Death Valley National Park is one of my favorite places on this old and beautiful earth…especially during the winter months when one can warm up like a lizard within the comfortable embrace of this unique zone which encompasses the lowest place in the USA (-284 feet below sea level) and is near the highest elevation in the Lower 48 States: Mount Whitney. My favorite camping area is Panamint Springs, space 27. However I like Stovepipe Wells Campground, too…and the access to the swimming pool…which we had all to ourselves for a week recently. Death Valley is perfect for hiking and exploring, just bring plenty of water, some energy food…and watch out for the sidewinders, especially in and around the sand dunes! With offroad travel in the park, bring an extra tire or gunk for filling up flats. We had one flat. The only repair station is the Chevron in Furnace Creek. Enjoy the laid back ambience of Panamint Springs. 180 beers are available, including several nice tap selections. They even had one of my alltime favorites: Deschutes Brewery’s Abyss! January and February day temps get into the 70s. Nice! Nights can be cool, though, so prepare yourself appropriately.
My latest story at www.highonadventure.com is about skiing and exploring Red Mountain and Rossland, British Columbia, Canada…the hometown and mountain of my friend Nancy Green who was named Canada’s Female Athlete of the Century a few years ago. Enjoy the read and photos!
Rainie Falls Trail is a relatively easy four-mile trek into the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, Oregon. The Trail is accessed 25 miles from Interstate 5, taking the Merlin exit to Grave Creek Bridge which is along the Merlin-Galice Road. The Trail is on the left side of the river. It is steep in places but well worth one’s time as you trek through some very picturesque country beside this famous river. Salmon and steelhead can be seen jumping the falls as they migrate upstream to their spawning grounds. My friend Rick Ponte and I recently took this trek. November is a great time to do the hike though it can be hiked any time of the year if one is properly prepared.
In the deep wilderness, some days sing in tones and resonances that you’ll never experience again. Such was a recent day in the heart of the Rogue River Wild and Scenic section, between Merlin and the Oregon Coast…Blossom Bar, Marial, Rogue River Ranch. My friend Rick Ponte and I drove several hours to Marial, then we hiked three miles to Blossom Bar…a class IV series of rapids, the most deadly in the State of Oregon for rafting fatalities, including two this year. We were the only people on the road and we were the only people on the trail. It was a day beyond magnificence. There was a sombernance and a reverence to this day, too, as I remembered my dear friend George and Jean’s son–Sarah’s brother and Renee’s husband– whose ashes were released at Blossom Bar. Jason: I knew you but I hardly knew you…but I was blessed by your life and your photography and your love for wild places. I felt your presence on this trek, deeply. Thank you for your contribution to humanity.
Jean is a direct descendant of the Billings family which established human presence in this area. John and Adeline were her great great grandparents and Jean’s mom was born in the Big Meadow here. The book Illahe is about her family and the area.
We saw bear, kingfishers, migrating warblers, mergansers. Only two rafts passed, in the late light. The harmony of the river was absolute…as beautiful as it will ever get, viewed by humans. In the modern era we often look at things and relate to things through the ‘eyes of Hollywood’ such as the film Rooster Cogburn with John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn that was filmed here, in and around the Rogue Country. And that is fine…but to be in a place like this is beyond anything that Hollywood could ever provide.
Our journey into the heart and soul of the Rogue was a blessing, a gift, an opportunity. It was poetry defined by landscape and our willingness to go into it.
And a river. Oh, such a river! The stirrings and the gifts of the day will forever pluck strings, hidden in my heart, defined by the willingness to make one’s self vulnerable to something that is unknown.
Marial, the Rogue River Ranch and the trailhead to Blossom is 37 miles from Grave Creek. It is not recommended for travel in late autumn, winter and early spring. Make sure that you check road and weather conditions before attempting this route. Info can be found by calling one of these three 541 area code numbers: 479-3735, 618-2200, 247-3600.
This is an autumn road worth taking on the western edge of Glacier National Park. The road is accessed via Columbia Falls, heading north along the North Fork of Flathead River. It is paved and dirt, ending up on the Canadian border (no crossing here, though). Stop at the Polebridge Mercantile for lunch and one of their delicious pastries/breads. Fly fish the Flathead. Revel in the beauty of autumn meeting winter. I drove it last week. Any of these photographs are available for signed print purchase; inquire message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I drove to Portland, Oregon, then took the Amtrak Empire Builder train to Whitefish, Montana. Immediately after the 8am arrival, I borrowed my son’s vehicle and drove to one of my favorite places on earth: Glacier Nat. Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Highway because I knew that the following day the highway would close to through traffic for the season. It was a sunny day with broken clouds so I’m happy that I went because the following day the weather pattern changed and the snows came…in addition to the fact that the government shutdown has also closed down all of our national parks. Shame on our government for allowing this to be because these parks belong to all of us!
