Today (June 5, 2021) is National Trails Day, folks! Where will that trail take you? Perhaps out among the red rocks and surreal hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park? Perhaps closer to home? Where ever that trail takes you, stop a moment and appreciate the builders of that trail and the fact that you are out in nature. Also practice the Leave No Trace Principles, while you are at it.
This image above was captured one chilly spring morning in 2018, about three months prior to my move from Texas to central Washington state. It had snowed a couple of days before but most of it melted away by the time I hit that trail. It was my last day in the park, and I was tuckered out. So, I didn’t hike the entire 8-mile loop. Next time I visit this national park, I plan on finishing out the hike!
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.
I just finished reading a very good opinion article in the NY Times, and thought I’d share it. The link is embedded in the photo above, so click on the image to be taken to the article.
As for this image: I’ve visited Bryce Canyon National Park twice in my life – both in 2018. My first time to see this geologically surreal place was in April 2018, and then again in July 2018, during my road trip move from TX to central WA. Each time, I ventured out on the Fairyland Canyon Loop Trail, but never completely hiked the 8 miles. I’d sure like to finish what I started, so maybe I’ll schedule a road trip back to this park in 2022.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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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.
It’s the weekend! Where will the trails take you? Will you be hiking into adventure or staying closer to home. Wherever you will be, have fun, stay safe, and, if you *are* out hiking, then pack out what you pack in.
This image was captured at the beginning of my walk through the Hall of Mosses Trail in Olympic National Park during my August 2019 visit. The boardwalk made a perfect leading line, and I was hurrying with my camera and 14mm lens to get a nice, wide-angle shot of the boardwalk, the trees in the distance, and the couple on the trail before they disappeared within the shadows of the forest. I thought the two people made a nice bit of scale and reference to the scene.
Summer is a nice time to visit this park, believe it or not. There were lots of people, but nothing compared to the masses I encountered when visiting Yellowstone National Park the previous August of 2018. If you get out early enough, you’ll escape the crowds that appear later in the morning and afternoon.
Wherever the trails take you in 2020, remember to pack out what you pack in, stay safe, and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
As for myself, well, I kept trying to think of what to say for myself and couldn’t come up with anything. The “travel bug” is biting hard and I want to get out and travel right now, but responsibilities keep me anchored to home at this point. This is as it should be, actually, because time at home gives me the much-needed time to spiffy up my photo website (adding keywords to each and every photo, beginning with the national park shots), build up my brand, and work harder at getting out there for more national park photography. Which leads me to this phrase which I have borrowed from a Facebook friend:
“I plan to carry the momentum of small steps on to bigger things in 2020.”
I have no idea what possessed me to look up at this particular juncture during my foray along the Grove of The Patriarchs Trail in Mount Rainier National Park. I think it might have been to see if I could spot the little bird that was singing so exuberantly. The moment my eyes lit upon this forked tree top and the spider web between the prongs, I immediately thought of Sauron’s searching eye in The Return Of The King.
Sometimes, I capture a photo for one reason, only to find the composition looks completely different when I download it to my laptop to start editing it. This image, for instance, was photographed when I visited the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, this past July. All I wanted was a nice little leading line shot of the Bright Angel Point path with the moon in the distance. What I ended up really noticing during the editing process was that tree, which reminded me of Tolkien’s Ent, arms upraised, beseeching Nature to bring back the Entwives.
Or, perhaps, during this political climate, this tree is beseeching the government to end the shutdown and bring back the National Park Service workers to help clean up and protect the national parks. I’ve been reading so many stories about stupid people trashing the parks, and I, myself, am heading to Olympic National Park later this coming week, on assignment for the National Parks Traveler. I have no idea what I will find. I figure the beaches will still be easy to access, but I might not be able to get to the park’s interior rain forest due to downed trees blocking the road. And I wonder what kind of trash there will be – if any. Guess I’ll find out in a few days.
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