As you wander along the trails, marveling at these very tall coastal redwood trees in Redwood National and State Parks, you’ll notice all sorts of interesting knots and bumps and “molten wood sculptures” around the bases of these trees. Those are burls and are another way for the redwoods to sprout new growth, in addition to growing from seeds the size of a tomato seed. The ranger told me burl sprouts occur usually during some sort of traumatic event like a fire.
So, if you find yourself roaming the trails in this series of parks, take a look at the bases of these trees, photograph those burls, and notice whether or not you see any sort of growth from those “bumps.”
They call this tree the “Penthouse Tree.” The damaged bark revealed the heartwood of this tree, which began to rot. In so rotting, it provided nutrients for other vegetation, such as the leather fern and evergreen huckleberry growing atop this redwood. This vegetation has a room with a view! If you ever have a chance to visit Redwood National and State Parks, you should definitely wander this 1.3-mile easy trail located in Redwood National Park. There’s a plaque dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson, who was there to dedicate this national park. Many of the sights you’ll see have numbered stakes beside them that correspond to descriptions in a brochure of this hike. The brochure used to be available at the trailhead, but due to Covid, the box is no longer stocked. You can, however, print out and read your own copy of the pamphlet by clicking on the image above.
A view of the Colorado River and Vermilion Cliffs from the Navajo Bridge in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona
The Colorado River begins in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and runs about 1,450 miles through several states and empties out (eventually) into the Gulf of California. I saw a very tiny segment of this river during my short, 1-hour visit to Navajo Bridge in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on my way to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
As part of the National Parks Traveler’s continuing series on the health of the Colorado River, a great article has been published today about how climate change is affecting the Colorado River water in Glen Canyon NRA. Definitely worth a read.
To read this article, click on the image above.
I know, I have lots of links to the National Parks Traveler, don’t I? If you are new to my blog site (or if you just don’t look at my site that often but still follow me), I am a writer and photographer and contributing editor for the Traveler. I also believe in what the Traveler does, which is to report on our national parks and protected areas on a daily basis, providing you with travel, photography, and news articles you wouldn’t find anywhere else – at least, not on a daily basis.
In retrospect, I wish I could have stayed a little longer at Navajo Bridge then driven the 6 miles down to Lees Ferry to hike along the river. But, having departed Petrified National Park early that morning (it was a little after 10 AM when I captured the image above), I was tired from driving and ready to get to my next destination (the North Rim) with time to explore *that* area.
Blue Star Pool on a chilly autumn morning, Yellowstone National Park
It’s Trivia Tuesday, folks! Here’s one from Janet Spencer’s “Yellowstone Trivia”: One ranger set out to remove the pennies from Upper Geyser Basin’s Blue Star Pool. After 15 minutes of work, he removed 700 pennies. That means 700 people figured “just one penny” wouldn’t hurt.
As a National Park placard says near another hot spring in Yellowstone National Park: “Thermal features are not trash cans or wishing wells – they are among earth’s rarest geologic treasures …”
Do your part, don’t litter, pack out what you pack in, and report any vandalism to a park ranger.
It’s #waterfallwednesday ! So here’s a photo of a lovely, tall waterfall on an overcast autumn day, the trail of which nearly killed me to get to. Ok, I’m exaggerating. The trail to this tall waterfall is easy and well-maintained. I was just (as usual) lugging along a pack full of camera gear and a heavy tripod. I’d just finished photographing Grand Prismatic from that new overlook and was hiking onward toward Fairy Falls. Having never been there before, I didn’t have any idea (because I hadn’t done my homework) and checked to see how far it was from the overlook. As I was hiking down from the overlook, this very nice couple looked back at me and asked if I was continuing on toward the falls. I said I was and they invited me to hike with them because they didn’t feel right about me hiking alone, with a bear frequenting the area. So, I did, blithely hiking at or around their pace (I think they slowed down a little for me – both were veteran hikers). We had a lovely time talking and we finally got to the trailhead for the falls, itself, and the mileage was 1.6 one way. My brain hesitated but my legs did not. Had I been alone, I might not have hiked even that relatively short distance with all the stuff I was hefting with me, but I was enjoying my visit with this nice couple, so I kept on with them. You know, it’s always such a reward to see whatever sight it is at one’s end destination, when you are pooped and sweating and think the damned trail is never going to end 😆
A morning alone with Solitary Geyser, Yellowstone National Park
This pretty geyser is indeed, solitary, sitting all by itself and located a short hike from either the Upper Geyser Basin boardwalk or on the way up or down the trail from Observation Point. This is one of those geysers that people tampered with way back when they didn’t understand geysers or geology that well. They wanted to use the hot spring water so they put a pipe in it, which lowered the water level several feet and caused the then-hot spring to turn into a geyser that erupted every few minutes. They removed the pipe and the water level rose again, but it continued to be a geyser that now erupts every 5-7 minutes (give or take). It’s not a huge geyser, though. It sort of “burbles” and erupts about 3-4 feet (so the nearby sign says). It was difficult to even see it erupt on that chilly day because of all the steam. I could only tell it was going to erupt by watching for ripples in the water in the far left corner of the geyser, which occurred just before that “burble” of an eruption.
