100 Days of National Parks: Day 59 – Wandering Stones, Death Valley National Park

Wandering Stones

Racetrack Playa in Death Valley is one of those places that make you realize how strange and mysterious the world can actually be. Walking along the cracked and dry lake bed, miles and miles from the nearest civilization, you come across strange, serpentine tracks left in the dry mud. Following these tracks bring you to the infamous “Wandering Stones” of the Racetrack, and the reason the playa received its name. These stones, some too heavy to lift, slide along the valley floor for reasons that, until recently, were a complete mystery to scientists and casual visitors to the area. While it’s now known that these strange tracks are created by periods of freezing and thawing of winter water cover, which buoys the stones along, dragging long furrows in the muddy ground, walking through this desolate and remote section of Death Valley is still one of the stranger experiences you can find in any National Park.

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Wandering Stones

Wandering Stones
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Racetrack Playa in Death Valley is one of those places that make you realize how strange and mysterious the world can actually be.  Walking along the cracked and dry lake bed, miles and miles from the nearest civilization, you come across strange, serpentine tracks left in the dry mud.  Following these tracks bring you to the infamous “Wandering Stones” of the Racetrack, and the reason the playa received its name.  These stones, some too heavy to lift, slide along the valley floor for reasons that, until recently, were a complete mystery to scientists and casual visitors to the area.  While it’s now known that these strange tracks are created by periods of freezing and thawing of winter water cover, which buoys the stones along, dragging long furrows in the muddy ground, walking through this desolate and remote section of Death Valley is still one of the stranger experiences you can find in any National Park.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 59 – Wandering Stones, Death Valley National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 54 – Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park

As one of the easier hikes in Capitol Reef National Park, the short 2 mile trail to Hickman Bridge is definitely worth the stop, just for the chance to pass under the impressive natural span of sandstone. Other than Natural Bridges National Monument, I’ve never found a place with a more accessible, and stunning display of a natural bridge. Whether combined with a longer hike out to the Rim Overlook, which looks down upon the orchards of Fruita Valley, or as a short diversion when passing through the park, it’s definitely worth the stop.

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Hickman Bridge

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As one of the easier hikes in Capitol Reef National Park, the short 2 mile trail to Hickman Bridge is definitely worth the stop, just for the chance to pass under the impressive natural span of sandstone.  Other than Natural Bridges National Monument, I’ve never found a place with a more accessible, and stunning display of a natural bridge.  Whether combined with a longer hike out to the Rim Overlook, which looks down upon the orchards of Fruita Valley, or as a short diversion when passing through the park, it’s definitely worth the stop.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 54 – Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 43 – Mist Rising from Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park

Sometimes in my wanderings I find myself passing through a place at the perfect time, when the lighting and conditions are so perfect, that I have to stop and try to capture the moment as best as possible. In July of 2015, on my way to the Rainy Pass trailhead to pick up a small section of the Pacific Crest Trail, I passed over the bridge along the small spur of Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park, just as the sun was cresting the mountains to the east, creating a thin layer of fog that hung over the lake in an eerily beautiful haze.

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Mist Rising from Diablo Lake

 

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Sometimes in my wanderings I find myself passing through a place at the perfect time, when the lighting and conditions are so perfect, that I have to stop and try to capture the moment as best as possible.  In July of 2015, on my way to the Rainy Pass trailhead to pick up a small section of the Pacific Crest Trail, I passed over the bridge along the small spur of Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park, just as the sun was cresting the mountains to the east, creating a thin layer of fog that hung over the lake in an eerily beautiful haze.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 43 – Mist Rising from Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 27 – El Capitan, Yosemite

El Capitan

There’s something about the granite walls of the Yosemite Valley that make it ideally suited to black and white photography. Perhaps its the association with the works of Ansel Adams, my first introduction to the park, or the way the cracks and crevices in the rough-hewn rock accentuate even the smallest shadow. Whatever it is, I find myself fighting the urge to shoot everything in black and white when I’m in Yosemite, and it’s a matter of willpower to find elements of color in many cases to force myself to highlight them.

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El Capitan

El Capitan
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There’s something about the granite walls of the Yosemite Valley that make it ideally suited to black and white photography.  Perhaps its the association with the works of Ansel Adams, my first introduction to the park, or the way the cracks and crevices in the rough-hewn rock accentuate even the smallest shadow.  Whatever it is, I find myself fighting the urge to shoot everything in black and white when I’m in Yosemite, and it’s a matter of willpower to find elements of color in many cases to force myself to highlight them.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 27 – El Capitan, Yosemite”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 25 – Emerald Pools Waterfall, Zion

Emerald Pools Waterfall

I took this photo of the waterfall pouring from the Middle Emerald Pools in Zion National Park during my second trip there in 2012, in the midst of my first thunderstorm in the park. In what became a lasting memory, I walked the trails in the mist and rain, sheltering my camera from the wet as best I could, marveling at the way the entire park seemed to burst into a dozen spectacular waterfalls, all pouring forth from seemingly dry fissures in the sandstone walls.

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Emerald Pools Waterfall

Emerald Pools Waterfall
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I took this photo of the waterfall pouring from the Middle Emerald Pools in Zion National Park during my second trip there in 2012, in the midst of my first thunderstorm in the park.  In what became a lasting memory, I walked the trails in the mist and rain, sheltering my camera from the wet as best I could, marveling at the way the entire park seemed to burst into a dozen spectacular waterfalls, all pouring forth from seemingly dry fissures in the sandstone walls.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 25 – Emerald Pools Waterfall, Zion”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 21 – Arguing Old Men, Canyonlands

I’m a big fan of the pareidolia effect, seeing familiar patterns where they don’t exist, like seeing shapes in the clouds, or faces in tortillas. Walking through the spires and rock formations of Canyonlands’ Needles District, I find it impossible not to do this, as around every corner, there seems to be some new, alien rock formation that seems impossible to have been created on this planet.

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Arguing Old Men

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I’m a big fan of the pareidolia effect, seeing familiar patterns where they don’t exist, like seeing shapes in the clouds, or faces in tortillas.  Walking through the spires and rock formations of Canyonlands’ Needles District, I find it impossible not to do this, as around every corner, there seems to be some new, alien rock formation that seems impossible to have been created on this planet.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 21 – Arguing Old Men, Canyonlands”

Retracing Footsteps Buried in Snow

It’s safe to say I left a big part of myself behind on the Pacific Crest Trail when I decided to finally leave it in September of 2015. As I write about it for my book/memoir, tentatively titled I am Not a Thru-Hiker, I’m constantly brought back to my experiences hiking nearly 1400 miles of the 2663 mile trail, constantly reliving my interactions with other hikers and remembering the places that have branded themselves upon my memory for the rest of my life. Hiking the PCT was an experience like no other, and almost half a year later, I still long to be back out there, walking the lonely miles through deserts and forests and mountain passes.

It’s safe to say I left a big part of myself behind on the Pacific Crest Trail when I decided to finally leave it in September of 2015.  As I write about it for my book/memoir, tentatively titled I am Not a Thru-Hiker, I’m constantly brought back to my experiences hiking nearly 1400 miles of the 2663 mile trail, constantly reliving my interactions with other hikers and remembering the places that have branded themselves upon my memory for the rest of my life.  Hiking the PCT was an experience like no other, and almost half a year later, I still long to be back out there, walking the lonely miles through deserts and forests and mountain passes.

Continue reading “Retracing Footsteps Buried in Snow”