If you ever get a chance, travel this highway. It’s like traveling to heaven. The views are spectacular and the chances of seeing wildlife abundant, as this is the land of bear, rocky mountain goats, wolves and other wild critters. Pay attention to the road though because it is narrow and steep.
The road is open from the West Glacier side to Logan Pass Visitor Center this year…but that is dependant on the feds opening our national parks back up.
These photos will give you a small glimpse of what you might see. Enjoy!
And remember, my images are purchasable by emailing me at email@example.com.
It was a day spent with family and friends earlier this week. The morning was spent in my hometown of Malin, Oregon. While strolling through our local park, there was a church service going on and also a tug-a-war event with children. The weekend had been great visiting and relaxing with family and friends…along with getting some house chores done. It was wonderful to be back home, though it was brief. After packing, the last shots I took were of Mom and Don in the garden…the waning summer garden. Driving to Surprise Valley, California, there was a lot of traffic coming from Burning Man. Looking east, the sky was ominous and proved just that as we crossed the Warners and drove into a rain storm. We stopped in Cedarville to visit friends Michael and Jeanie of Floating Island Bookstore. The town was hoppin’ with Burners. The last part of the day was spent at friend Jim Matson’s house where several of us enjoyed a barbecue of fresh dove and garden vegetables. We were treated to a full double rainbow and a beautiful sunset. The drive to Bidwell was pleasant, arriving to the new fence and arbor…a project that I’ve been working on for Lynette…built out of recycled wood. No work on Labor Day. Just rest and pleasure!
To quote this project, here are the words from http://dayshoot30.org/about/ (images can be viewed here): “On July 15, 1983, over 90 photographers spent 24 hours capturing daily life throughout the state of Oregon. Project Dayshoot was the name of the venture, and it produced a book called One Average Day. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Project Dayshoot, the original photographers – as well as new contributors – will capture still and motion images across Oregon on July 15, 2013. Any proceeds from the sale of materials relating to this project will benefit the Oregon Historical Society.” Basically a shoot inspired by the Day in the Life book series which included the Day in the Life of America and many other countries. More info on this project can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Dayshoot30
I was asked by Brian Burk from the project to document my home county of Klamath. Originally I was going to document Lake and Klamath counties but by circumstance I ended up staying along the Wood River in the central northwest quadrant of Klamath County, next to the county’s heart and the only national park in Oregon, Crater Lake…which is also the deepest lake in America at nearly 2000 feet. I dedicated my day and evening to documenting the project in this neck of my county though I live on the far south end of the county a mile from the California border. By the circumstance of my location, I documented recreation, landscape, tourism and ranching as these are the prime activities in this part of the county. One exception is the Klamath water issue which affects the entire county. I arranged to meet three major players from similar and different interests to meet me at Crater Lake at high noon for a shoot…as Crater Lake symbolically and realistically is the Mother Lode of water for our county.
FIRST STORY on MY HOME COUNTY
This is the first story which I’ve done on my home county for www. highonadventure.com…and the Oregon Day Shoot was a good opening volley because I was born and raised—and still live—in this, one of America’s most beautiful lands with unlimited recreational/adventure/tourist possibilities.
At midnight sharp, I took my first series of photographs, beginning the project. They were of my kayak tethered to a small dock at Wood River Retreat (call 541-892-7980 for info on this wonderful property, operated as a vacation rental) where I was staying. The 30 second time exposure rendered the Milky Way, heavenly stars, the deep quiet of the river and a portion of my kayak. Immediately to bed I went as I would get up in the twilight hour.
WOOD RIVER BEAVER, KAYAKING, FLY FISHING
In the first light I awoke and quickly turned on the coffee maker. After a splash of cold water on my face, I went to the patio in my underwater and my first dawn shot was before my eyes: an industrious beaver moving a large piece of aspen up the river. Grabbing my camera, I reeled off several shots. Soon-after, I captured (with my pants on) several frames of the neighbor across the river (Christy Snook) as she paddled her light custom made canoe upriver. She does this everyday, just as a jogger jogs and a walker walks. Christy rents out kayaks and she can be reached at 541-281-7775.
