Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Colorful Colorado

Roxborough State Park is located about 45 minutes south of Denver.  The park is relatively small but has some nice trails. 

One of four pictures taken from an overlook in Roxborough State Park.

You can see one of the trails in the left hand corner of this photo.  It is interesting how different the rocks were on each side of this small valley. 

Unfortunately there are a lot of homes just behind these red rock flatirons.  There is a peninsula of private land sticking into the park. 

I focus stacked this picture to try and get it sharp throughout the image.  So five pictures were combine to create this shot.  The initial focus point was the white rocks in the foreground. The last focal point was on the farthest red rocks.

I got up an hour before sunrise to capture a picture at Long Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.  But I was in for a surprise.  As I entered the Wilderness I hit a snow line and icy roads.  The wind was blowing 30 miles per hour with gusts to 50.  I got blown across an icy parking lot so I packed it in. The only picture I kept was of Rock Lake on the drive out of the wilderness.

I headed to Alamosa Colorado to take some pictures at Great Sand Dunes National Park and capture Aspens on the back roads.  I drove the 4-1/2 hours to Alamosa because the forecast showed mostly sunny skies.  But as you can see by this photo that was not the case.

There are 650 foot tall sand dunes stacked against the mountains in southern Colorado.  There are more sand dune photos later in this blog.

There is a nice drive about thirty miles south of Alamosa that takes you up one watershead, over a mountain pass, and down another watershead.

There were quite a few older buildings along the route.  This building used local building materials, mud walls and a timber roof.

This is an old catholic church.  I like the pattern of the windows on this wall.

Conejos River

I drove up the Conejos River Valley looking for changing Aspens.

I know John Miller has been considering moving to a home with a bigger backyard and neighbors not too close.  I thought this 10x10 cabin would be perfect.

Aspens near Stunner pass.

I like the patterns of green and yellow foliage in this photo.

Upper reaches of Conejos River.

Conejos Peak view with Mix Lake and Platoro Reservoir in the foreground. 

Lookout Mountain.  The runoff from these mountains color the local creeks red. The two local creeks are called Alum creek and Bitter creek 

Alamosa River with the red silt.

Reflection in a small pond along Silverlakes Road.

Recent rains had knocked quite a few Aspen leaves off of the trees.

This stock building was built up against a rock face.  The logs must have been hauled quite a ways.

Back to Great Sand Dunes National Parks for some evening pictures.

If I would have known at this point that the winds were going to pick up to about 40 miles per hour I would have turned around here.  I am about 600 feet up a sand dune.

One of my two $650 pictures.  The sand was blowing so hard my pockets were filling with sand.  You can see my shadow in the right hand corner.  The shadow is cast on blowing sand not the dunes.

Why are these my two $650 pictures? Because that is what it cost me to get my lens and camera fixed after exposing them to a sand storm.

This is my last visit to sand dunes to take pictures.

I hope you enjoyed my Colorful Colorado blog.  The next blog will be from Nepal.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Alaska 2014

I had the pleasure of going to Alaska with John Miller and spending a couple of weeks with him and his family on the Kenai Peninsula. I would like to thank them for their hospitality.

There were still a few bald eagles around.  This guy was in need of a bath.  He was covered in mud.

Our first hike on this trip started with a boat ride across Kachemak Bay to Halibut Cove.  During the boat ride we saw a small humpback swimming in very shallow water. From Halibut Cove we walked the trail to Grewingk Glacier Lake.  The sides of the trail were carpeted with ferns and mushrooms.

There was quite a variety of mushrooms along the trail.

This is Grewingk Glacier Lake with the glacier in the background.  It was cloudy many of the days we were in Alaska.  The small iceberg in the foreground almost looks like a fish with its mouth open.

Some fall color has started to appear.

We drove up to Hatcher Pass just a little north of Anchorage to the Independence Mine State Historical Park.  The peak production year for the two mines in this area was 1941 when 34,000 ounces of gold were produced.
During WWII the War Production Board designated gold mining as non-essential to the war effort so gold mining throughout the US came to a halt. Sheelite a tungsten ore was mined for a while during the war because tungsten was considered strategic.  But the ore quality was poor so the mine was idled.  Looks like you could mine these falls for tin today.

Eighteen families lived in nearby Boomtown. During the winters those families were basically stuck here.  They melted snow for water and the men struggled through snow deeper than they were tall to get to the mines.

The state has started rebuilding some of the mine buildings but they weren't as photographic as the ruins.

Day three of foggy/cloudy weather.

This is the Russian Orthodox Church in Ninilchik.  There are still a few communities that are primarily Russian families in Alaska.  Russia established the first permanent settlement in 1784. Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived 10 years later. 

John and I were too late to see natural occurring wildflowers but the City of Kenai planted a field of flowers just for us.

While capturing this picture a large mosquito landed on my camera.  As he started to fly off he forgot to let go and I felt a tug on the camera strap.  Well maybe not but he was pretty big.  The only saving grace for me is that they like John a lot better so he got most of the bites.

My favorite shot.  The camera captured the streak of light that fell on the irrigation pipe.

Sunset from Ninilchik beach with Mount Redoubt and Mount Iliamna volcanoes in the background.  We had two nice sunsets while we were in Alaska.  On the rest of the evenings you couldn't see across the water.

Trumpeter Swans at Reed Lake.

We stopped to hike to Carter Lake on our way to Seward. It was a beautiful day for a hike.  This Loon swam right up to us begging to have us take a picture.

We spent a couple of nights in Seward so we could hike the Harding Icefield Trail.  It is four miles up to the Icefield with an elevation gain of about 3300 feet.  We crossed a footbridge just below these falls.

One of our first good views of Exit Glacier.  It is hard to judge the scale in this photo, but if I was standing in one of those ice valleys you wouldn't be able to see me.

It was hard to believe there was enough snow above us at this point to support this much runoff. 

These two mountain goats were casually watching the hikers on the trail.

This one was only about 20 feet from the trail.

The Harding Icefield is in the background.  The icelfied covers over 1100 square miles and spawns 40 glaciers. I thought these red leaves provided a nice foreground for the photo.

John and his brother, Greg, are headed back down the trail. Exit Glacier feeds the meandering stream in the background.

Exit Glacier - I was surprised at how gray the top of the glacier was.

We were a little late for peak salmon season.  These Pink Salmon were fairly far from the ocean.

The day after the Harding Icefield hike we walked a fairly easy trail to the Skilak Lake overlook.  There were some good views but it was another cloudy day.  On both the Harding Icefield and Skilak Lake trails we did see bears but they were small dots in the distance.  The bears were feeding on berries above the treeline. 

There are moose everywhere on the Kenai Peninsula.  One day we saw eight from the road. Over 190 moose were killed on the Kenai highways last year.  Only about a third of that number were killed by hunters. 

It was bull moose hunting season while were we in Alaska.  We didn't see one male moose but we did see lots of females with calves.  This moose had two calves but only one is in this photo.

Our last hike was to Gull Rock near Hope Alaska.  The tide was out so you can see the mud flats in Turnagain Bay.  The mud flats are like quicksand so you never want to walk on them. 

John catching his breath as we near the end of a twelve mile hike.

The sun popped out for a few hours so we stopped at a few roadside lakes for reflection pictures.

Reed Lake Reflection

Trumpeter Swans 

Well that's all for Alaska.  The next blog will either be from Nepal or shortly after my return from Nepal in November.