’ll get white streaks (unless that’s what you want), too fast of a shutter speed means you’ll barely see any snow at all, and just the right shutter speed means you’ll see little white dots or flakes of snow, like you probably originally wanted.

In this shot, I’d just hiked down a steep, zig zag trail to reach the brink of the Lower Falls. There was nobody else there because the snow was beginning to come down hard. It wasn’t a beautiful, feathery-flake kind of snow. It was more like almost-but-not-quite freezing rain, so the snow flakes were small but numerous, and were beginning to fog up the scene a little. I got this shot, cropped it to get rid of all the melted snow droplets on the lens filter front, then began the steep hike back up to the top of the trail. It was snowing so heavily by then that I could barely make out the waterfall.

The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River is quite impressive, however you manage to see it. I didn’t realize at the time, that there were quite a few more trails to different viewpoints. The next time I visit this park, you can sure bet I’ll ferret out all those other viewpoints. One can never have too many shots of this waterfall, right? 😉

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under autumn, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, waterfalls, Yellowstone National Park

Waterfall Wednesday 2-24-2021

Kepler Cascades, Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

It’s Waterfall Wednesday! So here’s a little falls courtesy of Yellowstone National Park. Kepler Cascades is a 150-foot tall, multi-tiered waterfall just off the roadside along Hwy 89, south of the Old Faithful complex. It’s not visited much, probably because most people are zoned in on reaching Old Faithful and surrounding environs. If you look on Flickr.com, though, you’ll see a ton of Kepler Cascades pics more or less the same as what I have here (so I guess I’m not that original, although I can claim I took this particular photo, so it’s *mine*).

As a side story, I had returned to my rental vehicle after photographing the cascades and continued driving for some miles when the low-tire light came on. That made me a little nervous, but I remembered seeing a small gas station right outside of the lodge area of Old Faithful, so I turned the SUV around and started heading back. I was worried something would happen before making it to the gas station, so I was quite relieved when I saw the sign for Kepler Cascades, because I knew I was nearing my destination. As it was, I had to purchase an old-fashioned (i.e. non-digital) tire gauge and valve caps because I’d forgotten to pack both of them into my luggage. Must have been mercury retrograde or something, because usually I remember to pack my own tire gauge and valve caps just in case something like this occurs. Car rental companies are not the best with upkeep, unfortunately.

Now I have my own travel wagon that I keep maintained, with tire gauge and valve caps always in it for my photo travels. Hah, car rental companies!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, Photography, Waterfall Wednesday, waterfalls, Yellowstone National Park

National Parks Photography And The Art Of Patience

Got Milk?

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photography article. This month’s column is about photography and the art of patience. If you are interested in reading the article, then click on the image above.

As for this particular image, this was the reward for me and the rest of the crew on a photo tour of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, in Alaska. If it wasn’t for this mother bear and her cubs appearing throughout our stay there, we would not have seen much in the way of Alaskan brown bear action, at all, during our stay. Having the privilege of watching her nurse her cubs was the reward for sticking around with the three of them instead of moving on to someplace new to look for other bear action.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under bears, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, wildlife