Sol Duc Rain Forest & Hurricane Ridge

Saturday, September 243980-solduc10It was an easy drive from Kalaloch up to Forks. Time for some blog uploading, laundry and shopping, and then a hike to Sol Duc Falls in a different part of the Olympic Rain Forest. We had another 40 mile drive into Olympic National Park to get to the trailhead, but it went quicker because most of the distance was on highway 101.3910-solduc1 3912-solduc2There are several ways to get to the falls. We chose to take the lesser used Lovers Lane trail and make a nearly 6 mile loop out of the hike using the more popular and shorter distance trails on the other side of the river. Most people just take the 2 shorter routes out and back. We were on the trail by 10 and saw only a few other hikers pass us by as we lingered over ferns and massive trees. It will be much different when taking the loop back after the falls.
3915-solduc33919-solduc4The trail first moves along the base of the valley, just behind the large hot pools of the Sol Duc Hot Springs development. It is a bit of a strange feeling walking through a primitive rain forest on one side and a modern swimming pool with people lounging around on the other.3932-solduc7The rains from the last couple of days made the trail a little slick. The many roots crossing the trail were very slippery and stumbling was an easy thing to do. We were carrying tripods on this hike, so no hiking poles to help steady footing. They would have been a great help on this one.3927-solduc6At one water crossing, we used a bridge built from whole logs with a leaning rail to photograph from. The rushing stream became a background for ferns growing from the banks. We also found interesting fungi nearby.3941-solduc83968-solduc9We stopped for lunch at a favorite spot along the river. Some nice color in the foliage added to the scene. A nice break and a good place for a few more images.3985-solduc113986-solduc123995-solduc134000-solduc14After a little over 3 miles, we reached Sol Duc Falls. It is a pretty dramatic scene where the falls are split into 3 separate sections as it tumbles into a narrow cavern. A bridge crosses the cavern and is the best place to photograph from. A short trail leads upriver a bit for some different angles.4014-solduc15a4007-solduc154027-solduc164030-solduc17It was quite busy here. The hikers from the parking area 1.7 miles away were here in abundance, so making images was more difficult. The hike in was the real draw for me anyway. We lingered here a while before moving on to the return trip. We managed to get ourselves wedged in between a large group of young kids on an outing. A little noisy for a while, but they soon out paced us and were out of earshot again.4035-solduc18We arrived back at Salt Creek in time for a lovely sunset. Yesterday afternoon after we first got settled, we watched a pod of Orcas hunting just offshore. This evening, we climbed on the LD roof to watch sunset.4036-solduc19 4059-solduc20 4061-solduc21Our last day in the Olympics will be tomorrow when we hike Hurricane Ridge up at 5000 feet. Should be fun!

Olympic National Park – Hurricane Ridge
Tuesday, September, 274072-hurricane1Leaving Forks this morning, we had an interesting encounter. We pulled out of the RV park, headed out of town trailed by another car a little closely. It was one of those occasions where the car just didn’t seem to want to pass, even though there was plenty of room and time to do so. As we reached the outer borders of town, they finally went for it. Just after they passed and were putting distance between us, they went through an intersection. Seconds after they did that, an animal came blasting across the road through intersection. There was still plenty of room between us, so no danger of hitting, but after it passed we looked at each other when we realized it was a llama! No tether, no chasing owner – just out there running around. Now Forks is known for its vampires and werewolves (Twilight), but llamas are something new. By the time we passed the intersection, it was nowhere to be seen.4080-hurricane2We wanted one last hike in Olympic National Park before leaving the area for the Northern Cascades. We chose to drive the 17-mile, 5,000’ rise to Hurricane Ridge for a walk in the clouds. The morning in camp was somewhat foggy at first, but seemed thin. We figured it would burn off in a short while, so we were off.4088-hurricane4 4095-hurricane3We encountered more fog on the way up. We’d drive into thick pockets, then suddenly break open to brilliant sunshine. The road is a steep incline with tremendous views all the way up when not in the fog, and lots of places to pull over. At one point, we again got sandwiched in with 3 identical large white SUV’s full of Chinese tourists. We’d all stop at the same overlook. Another selfie frenzy at each stop. Eventually we got some separation from them and found the parking area for our hike.4120-hurricane7 4130-hurricane8This hike is about 3 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 700’. Normally not too bad, but we’ve been at sea level for weeks and were a bit concerned about acclimating to this altitude. The trail itself is mostly paved – it is a very popular hike in a busy location – starts off at a bit of an incline, but soon decisively angles up. There are a few places where it levels to some degree, before the final set of long steep switchbacks takes you to the top of the ridge. Once up there, it is easy walking along the trails that snake all over the ridge.4153-hurricane9 4161-hurricane10The views were great all the way up as we had hoped. We stopped often to photograph and catch breath. Still lots of fog all around, but not as much as when we started. At the top, looking out toward Vancouver Island only revealed more heavy fog. A little disappointing, but we decided to hang around a while, have some lunch and hope things cleared more. When clouds parted momentarily, we could see Mt. Baker from our lunch spot – our next destination.4165-hurricane11 4116-hurricane6After walking most of the ridge, we started back and were rewarded for our patience with a nice view from the top out over the Straits. The walk down went pretty quickly. Not much need to catch breath now. We both felt great – no altitude problems.4190-hurricane12 4224-hurricane13 4226-hurricane14 4227-hurricane15 4235-hurricane16Back at the car, since it was still pretty early, we hiked another little nature walk near the visitor center. Now properly tired out, we headed home for the day.

