Whether you’re traveling to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah for your first time or your fifth time, you might want to check out my latest Traveler Checklist published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. The Checklists I pin are not about reminding you to remember your toothbrush and toothpaste, but rather ideas and suggestions on what you can see and do in specific national parks, in addition to alerts of which you might need to be aware.
To read the Checklist for this national park, click on the image above.
This image was captured during my road trip move from TX to WA state. I spent several days in Bryce Canyon National Park. On this day – it was mid-morning – I was hiking along the Rim Trail around Bryce Amphitheater, heading toward Inspiration Point (the rim of this amphitheater in the background). I’d made it to Inspiration Point and realized it was going to rain and maybe I needed to head for cover. A clap or two of thunder told me that I needed to skeedaddle, because being out in the open in the high elevation is a recipe for a lightning strike. I just made it back to the cabin area of Bryce Lodge as the downpour began, and lightning did, indeed, flash more than once during that time.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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May marks the 41st anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens (May 18, 1980). I first visited this volcano about 10 years after its eruption. The devastation was obvious. It would be 30 years before seeing this area again. While there has been much growth in the area (including stands of trees planted 3-6 years after the eruption), the devastation is still obvious.
I had recently purchased the Fujifilm GFX 100 and desparately wanted to get out to test this medium format camera. A return trip to Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was just the ticket. It’s about 4 hours’ drive from where I live, and even leaving at 3 a.m. didn’t get me up there in time for sunrise shots. Once I arrived, I did spend all morning there and about an hour or two of late afternoon. I can tell you that early mornings (before 9 a.m.) and late afternoons (5 p.m. and after) are the best times for good lighting, because starting at 8 a.m., things start to get a little hazy and a blue cast to the atmosphere begins to settle in prior to harsh light for the remainder of the day. Doesn’t really matter, though, since this mountain (or what remains of a once conical, snowcapped mountain with an elevation of 9,677 ft [2,950m]) is picturesque nonetheless.
I only have two lenses for the GFX 100, and both of them are prime wide-angles (wide and wider). So the close up shots I achieved while there were captured with a different camera, about which I’ll write later.
The GFX 100 is easy to work with. It still takes a little hunting in the menu to find what I need, but as I wrote in a previous post, the menu is much easier to walk through than my Sony menus. The only thing I had a problem with was the auto power-off setting, and it wasn’t so much a problem as the fact that I assumed it would be like my Sony cameras, where I depress the button and the camera comes back to life. Not so with the GFX 100. I kept pressing the shutter button and nothing would happen. It wasn’t until I turned the camera button from the On position to Off and then back On again that the camera came to life. Needless to say, I changed the settings and the camera remains completely on now. I know it’s a drain on the battery life, but even with that, I was able to shoot through the entire day without needing to change to the spare batteries (the GFX 100 takes two batteries).
As long as you check the weather reports to pick out a decent day for visiting this national monument, May is a great time. I could count on two hands the number of people I encountered, and that was at a safe distance. Not many people were there early in the morning or late in the afternoon. It is a bit of a drive off of Interstate 5 (about an hour). There aren’t that many hiking trails around there, and Johnston Ridge Observatory is not open – well, the building is not open, nor are the restrooms, but you can still drive up there, park, and walk around. The nearest restrooms are accessed at the Coldwater Lake parking area, 8 miles away from the observatory. The main hiking trail (Boundary Trail) which starts at the observatory still has quite a bit of snow on it in places – deep enough for snowshoes. I had them in my vehicle but didn’t feel like putting them on and taking them off multiple times just to cross over the snowy parts. IMO, the two best view areas for really seeing this volcano are the Loowit View Area (the photo above was captured there) and Johnston Ridge Observatory area.
If you go visit, make sure you take a telephoto lens with you. I’d brought along my Sony 100-400mm lens but left it in the car and naturally, I came across a trio of mountain goats grazing around the observatory area. Sigh.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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I look back as some of my photos and wish I could revisit a particular landscape and capture the same scene with my newer-model cameras (bear in mind, newer-model also includes the high-megapixel Canons I’ve had since 2016). Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah is one such place, and this is one such scene.
I photographed this landscape back in 2013 (8 years ago – has it been that long – or that short – of a period of time??). The February winter midday light was harsh, but the distant snow/rain storm was pretty cool. I’d like to go back and see how much more detail and dynamic range my current cameras could pick up. Maybe someday, I’ll do just that.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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I’ve been working on a series of short articles for the National Parks Traveler, titled “Traveler’s Checklists.” These are bulleted lists with tips on what to do, where to go, where to stay, what to eat, etc. for national parks and other protected lands I’ve visited. I’ve finished three already (Redwood National and State Parks, Big Bend National Park, Padre Island National Park) and each one is scheduled to show up weekly on a Wednesday.
I’m now working on my 4th Checklist, which deals with Bryce Canyon National Park. I’ve already found the images I’ll use for this Checklist, but as I was perusing the files, I noticed a number of images I have never worked on and thus never posted. So, I thought I’d do a little photo editing today, in addition to writing.This image was captured during my short hike along the Fairyland Loop Trail, in Fairyland Canyon, a separate amphitheater in Bryce Canyon National Park.
