A Northerly View Of The Yakima River At The Umtanum Ridge Water Gap, Washington State
When is a landscape associated with the National Park Service, yet not a unit within the National Park System? When it’s a National Natural Landmark.
Today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has published an article of mine about these very special places, designated by the NPS for their outstanding examples of a biological or geologic feature.
To read the article, click on the image above.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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It’s #funfactFriday folks! And today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler features a contribution from the Caldera Chronicles, a weekly feature produced by collaboration by scientists and the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.
Today’s article is all about how the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone came into being. Granted, it’s not like the Grand Canyon of Arizona, but it’s a pretty cool (and colorful) place all on it’s own, “Stretching from the Lower Falls to the Tower Falls area, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is about 28 km (17 miles) long, 250–350 meters (820–1150 feet) deep, and 450–1200 meters (1500–4000 feet) across. It appears to be a surprisingly young feature of the region, having mostly formed during and immediately following the last ice age, within the past 20,000 years or so. “
To read more about this and view the video, click the image above.
These shots were captured during my autumn 2019 visit to Yellowstone National Park. I’d wanted to see the Lower Falls area back during the summer of 2018, as I made my way from TX to WA, but the crowds were horrendous and there was absolutely no place to park – seriously, every single parking space was filled. On the other hand, this visit resulting in these images was great – definitely no crowds.
Where’s that trail going to take you in 2023? For me, it took me along a New Year’s Day snowshoe hike at Mount Rainier National Park. I think it was the prettiest winter day I’ve seen at the park, to date (not that I’ve been up there too many times in the winter, but of those times I *have* been there, this day had to be the best).
Mount Rainier staff only open the Paradise area on the weekends, now, due to understaffing, so I thought it was going to be a zoo. When I first arrived, there were rangers out there directing traffic and helping people park (correctly), so every single parking space was taken. Really, though, the only real crowding I saw was in the parking lot, near the start of the snow climb. About a mile into the hike, there were few people. And oh, the scenery!
I gotta send a shout out to all those skiers who hiked (most on their skis, some on snowshoes) way up to a snow-covered ridge on what I believe is part of the Skyline Trail. That was a good 2-3 mile hike to get there. Those people are in very good shape, and serious about their skiing, powerhousing it up to the ridge.
Speaking of skis and snowshoes, if you decide to take a little weekend trip up to Paradise, then go early (the gate at Longmire usually opens at 9 a.m. unless weather dictates otherwise), and for goodness sake, take snowshoes or skis. I noticed some people did not have either, so they stuck close to the parking lot, or risked “post holing” (where your foot sinks waaaaay down into the snow, potentially causing an injury or at the very least, a face plant). Not even the “packed” snowshoe/ski trails were that hard-packed. I can tell you that from personal experience, because I lost one of my snowshoes (due to faulty securing on my boot) and had to back down the trail to get it, post holing a couple of times along the way, on the trail. Not so much afraid for myself, but rather for getting snow in/on the camera
Oh, and make sure you keep track of your time, because the Longmire gate closes at 4 p.m. You miss that deadline and you are stuck – seriously. Annnnd, drive slowly. Black ice (that’s ice invisible to the naked eye, more or less, so it looks like a part of the asphalt) was all over the road. One SUV ahead of me skidded completely off the road, and I skidded slightly a couple of times, even with my 4WD and great tires. I finally figured out if the road was shiny-looking, it was probably icy, and drove accordingly.
This morning, muscles hurt in areas I guess I haven’t used much. And I was exhausted yesterday once I made it back to my vehicle. But oh, what a day. Couldn’t have been a better start to the New Year for me: gorgeous scenery, great exercise, and awesome photography.
What’s around the corner in 2023? What have you learned in 2022?
Today is the last day of 2022. It’s time for 365 days of 2023. What’s in store? For me, I hope it’s more travel and photography and articles for the National Parks Traveler.
I truly enjoy the travel. Sometimes, I enjoy the journey as much as the destination – although a 15-hour drive is really pushing it in the “enjoyment” department. That aside, I love seeing new places and photographing new things – well, new to me.
Quite a few of the images I post here are of iconic locations that have been photographed a gazillion times. It’s ok, though, to photograph that iconic location, you know. You are capturing the image with your own camera, and the time of day, weather pattern, and season make slight differences to the photo taken a previous day, or any photo taken in the future. It’s like one photographer I follow on Flickr said (and I paraphrase): you don’t avoid a very popular restaurant just because there are so many people who go there. You go to that restaurant because the food is fantastic (and that’s why it’s popular). Same thing with photographing an iconic spot.
I look back to the images I captured this past year. I didn’t travel as much as I wanted to – that whole money thing, you know. I stayed closer to home for photographic day trips. And I learned about the area around me. I’d never heard of the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, and yet a majority of this route is in eastern Washington. Heck, I’d even studied the Channeled Scablands when I was a geology student in college, but I’d still never been there. It’s one thing to read about it in a textbook, and an entirely different thing to actually see the landscape about which you’ve read. So, it really worked out that I photographed landscapes closer to where I live.