Arriving back at Salt Creek Campground, we saw the fog had persisted here. It was a low bank just off the cliff in front of us. There was a kind of strange light on two ends of the bank – kind of looked like an arch if the top had been sliced off. Mary wondered if I wanted to photograph it and I told her, “It’s going to have to look a lot cooler than that before I want to photograph it”. It soon did. A section seemed to almost rise up and arch, but it was sunlight refracting into the fog creating a fogbow.4239-saltcreekrainbowA pretty great reward after a fine stay.

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Ruby Beach and Hoh Rain Forest

September 21-223750-ruby1After our long hike yesterday in the Quinault Rain Forest, we were ready for some down time. We spent the morning trying to catch up on the blogs and inter-webbing, before deciding to take the short drive up to Ruby Beach. Ruby is known for it’s sea-stacks and driftwood on a rocky beach. There were loads of folks here today, picking their way through the huge logs jumbled everywhere, making it almost impossible to make people-less landscapes.3771-ruby3 3757-ruby2We spent just a couple of hours walking around before heading back to camp. Later that evening, I was out on my little perch above the pacific for some night photography. It’s pretty cool to be able to see the Big Dipper in the image. I plan to make more evening images another day.3791-kalalochstars1

Hiking in  the Hoh Rain Forest3800-hoh2aIt was cool and damp with dew after a cloudless night as we prepared for our 6 mile hike through the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park. By and large, we’ve had wonderful weather for all our hikes. The little fog there was this morning dissipated quickly as we made another long drive to the trailhead. That is the only downside to staying at Kalaloch – it is about in the middle of the two places we were interested in exploring. 30-40 miles in opposite directions to get to either. Today’s drive was 15 miles north on 101, then 17 miles on a much more twisty road into the rain forest.3797-hoh1Oh, but it’s worth it. This is a popular trail, so we wanted to get an early start. There were only a few cars in the lot when we finally got there around 9:30. It was chilly, but hiking would soon change that. This is a terrific trail to walk. It meanders through a towering moss covered forest, occasionally bending toward the river. This early in the morning, sunlight was only seen when we moved closer to the river. There, maple trees were beginning to turn color and sword ferns became backlit. Under the canopy, the color changes had yet to occur. 3812-hoh3 3817-hoh4The feeling of being among ancient living things is strong here. There is a quietness that seems to suggest reverence. We found ourselves speaking in slightly hushed tones. No need to shout here.3843-hoh6I am not really sure if I am expressing those feeling in the images I make here. Everything looks special on the little screen on my camera, but does the actual image I make convey specialness, or will it just look like an old tree with a bunch of stuff hanging off it?3826-hoh5We stopped for lunch at a bridge overlooking Mineral Creek. There is a nice waterfall here, but too far off trail, and kind of obscured by brush to get a good perspective. Still, it was a nice place to stop and listen to water flowing.3854-hoh7 3859-hoh8With the sun now high overhead, making photos in the forest was becoming difficult. Too many hotspots that require a lot of hoops to jump through to overcome. I decided to get closer and found more ferns and maples to work with.3862-hoh9 3866-hoh10 3868-hoh11The Hoh River Trail is actually about 17 miles long. One can catch it at several different locations. We were pretty tired after the first 3 that we did, so we turned back for the walk home. A lot more hotspots now and our fatigue made us want to just get back. We met a couple of young rangers heading off for a multi-day backpack excursion. Before you think, “Oh, what a great perk”, they were going out to dig new privies for the backpack camps and fill in the old. Oh yes, and it was going to rain again all night.3869-hoh12Getting back to the huge parking lot at the visitor center, we discovered it was full and overflow parking getting scarce. We did pass a lot of people heading out on our way back in, but it was a shock to see so the place so full of cars. We were glad to get back though. Coffee and snacks were in order before the long drive home.3879-kalaocheve1Again this evening, I was out after dinner on our little patio photographing, um, well, not the sunset as such – the clouds of the approaching storm were in – but as the light became dimmer, I used the movement of the surf to make some lovely soft images. Very different from last night.3885-kalaocheve2 3887-kalaocheve3 3899-kalaocheve4 3902-kalaocheve5We are headed to Forks, Washington tomorrow for restocking, and later a hike to Sol Duc Falls in another part of Olympic. Stay tuned!

