It is possible to take a safe and enjoyable trip into a national park, if you prepare and use some precautions. I returned alive and well (it’s been 14 days since my return) to write how I did it and what I saw at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.
To read the story published in the National Parks Traveler, click on the image above.
The Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park provides some of my favorite views for photography in this national park. And I’ve included this with a number of other national park fave spots in this month’s photography column published by National Parks Traveler. Go check out the article to see if my faves are your faves.
To read the article and view the photos, click on the image above.
It may come as absolutely no surprise, but Covid-19 has not prevented people from traveling hundreds of miles to visit a national park. So says an article published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.
To read the article, click on the image above.
Yes, I’m going to visit Crater Lake National Park in less than a week. I’m going to be armed with: masks (lots of them, thanks to my sister’s sewing abilities), disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, my own food (I’m not eating out anywhere) that does not require anything more than the addition of hot water, and plenty of social distancing (I’m not a people person, so I was practicing social distancing long before it was the norm). My goal for this trip is not only to enjoy the fresh air and gorgeous scenery, and to bring back photos and material for articles for the National Parks Traveler, but to also demonstrate that it is possible to have a safe trip to a national park, as long as one practices social distancing and wears a mask.
Right now, the White House is discrediting Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the foremost epidemiologists around. Of course, I think everybody in the WH, including POTUS, are fucking liars, traitors, crooks, and nutbags (if you haven’t read my About Me, then I guess you are just now learning where my politics lean). In defense of Dr. Fauci, he and all the other doctors and scientists knew very little about the coronavirus during the first of the year, so of course, all of them were making points based upon the data they had at the time. Now, because of all the illnesses and deaths, they know much more about how this horrible virus works. It’s not a hoax, folks.
To that end, I made my own YouTube video about wearing a mask. I actually got the idea from watching a Tik Tok video by Bill Nye the Science Guy, who did a simple demonstration of the effectiveness of wearing a cloth fabric, 2-layer mask.
Now, if you decide to view my video, please, please bear in mind that I’m short, dumpy, overweight, out-of-shape, and when I don’t smile, I look like my Aunt Doris (sigh). Also bear in mind that, due to my not being the most telegenic person in the world, I come off as being more than a bit self-righteous … although, come to think of it, I am self-righteous, just like my sister and the rest of my family. And that’s not a bad thing, imo.
Have I gotten trolled over the mask? Hell yeah! Do I care? Hell no! The main thing is that the experiment is cool, my sister feels vindicated over the masks she’s made / making (right now, I have enough masks to wear a different one every day for at least 2 weeks, if not more), and I feel good about protecting others. Am I protected? Well, while I’ve read studies showing that mask wearers seem to get a more diluted version of the virus when confronted by non-mask wearing covid-infected idiots, I’m really more protected if others wear a mask, too.
So, please, wear a damned mask. It shouldn’t be a political thing. It should be all about how much you care about your health, the health of your family, and the health of those around you … even the health of people you don’t really like.
Each photo you take tells a story. I practically hammer that in to my readers in my monthly photo columns on the National Parks Traveler . But, I have some advice for you photographers who post your images out there on Flickr, Twitter, or Facebook:
Write a little bit about your photo, too. Add to that story.
People enjoy reading about how you captured the image, what you were feeling, what camera you used, even your settings. It adds to your story, fleshes it out, and helps others figure out settings for their own camera in similar situations. It also makes you more engaging, both as a photographer and a storyteller.
It drives me nuts to see an interesting image with no title, no commentary, no exif, no nuthin’. Now, I can understand why a photographer might not wish to indicate the location of the photo, since many places are loved to death, aready – no need to add to that. But, it’s a primary rant with me that many photographers won’t tell a damned story. Yeah, the sunrise over the mountains in that photo is gorgeous, and yeah, it looks a little cold, but surely there is more to it than that! What did you feel at the time you clicked that shutter button? How many miles did you have to hike to get there? Know anything about the ecosystem there; any sort of facts or trivia to impart to your viewers?
