Tree Smoke

An inaccurate description of what’s going on here.  Not completely, because those are, in fact, trees.  But that’s not smoke, just fog in the valley below and lifting out of the trees after a brief warming by sun.

I heard the phrase “tree smoke” years ago to describe this and have always liked it.  It’s interesting when it’s several trees like this, but a lot more interesting when it’s a single tree in a stand of trees.  That always makes me wonder about the microclimate around that single tree and the myriad physical processes that make that unique occurrence.

But sometimes I look and just enjoy the beauty of it.

Tree Smoke

Overlooking the Rogue Valley, Jackson County, Oregon, from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), approximately mile 1,746.5, at about the same time that “The Whiz” was given her trail name.

And now that it’s December, it’s time for WordPress to include the falling snow.  That makes your visit to this site a little bit more entertaining, especially once you realize that the snowflakes will chase your cursor as they fall.

Have fun!


Ski Anticipation

A fun view of a mountain on which we hope to have a lot of fun this year, Mount Ashland.  You can see the ski slopes opposite.  They’ve had just a dusting this year.

Last year the ski area never had a chance to open.  There was snowfall, but there was never enough accumulation to open the slopes.

We’re hoping for a different season this year.

They even had a snow blessing ceremony up there today to help nudge a better winter.

But instead of attending the ceremony, Goddess and I headed up to a nearby section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with friends, celebrating the trail and spending one last hike with a friend who is moving out of the area.  She’s spent more than a few hours helping maintain the trial and it was the right place to spend a bit of time with her.

Plus, we had our own little “ceremony”, as she was bequeathed a trail name of her own, in the same spot this picture was taken, looking across at Mount Ashland at approximately the same time they were holding the blessing ceremony.


Ski Anticipation

We had actually stopped in this clearing about 30 minutes prior.  The clouds were a bit thicker down in the valley and were shifting left (southeast) in a process I like to refer to as “the valley breathing”.  It’s a common process this time of year.

Overnight, the fog and stratus set up in the valley.  Our town (just off frame right) is at the high end of the valley, so the fog and stratus never get too thick.  By mid-morning, there’s enough heating that it burns off that shallow layer, giving our town clear skies while the rest of the valley is stuck in grey gloom.  The clear skies allow the mountains and floor of the high end of the valley to heat up, causing the air to rise.  The air that is displaced by that convection has to be replaced, so the cool wet air from down the valley moves back in, bringing with it the stratus and fog.  On a day where there isn’t any upper clouds, this process happens several times.  But today, we did have the cirrus, so it only happened a couple of times.

One of the times we were able to observe from this spot.

As we stepped into the clearing, the distant mountains were still visible, but we could see the clouds moving rapidly from frame right to frame left.  The heating had already occurred and the clouds were moving back in.  As we watched, the far mountains, then the near hills, were obscured.  Soon the clouds were pushing up the clearing towards us, obscuring a lone deer at the bottom of the clearing as we were wrapped in the edges of the blanket.

The blanket soon retreated.

By the time the cloud had retreated from the clearing, the process had reversed.  The air was sinking back down into the deeper parts of the valley, moving from frame left to frame right.  You can even see the clouds pouring over the hilltop at the lower right of the frame.

A short while later, we were back in town and the skies were clear.

And a few short hours after that, after sunset, and we’re socked back in here at our end of the valley.

Thankfully we have the opportunity to get above it when we feel the need.


And Walkin’

A bit less activity here as Goddess and I are preparing for our long walk.  This week the majority of our preparation has consisted of running errands in town, all on foot.  While Ashland is a fun town, the roadside just doesn’t grab me in ways that I’d want to share photographically with you.

Today we skipped out of town a bit and headed to nearby Roxy Ann Peak, which overlooks Medford.  It was cloudy, it was rainy, it was fun.  But the pics didn’t turn out the way I’d be happy with sharing.  Goddess and I had quite a few laughs as we took a long shortcut down one of the side trails.  It was so slickery that it took longer than had we stuck to the road.  Not to mention the muddy pants and hands.

I won’t mention who had the most and worst slips out of the two of us.


So here’s a flashback to a bit over a year ago, up on the backside of Mount Ashland.

Still Walkin’

Siskiyou Gap, about 2/3 of the way to the goal next year.

Goddess wasn’t there, but Skinny was.

That guy.  He makes me smile.  Every day.  And he will on this trail as we carry him along every step of the way.

A bit of perspective – Siskiyou Gap is mile 1,709.6 of 2,650 on the PCT.

Just for grins, there’s a link in this post that reaches back more than a few years.  An earlier period of my life.  Not a different person, just a different focus.  For those of you new here, it’s a bit of insight to the insanity that has been this ride.

Hold on.

Snowy Skirt

It’s not Throwback Thursday, but I’m not bothered with that right now.  This is quite a throwback, one that predates this blog by a good six months.

That makes it almost nine years ago.

I am revisiting this photo for a personal project of mine and since it has never been introduced in this blog, I’m sharing it with you now.  There are quite a few stories to this image.  I’ll tell one, but have fun creating some for yourself.