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Astoria and Rain Forests

September 16 -193428-shipwreak3We didn’t think it would be a problem getting into Ft. Stevens State Park. After all, there were 500 sites in the campground. When we looked online to make a reservation, there was one site open for the days we wanted. We thought that had to be a mistake. There must be only a certain amount available for reservations and the rest, first come, first serve.3425-shipwreak2So we took the site and discovered that we only got it because it was a late cancellation. This place is very popular. Our site, while tight was just fine. The park is tightly managed, and we saw roving golf-cart patrols often. I was especially happy since it was a full hook-up site in a very shady location. The rain we had last night down in Florence, was heavy up here around Astoria. So much so that many campers canceled or left early, expecting more. Rain showers were forecast over the nest several days, and yes, we got them. Short torrential downpours, then sunshine. It seemed to keep the potential crowds down a little.3421-shipwreak1After getting settled, we went out to see the shipwreck that is the reason we came here. We saw an image of it at the same show we saw the Cape Perpetua night shot and wanted to see it for ourselves. The ship is the Peter Iredale that ran aground in 1906. Its bow still protrudes out of the sand. Far in the rear, a couple of poles signify the back of the ship. I thought this would be a pretty easy image to get, but it took repeated visits to get something I liked.3434-shipwreak4We walked around the beach a bit more before driving out to the South Jetty to get the lay of the land. From out here, the mouth of the Columbia River is so wide it is hard to tell what is ocean and what is river.3439-southjetty 3440-southjetty1Even though the campground is full, we found plenty of out-of-the-way places to wander. Out here on the jetty was a stillness that was very enjoyable after the drive from Florence this afternoon. We just walked and played with landscapes.3451-southjetty2 3454-southjetty3 3456-southjetty4Saturday morning we intended to be up and out at the shipwreck early to avoid crowds, but the rain forecast for the afternoon began around 5 AM and didn’t stop until around noon. We waited until there was a break in the rain and finally got out there around 10.3463-shipwreak1-2It was quite calm in the campground, but just a mile away at the shoreline, the wind was blowing so hard it was difficult to stand still. The ocean waves were lapping at the the wreck now and was beginning to approach what we were looking to photograph.3466-shipwreak2-2 3469-shipwreak3-2But still the light was not particularly good. The scene was dramatic, but without any light on sky or water, it was too dull. The rest of the day did not get much better weather wise.3472-astoriacol1We did a little tour of the Astoria Column, dedicated to the travels of Lewis & Clark. The column is large and sports the story on its facade in a nicely done spiraling mural. Also spiraling up, were the 164 steps inside the column that led to the top observation deck and allows for grand views – on most days anyway.3501-astoriacol73473-astoriacol2The view would have been better on a nicer day, but this is the day we chose, so we made the best of it. Looking down from the top gave some interesting perspectives.3480-astoriacol3 3485-astoriacol4 3487-astoriacol5We watched from the bottom as some visitors hefted off the side little wooden airplane gliders. I noticed them for sale in the visitor’s center but didn’t make the connection.3512-astoriacol10We walked down off the point, into the surrounding forest to look around. Among the trees were remnants of past flights. We found some with their messages still intact, though somewhat unintelligible.3497-astoriacol6We walked a little more into the forest before heading out. Before leaving town, we looked for and found an eagle observation deck a little outside of Astoria, but no eagles were to be found. We were tired out by now, so headed back to camp.3514-astoriacol11 3520-astoriacol12Sunday morning was very cloudy and overcast. It rained more during the night and we thought today would be a repeat. By 9 the skies were clearing so we headed out to the beach to check out the shipwreck again The clearing skies had brought out the crowds again and they seemed to like hanging around the wreck best.3523-shipwreak1-3Later in the day, we went out to the South Jetty area again. This time we started out from a nearby birding observatory and walked around the point of this part of the jetty.3524-southjetty1-2 3529-southjetty2-2 3541-southjetty4-2 3533-southjetty3-2We were just playing around out here, looking for compositions.3544-southjetty5-2 3550-southjetty6-2 3554-southjetty7-2It was a nice late afternoon walk in lovely clearing weather.3557-shipwreak1-4Extending our stay another day in hope of catching the shipwreck in good light didn’t work out too well but that’s how it goes sometimes. It was time to move on to Kalaloch campground up the coast about 90 miles. I had a little time before having to pack up and leave this morning, so I got up early to photograph an old fish shack we’d passed earlier. While I was out, I figured I’d check the shipwreck one last time.3568-shipwreak2-4 3569-shipwreak3-4It was still clearing as I walked down to the beach. Big thunderheads were in the distance and streaky light was banding across the beach.3578-shipwreak4-4The scene felt like a fine old Dutch painting – soft light and towering clouds over a flat landscape.3583-shipwreak5-4 3586-shipwreak6-4The light this morning was the best we got and I am pretty happy with the images I made. Not exactly what I was looking for, but it often doesn’t turn out exactly how I envision.

Kalaloch Beach & Quinault Rain Forest
Tuesday, September 20
Our original plan was to stay at South Beach Campground about 3 miles south of Kalaloch. We tried to make reservations for the 100+ site Kalaloch, but there was absolutely nothing available for our dates. South Beach, at about 60 sites, is more of an overflow place to park, and first come first serve. It has always been closed when we’ve been here, but it is now the only choice.

