Monday, August 31, 2009

Nothing like a vacation!

We did a LOT of hiking on this vacation (over 200 miles) but we did some touristy things, too. From RMNP, we went down to Colorado Springs, where we drove up this crazy road to the top of Pikes Peak (didn’t see Clara…BamaGirl…there, though…).

We also visited Garden of the Gods, where we enjoyed red rock formations like this one, the Siamese Twins, with Pikes Peak in the background. Didn't see Clara OR Kim there, either. Too bad...could have been Village 365 party!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Add-a-theme: Bloglifting

I enjoyed Kim2900’s photo of Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park so much, we made a point to visit there on our way out of the park. By chance we passed another place she had blogged about, the lovely Camp St. Malo. Sorry, Kim, for being a copy-cat bloglifter, but I couldn’t help myself. Thanks for introducing me to these great scenes!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

..."fire burn and cauldron bubble"...

Can’t go camping without a campfire! I learned it’s tough taking photos of a fire! I tried different manual settings, some of the “scene” settings on my camera, and even switched on the flash (a big disaster…see photo #3). Of some fifty photos, I was happy with just two. Click for more detail. Which do you prefer?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rules are made to be broken

In the wind shelter on Chiquita Peak, a marmot pauses to decide if he should interrupt my lunch. When shooting wildlife, especially wildlife that sneaks up on you, sometimes you break the rule of thirds in order to preserve the shot.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"The hills are alive..."

The vistas from the hike up to Chiquita Peak in Rocky Mtn National Park call to mind “Sound of Music” song lyrics… (sing along, everyone!)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

All hail!

One of the fun roads to drive in RMNP is Old Fall River Road. It’s one way, up hill only, with many switchbacks and very narrow spots. Driving it one morning to hike to Chiquita Peak, we pass this regal young Bighorn Sheep.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Water's edge...10,000 feet in the air

5 miles from the trailhead, we reach the water’s edge, at Sky Pond. Made it! The distinctive Cathedral Spires make a dramatic backdrop to this lovely, icy-cold, teal-colored pond.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Risky business

There was a lot of snow on the hike to Sky Pond. Hiking across a snowfield in summer sounds like unique fun, but it can be risky. The snow is very slick, and most hiking boot treads aren’t aggressive enough to really give a firm grip. Trekking poles help, but it pays to be cautious.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Are we having fun yet?

Granted, everyone's idea of summer fun is different. On our hike to Sky Pond, we had to hike IN a waterfall. This group of women just ahead of us managed the steep, slippery ascent, so we followed them up. It was a blast!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Going green

One day in Rocky Mountain National Park, we hiked to Sky Pond. Along the way, we passed Loch Vale, and this lovely river filling it. The sunshine on the grass reflects in the clear water, casting a lovely green glow over the entire scene.

Friday, August 21, 2009

This season, the well-dressed, eco-conscious elk will be wearing "green" jewelry

This young buck Elk, spotted along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, appears to be sporting earrings (click to zoom and see them). These tags help rangers track his movements as he makes his way around the park, changing elevation with the seasons to forage for food.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Entrez vous!

We enjoy taking photos of the entrance signs to all the national parks we visit. Usually, only one of us appears in the photo, but at RMNP, there was a little camera stand available. I lined up the shot, hit the self timer, and hopped into the frame.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Midwest summers

...wouldn't be complete without a riot of Queen Anne's Lace growing alongside every road and byway. Here's a quick detour from my vacation photos for a shot taken last weekend.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How does your garden grow?

Day two in Salt Lake, we made the climb up to Lake Blanche, in the Twin Peaks wilderness. Flowers were in full bloom, decorating the landscape.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When the lights go down in the city...

Great Basin behind us, we continued east, and spent two nights in Salt Lake City, Utah. Near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon, we found a reasonable place to watch the sun set. As the sky bled from blue to salmon to orange, the city lights began to twinkle below us.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

For the post-hike munchies

It’s true…it’s as much fun to make as it is to eat! Outdoor cooking is a big part of camping, and sometimes a little salty treat hits the spot.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The payoff!

