Friday, September 28, 2012

Joe's Gap Autumn, Idaho

Joe's Gap is a small, but pretty, canyon that cuts through the hills just three miles from my home in Montpelier, Idaho.

This has been an amazing year for fall color in the Bear Lake Valley, with the red, yellow, and orange maples producing masses of color.  But smoke from several monster wildfires has made the color difficult to enjoy.  Joe's Gap is a good place to get into the trees away from the smoke.

The fallen leaves create a carpet of color on the trail where it enters the canyon.

As the trail climbs, the canyon gets more narrow and darker, so water droplets stay on the leaves until late in the day.

Joe's Gap climbs steeply into the hills with spectacular cliffs towering over the narrow gap. When the sun gets high overhead the autumn leaves glow with backlight.
The color is more muted on the valley floor, out of the direct sunlight.
In some places, the fallen leaves have gathered in deep piles against sheltered spots in the rock.
The muted light allows for long exposures, so I tried zooming the lens for about 0.5 second, creating this dynamic effect.
I wonder how Joe's Gap got its name? Who the heck was Joe anyway? This autumn, Joe's Gap was a very special place.

UPDATE - 04/08/15 - Thank you, George Lane, for telling me that Joe's Gap was named after Joseph Phelps, an early settler in Bennington, Idaho

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lamoille Canyon, Nevada

There are places in this country that are every bit as beautiful as most National Parks, but are nearly unknown by most Americans. Lamoille Canyon is one of those special places.
The canyon is the largest valley in the Ruby Mountains south of Elko, Nevada.  It was carved by glaciers, and usually has snow fields and waterfalls year round.  We missed them because of the dry year.

Wildlife includes beavers, and their ponds create reflective pools that are great for photographing the massive canyon walls. There are also bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

The canyon walls soar 2000 feet above the valley floor so sunlight hits some of the cliffs while others are in shadow.  The sheer rock walls remind me of Yosemite Valley.
The morning view in the beautiful campground included this dagger of light when the early sunlight touched the ridge.

The morning light bounced off a mountain and reflected in the water of the creek next to my campsite.  In the space of one second, the color disappeared when the sunlight reached the water. The rocks in this photo were in shadow, and they picked up the reflected blue of the sky.
The road through Lamoille Canyon is paved and 12 miles long. For you younger, more energetic kids, there are miles of  trails. The campground is excellent and there are motels and restaurants in nearby Elko. Don't miss the Basque food at the Star Hotel!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Metropolis, Nevada Ghost Town

Summer was way too busy to find time for updating this blog, but a camping trip last week included a photo opportunity that I just had to post.  I was on the way to Elko, Nevada to meet a friend for our second camping trip this year, and our 31st consecutive year of camping and photography.  I took a side trip north of Wells, Nevada to the ghost town of Metropolis.  This was a planned farming community started in 1910, with irrigation provided by a dam on Bishop Creek.  However, the planners never bothered to get water rights and were sued by the town of Lovelock, Nevada.  When Metropolis lost their water, the residents gradually moved out, and Metropolis was a ghost town by 1950.
The most spectacular ruin is the arch of the old Lincoln school.  The town once had a railroad station and daily passenger service, but there is no trace of the station.
This is the basement of the ruined school.  Spooky, to say the least.  Someone has shored up the stairs with a couple of 2 x 6's, and there are ceiling holes everywhere, but the debris-filled space is a ghost town classic.

The other major ruin was once a hotel.  Notice how isolated this place is.  There are miles of treeless sagebrush plains in every direction.  There is probably a cemetery somewhere, but I couldn't find it.
If you wander through the sagebrush, you will find a few foundations, the usual small artifacts like broken glass, and this wonderful rusty wreck.  There used to be a city here, with houses, stores, and about 700 people, but the desert has reclaimed nearly everything.