As we pulled up to the gates, we discovered it was closed for the season. There really is no convenient other camping where we could fit the Lazy Daze anywhere around here so we thought we were out of good options. Now we’ll have to drive another 40 miles to Forks and stay at an RV Park a long way from everywhere we want to be. We stopped at the nearby ranger station to ask about alternative spots, and were happily informed that Kalaloch had gone to first come first served the day before, and South Beach had closed the same day. That’s why there was nothing available for us. There were probably still plenty of sites available. We zipped right over and started the hunt.3762-kalalochcamp2There are really just a handful of great sites here. Many of the rest are in deep shade or along the highway or tightly wedged in next to each other. We were a little too late for the primo sites, but did manage a nice private one with a 11’ hedge all around. The image above is from the roof of the LD.3760-kalalochsurfA short low tunnel had been cut through the hedge leading from the back of the site maybe 30′ out to the edge of the bluff above the beach. The clearing was just large enough to fit 2 chairs and it was here we spent several evenings watching the sunset and making photos. The bluff is a good 50′ above the beach. It was a bit precarious, but worth the risk.3786-marykalalochAfter getting settled, I took a short walk down the beach to visit on of my favorite trees. Sitting up on the bluff, it has been undermined to the point it just clings by roots to the edges. I expect to find it on the beach one of these trips. It’s always been a problem getting a good image because of the difficult lighting, so I visited it several times over the next couple of days.3594-kakalochtree1 3597-kakalochtree3But what happens so often when I set up a tripod, happened here. Folks started coming by and lingering in front of me. I can’t really blame them – I’ve done the same thing on occasion, but it does stop me from working. Just as these folks began to move on, a bus load of Japanese tourists came by. It was a selfie frenzy. I decided to walk down the beach instead of trying to out wait them.3598-kakalochtree23612-kakalochtree3

Quinault Rain Forest
3621-quinault1Aside from the wonderful campground, we were here for a couple of hikes in the Quinault and Hoh Rain Forests. Quinault was first up. Even from where we are camping, it is a 30 mile drive into the park, so we were up early and were on the trail by 8:30. I guess you could say it is just another rain forest, but I find them all so wonderfully challenging to photograph and walk through.3623-quinault2Here in the rain forest, there is just so much stuff. How does one make sense of it all? How do you pull compositions out? There is also the extreme silence of the place. How can someplace so crammed with life be so silent? It might be a little different during a storm, but now there is just a special kind of quiet.3627-quinault3The trail is well maintained and moves through forest, bog and eventually finishes along Lake Quinault – about 5 miles in all.3628-quinault4 3635-quinault5We eventually came to a high bridge over the creek where trees and ferns hung below over the water. Mary made some wonderful images here 5 years ago during our last visit when the water was a bit higher. We lingered here again for a good while.3646-quinault6 3671-quinault7 3686-quinault83646-quinault6 3671-quinault7 3686-quinault8After emerging from the forest, the trail crosses the road and out to the shore of Lake Quinault. We walked along, checking out the boats and mini piers and took a short break at the lodge.3687-quinault9 3694-quinault103782-maryhohBefore taking off on the hike, the ranger mentioned there was rain expected later in the afternoon. Turns out it was just exactly at the time we finished our hike. As we left the shoreline and walked up to the car, the first drops were felt. By the time we reached the car, it was absolutely pouring! We had our rain gear, so we would have been fine, but it can be miserable hiking in a cold rain so we were happy to reach the car where hot coffee and snacks awaited.

3720-kakalochtree6A little later after dinner, Mary and I took another walk on the beach to the tree. This time only a few people happened by, but I could work around them. The cloudless sky made the bluff turn absolutely orange near sunset and it was difficult to determine just what the color should be.3728-kakalochtree5As the sun went down, we finished our walk along the beach and back to camp. Coming up, Hoh Rain Forest hike.

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Sweet Creek

Monday, September 12
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We put off venturing out to Sweet Creek, one of our favorite photo hikes, until today. It is a 1.1 mile hike immensely popular because of the many small waterfalls and cascades. We’ve done this short trail twice before, so I thought I wouldn’t want to spend all that much time along the creek. I was very wrong. Once again, we spent more than 4 hours making images and only stopped because the sun eventually got high enough to shine down through the trees onto the water.3160-swcreek1 3167-swcreek3We were there by 8:30 AM and there was only one other car in the lot. This was bright sunshiny morning, but the creek runs through a fairly deep gully with tall trees and heavy foliage on both sides, so we had full shade and no wind. The trail runs right alongside the creek, with quite a few places to branch off down to the water. In some places, a catwalk has been erected in the rock around edges where a trail could not be built.3195-swcreek4 3205-swcreek5Along the way we photographed all styles of waterfall. From punch bowl to horsetail to cascade, all can be found here. None of the falls are higher than maybe 20’ but I’m more inclined to emphasize the motion of the water than documenting the falls.3223-swcreek5a 3227-swcreek6 3250-swcreek7 3258-swcreek8 3268-swcreek9 3280-swcreek10One of the best spots along the trail is this double punchbowl waterfall. On this trip we found a large log had washed over the edge of the top waterfall completely obscuring it. A little disappointing, but it still is a compelling view.3285-swcreek11 3290-swcreek12 3301-swcreek13 3307-swcreek14 3324-swcreek15We stopped for lunch at this spot above and really didn’t photograph much beyond it. Sunlight had reached the gully and created hotspots everywhere. We had less than a quarter mile to the end, so we just walked it to the final waterfall, had a little rest and zipped back in about 30 minutes. A full morning and a fun time.

