Earlier this summer three friends and I took advantage of Alaska’s 24-hour daylight to night hike Granite Tors in the Chena River State Recreation Area.
We started aaround 8:30 p.m. and finished the 15-mile loop trail around 3 a.m. We ran as much as possible of the challenging trail and took one or two snack breaks.
Two benefits are immediately noticeable when night hiking. Catching spectacular sunsets and avoiding scorching mid-day heat.
Two of my run hike partners descend toward some rock formations.
Sweeping vistas are common in the Chena River drainages.
During Alaska’s summer the sun often sets past midnight. This picture was taken around 12:30 a.m.
A forest fire scorched parts of the forest about 10 years ago.
Above: A small stream snakes through vibrant green moss on Mt. Rainier in Washington state. The picture reminds me how alive and diverse the mountain is, from the thunderous cracks and groans of enormous glaciers to the smallest bubbling stream sustaining a secluded ecosystem. The picture is a rough scan of color positive film, shot on Hasselblad.
Above: Sun shines on a granite tor of Angle Rocks and trees in golden fall colors, to the right the Chena River snakes through a valley cast in shadows. September 11, 2014.
Angle Rocks is almost assuredly the most popular hiking spot near Fairbanks. It’s a 3.5-mile loop in the Chena River State Recreation Area, about 45 miles from Fairbanks, that takes trekkers through and around a variety of tors formed from granite.
The tors were formed hundreds of millions of years ago when magma bubbled up from the Earth’s mantel, but failed break through the ground. They then slowly become revealed as erosion striped the surrounding land, exposing the giant rocks.
I hiked Angle Rocks twice this summer, once in spring and once in fall. Both seasons provided fantastic and vibrant colors. The cool and calm spring greens and the energetic and exciting gold of fall.
Hikers climb and play on one of the many formations at Angle Rocks. May 17, 2014.
Colorful patterns created by shadows, leafs and rocks result in a busy but fascinating scene.
Trek 45 minutes past the main rock attractions to get a panoramic view all the way to the Alaska Range, hundreds of miles south.
Stretching silhouette at Angel Rocks.
Angle Creek trail winds though green spring trees in the valley opposing Angle Rocks. Specks of people can be seen in the lower-right rock formations.
Above: A canyon with cool-blue water cuts through the mountains surrounding Mittenwald, Bavaria. Photographed August 7, 2013.
A long day of hiking is guaranteed to make one sore. One way to loosen up is another hike – this time to a swimming pool under a waterfall. A bike ride and a 30 minute trek up a stream bed led to the pool. The water was not warm, but greatly refreshed achy muscles.
A natural shower and a swimming pool to play in outside near the village of Mittenwald, Bavaria.
The stream bed alone was gorgeous, with teal water, smooth stone and tall canyon walls.
Cool blue canyon.
The road between Mittenwald and the stream and waterfall is occupied with farmland. The return trip at sunset gave me a few great photographic opportunities.
Farmers enjoy mountain views at sunset while driving a tractor.
Faded German signs, a biker and mountain ranges.
Above: A riverbed in late fall offers little more then a creek winding into Mt. Rainier.
The horizon, like the end of a rainbow, is unreachable. Constantly changing – expanding and contracting, becoming more open or more obscured. Horizons inspire adventures and dreams, spawn stunning sunsets and create wonders.
Horizon is also the weekly photo challenge.
Paradise, located 5,400 feet up Washington’s Mt. Rainer, can supply spectacular views. As well as keep them completely hidden. I got a taste of both possibilities hiking there August, 2012.
Clouds lift, if only for a moment, to reveal a expansive view.
This time clouds descended to create a more abstract horizon line.
Again clouds create the horizon, no panorama today. Panorama Point, elevation 6,800 feet.
On a beautiful, sunny, Easter Sunday, people thronged to Rattlesnake Mountain Scenic Area so they could relax, sun, and ascend Rattlesnake Ridge. Nestled in the foothills of Washington’s Cascades, just outside Snoqualmie, Rattlesnake Ridge is a is a solid hike, gaining roughly 2000 ft. of elevation in 2 miles.
The trail was packed. Without any attempt at counting adventurers, the number easily surpassed 100. I would estimate closer to 300, over a small portion of the day. A few larger groups appeared to be in double digits. After a long, rainy winter in Washington, people want to play.
For those interested the climb includes some slightly harrowing overlooks. Deaths are not unheard of, one as recently as 2012, according to the Issaquah Reporter.
Thankfully there were no reports of accidents on my trip.
Hikers enjoy the view, share photos, and make a mess while dogs roam at Rattlesnake Ridge.
Were it not for bright-red shorts, this hiker would completely vanish into the landscape.
Long ways down: The parking lot and trailhead descend into the distance, with the slight stature of hikers visible in the upper-right corner.
Three illuminated pieces of Old Man’s Beard.
I had been pondering what my next post should cover earlier today, the decision became easy when I read a comment I received from Where’s My Backpack?, a travel-themed blog, inviting me to her weekly travel theme of foliage.
Foliage seems to be one of those unique subjects, truly different everywhere you look. Which is amazing because there is a lot of foliage, but no two ever look exactly the same. Photographs frequently benefit from different perspectives, high or low angles, though I find photographs of foliage do more then normal. My thinking is because of the incredible depth and layers that can be achieved.
Today’s images hail from Mt. Index, in the Cascade Range, Washington State. The first image is a fun silhouette pattern of the curved branch in the foreground.
The second image benefits from direct sunlight on the main subject, a dead tree with a hole that looks like a nice home for a lucky bird.
The weekly photo challenge is a different photo assignment from dailypost. This week is near and far, two-dimensional images with a three-dimensional feel. Low point-of-view and converging diagonal lines are two ways to accomplish this, another approach is get some high elevation. To increase the effect foreground objects or size perspective give depth.
My image comes from a very overcast day on Mt. Rainier in Washington. Not only does the ominous hanging cloud provide more of a foreground it creates an extra horizon line and a tunnel for the eye, directing it towards the hundreds of miles of rolling foothills.
Please click on the image to view full size.
Sometimes I put my foot in my mouth. Photographic tastes are fickle, and after saying film is a major part of my aesthetic I decide to go more digital. There are many reasons, but I’m not trying to get too personal in this blog. One of the primary reasons: film’s magic for me is black and white. The film is cheaper and I can process it myself. But sometimes I just want to see the world in color. Another reason: to make steady money with photography while possible shooting film, one need’s a very well established name. The final reason is, in all fairness, probably the most important, ISO. Also known as ASA or simply film speed, it is a rating of sensitivity to light. Digital cameras can shoot at such high ISOs (6,400 and above) film cant hold a grain to it.
So I splurged, bought my first unused camera, but thanks to a combination of reward points the bill was cut more then fifty percent. Here are two pictures from my first few rounds of shooting.
- Patrick left and David right, Granite Tors east of Fairbanks.
The picture above was taken at Granite Tors, a popular climbing destination and fifteen mile hike outside of Fairbanks. What I like about this picture is scale. The far horizon is balanced by the climber in the foreground. Then after viewing the second hiker a sense of elevation is really present.
A candle burns during a rain storm.
Humans see in color, and despite my love for black and white color makes, or breaks, many photos. In this image the strong monochrome and repetitive circles ground the viewer, while the abstract composition makes them wonder if they’re looking at a celestial formation.