Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bear Lake Ice Breakup

Bear Lake doesn’t freeze every year, but when it does there are sometimes good photo opportunities when the ice breaks up.
 On this February day, a snowstorm was blowing in, and the gray clouds were a strong contrast to the blue and white piles of ice at Rainbow Cove on the Utah end of the lake.
Most of the ice blows ashore at just a few places.  Here at Cisco Beach huge piles of ice stack up, and as they scrape across the rocks, boulders are sometimes lifted several feet off the ground.  Strong blue colors show up in ice protected from snow and frost.
Sometimes vertical slabs of ice melt into fantastic delicate patterns.  Maybe their angle to the sun helps them melt faster than horizontal slabs.  The ice at Rainbow Cove had several of these wonderful delicate shapes.
The lake was covered by a fog bank in the distance, behind another delicate ice formation at Rainbow Cove.
Every time I explore Bear Lake I find something new.  The lake seems to have different moods every season, and I never get tired of the beauty of places like Rainbow Cove.  The fog and ice on this day was really special.

My photos are copyrighted, so please do not use them without permission.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Mule Deer Migration

This winter is the harshest one I’ve seen since I moved to the Bear Lake Valley, Idaho seventeen years ago.  Winter is half over and we have already had over 100 inches of snowfall.  Of course it has been compressed on the ground quite a bit, but there is still so much snow that deer are unable to forage in many areas.  The east side of Bear Lake usually has less snow than the rest of the valley, so mule deer are migrating there in amazing numbers.
There are lots of shrubs in the area; sagebrush, rabbitbrush, and more.  Mule deer are browsers, and can live off these plants that grow above the deep snow.  They look pretty good so far, but there are so many that I’m afraid the food will be gone soon.
Almost all the deer we see are does and fawns.  This fawn is browsing on sagebrush.  The bucks are more cautious and have been staying back in the hills, but a few are showing up now.  Since they took longer to get to the food at the lake, they look skinnier than the does.
It is a lot of fun to drive to Bear Lake and see these beautiful animals.  Usually, deer run away from cars here, but these hungry animals have become bolder, and will often stay close enough for photos.
The deer are up to their bellies in snow in many places, so feeding stations have been set up for deer and elk in areas with the deepest snow.  I hope the Bear Lake deer won’t need to find their way to one of those stations to survive this difficult winter.

Please respect the copyright on my photos, and do not use them without my permission. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Meadow Lake Petroglyphs, California

One of our adventures during our fall camping trip was a visit to the Meadow Lake petroglyphs in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains of California.
Getting there was half the fun.  After about 10 miles of dirt roads, we passed Meadow Lake and continued toward a large area of exposed granite.  Soon we found that the road was blocked by a fallen tree.  Bruce hooked on with a tow strap, broke it, and moved it aside.
Eventually we reached a large open area of granite boulders, with hundreds of petroglyphs on the horizontal surfaces.
The rock art at this site is described as Style 7, High Sierra Abstract-Representational petroglyphs identified with the Martis culture dating from 2000 B.C. to 1000 A.D.  We can guess at their meaning, but no one knows for sure.

The petroglyphs here show up best on areas of dark desert varnish, but careful inspection reveals many on the lighter colored rock as well.  The light scratches around the edge are glacial striations caused by rocks embedded in the base of moving glaciers.

The area is rocky and rugged.  Not many trees grow in this granite, and there are quite a few dead snags and fallen trees.  Their wood often has beautifully weathered patterns.

Why are there so many petroglyphs here?  Perhaps this nearby pond is a clue.  Maybe there was a larger wetland here many years ago, providing a water source for game animals.

 Or maybe it was a good place to camp with drinking water nearby.

  We don’t know the meaning of this rock art, but it sure is fun to find it and take pictures.

These photos are copyrighted, so please do not copy them or use them without my permission.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Humboldt City, Nevada

About 500 people lived here once, but Humboldt City has been a ghost town since the post office was removed in 1869.  Silver was discovered here in 1860, and the city was built here to support several mines.  But, it didn’t last long.
A dirt road runs from the valley through the center of town.
Humboldt City is located along a creek that runs through a canyon high on a mountain in the Humboldt Range of Nevada.  There were 200 buildings here, and now you can still find many rock ruins scattered through the underbrush and on the hillsides.
Some of them, like this one with the double windows, have signs that people tried to move in here long after the city was abandoned.  We found a cinder block fireplace added to this old rock wall.
This cabin also has some modern materials like rusty window screens.  It was hard to get to because it was built in a deep gully next to the creek.  I don’t understand why it wasn’t washed away years ago.
There were two hotels here; the Coulter House and the Iowa House.  I’m guessing that this ruin was one of them because of the large front room and a smaller room in back that could have been a kitchen.
The view from the hotel looked up the canyon toward the mountains where the mines were located.  It looks like it has been a long time since the last “No Vacancy” sign went up.