Cape Perpetua
Wednesday, September 143340-capeperpet1aWe decided to move up the coast 30 miles to the Cape Perpetua campground for just a day. We’d wanted to do some night work photographing from the farthest-out point on the trail at the Stone Shelter. The shelter sits 900’ above the shoreline and looks south down the coast. It should be dark enough, even with the full moon, to capture stars over this compelling viewpoint if we can stay out here long enough.3343-capeperpet2aWe were at the point about 30 minutes before sunset and took our time on the short trail out to the overlook. The light was getting very warm and soft so we stopped often at various points to view the waves and rugged shoreline.3351-capeperpet3a 3354-capeperpet4a3368-capeperpet6aOnce the sun went down, the few people who had come out to the shelter for sunset walked back to the parking area. The day use area is supposed to close at dusk, but there is no gate and no official around to boot us out, so we just stayed. It was unusually warm this evening. Balmy actually. We were out there until around 9 PM – long enough to record stars in the sky.
3407-capeperpet7aThe rising moon began influencing the scene before us. It illuminated the fog that had formed in the distance, adding another aspect. I also use a flashlight to “paint” light in the foreground, otherwise it would be a black hole. As we headed back, we were suddenly hit with the sea breeze. It went from calm and balmy, to very windy and cold in the period of about 30 seconds. We were surprised at how quickly the fog was moving. At this point, it was just plain cold, so we called it a night and headed back to camp.3416-capeperpet8aWhile I was happy with the images I got. Mary’s photos came out better. She caught better tail/headlights and her exposures seemed better. An interesting evening. Tomorrow, we head to the Astoria a little further north for a few days before moving up into Washington.

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Springfield to Florence

September 93711-spring3Tonight was the opening for a group show at Emerald Art Center in Springfield Oregon, where I have 2 prints one the walls. It is pretty rare when I get to attend an opening, so I was looking forward to it. This is the first time the Arts Center has sponsored a photo based exhibit, so I didn’t really know what to expect. The judges were all from local colleges and I didn’t know any of them. Still, having two hanging in the show, I hoped for the best.3707-spring1Springfield, I guess, is best known for perhaps being the town The Simpsons is based on. They only seem to play it up a little. There is lots of public art in the form of murals all over the downtown area. We had a little fun with them before the opening.3708-spring2This was the Friday night art walk in town, with another photography show at city hall around the block from the Arts Center, and a few other open galleries downtown. There was a nice turnout for the show at Emerald, and the quality of the work was quite good overall. These kinds of open call shows are often really uneven, but there was some other really nice work. Unfortunately my prints didn’t garner any awards this time.3715-spring4After we left the opening, we found a local brewhouse and split a burger and huge plate of calamari. A couple of good drafts, and we were good to go – back to our cozy Lazy Daze. Down the street from the brewhouse, we found one happy Pope, celebrating Friday no doubt.3718-spring5Florence Area
Sunday, September 113720-hecetabeach1It was smooth drive out to the coast from Eugene and nothing fell off the RV. We arrived in Florence on Saturday around mid-day at Heceta RV Park. Nothing special here, except it’s a couple of miles away from the road and near the beach. In fact, we soon took the short 1/4 mile walk to the beach for a late afternoon stroll. The wind was up and so were the kites.3722-hecetabeach2It was a nice way to stretch out the kinks.3724-hecetabeach3On Sunday, we were up and out early to check out the dunes. Getting out early seems to be the only way to get some fog into our pictures. There wasn’t much, but we found a spot or two to make photos.2984-florencedunes1 2987-florencedunes2 2994-florencedunes3We moved down closer to the jetty and walked out on a small pier where folks were throwing out their crab pots. The gulls here were hoping for a scrap. From here we could watch the fishing boats heading out for the day.3001-florencedunes4 3004-florencedunes5 3006-florencedunes6 3010-florencedunes7 3014-florencedunes8 3015-florencedunes9On the way to the dunes, as we were driving through town, Mary caught a glimpse of a tricked out hot rod. Se remembered seeing something about a car show in Old Town, so we went looking for it after the dunes. It didn’t take long and it was quite a show. No traditional paint jobs here and not just a little custom work done to these cars.3016-carshow1 3017-carshow2 3019-carshow3 3022-carshow4 3024-carshow5 3025-carshow6 3032-carshow7 3042-carshow8 3044-carshow9 3049-carshow10 3050-carshow11 3067-carshow12 3079-carshow13After lunch, we headed north to the Heceta Lighthouse. This one is still operational, but not in great repair. The tour consisted of standing inside at the base of the tower and listening to the docent describe the daily routine of lighthouse life.3088-lighthouse2 3084-carshow14Afterward, we wanted to check out the Cape Perpetua campground for a possible future stay. We also went up to the overlook – one of the best on the Oregon coast. At the City Hall show in Springfield, we saw a photo taken from this point at night and thought we might do the same a few day from now.3101-capeperpetua1 3107-capeperpetua2 3095-bridge 3113-capeperpetua3 3117-capeperpetua4 3128-capeperpetua5 3134-capeperpetua6This is the view we want to capture at night.