For instance, I took a couple of day trips this month (June 2020) over to Mount Rainier National Park, here in Washington state, for some photography. I was itching to get out with my cameras, but leery of things due to the coronavirus pandemic. When I visited, I practiced my social distancing, went to areas where there were few-to-no people, wore a mask where there were people, and thoroughly enjoyed myself – except for that one moment when a woman in a group not practicing social distancing came up to me, pointed at my mask, and told me I needed to take it off.
I posted some of those images on Flickr, and added commentary along with exif data (specific information about the image, including settings, etc.), because I want people to see the exposure information and to visibly see the difference visiting the same spot can make during different seasons, different times of the day, and under different weather conditions; in this instance, rainy and overcast versus a blue-sky day.
My first trip to the park since the coronavirus pandemic was June 8th, shortly after it reopened. My second trip was June 18th. The difference in weather is dramatic and you can see it in the images.
The first time I visited, I did not go via Chinook Pass to Tipsoo Lake because I knew things would be snowed over and, due to the rainy, overcast weather, I figured The Mountain would be hiding behind an iron curtain of gray fog. The second time I visited, I did drive by Tipsoo Lake, as you can see from the image at the top of this post.
I won’t make this post any longer, since attention spans aren’t what they used to be. But you should get the gist of what I am saying to you. If you post to a public viewing site, then write a little commentary / story to go with the image so people get a better flavor of the atmosphere and feeling around the photo.
FYI, in case you wish to quibble, photo essays are a little different, and there, you do need to be able to tell a story with just your photos and captions. Flickr, FB, and Twitter, however, are not exactly conducive to photo essays.
It’s #WaterfallWednesday ! So here’s a bevvy of waterfalls, and if you click on each photo, you’ll read an interesting fact or two about each.
This image was captured during a winter in Zion National Park, in Utah, so the water is more of a trickle or a track, indicating it’s falling down the side of a hanging valley. According to the placard I read: “Side valleys began to form at the same time as the Virgin River Canyon. But, the main stream downcut faster than its tributaries, leaving them hanging high above the canyon floor. The mouths of hanging valleys are a likely place to look for waterfalls; they also indicate the river’s former level – a measure of the stream’s carving power.”
This image was captured after a bit of a sweaty trek for me, carrying a heavy camera pack (as per usual) and a heavy tripod, working hard to match the pace of my two new friends who insisted I hike with them to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone National Park, because of a bear frequenting the area. I enjoyed the hike more than the falls itself, because I had a pleasant time visiting with the very nice couple.
According to the NPS site page for this park: “Fairy Falls, 200 feet (61 m) high, is one of Yellowstone’s most spectacular waterfalls. From the trailhead, walk 1.6 miles (2.6 km) through a young lodgepole pine forest to the falls. You can continue 0.6 miles (0.97 km) to Spray and Imperial geysers, which adds 1.2 miles (1.9 km) to the hike.” I was too pooped to hike to the geysers, so I and the couple turned around after a short looksee at the falls. I saw that waterfall in October, so the falls wasn’t as “spectacular” in terms of water volume as it probably is during the late spring and early summer.
A waterfall that I *did* think was pretty spectacular was Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. There is a large parking lot for this next-to-the-road sight with several different vantage points you can walk to along a nice, wide, paved trail. If this is what the waterfall looked like during the autumn, I can only image how powerful it must look during times when the water volume is higher.
According to author Lee H. Whittlesey in his book Yellowstone Place Names: “Gibbon Falls is believed to drop over part of the wall of the Yellowstone Caldera, which is thought to be 640,000 years old.”
Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park, is reached via a very popular, less-than-2-mile hike on a trail that starts behind Storm King Ranger Station, a hop-and-a-skip from Lake Crescent Lodge. This long, narrow waterfall seemingly nestled within a bed of green ferns reminds me of a whiskey bottle, with a long, tall neck and a shorter, fuller, bottom. To get there, you cross a couple of neat log bridges then handle some steep stairs up to two different viewing areas.
