Watching a sunset enhanced by a grassland fire to the west and listening to a Lakota speaker over my left shoulder talking about the history and spiritual meaning of the tower to her people was pretty amazing.
We spent a week in Kansas experiencing what we’ve been missing here – winter. A nice bout of snowfall and single-digit temperatures, made all the more enjoyable by spending the time with very dear friends.
Plus, they gave me the opportunity to shoot “baby bump” pictures for them as they’re just a couple of weeks from having their first child. I’ve never had experience and it was nothing short of amazing.
Once we got back, we had to hit the slopes. It’s late-spring conditions here, with the nights on the mountain not getting below freezing. So we had a day of pushing slush and skipping rocks, but it was a great time.
Then a full weekend of trail-related activities.
Friday night had us at a local screening of a movie called “Only the Essential“, a documentary of a couple of hikers on their thru-hike of the PCT back in 2013. It was a heck of a lot of fun to see the spots through someone else’s vision.
The best part was the Q&A session afterwards, when an audience member asked the producers what the most eye-opening moment was for them during the hike. Colin Arisman responded, relaying the moment when he realized that he truly was house-less. The look on Goddess’ face was priceless.
That part is really sinking in.
The rest of the weekend was trail work with the Siskiyou Mountain Club, building rock steps, build drains, clearing brush, clearing fallen trees and rehabilitating old, faded trail tread.
Taking a break.
Watching sunrise on a morning when people were fretting over whether their clock was telling them the right time or not. Sunrise is sunrise.
We worked the majority of the trail from Pilot Rock to this viewpoint, skipping just a couple of miles of deadfall trees because it was late Saturday afternoon and we needed to set up camp before sunset.
In case you weren’t out traveling earlier this month and missed getting a copy of USA Today slid under your room door, there was an interesting article on the state of the National Forest Trail system, which is pretty dismal.
One thing you’ll notice in the article is the increasing reliance on volunteers to maintain the trails.
We’re eager volunteers. Personally, I enjoy the excuse to get out into the wilderness and do some work. The crew members are great and everyone’s excited to be there to work.
Plus, for me it’s a chance to see new areas and scout out where I’d like to return to shoot photos. Like this one.
For me, it’s a win-win.
As much as we’d like for the work to get done on its own, just through the love and dedication of the volunteers, it can’t. For many of the volunteers, they sure wish it could, but it can’t.
So please consider donating to the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), the non-profit organization responsible for the trail-work coordination and execution, as well as the protection of the trail corridor.
The PCTA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, meaning that your donation may be tax deductible on your taxes next year (sorry, if you were looking for an angle on the forms you’re doing now, that ship sailed two months ago).
We are 1/4th of the way to our goal! Would you please help maintain the trail that Jennifer and I will be walking this year? Your help will ensure that the trail is available for hikers in the future too.
Please click on the picture of Jennifer and Skinny on the PCT below to lend a hand.
They were Americans, held prisoner, without due process, without a trial, by their own government. A government that they trusted.
A government that held them prisoner.
Just because of their heritage.
After Goddess and I drove through Death Valley, Manzanar was an absolute must-stop. I was aware of the history, Goddess was not. I also needed to see how they had improved the site, since the National Historic Site complex was not opened until 2004. Prior to that, there was nothing to mark the location other than a single stone obelisk that was the edge of the cemetery for those that died here.
Some 30+ years ago, I lived just 90 minutes south of here and on our many trips on US 395, I’d see the sign marking the dirt road to the obelisk. Just the simple act of reading it as we passed by a few times a year was enough to cement the name in my mind. Later on I became familiar with Ansel Adam’s landscape and documentary images of the camp, which led to research and learning.
It was a place that came to mind often while we lived in Europe, touring places like Dachau. Although I could never equate Manzanar to Dachau since there was no plan or action to eliminate the prisoners in Manzanar. Some studies of the mortality rates of Manzanar show it to be statistically similar to free cities with the same population.
With heavy hearts we drove onto the grounds, just thinking about American citizens who were imprisoned just because of their heritage. The point was driven home as we walked into the visitor’s center. Seated on a bench was a park ranger with two kids of Japanese descent. Mother stood nearby as the ranger explained to the kids, the oldest about eight years old, that had they lived in the United States during that time, they would have been rounded up and held prisoner in this camp. Just because of their heritage.