Snowy Skirt

The setting – Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.  February 2006.  We were visiting the annual Sapporo Snow Festival, which is amazing.  After an evening of watching the light and laser shows around the large snow sculptures, we decided to head down the side streets.

The sidewalks are kept clear all winter long since they are heated.

Goddess, The Boy and friends were in a convenience store (I don’t remember which, but it could have easily been a 7-11) looking for warm drinks and a nibble.

Fact – if you find yourself in Japan and are realizing that it’s getting expensive to eat at restaurants for all three meals, head to the convenience stores for your food for two of your meals.  The trays of sushi, sashimi, meats, rice and vegetables are top notch and quite a bit cheaper than a restaurant.  The money you save will go a long way towards a very nice dinner.

Anyway, it was crowded and I had my large camera backpack with me, so it was a bit tight in the store.  I headed outside to watch all of the activity and enjoy the gently falling snow.

Then this young lady walked past, headed down an empty sidewalk.  Rarely does that opportunity present itself in any Japanese city.

What an opportunity it was.

A few months later, I had this image on display at a showing and a musician friend happened to see it, along with a few other images.  He liked what he saw, so we started talking about a planned CD release of his music.

The image paired quite nicely with one of the songs on the CD called “City Girl“.  Go ahead, click on the link and let it play while you’re reading.

If you had an actual CD in your hands, this would be inside the front cover with a line from his song along the bottom – “young girl, cold and lost in the city”.


He liked another of my images enough to make it the cover image.  But it wasn’t just the image, it was the name, which he used for the title of his first CD “Delicate Eye“.

Since then, Kluso has released two more CD’s: “Young Hard Red Spot” and “Determination“, each with my images as cover art.

While it is fun to have images printed, framed and hanging on walls of other people’s homes, it is a unique experience to reach up onto a shelf and pull down CD’s with your pictures on them.

I know it’s early on a Monday morning.  Hopefully it’s a good start to a great week.

A week filled with good music and good images.

But first, tell me what story you created when you looked at the picture.  I’d love to hear it.

Broken Snow Sparks

Broken Top Mountain blanketed in a fresh blanket of snow, only the second or third covering this year, reflected in the mix of ice and water of Sparks Lake.

For you mountain fans, to the left of this view is South Sister, to the right is Mount Bachelor.

Broken Snow Sparks

After a long weekend in Bend, Oregon, where Goddess and I attended a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course called Wilderness First Aid (WFA), we took the long way home.  Bend is only about 3.5 hours from our house, but it took us about 8 hours.  The snow here at the summit of Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway that had fallen over the weekend had turned to ice, so the going was slow for a few miles.  But more than anything, we took many a side trip for different views and experiences.  Our only disappointment of the whole drive was that the north entrance to Crater Lake was closed due to the snow, so we didn’t get to see the lake on this trip.  Sure we’ve seen it many times, but have yet to see it from the north side when the rim and surrounding mountains are covered in snow.


I mentioned the WFA course.  It’s a course I cannot recommend enough to everyone.  The focus is on first aid issues in the wilderness, but it’s info that is equally useful in an urban setting.  You might be able to find one near you either through your parks & recreation agency or through REI.

Approaching Storm Lines

It’s that time of year when we finally get the storms we need to bring the moisture.

Although the mountains do a fine job of wringing out that moisture before it gets too far inland.

Approaching Storm Lines

This view had it all – lines, shapes and shades.

Trails and Rocks

An excellent weekend here, not just in weather, but deeds.

Saturday was a full day of trail work on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with a good group of people.  This time it was a local section, so I woke up in my bed instead of in my tent.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Sunday was a day spent with friends from the trail, except we went vertical, climbing Pilot Rock, a prominent peak near town.  It’s a fairly popular climbing spot, with a couple of routes rated 5.11+ on the south side.  But we stuck to the north side, a scramble up a wedge with a couple of fun “feet hanging” moments.

At the top was a nice 360° view of the area.  Not much different than the view from many of the other peaks in the area, but none have the approach that this required.  Good fun.

Of course, I had to stop and enjoy my favorite view of a mountain that makes me smile – Mount Shasta.

Pilot Rock Shasta View

After the climb, we headed down to the meadow, ate lunch, laughed and enjoyed the view of Pilot Rock.

Pilot Rock Meadow View

The route was on the left (north side), up in the crease between the two main columns of Pilot Rock.  If you looked at the Wikipedia page, you might have noticed the panoramic view.  Click on that and you can see the impressive polygonal columns that make up the rock.  Those made for a nice stair-step approach to the summit.

Keen-eyed watchers of this page might notice the shape at the top of Pilot Rock and the small weathered tree.  That’s the subject of my favorite image of the rock, shot back in June during a nice bout of rain.


Hopefully you were able to get out and enjoy the outdoors this weekend!

Twisted Crater Lake Overlook

I have found a few images featuring this tree, so once I figured out where it was, I wanted to get some shots with it.

Little did I know how popular it would be with photographers.

Even on an off-season Monday evening.

Good thing we got there early.

Twisted Crater Lake Overlook