If you ever have the opportunity to spend a few days in the remote community of Stehekin, Washington, located at the head of Lake Chelan in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, then take a hike (after visiting the Stehekin Bakery) or take a bus ride to popular Rainbow Falls. The waterfall cascades 312 feet down to Rainbow Creek, and there are a couple of vantage points from which to view this misty falls – near the bottom of the falls and a short hike toward the middle portion of the falls. It’s one of the most popular stops for day trippers to Stehekin (aside from the bakery, that is) 😉
The beautiful, cold, clear, turquoise water of the Stehekin River winds its final mile through a portion of North Cascades National Park before emptying into the head of Lake Chelan and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. During my visit to the small, isolated community of Stehekin, a favorite place for photography was at High Bridge, the dividing line between the national park and the national recreation area.
You can learn more of my favorite places for national park (and national monument) photography in the latest article published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. Some of these places have partially or completely reopened to visitors, so if you decide to go out with your camera, please do so safely and at a safe distance from others. Who knows? My favorite places might become yours, or my favorite places might already be your favorite places!
To read the article, click on the image above.
Oh, if you use Instagram, go on over to @national_parks_traveler and check out the video I posted of the Stehekin River. Yes, I’m still maintaining and posting to the Traveler’s Instagram site. Show the Traveler some love and start following the account.
If you really must get out this Memorial Day weekend, then it’s worth a check with the National Parks Traveler to see which parks are open and how much of those parks are accessible. Mesa Verde National Park will open this Sunday, but the cliff dwellings will not be accessible. That said, other parts of the park will be accessible.
To find out what national park units are open, click on the image above.
I’ve only visited Mesa Verde once, but it was a cool trip and I did lots of stuff while there. I took most of the guided cliff dwelling tours (like the one pictured here, of Balcony House) and a guided backcountry tour to Mug House (also very cool) as well as a twilight tour of Cliff Palace. I checked out the ruins on the ground, too, in addition to those above the ground. The scenery is stark and beautiful. The sunrises are gorgeous – especially at Park Point Overlook. I stayed at Far View Lodge, which was very nice … except for the part about finding a black widow spider on the bathroom wall – that shook me a little bit. All in all, it was a great trip and one I recommend if you are interested in learning about the culture and architecture of an ancient people.
A highlight of my summer visit to Padre Island National Seashore a few years ago was the opportunity to photograph a public Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchling release into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. If you are thinking of attending a public viewing of the releasing of these nacho-sized little guys, however, you’ll have to wait until 2021, as all public viewings have been canceled for this year due to the coronavirus. As you can see in the last photo, there is definitely NO social distancing of the 700 – 1200 participants who attend these viewings. On that particular day I took the photo, there ended up being 900 people.
It’s Trivia Tuesday! Did you know that the Tetons are the youngest mountains in the Rockies, and that the eastern front of the Teton Range is one huge fault scarp?
Speaking of Grand Teton National Park, tourism officials in Jackson Hole are looking forward to reaching that new “normal” regarding how they will open up, according to an article published today in the National Parks Traveler:
As for this image itself, I captured it on my very first visit into this national park, during my 2018 road trip move from Texas to central Washington. It was in the afternoon – I’d checked into my hotel, unloaded some of my stuff, then hopped into the car to drive into the park and do a teeny bit of scouting to see if I could find any good spots for sunrise shots. I didn’t go very far, though, because, in all honesty, I was plumb tuckered out. I’d been on the road for 11 days, driving, unloading, reloading, stopping off at national parks for 2-3 days here and there for full days of photography. I was having fun, but I was tired. Besides, as the afternoon progressed, the smoke from forest fires near and far became heavier. This image was taken not too far from the Windy Point Turnout. I’d gotten some shots there, then drove a little further northward before deciding to call it quits for the afternoon. By then, I’d pretty much figured out what my sunrise location would be.
“Bobby socks” around Opalescent Pool in Black Sand Basin, Yellowstone National Park
“Bobby socks” along the Fountain Paint Pots Nature Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Hey folks, it’s Fun Fact Friday!
If you’ve ever visited Yellowstone National Park, you’ve seen these dead, desolate trees with the white rings around their bases. Those are called “Bobby socks” and are formed when the trees absorb the silica (natural glass) from the thermal waters. This, of course, kills the trees and “freezes” them to keep them standing.
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.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org