My one regret is that I never completed the 8-mile loop trail – I only hiked parts of it. Someday, when I return to this national park, I’m going to make it a priority to actually finish hiking the entire damned trail. It’s a well-maintained trail, and all I need to really remember (aside from bringing camera gear) is to take plenty of water. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hot or cold out there – the dry atmosphere will suck the moisture from your body in the blink of an eye before you even realize you might be dehydrated.
This shot was captured on my last day in the park. Actually, I was heading out and back to Bozeman to meet up with some friends, but I was loath to leave the park. I could have stayed there for another week and been happy.
Roaring Mountain doesn’t really roar. Instead, it has a low hiss that is sometimes difficult to hear – especially as cars passed by on the road behind me. All those spots where you see steam issuing forth are from fumeroles – openings that emit steam and other gases.
If you ever visit this national park, take a moment to fathom that you are standing upon a volcanically active (hydrothermally active) landscape. The crust is not quite as thick as you think it might be, which is why it’s good to obey the signs that say “Stay On Trail.”
2022 marks Yellowstone National Park’s 150th birthday. I’m going to try and be there at some point in time to celebrate that year with the park.
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.
A few weeks ago, my editor asked me to write an article about being able to see glaciers in national parks. So, I did. It’s been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. Click on the image to read the article.
As for the image, this is one of the first things you see when you cross the border from Banff National Park into Jasper National Park. You can even buy a ticket to go on a sort of bus kitted out with big honkin’ snow tires and ride out to, and walk onto, the glacier. My parents did it decades ago, and I wish I would have done the same thing, in retrospect. Maybe someday, when Canada lets us back in, I’ll take a little drive back into Jasper National Park and walk on that glacier.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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It’s #FunFactFriday so I thought I’d write about the geology seen in Big Bend National Park (Texas). The Chisos Mountains (part of which you see in the image above) are volcanic in origin. One of those volcanic things you’ll see while driving the road through the park are intrusive dikes. Igneous means the rock is volcanic in origin. Dikes are igneous, and they are called “intrusive” because the magma intrudes upon and into the existing rock layers above it. You can see a long stretch of dikes exposed and sticking up out of the ground in this shot. The rocks around the dikes eroded away, leaving those flat-looking walls of rock, sort of like a zig-zaggy-edged rock fence running over the hillsides and up into the mountain flanks.
I’m looking through past Big Bend (as well as other parks) images to see if there are shots I have not edited, or – at the time – didn’t do as good a job of editing. I honestly can’t remember if I ever posted this image or not, back in 2013 (can it be 7 years ago??) captured during my December visit to this national park in southwest Texas. It was my first (out of four) trips there.
This is Emerald Pool, at Black Sand Basin, just a couple of miles or so from Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. Black Sand Basin is pretty cool because it doesn’t seem to be visited as much, being between the very popular Upper Geyser Basin, where Old Faithful is located, and Midway Geyser Basin, where Grand Prismatic is located.
So, it was on a quiet autumn day back in 2019 that I visited this pool of hot water. It was a teeny bit breezy so that the steam rising from the hot spring was not so thick you couldn’t see the actual color and shape of the pool.
I posted it today because National Parks Traveler published an article yesterday about some crazy idiots who took a couple of plucked chickens with them on a hike out to Shoshone Geyser Basin. They then put those chickens in a burlap bag and threw the bag into a hot spring to boil.
I’m sure those people thought they were being incredibly clever, but instead, they were being incredibly stupid. First of all, the waters in those hot springs are pretty caustic, so I’m sure the chicken would not have tasted very good, if they had not been dissolved in the first place by those caustic waters. Secondly, doing something like that disturbs and changes the delicate ecological and chemical balance and character of the hot spring, just like people throwing trash and coins into Morning Glory Pool have, over time, changed the once pristine saturated blue color into a yellow and green color. Thirdly, those morons on their little backcountry trip were extremely lucky they didn’t step onto thin crust and fall into a boiling hot spot during their little cooking venture.
Thankfully, a backcountry ranger caught them. But I’m sure the penalty will only be a slap to the wrist. Honestly, if those people wanted cooked chicken (and I wonder how they got that chicken out there on their backcountry hike in the first place, without it spoiling in the process), they should have just gone to a Wally World-type recreational venue, with lodging and restaurants.
Ok, that’s my eye-roll story for the day. Click on that image above to read the article.
On this Trivia Tuesday, did you know that you could once actually drive up to view Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park, instead of the 1.5-mile walk you take now? You can read about this and other interesting facts about this unique hot spring in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.
To read the story, click on either of the images above.
Thanks to people, this pool has changed its colors due to all the trash and coins folks have thrown into the water. Just a reminder: none of those colorful hot springs are wishing wells or trash cans, folks. They are unique, rare, and delicate geologic features that deserve our wonder, respect, and appreciation, not rocks, kleenex, snack wrappers, and coins.
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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