The Wood is a great (and safe) river to kayak, beginning at its’ Kimball Park headwaters, just a mile from Wood River Retreat. I also love to kayak downriver to Fort Klamath. Canoes work well here, too, as do rafts and small oar boats.
Wood River fly fishing guru Chris Engle met me at 7am and I photographed him from my kayak as he fly fished in his boat. The Wood has a world-class brown and rainbow trout fishery…including many in the 20 plus inch range. The drake, hopper and caddis fly hatches are renown.
Kayaking back to the Retreat, I quickly made a smoothy and then I headed to the Wood headwaters where I was able to capture the last two kayakers that Christy had outfitted for the day. The cobalt blue and emerald green water of the headwaters reminds me of Belize. The temperature of the water though reminds me of Alaskan glacier melt! Kimball Park is located on the Dixon-Sun Mountain Pass roads a few miles out of Fort Klamath. Campgrounds are available there, too. Make sure you bring your bug dope!
CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK
At high noon on the rim of Crater Lake, I met and photographed Becky Hatfield Hyde (off-project water users), Taylor George (head of PR for the Klamath Tribes) and Steve Kandra (project water users). Symbolically, they placed their hands with each others, showing solidarity toward working on the Klamath Basin’s water issues. Just Google Klamath Basin water crisis and you’ll find plenty to read.
Most of the remainder of the day I spent hiking, exploring and photographing Crater Lake, truly one of the landscape marvels of the world. I’ll let the photos do the talking.
DAY ENDING: KAYAKING ON WOOD RIVER
Leaving Crater Lake, I made my way back to Wood River Retreat where I made a small dinner and a stiff gin and tonic (Tangueray, thank you very much; Bombay is for martinis!) as the day temperature had reached 90. Traveling down the river, I photographed bald eagles, night herons, great blue egrets, great egrets, mergansers and flycatchers. As luck would have it, the following evening while kayaking in the same stretch of the river, I photographed a bobcat! I’ll put the pic in this story just so you’ll know.
The Oregon Day Shoot ended, just as it had started, with night photos of the river, stars and kayak. It was a great 24 hours…and my home county is as beautiful a place that you’ll find in the world!
The largest and most dynamic volcanism on the planet–as it has been for years–is at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on the Big Island. My son Steen, his Montana girlfriend Hallie (who hails from Turner, Montana, being raised on a 6000 acre cattle and grain ranch) and myself recently trekked into the active flow, where magma from the Kilauea volcanic complex flows into the Pacific. I had walked in earlier in the year (February) with http://kalapanaculturaltours.com/. I highly recommend them to be your tour guides. They are knowledgeable, safe, and they are native Hawaiians that own land in Kalapana, including Uncle Robert’s known for their great Wednesday Market. We wanted to trek in earlier daylight though so I led Steen and Hallie to the flow and we returned at dusk. Two weeks earlier someone perished on a hike back from the flow because of ill preparedness for hydration and also because of a shift in the VOG (volcanic gases). So prepare oneself with at least three liters of water, some energy food, a strong flashlight and also a simple breathing mask or bandana in case there is a wind shift. Normally though, the volcanic gases are pushed by the trade winds away from the Kalapana entrance. The Kalapana route is a three mile one-way trek whereas if you walk via the end of the Chain of Craters Road, it is eight miles (plus you’re more vulnerable to the VOG). It is best to walk in sturdy hiking boots. Upon reaching the flow, keep a safe and wise distance, especially near the sea cliffs…though you can approach the more ‘secure’ ground flows quite closely. When we hiked out, we were probably the first people of the day to visit and we had the place all to ourselves for a time. Heading back, we did see tour groups going in. This endeavor is well worthwhile and something that you will remember forever: the power and the beauty of molten earth flowing into the sea…of new earth being made. Enjoy the pics. Any of them can be purchased as high resolution signed prints (or for licensing) by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The view is to die for. I’m happy that I haven’t though because I would have missed four extraordinary nights and five days in visual paradise, steeped with deep relaxation and a nice mix of adventure.