Humboldt City is just a couple of miles from busy Highway 80, near Mill City, Nevada, but being there is like being in a different world.

Remember, all my photos are copyrighted.  Please do not use them for any purpose without permission.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Angel Lake Scenic Byway, Nevada

Most people zooming across Nevada on Highway 80 don’t think there is much to see in the state, but Angel Lake Scenic Byway might change their minds.

It would be hard to beat the fall color I saw here on this trip.  I stopped for the night at Angel Creek campground along the byway near Wells, Nevada, and in the morning drove the rest of the road to Angel Lake.  The entire byway is just 12 miles long, but in that distance the elevation rises from about 5600 to 8400 feet.  The last four miles are narrow and winding with sheer drop-offs, so I left the trailer in camp.  The views were spectacular.

The road ends at Angel Lake, which is pretty, but can’t compare to the amazing fall color along the road up the mountain.  This photo is a three shot panorama.
The lake is in the East Humboldt mountains in Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.  The road is open when the snow is gone, usually from May through October.  There is a great view of the Clover Valley, far below.
Most of the spectacular color comes from aspen trees.  The orange and yellow color variations and occasional bare trees are a photographer’s dream.  Isolating the trees from the mountains creates a tapestry of color.
This was the beginning of my 46th trip in 35 years of camping with my California photo friends, and it was a great start.

My photos are copyrighted, so please do not use them for any purpose without my permission.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Port Orford, Oregon, Dolly Harbor

Linda and I have been visiting the southern Oregon coast for a week.  We rented a house at the beach in Gold Beach and used it as a base to explore the surrounding area.
  Since then, we have visited the small fishing harbor at Port Orford several times.
 We had two wonderful seafood dinners, enjoyed spectacular ocean views, and even photographed California gray whales, but what interested me most was the unique harbor.
Port Orford harbor is one of just six dolly ports in the world.  The port has no bar to cross, which allows boats to go out to sea more often than boats in other ports, but also means there isn’t a safe place to dock.  So the boats are hoisted out of the water with huge cranes and placed on dollies for storage on the pier.  How do they get the boats onto the pier?

A crane lifts the boat out of the water,

It swings the boat toward the home-made dolly.

Men line it up with the dolly using ropes.

The boat is lowered carefully.

The 25 ton capacity crane is unhooked.

A little pickup is hooked up to tow the boat to its parking place on the pier.

These boats are used to catch crab, rock fish, cod, salmon, sea urchin, and more.  I’ll bet some of their catch went to Griff’s restaurant right there on the pier.  Wonderful fresh seafood!

Remember, my photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without my permission.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ant Basin, Idaho

The Bear Lake Valley is bordered by National Forests on two sides.  Recently my friend, Jim Parker showed me some high country on the west side of the valley that was new to me.  Since then, I drove back to the same area with my wife, Linda, and again with another friend, Bruce Grayum.

My favorite location on this drive is a ridge in the Ant Basin area (Caribou County).  It is an open T shaped rocky knob with an amazing view toward the next valley to the west.  There were thousands of Indian paintbrush in bloom; hundreds of times more than I have seen anywhere else.  I believe that the eroding rock of the mountaintop created soil that must be ideal for paintbrush.

There were plenty of other wildflowers too, like this lupine.  All of these photos were taken in a small area at the top of the T.  On the third visit I intended to shoot more on a flower covered hillside at one end of the T, but the paintbrush were fading and a thunderstorm chased us away.

Most of the paintbrush were orange or red, but I did find one sulphur paintbrush.

This shows how the flowers were growing in pockets of soil between the rocks.

The roads to Ant Basin are dirt and rock, with some mud after rainstorms.  They are narrow and steep in places, and the climb is about 2300 feet above the Bear Lake Valley.  The rocky knob is not a good place to be in a thunderstorm.

The Indian paintbrush were a wonderful backdrop for other flowers like these lupine.

We saw a variety of wildflowers along the roads as well, and they changed with the elevation.  There was also wildlife including deer, hawks, and one uncooperative weasel.

I haven’t explored anywhere near all the roads in our nearby National Forests.  I need to get out more.

Please note that my photos are copyrighted and should not be used without permission.