Finally, the view from up on top of Wheeler Peak, the 2nd highest point in Nevada. Dark clouds were beginning to roll in, so we didn’t get to stay up there very long. We took a handful of photos and then headed down, to avoid getting stuck above treeline should lightning make an appearance.

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Solitary man"

Hiking can be a solitary activity, even when you are with someone else. We were about halfway up Wheeler Peak at this point. For once, I was ahead of Jon.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Not quite Everest, but felt like it!

Our second day in Great Basin National Park, July 4th, we decided to tackle the 3000 foot climb to the top of Wheeler Peak. At 13,063 feet, it towers above us as we begin our journey. Jon's on the trail in the foreground. The trail led us through the woods on the right side of the photo and popped out on the ridgeline (against the edge of the photo), and then followed the ridge all the way up to the peak.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Stately old man

On our first full day in Great Basin, we selected a hike that took us through a bristlecone pine forest. Many of these trees are over 3000 (yes, three THOUSAND) years old. Most, like this one, have aged gracefully.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eligible for "Cash for Clunkers?"

From Lake Tahoe, we motored across Nevada and spent 3 nights in Great Basin National Park. On the road that leads into the park, we drove past a road-side interpretive display talking about farming in the area, back in the day. I enjoyed this antique car, just beyond the information kiosk. I thought of BillZ when I snapped this photo!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pup power

In some Native American cultures, the coyote was considered to have magical, or mystical energy. Early on our bike around the lake, we spotted this beautiful fellow near a city park in South Lake Tahoe.

“Many primordial tribal tales provide a glimpse of Coyote's mystical power. In most, Coyote isn't merely a wild dog, but divine, an immortal spirit that brought his universal magic and good medicine to the First People. The Crow tribe describes him as the Creator of the world and all it holds, the First Artist, the First Worker.” From:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pedal power

After leaving Sequoia/Kings Canyon, we made our way to Lake Tahoe. We rented bikes and spent two days on two wheels biking the 70 miles around the lake. On the first leg of the trip, we stopped to ogle the view of Emerald Bay.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

For Z. Z. Top

I enjoyed this cluster of legs as visitors to Sequoia National Park cluster around the "you are here" trail maps, deciding where to hike.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Phew! Made it!

The longest hike of our trip was just over one dozen miles…12.4 according to my GPS. In Sequoia National Park, it took us through the woods and out across a ridgeline. We had great views of the Sierra Nevadas, and ultimately ended up in glorious Alta Meadow, which you might have to scroll to see.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Charismatic megafauna

Rangers in several of the national parks we visited told us to be on the watch for charismatic megafauna...the big ones being bear, elk, coyote and cougar.

During the course of our trip, we saw three of the four - (no cougars, thankfully). This mama bear and her baby cub were a surprise in Sequoia National Park. I had just one shot. It's a little blurry...the bears were about 10 feet away and I was hoping they didn't notice me, noticing them. They didn't seem too troubled by our presence.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A different kind of drive-through

After seven days in Yosemite, we headed to Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks. On our first day, we did the requisite tourist activity and drove through a tree. I was glad to learn the tree was dead before they cut the hole in it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night . . .

Actually, just dark. I was in the tent, reading. Jon was outside, playing around with long-exposure photos. I liked this image so much, I asked him to be a guest photographer for this theme. Enlarge it to see the silhouetted trees behind our campsite.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bridal Veil Falls...

...can usually be counted on to display a lovely rainbow. It doesn't disappoint.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Into the mist...

Many visitors to Yosemite enjoy a cool spray from climbing the granite steps at Vernal Falls, but we avoided the crowds and still got to experience the icy vapor. Wapama Falls, in the Hetch Hetchy area of the park, gave us a frosty shower as we passed by, and we had it all to ourselves.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Giddy up

Wouldn’t feel like we were out west if we didn’t see a cowboy! Our hike to Wapama Falls in Yosemite is interrupted by this team, carrying supplies to a distant camp.