Where would I like to go in 2023? Well, I do want to take a day to see a couple of National Natural Landmarks along the way to visit Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. I’d also like to visit San Juan Island National Historical Park. I’ve got plans to travel (15 hours) to Sequoia National Park this year in mid September. Fingers crossed nothing occurs to prevent the trip, since it will be the third time I’ve tried to get there. I will, of course, continue making trips now and then to Mount Rainier National Park. During the summer, it’s only 1.5 hours away from where I live. In the winter, with the passes closed, it’s about 3 hours. I’m actually thinking of going there tomorrow, if for no other reason than to report on the crowds there because the Paradise area is only open on the weekends this winter due to a staffing situation.
There are a couple of other places I’d like to visit. Not end destinations (like Yellowstone or Glacier or Olympic national parks), but rather destinations on the way to an end destination. I’ll just have to see how that pans out.
Here’s to a hopeful New Year. For me. For every one of you. And thank you all, again, for keeping up with my posts and tidbits of trivia and photo tips and techniques.
Oh, yeah, about the image here. I was standing in the Olmsted Point parking area with my zoom lens and I thought it would be a neat photo of that car rounding the corner of Tioga Road, with a distant view of Tenaya Lake and the rounded granite Sierras within Yosemite National Park. Sort of a “what adventure is just around the corner” shot.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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When I was younger, and actually, right up to when Dad died back in 2010, my family had a tradition for Christmas Eve. We would sneak up on each other and shout “Christmas Eve Gift!” and the person who was “got” would have to give the other person a gift on that Christmas Eve. Now, usually, no gift was given, as it was just the fun of being the person who got the other person by surprise.
One chilly Christmas Eve in Texas (yes, if you’ve been reading the news and seeing other FB posts, it does get frosty even in SE Texas), I’d gotten up early that morning, as I usually do, and I baked a huckleberry cobbler (huckleberries are just the best). I did my weekend routine of walking next door to Mom & Dad’s to spend the morning and have coffee with them, but this time, I also had a cobbler hot from the oven. I put the cobbler down on a chair next to the back door, and unlocked the door using the key Mom & Dad gave to me some years back. The house was all dark. I opened the door a little wider, and all of a sudden, Mom & Dad jumped out from behind the door shouting “CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT!” Thankfully, I’d set the cobbler down because it would probably have been dropped to the ground otherwise. Mom & Dad were gleefully chuckling over having gotten me (because, it was usually the other way around).
Now that I am living with my sister in Washington state, we don’t do that tradition. Apparently, Christmas Eve Gift was started (or restarted) after my sister had left for college decades ago, because she said they never did it while she lived with them, and she looked at me oddly for trying it out with her. Sigh.
So, no more Christmas Eve Gift, but still lots of memories.
Pictured here is another “same place, different season” set of images captured at Porcelain Basin, a smaller area within the larger Norris Geyser Basin purview, showing some of those 1,100 thermal features.
There are times when I deliberately set out to photograph a spot I’ve already captured at some other time, but this was not one of those times. I just happened to be standing at the same view area slong the boardwalk – one time in early October (early autumn), then again in mid February (late winter) and discovered just this morning I’d taken photos of that same landscape.
The autumn image was captured with the Canon 5DS I used to own, and the winter image was photographed with my Sony a7riv. Both cameras used a 24-105mm lens (each their own brand). The 24-105mm lens is a great travel lens with a nice focal range that produces great landscape retults.
Ok, here’s yet another example of why you should take your camera out to a favorite spot during different times of year, weather patterns, and/or times of day. In the case of these two images, one was captured in mid-spring (June) 2020, and the other was captured in mid-late winter (December) 2020. Both were captured during the morning hours. Notice the difference in water flow and vegetation amount and color.
Ok, granted, the cameras and lenses are different, but the location – right off the side of Westside Road, about a mile away from the Nisqually Entrance (Mount Rainier National Park), is the same.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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I was in the process of uploading the image above to my photo website when I noticed the image at the top already on my website. I’d unknowingly captured pretty much the exact same spot at Biscuit Basin in Yellowstone National Park, only during different seasons of the year (and different years, too, actually). The top image was photographed in the summer (July) of 2018. The bottom photo was captured in the winter (February) of 2022. Note the difference in algae color in the stream leading away from the lovely blue hot spring in the background. These color changes indicate temperature changes and maybe even different algae accustomed to environments of different temps. The yellow means the water is much cooler in that leading line of a stream than the water in the hot spring. And the green means that the temperature is slightly warmer than the yellow, yet still cooler than the blue of the hot spring. Science is pretty neat! Yellowstone National Park is pretty neat!
These two images are fantastic examples of my constant advice telling you to go out and photograph the same favorite spot or view area during different seasons, times of day, and weather conditions. The landscape can change markedly, depending upon these factors.
In many articles I write for the National Parks Traveler, I stress a couple of things for capturing a great image: look for texture and look for color(s). This telephoto shot of a bison seen between Mammoth Hot Springs and the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park is an example of both color and texture. Take a look at the thick, wooly textures of the bison. And take a look at the differing shades of red-brown. When you look at a bison from a distance, you don’t necessarily see all those color gradations within its furry coat. And you know that the bison has a thick, wooly coat for the winter, but when you look at a close-up, you see the fine differences in texture, from what looks like soft undergrowth to much coarser wooliness. Even the bison horn has a certain amount of textural and color differences.
I captured this image at a turnout on the way to the Lamar Valley, testing out my previously-underused 200-600mm lens on the Sony A1. While not a prime lens, it’s a pretty decent lens for getting close to the subject.
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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