We headed back to camp, but stopped once more to photograph the Heceta Lighthouse from the overlook.3148-capeperpetua7 3150-capeperpetua8 3152-capeperpetua9

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Five Waterfalls in Two Days

2753-spirit5Leaving Del Norte on Tuesday, we had another long 200 mile drive to get up into Oregon. We were greeted by several rain showers just after crossing the border. It freshened up everything and made the drive a little more interesting. We arrived at Schwarz COE campground. We stayed here before and it is quite pleasant with a choice of sites along the river (which is actually the spillway for the large reservoir the campground sits at the base of), sites under trees and other in wide open areas. The campground is closing after this weekend so there were almost no other campers.

Spirit-Moonfall-Picard Waterfalls
Wednesday, Sept. 8
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We had to wait for the park attendants to show up for work so we could re-up our length of stay. For some bizarre reason, we were not allowed to sign up for more than 1 night this close to the closing date. But they relented and let us have our 3 days. It didn’t matter much today, because of lingering clouds from yesterdays rain keeping the light soft and even.
2728-spirit2Getting to the first waterfall of the day involved navigating a number of forest roads leading into the deeper forest in the Willamette. Most of the trails to the many falls around here are quite short. I think the longest is just 4.5 miles, so we figured to do several today.2737-spirit3Spirit Falls is at the end of a short, steep .3 mile hike down to a creek. As is always the case, getting there was most the fun. I am so attracted to the seeming visual chaos that is the rain forest, and the great trails here make it easy to stop and take it in. It is a challenge to make sense of it all, but compositions always seem to come together.2741-spirit4 2772-spirit6Understandably, there wasn’t as much water running as in the spring, but we still had plenty to work with. Other than the sound of the falls, it was nearly silent and very still. Just a whisper of a breeze floated through from time to time. This worked out great for us because of the long exposures required for good depth of field in the images.2784-spirit7 2795-spirit8We hiked out from Spirit Falls and moved on to Moon Falls. The sun had broken through by now and hotspots in the dark forest were becoming an issue. I tend to point the camera down and concentrate on small details.2801-moon1The forest was less interesting with sunlight burning holes in our pictures, so we made the hike to Moon Falls quick. This falls is situated kind of far back and we didn’t want to scramble over the damp rocks. All the heavier water action was happening much higher on the cliff, but it was all in too contrasty sunlight so I just made a couple of “we were there” images of the lower section and started back.2806-moon2Picard Falls was last on the list. It’s long wispy look makes it a “horsetail” fall. It was nestled into a cove in the cliff. The last shady spot in the area, it too would soon be in icky contrasty light. Just a couple of images here before we called it a day.

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Upper Trestle and Brice Falls
Thursday, September 92834-uppertres1Another early start today to get to our next 2 waterfalls. They are along Brice Creek. One is in Brice Creek. We started out for Upper Trestle Falls first because it involved a 2.6 mile hike on what we thought was a loop. Well, it was, but we managed to take the long loop, which added another 1.5 miles. Oops.2844-uppertres2The trail was listed as strenuous because of an unrelenting uphill trek along the contour of the hillside to the falls. Felt like maybe 500 ft rise, but that’s just a guess. Arriving though is a treat. We walked around one last curve and there was the falls, nestled into a cirque covered in ferns and moss. It spills over an overhang where we could actually walk underneath – just a trickle really, at this time of year. The footing was a little rough around the cirque, with lots of loose rocks and the slick path, so care had to be taken when setting up. Another challenge to photograph here with sunlight now spreading across the falls.2856-uppertres3Naturally, lots of vertical compositions were called for.2865-uppertres4 2881-uppertres5Once under the falls, I played with what the water was doing. The sun was shining right on it and long exposures turned the water to a thin white veil. Looking up, I found a set of ferns backlit with the falls.2902-uppertres8 2908-uppertres9 2915-uppertres10 2918-uppertres11We finished up and headed back. We obliviously missed our junction turnoff and by the time we realized it, found it would be shorter to do the extra mile and a half to a different trailhead down at the road, then walk back to the car. We still had enough energy, once back, to travel the short distance to the Brice Creek trailhead. This was just a short walk along the creek to some small falls and cascades. It was an easy stroll and we could just jump out on the rocks all along the way.2964-bricecreek4 2928-bricecreek 2948-bricecreek2 2963-bricecreek3 2976-bricecreek5

We will be stopping in Springfield to attend the opening at the Emerald Arts Center there. Then it’s over to Florence on the coast for a visit to one of our favorite spots.