I first visited Black Sand Basin in Yellowstone National Park during the evening on the previous day from this shot. It was overcast and getting dark and I didn’t even notice this little side area next to the entry drive to the parking lot. I didn’t see this until I visited the next morning, a lovely, sunny day. I’ve been reading: TravelBrains’ “Yellowstone Expedition Guide” and learned this interesting fact: the trees you see here are dead, of course. The bottoms of their trunks are white because they absorbed the hot water in the area, which is filled with silica in solution. That silica comes out of solution and is what has colored those trunk bottoms. It’s the first step in petrification of the trees. Oh, and Black Sand Basin gets it’s name from the black obsidian sand grains in the area. Cool, huh?
Artist Paint Pots Geothermal Basin with Mount Holmes in the distance, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
It’s a short walk along a well-trod path to get to the boardwalk beginning the loop around the Artist Paint Pots basin. As I stepped onto the boardwalk, I passed a couple of men talking to each other. Another friend approached and they told him that their wives were off looking at the sights while they remained there, since they were not that enthused about the area. Lo and behold, as I passed the men, their wives returned and one of them said sarcastically “Well, that was a blast.” They were not impressed, either.
I don’t know what those two couples were expecting, but I have a feeling they have not been reading my photo column in the National Parks Traveler, where I urge people to 1) keep their expectations on the low side since it’s likely they will not see exactly what they expect to see, and 2) observe what is around them. Really *look* at where they are and what they see. I am assuming that the couples, like many other people who come to this area, were a little jaded and didn’t stop to think about what they were standing upon: thin crust with a busy geothermal system beneath them. It’s amazing that we can enter a national park that is so geologically active. How many other places in the world can you see so many active geysers, hot springs and fumeroles all in one area? How many other places can you actually hear the hissing of the steam and see the bubbling water and mud pots? I know there are some, but I’ll wager not that many that you can actually get to. When you are someplace like Artist Paint Pots, you are walking beside geysers and hot springs with boiling or near-boiling water.
These couples probably did not appreciate the many colorful hot springs around them (hence the name “Artist Paint Pots”), or the panoramic view that included a snow-iced Mount Holmes in the far distance.
I brought with me the mindset of a geologist and photographer, so I saw beauty everywhere I walked in that small basin. As a matter of fact, that’s what I told a retired gentleman and his wife as he approached the trailhead, with a daughter and active 6-year old in tow. He stopped me and said: “Two questions: how far to get there and is it worth it?” I told him I thought it was worth it but I was seeing everything through a geologic and photographic background. I then told him about the reactions of those two couples. I told him that I’d also seen another couple with their 4-year old child who was managing the walk and the uphill climb to the bridge overlook (which is where I stood to take this photo) with no problems. I said to him that they’d have to judge for themselves as to whether or not the hike and the view were worth it. I certainly thought both were.
It’s Waterfall Wednesday! So here’s a photo I took during my recent trip to Olympic National Park. It’s Marymere Falls, an easy .7-mile (one-way) hike on a well-trafficked trail behind the Storm King Ranger Station just a hop and a skip from Lake Crescent Lodge.
I talk about photographing Marymere Falls as well as Sol Duc Falls in my next installment of the Armchair Photography Guide for Olympic National Park, to be published Oct 1st in the National Parks Traveler site, so be on the lookout for Part 2 – The Forests. I mention this now because I’ll be in Yellowstone National Park at that time and don’t know what kind of internet service I’ll have around there.
In the meantime, this shot, taken at the upper level of the overlook, demonstrates the “silky water” technique and making use of the surrounding ferns for natural framing around the photo subject.
I was so darned tickled with myself for staying up and capturing the summer sunset on this beach while I was there. I was still wide awake and decided to stick around a little longer. I had a feeling there will continue to be some sort of light show as the sun produced a “last hurrah” of color, and I was right.
I needed my camera on tripod in order to open up the shutter and let the light in. Because the shutter was slower, I might have shaken things up for a blurry photo if I’d handheld the camera. Besides, the slower shutter speed meant the water in Kalaloch Creek (what you see below) would become more “silky.”
The moral of this story is that you should always stay a little longer after sunset. You’ll either get an afterglow like you see here, or you’ll at least photograph the coming of the “blue hour.”
All images on these posts are the exclusive property of Rebecca L. Latson and Where The Trails Take You Photography. Please respect my copyright and do not use these images on Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat or any other business, personal or social website, blog site, or other media without my written permission. Thank you.
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