Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fern Canyon

After our visit to Burney Falls we spent the night in Redding then continued on to the Arcata/Eureka area where we were going to be spending a couple days with some of Jessica's friends.  While we were there we went on a group hike to Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  If you've never been to Fern Canyon, it is a fascinating place and I would highly recommend it.  It's an easy, flat hike but does require that you get your feet wet as you have to walk in the water to make it up the canyon.  The water is really shallow, though, so it's not difficult.  The effort is worth it as the views from within the canyon make you feel like you're in a fantasy world.  Ferns are everywhere on the canyon walls (hence the name).  We spent almost a couple of hours in the canyon but the time flew by.  It sure is an interesting place to make some photographs!

Burney Falls

One of the coolest things we saw on our trip was Burney Falls in northern California.  What an amazing waterfall!  There are actually only a few channels of water that come all the way down from the top of the falls.  The rest of the water  runs through the rock and seeps out of the cliff face below the top of the falls.  The result is a very wide waterfall with countless streams of water that looks more like something you might see in Hawaii.  We timed our visit so we would be there in the evening without any direct light, that way I could use longer shutter speeds to blur the movement of the water.  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mono Lake Morning

After a too-short night of rest back at the motel in Lee Vining, we rose early to head back out to Mono Lake for sunrise.  As much as we wanted some more sleep, we also knew that we only had one chance for a sunrise at this location so we seized the opportunity.  And boy are we glad we didn't miss the opportunity because we sure had a beautiful morning!  The clouds were spectacular and the stillness of the air was unbelievable.  The tufa formations were fascinating.  Definitely a very strange and surreal landscape!

From the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve web page: 

"Mono Lake is a majestic body of water covering about 65 square miles.  It is an ancient lake at over 1 million years old and one of the oldest lakes in North America.  It has no outlet.  Throughout the lake's existence, salts and minerals have washed into the lake from Easter Sierra streams.  Fresh water evaporating from the lake each year has left the salts and minerals behind so that the lake is now about 2 1/2 times as salty as the ocean and very alkaline.  The Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve was established to protect the spectacular "tufa towers", calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of fresh water springs and alkaline lake water."


The night sky over tufa formations at Mono Lake, California.  I absolutely LOVED the night skies on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.  I can only imagine how incredible the views of the night sky are from the TOP of the mountain range!  One day I will see it from there, as Jessica and I plan to eventually hike some of the John Muir Trail. For now, this view from Mono Lake will suffice just fine :-)  This photo was made after a long day of driving and photography that started in Death Valley.  

We arrived at Mono Lake just before 10 PM and made our way down to the shoreline.  As we walked down the trail to the lake we could start to see the tufa formations silhouetted against the sky.  When we arrived at the first formations we switched off our headlamps and gazed up at the stars, which were so bright and vivid it seemed as though we could reach out and pluck them from the sky.  I photographed the tufa and stars for about an hour then we headed to our motel for some much needed rest.  Witnessing the awesome night sky at Mono Lake was the perfect way to end an unforgettable day in California!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Cute Molly

As we drove away from the Alabama Hills we followed Movie Flat Road north, which eventually became Moffat Ranch Road.  Just moments after the road transitioned names, we rounded a corner and saw a beautiful meadow with lots of trees that were really starting to green up.  And, the meadow was filled with mules and horses!  Jessica got really excited and of course we had to stop as the animals were very close to the road.  Jessica used to work with both mules and horses so she wanted to get out and talk to them :-)  We had a lot of fun watching and photographing these adorable animals. I really liked the spring green background.  They sure were in a photogenic area!  I even managed to capture one of the mules sniffing the air, which made for a comical photo!

Mobius Arch and the Eastern Sierras

After leaving Death Valley we headed north.  Our next layover was to be Mono Lake in Lee Vining, California.  Along the way we had a couple of ideas for places to check out.  We ended up going with the Alabama Hills just outside the town of Lone Pine.  The Alabama Hills are famous for western movies being filmed there.  In fact, according to literature at the nearby forest service visitor center, over 200 movies have been filmed in the area.  It was a fascinating area with many interesting rock formations.  The background was  magnificent, a stunning view of the Eastern Sierra mountains including Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48 with an elevation of 14,505 feet.  We spent a couple of hours in the Alabama Hills which included a hike to the famous Mobius Arch, seen in this photo.  The sky wasn't the best during our visit here, but we still really enjoyed all the beautiful scenery.  

NOTE: Mount Whitney is NOT visible in this photo, it is behind the right arm of the arch.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mosaic Canyon

Our last stop in Death Valley National Park was Mosaic Canyon.  It was mid-morning but the temp was already approaching 90 degrees so we were anxious to get into the shade of the canyon.  Sure enough, not long after we began the hike we were in the shade and it sure felt good!  We had heard that Mosaic Canyon was the closest thing that Death Valley has to a slot canyon and we love slot canyons so we had to see it!  It definitely was narrow, at least along the first section.  And we could easily see how the canyon got its name.  The canyon walls were a fascinating collection of stones that were definitely reminiscent of a mosaic pattern.  As we hiked further into the canyon we could see some really interesting clouds forming in the beautiful blue sky above.  The clouds made for some interesting photographs showing both the canyon walls and the sky.  The hike into the canyon was all uphill and even though we were in the shade we were starting to feel the heat.  It was a welcome relief to return to the car and the comfort of the air conditioning!