The Waikiki Sheraton Hotel (www.sheraton-waikiki.com) commands one of the finest views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head (Oahu, Hawaii) that exists. I recommend room number 1248 for starters but no matter which room you get, you’ll get a view. The room which I’ve shared with my two sisters, Brenda Turner and Nancy McCollam, is very comfortable and spacious enough, but it is the balcony which I enjoy the most with the day and night views. The morning sun splashes the balcony with generous but not overpowering light and the afternoon shade is most welcome. Underwear and a pair of shorts, or a swimsuit, is all you need as the May temps are perfect.
FIRST HONOLULU STAY
This is my first Honolulu experience though I had touched down in the airport before to change planes…and boy has it been a nice surprise! I always viewed it as a place that did not fit my spirit with too many tourists (like myself) depicted in photos crowded on Waikiki Beach…something which I eschew in favor of more solitary places. I had also heard horror stories about the Oahu traffic (with delays longer than L.A.)…and maybe that is so but we have stayed put, venturing out only by foot (and boat twice and a taxi once) and not once have I felt being overcrowded.
WAIKIKI SHERATON HOTEL
The Waikiki Sheraton is a perfect place to stay, unwind and to let cares fall away like breaking Waikiki waves. It requires an ample budget but it is well worth saving for. Brenda and I—the bookends of our family with six other siblings between—flew Allegiant Air round trip from Eugene, Oregon for less than $300 each. This special takes place every Saturday. Our sister Nancy joined us the following day from the Big Island, Hawaii where she lives.
So what do you do at the Sheraton? Well, the balcony gathers me initially in the first light, then I mosey down to the Helumoa swimming pool (and playground for kids of all ages, including we adults), select a recliner on the grass near the palm trees and hammocks and catch the dappled early light while reading the daily newspaper…the quiet time before the kiddos and their families arrive at the pool. Sometimes I slip into the nearby hot spa tub to drink my coffee. Then I swim, followed by breakfast in the room from purchases made at a nearby ABC Store (generally yogurt and papaya with some macadamia nuts). The daily walk along Waikiki Beach and Kalakaua Avenue I take with my sisters, turning around either at the Honolulu Zoo or Queen’s Surf Beach. It is a fascinating walk whereas you get to see people from all walks of life and ethnicity…and there is plenty of shopping and browsing to do along the way…though minimal for me as I go to photograph and hike. And if you wish to surf, paddle board, boogie board, snorkel, dive, work on your tan, try a new drink or food, hike to the top of Diamond Head, canoe, kayak and more, there is a plethora of opportunities along the way.
AFTERNOONS at the INFINITY POOL
My sisters like working on their tans—they’re sun worshipers and they like great white New Zealand wines for sippin’ while they’re reading and lulling afternoons away in Aloha land—so every afternoon I find and join them at the Sheraton’s ‘oh so soothing’ Infinity Edge Pool. Nancy gets up early and secures the best Infinity lounge chairs! The pool is located on the afternoon sun-side of the Sheraton, with a stout sea wall right below it (along with a pathway). While in the pool (sea water, by the way), there is an illusion that the pool and ocean are one…and after too many mai tai drinks, sometimes ‘it is’!!!
The Sheraton’s famous Rumfire—voted the ‘Best Bar in Honolulu’–is near the pool and their afternoon Happy Hour (4-6pm) features 50 percent off select drinks and tapas. Don’t miss it! The Rumfire is a great restaurant featuring what they call “Pacific Rim of Fire” cuisine…such as spicy ahi poke and kim chee fried rice. Their signature drink is the cucumber lavender mojito. While the Rumfire takes top billing, other eating and dining pleasures of the Sheraton include The Edge of Waikiki, Kai Market and Ingredients.
MAITA’I CATAMARAN: A MUST DO!
Though most of our time is spent relaxing at the hotel (along with our daily walks), we’ve had two catamaran outings which have been epic…and I can’t recommend them enough. The 44-foot Maita’i Catamaran (www.maitaicatamaran.net) may be the best sail/cruise bang for the buck on the island. Its’ owner George Parson received the last commercial catamaran permit for Waikiki in 1976. The green sail vessel—which seats up to 47—gives one a view of Waikiki and Honolulu that is unforgettable. We took the Sunset Mai Tai Sail with George and his outstanding crew ($39 gets you on board and as much as you wish to drink, with or without alcohol; just go for the mai tais!), experiencing a glorious sunset and grand views of Diamond Head and Honolulu. It’s unforgettable so give it a go when you’re there. We liked it so much that we did the Underwater Adventure Sail two days later ($45 for two hours of snorkeling and enjoying). Maita’i means excellence. All that I can say is: well named!