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Glass Beach

Wednesday August 312394_GlassBeach1Our intention today was to travel the short distance to Glass Beach for a walk along the bluffs and shoreline. We were loading up the car with cameras and food, but the car was parked a little close to the front of the rig, making it a little difficult to navigate around the rearview mirror of the RV that sticks out. I grabbed the arm of the mirror to fold it in as it is made to do, when suddenly I hear a SPRONG sound. Now, I am holding the mirror and arm assembly in my hands, and the innards of the mirror folding mechanism are scattered on the ground. It just plain dropped out of its housing. I’ve never seen or heard of this happening before, but that’s the ways things happen in RVing.

The prospect of driving the rig without the passenger side mirror was a little scary to contemplate, so repairing or replacing was the new order of the day. Inspecting the aftermath, I could see how the mirror was put together. It looked like a welded piece that holds the whole thing together had sheared off. When I folded the mirror in, the increased pressure of the thick spring inside the housing, forced the flimsy lock washer that should have been welded, off the post and shot everything out the bottom. This is not repairable. In fact, the plastic cover on the bottom of the mirror housing says right on it, “Do not remove. No serviceable parts inside”.

Replacing will take days as we are approaching the Labor Day weekend and this is a part that must be ordered, so I had to figure a way to repair till I can get a new one. Very happy the glass didn’t break. Looking up inside the housing that is attached to the door, I could see there was a cylinder the mirror fits up into. The mirror arm itself has a larger cylinder inside it that fits around the other and the spring fits around that. First I tried drilling holes on either side of the housing in hopes of using bailing wire (the other duct tape) to tie it back on, but realized quickly it would not hold. I finally decided to just drill a hole clean through the cylinders and slip a long heavy machine screw through the whole thing – kind of like a cotter pin. This turned out to be a great fix. It won’t fall off either. It is quite strong and will hold for a long time. I still wrapped wire around the whole mess just in case the screw shears off I won’t lose the mirror. It no longer will fold, but at least it is useable. I had to rent a drill at the local tool rental shop, but for 20 bucks, not a bad price to pay.
2396_GlassBeach2We did eventually get out to Glass Beach. This place got it’s name from the tons of sea glass that can be found among the sand a gravel on the beach. It largely came from a glass bottle factory that was positioned near the shore. Apparently, they would dump defective glass over the ledge where it continually was pounded by surf. The pictures we’ve seen, seem to show mounds and mounds of the stuff. It may have been like that at one time, but today, one is a little more hard pressed to find much.3686-glassbeachglass2397_GlassBeach3There is still glass to be found however, but it is mostly very tiny chips and mostly clear. People are asked not to remove it, but judging by those we saw, it is not observed. We’ve had great sunny weather during the days, with just a bit of fog mornings and evenings. Tomorrow, we are headed to Del Norte State Park. Somehow, Mary’s geezer pass gets us a nearly 50% discount on camping. Still not cheap at $18/ night, but better than the $35 everyone else is paying.

Del Norte State Park
Friday, September 22401-ferncan2It was a long windy trip to Del Norte State Park. Usually, we try to keep our long drives to no more than 200 miles. Todays was 240. We didn’t see much traffic, and between the two of us switching out driving a couple of times, made it into the park by 4:30 in pretty good shape. My fix for the mirror worked better than I could have hopped for and I don’t see a rush to replace it.

This park is down a canyon 750 feet in a dense rain forest right off highway 101. We have a tight partial sun site, but I am not encouraged about getting much light to the panels. I think enough for lights at least will be present and if we run the generator for 30 minutes we can watch something recorded on the DVR. I didn’t expect better for this park and we are prepared for the 5 nights through Labor Day we will be here.

