100 Days of National Parks: Day 32 – Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park

Glacier Point

There are few sights more emblematic of the National Parks and the American wilderness in general than the view from the Glacier Point Overlook in Yosemite National Park. From the edge of the cliff, you can see almost 180 degrees of the Yosemite Valley, from Yosemite Falls to the west, over to Half Dome and Nevada Falls to the East, the expanse of the upper end of the Main Valley stretches out in front of you, and it’s hard not to be in awe of the view.

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Glacier Point

Glacier Point
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There are few sights more emblematic of the National Parks and the American wilderness in general than the view from the Glacier Point Overlook in Yosemite National Park.  From the edge of the cliff, you can see almost 180 degrees of the Yosemite Valley, from Yosemite Falls to the west, over to Half Dome and Nevada Falls to the East, the expanse of the upper end of the Main Valley stretches out in front of you, and it’s hard not to be in awe of the view.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 32 – Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 31 – Golden Bee, Joshua Tree National Park

Golden Bee

I’ve mentioned it before, but I love the perspective a macro lens gives you on the world, particularly when I walk by a flowering bush surrounded by buzzing bees. Normally, I avoid sticking my nose into the business of these industrious little pollinators, especially in the deserts of the southwest where they might be a little more aggressive than other bees. With a macro lens on my camera though, my usual hesitation towards getting close to these guys is pretty much wiped away, and I find myself sitting next to them, letting them crawl on my arms, lulled into a sense of calm by the steady hum of their buzzing, and the focus I find trying to frame up the perfect shot.

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Golden Bee

Golden Bee
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I’ve mentioned it before, but I love the perspective a macro lens gives you on the world, particularly when I walk by a flowering bush surrounded by buzzing bees.  Normally, I avoid sticking my nose into the business of these industrious little pollinators, especially in the deserts of the southwest where they might be a little more aggressive than other bees.  With a macro lens on my camera though, my usual hesitation towards getting close to these guys is pretty much wiped away, and I find myself sitting next to them, letting them crawl on my arms, lulled into a sense of calm by the steady hum of their buzzing, and the focus I find trying to frame up the perfect shot.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 31 – Golden Bee, Joshua Tree National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 20 – Mirror in the Merced, Yosemite

Mirror in the Merced

There is something profoundly peaceful about sitting on the banks of the Merced River in Yosemite Valley listening to the slow rush of water and staring out at the towering granite cliffs and domes that rise out of the valley floor. It’s impossible not to be captivated by the scenery, transfixed by your surroundings.

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Mirror in the Merced

Mirror in the Merced
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There is something profoundly peaceful about sitting on the banks of the Merced River in Yosemite Valley listening to the slow rush of water and staring out at the towering granite cliffs and domes that rise out of the valley floor.  It’s impossible not to be captivated by the scenery, transfixed by your surroundings.

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100 Days of National Parks: Day 11 – Parting the Veil, Sequoia National Park

Parting the Veil

Parting the Veil
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Mt. Whitney.

The tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

In my years of hiking, I’ve always repeated the mantra, “Sometimes you beat the mountain, sometimes the mountain beats you.”  Whitney, that unassuming monolith at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the eastern edge of Sequoia National Park, is the one mountain that has truly beaten me.

In 2015, while descending the switchbacks on the western side of the mountain, after being turned back from a thunderstorm that swept in during my ascent, I picked up a stress fracture that ended my dreams of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail that year.  It was a tough injury, more for the emotional and mental distress than for the physical hardships it caused.  I left Sequoia and the PCT that June defeated but determined to return, to beat the mountain that beat me so resoundingly.

“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.” – Napoleon Hill

When most people think of Sequoia National Park, they think of the big trees, with the mountains almost an afterthought, but so much staggering beauty is out there in the backcountry of the High Sierra, waiting to be explored.  Though daunting, these mountains are some of the most dramatic, beautiful examples of wilderness we have in the U.S.  I encourage everyone to get out and explore them some time, to find their own mountain they need to beat, I know I intend to.

100/100/100: Day 3 – Datura Bloom, Joshua Tree National Park

Datura Bloom

Beauty in our National Parks often comes in microcosm, the small things you notice amidst the grand vistas. Though this photo comes from Joshua Tree National Park in California, I first discovered the Sacred Datura on my first trip to Zion National Park in Utah, and I immediately became fascinated with this beautiful desert flower. Long known to native tribes for its strongly hallucinogenic qualities, it was used in many native american ceremonial rituals, including spiritual challenges and “vision quests,” as well as for its medicinal qualities as an anesthetic. The visions its roots and seeds induce are often dark, sometimes deeply disturbing, and have been reported to stay with the user for days or longer. It is truly representative of the desert, beautiful on the surface, but extremely dangerous.
When closed, its blossoms resemble a pinwheel, or the aperture of a camera, and it’s this resemblance, along with its vision-causing abilities, that made me choose it as a symbol for my photography business. It’s my favorite flower, and it’s in full bloom throughout the southwest at this time of year. Get out and find one, and appreciate the beauty of this dangerous plant.

Datura Bloom

Datura Bloom
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Beauty in our National Parks often comes in microcosm, the small things you notice amidst the grand vistas.  Though this photo comes from Joshua Tree National Park in California, I first discovered the Sacred Datura on my first trip to Zion National Park in Utah, and I immediately became fascinated with this beautiful desert flower.  Long known to native tribes for its strongly hallucinogenic qualities, it was used in many native american ceremonial rituals, including spiritual challenges and “vision quests,” as well as for its medicinal qualities as an anesthetic.  The visions its roots and seeds induce are often dark, sometimes deeply disturbing, and have been reported to stay with the user for days or longer.  It is truly representative of the desert, beautiful on the surface, but extremely dangerous.

When closed, its blossoms resemble a pinwheel, or the aperture of a camera, and it’s this resemblance, along with its vision-causing abilities, that made me choose it as a symbol for my photography business.  It’s my favorite flower, and it’s in full bloom throughout the southwest at this time of year.  Get out and find one, and appreciate the beauty of this dangerous plant.

A Taste of the Trinity Alps

At 10 hours from my previous home in Los Angeles, and tucked far enough away from I-5 to not even pass my radar, the Trinity Alps were a place I knew absolutely nothing about going into my hike on the PCT this past summer. When my thru-hike got derailed and I started looking at places I wanted to pick up before the summer ended, this section of Northern California wasn’t one I really looked too hard at, which turned out to be a huge mistake.

Trinity Alps

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In recently relocating to the Pacific Northwest, I find myself looking at new places for future explorations and wanderings.  I’ve spent a lot of time hiking the Olympics and Cascades in Washington and love them, have an insatiable desire to really explore the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood area, and know for a fact I need to spend like a week around Mt. Jefferson.  Above all of these places however, is the intrigue of the Trinity Alps in Northern California.

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Donner Pass Tunnel – Truckee, CA

Donner Pass Train Tunnels

Just a short distance away from the Pacific Crest Trail at Donner Pass, near Truckee, California, extends a massive abandoned train tunnel. Dating from the time of the gold rush in the late 1800’s, the tunnels now stand completely empty, extending for several miles from Truckee up to the summit of Donner Pass.

Donner Pass Train Tunnels

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Just a short distance away from the Pacific Crest Trail at Donner Pass, near Truckee, California, extends a massive abandoned train tunnel.  Dating from the time of the gold rush in the late 1800’s, the tunnels now stand completely empty, extending for several miles from Truckee up to the summit of Donner Pass.

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