That was tough to hear and see.
If you are ever driving along US 395 along the Eastern Sierras, take an hour or two and stop in. The site is large and there are several displays scattered about several miles where they were able to restore artifacts that made life more bearable for the prisoners.
As far as the landscape goes, that’s the Eastern Sierras in the background. Absolutely beautiful chunks of rock, if you ask me. Of course, I’m biased, having been able to spend several years of my youth living with them in sight, being able to camp and hike and fish all over them.
And if you look at highest peak left of center, that is Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States, topping out at 14,505′.
In just a few months, Goddess and I will be standing on top of that peak as part of our hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).
We are marking the first full day of winter today with a grin. Yesterday was the kick-off for this year’s Winter Solstice offering over on my photography site and it was a good day (thank you everyone!).
But if you’re following via social media sites, they do a fine job of squashing certain posts that contain certain words, especially words that are a single-word representation of an offering of anything at a reduced level of currency. Why? Because they want us to pay them to increase viewership of those specific posts to normal levels. Or pay even more to increase viewership even higher.
If you are looking for a holiday present, it is too late to get it this week, but if you’re looking for a different look on your wall, now is your chance! Please click on the picture above and you’ll see the code at the top of my website.
For some that means it’s now the the beginning of a long, dreary winter. A season to dread. But not us. Winter is another great season to get outside, explore and play.
This past Friday was opening day for our local ski mountain. Goddess and I were able to get more than a few runs in on uncrowded slopes before school let out for the holidays. And the rain today.
It’s currently raining up on the mountain, on top of the minimal snow. Hopefully it doesn’t melt the snow and start another rough winter for the mountain, which never opened last winter for the first time in its 50-year history.
As is tradition here on the solstices and equinoxes, I’m offering a sale on my photography.
All products are 20% off (does not apply to shipping costs). Just enter Winter14 in the coupon field when you are ready to check out. Just click on the coupon below to start browsing.
Thank you so much for your continued support. I do appreciate you!
I know that today is the last day of school for most school districts as we head into the holidays.
If you’re traveling, please be safe. If you aren’t, enjoy where you are and who you are with.
And however you spend the holidays, please take a moment to reflect upon how lucky you are. Because if you have the access and the capability to read this and see the picture below, you have plenty for which to be thankful.
A vendor’s bowl full of choices in a souq (market) in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.
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.
Siskiyou Gap, about 2/3 of the way to the goal next year.
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.
It was good 10 minutes prior, underwhelming 5 minutes prior, then completely underwhelming 5 minutes later at sunrise.
This was the best it got.
Still not shabby.
A completely different view of the sunrise at Crater Lake than I’ve ever taken in. I’ve always been on the opposite rim, northeast to southeast. The goal has always been to get the sunlight on the rim walls, which makes it magical. I had a hunch about this sunrise, taken from this angle, hoping that I’d get a good red glow under the clouds of the storm moving in from the west.
Well, a hunch and the reality of a time crunch, since I had to meet people down off the rim just 39 minutes after sunrise.
Hints. Teases. But that’s all.
Still not shabby.
Then just 45 minutes later, I was meeting a film crew. After that we spent the next five hours filming what will probably be a total of 7 minutes of screen time on an upcoming TV show for the Travel Channel.
They were interested in seeing how we used century old 2-person crosscut saws to clear fallen trees from trails, with Crater Lake as a backdrop. I was interested in seeing how they used their Epic RED cameras and kit to create shows.
A fair trade.
And all parties agreed, a day with this as our office is a great day indeed.
Just 24 hours later, this view would have been completely shrouded in the clouds that the storm brought in. Based on the webcam views just off and a bit below the rim to the south, this view would have been completely covered in several inches of snow. The first of the year, a promise of a good winter.
Just for fun and spatial awareness, this viewpoint is exactly between the two peaks that the moon set between during last week’s lunar eclipse. From this angle, Watchman Peak is to my right (south), while Hillman Peak is to my left (north). The spot where I took the image of that moonset is directly across the lake, at frame center, below the summit of Mount Scott.
Hopefully the early mornings have been as good to you.