Fern Canyon at Prairie Creek SP
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Our first order in the morning was hiking. We had to drive 35 miles back south, then another 6 miles on a gravel road to get to Fern Canyon where our hike was to start. We’ve done this one before. The canyon itself is just a half mile, but it is pretty great. A stream runs through a canyon who’s shear walls are covered in ferns with feathery trees and other plant life hanging everywhere.
2405-ferncan32406-ferncan42411-ferncan52416-ferncan6A new “feature” to this trail were the boardwalk bridges that make for easy stream traverses. Easy yes, but I really didn’t like them in my pictures. Kind of spoils the illusion. Perhaps that is necessary now, but I really dislike when human impact starts requiring leaving this kind of evidence.2420-ferncan72425-ferncan82435-ferncan92443-ferncan10The light was really terrific for this walk. We were there early enough so that we had the place to ourselves for a good hour before the first groups started showing up and passing us. This place is too great to just move through quickly. It took us a good 2 hours to finish the 1/2 mile canyon, and another 1/2 to circle back on the loop trail up in the forest proper.2446-ferncan112457-ferncan122463-ferncan132490-ferncan142495-ferncan15We planned on tacking on another several miles by continuing on some other attached trails. Mary wanted to dump her tripod first though, so we took the half-mile loop trail back to the parking lot. This part of the trail rose up just a little bit, but enough to change the scenery dramatically. Now we were in pure coastal rain forest.2504-coastaltril1After dumping the tripods, we tried back to the week and found the coast trail. It started off with a nice walk through a birch? forest sprouting out of fern beds. Soon we were out of the forest and walking along the very edge of forest and coastal grassland.2508-coastaltrail2It is quite remarkable how defined the edge of the forest is with the grassland. On one side, open, hot and bright.2517-coastaltrail4On the other, dark, cool rainforest.2514-coastaltrail3It was a long feeling 2 1/4 mile walk along this portion, and we were spent after walking back. A total of only 5 or 6 miles, but felt longer. On the way in this morning, we noticed how dusty all the ferns along the dirt road had gotten. On the way back out, we stopped to photograph at one spot along the road.2522-coastaltrail5Nearly all the green of the ferns was now a very light grey, making the image seem almost black and white. I loved the look of it and made a few images.2525-coastaltrail6While we were hanging around, we began to hear some subtle cracking sounds, as in brush crackling underneath. Looking around, we noticed a huge elk buck with an impressive rack. He was only visible for a few seconds. Just a few steps and we could no longer see a trace of him. You just never know what is right next to you in the forest.

Damnation Creek
Sunday, September 4
Saturday was spent sleeping in, lazing around the campground, and chores later in Crescent City where got some blog uploading and shopping done. Unlike the calm breezes here in camp, the wind in Crescent City was blowing cold and strong and it changed our minds about checking out the local Labor Day festivities down at the ocean park. Back in camp, I expected it to be crazy busy with kids and dogs and rookie campers, but it remained quiet with the exception of our new neighbors who thought it was a great idea to boom their soul crushing music at 9 am. It was off by 9:20 – not to be heard again all weekend.2536-desperation3Sunday we were ready for another hike. Desperation Creek is a 2.5 mile hike down and out to the coast. It starts at about 1100’ in the redwoods and drops to sea level over that distance. We were warned that a vital bridge near the end was closed, and told that if we tried to cross anyway, we would break a leg. I read several recent reviews of the hike on a new app I downloaded called All Trails. I just got the free version, but it has an amazing number of hikes outlined and reviewed. It can be used as a GPS locator, and it actually works quite well at showing you exactly where on the trail you are – as long as you have a cell signal that is. The review stated that yes the bridge is unsafe, but not the danger it is cracked up to be. Advised to not jump on it while crossing. So we were off.2530-desperation12533-desperation2I wanted to do this trail because it was said to be among the best for photographing sunbeams streaming through a fog hazy redwood forest. A key element is the fog of course. Unfortunately we’ve had none while we’ve been here. Nuttin’ but sun all day. We just had to make do with a thoroughly wonderful hike in a cool redwood forest.2538-desperation42540-desperation52552-desperation62556-desperation7The trail starts just 4 miles south of the entrance to the park. We were up and out by 7:30, on the trail by 8. It started with a brief uphill rise before turning downhill. At this point it is quite wide to where we could nearly walk side by side. Eons of plant material layering up made for a soft walking path that was so easy on the feet.2560-desperation92562-desperation10Originally, this trail was how the Yurok tribe got to the ocean. They were pretty smart the way they made this one. There are of steep inclines of course, but in between, plenty of near level sections made the trip down much easier on the knees and toes, and allowed for breath recovery on the way up.2566-desperation122574-desperation132588-desperation14At the bottom, we finally came to the dangerous bridge. Actually the second bridge. The first was strong and sturdy. This one though spanned a 20 ft. creek bed, and was maybe 15 above the trickle of a stream. An impromptu trail had been created to avoid the bridge if desired, but we just gingerly stepped across the flimsy structure. A moment later, we were on the coast looking at sea stacks and brilliant coastal waters under a bright blue sky. We found a suitable log on the beach and lunched while watching the surf crash over rocks. 2591-desperation152614-desperation16

Just before we got up to leave, I noticed something that looked kind of out of place on a massive boulder next to us. Closer examination revealed a large green Dragonfly resting on a crevice. An even closer look revealed it was actually dead – it’s wings now just desiccated remnants of their past function. Who knows how long it had been there, still attached.2621-desperation17It was a delightful hike both ways with the exception of absolutely no fog.  Most would be happy with that, but it limited how I wanted photograph. Still, we were alone on the beach for more than an hour before the first of days other hikers broke out onto the beach. There were many many more we met coming down as we slowly moved back up, once again focusing on the rich variety of flora all around us.2636-desperation182644-desperation192652-desperation202660-desperation212670-desperation222694-desperation23We will be leaving Del Norte on Tuesday, headed to the Eugene/Springfield area in Oregon. The 2 prints I have in a show at the Emerald Arts Center in Springfield opens Friday and we plan on attending the reception. I don’t get to go to most of the openings around the country so it is a treat to actually see the work on the walls.

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