Sunday, November 22, 2015

Out West.....

Last summer I spent a day in western North Dakota.

It ended with me and a band of wild horses in Teddy Roosevelt National Park at sunset.
And I lucked out. 

After spending the afternoon wandering in the badlands with several bands of horses the sun started to drop below the horizon. As I lay on the ground trying to silhouette the horses against the sky a couple young stallions walked up to check me out.
Before long the horses started walking away as the sun kept getting lower.
 I did my best to keep finding angles which allowed me to silhouette the horses and put some colorful sky behind them.
 And I kept on shooting as a herd stallion walked up a small hill.
 I wasn't sure how I was doing with the actual photos. I was focusing manually and checking to see if the exposure was correct. But I realized it was a heck of an opportunity.
 I literally thanked this stallion several times for pausing on this ridge while I was making these images. He stood there a few seconds, and then walked down the hill joining the rest of his band in the shadows below.
I sat in the grass thankful for the day and the experience, before walking the half mile back to my car.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Making do....

I was hoping to do sunrise at West Thumb Geyser Basin in Yellowstone Park, but got there a little late.

The sun was already cresting the horizon.

Things were moving fast and I felt lucky to find this lodgepole pine tree to use as a focal point for the images.

By changing my location and staying low I was able to take advantage of the beautiful color and light.

All and all I was pretty happy with what I did silhouetting the pine tree.

Just down the road I found some more trees, but the sun was getting pretty high by then.

Lucky for me, the steam from the thermal features really helped to make interesting images.

Finally, I worked my way further along the lake to one of my favorite views. I keep going back to these lodgepole pines year after year and they're always good.

Electric Peak ......

I last walked up Electric Peak in northwest Yellowstone in 2001. I meant to go back and finally did. Here are some photos of the walk up.

The trail starts from the park road across from the Bunsen Peak trail and crosses sage brush flats heading towards Sepulcher Mountain. I saw very large grizzly tracks on the trail within a half mile of the road. The bear had been going the opposite direction and I never actually saw it.
You can see Electric Peak ten miles away on the top right of the frame
After about three miles the trail went along the base of Sepulcher Mountain.
It rained the night before, and the grass and sage was wet in the morning. I stopped after about four miles in one of the beautiful meadows along the trail to change into dry socks.
The trail only went through a bit of woods near the Cache Lake spur trail.

Just before getting to the Gardner River I turned right and headed towards Electric Peak.
The trail had been fairly level until I finally got onto the mountain itself.
Then I chose a comfortable pace and kept moving along a spine of rock towards the summit.
It was near 90 degrees and hot on the way up,
but I was glad to be there and the views just kept getting better.
Eventually I found a little shade behind some rocks where I hid as I took off my socks and boots and put them in the sun to dry. It was all good. I had plenty of water and my body was feeling great.
While I was drying my stuff a couple of young guys came up the trail and passed me. They were the only other people I saw on the mountain that day.
I had plenty of time, the weather was good, and everything was going great.
About 300 yards and 100 vertical feet from the summit I came to a fairly vertical rock face with natural steps going up.
I stopped there and drank some water. One of the guys who had passed me was on the summit, so I waited until they came down and visited with them.
There was a trail down and to the left of the rock face, but they said they went up and across. " It's only 300 yards and the first 100 are the toughest, then just look around and there will always be a decent choice." they told me.
With that, they headed down and I headed up. 
Half way across a rock catwalk of sorts, nothing was feeling right so I sat down where I was to consider things.
After 45 minutes I decided against the summit and went down the rock stairs to the spine of the mountain.
I just sat there awhile.
I didn't think I'd have another chance to do this again and wasn't feeling good about giving up.
So I started back up the stairs, and again nothing felt right..
I decided to head down.
It was a hard decision to make, and I was disappointed in myself, but the walk was easy, and I saw three bighorn sheep in the distance.
I was surprised how good I felt physically. Everything was so much easier than the last time I was there.
I found a patch of snow lingering between rocks and put some on my neck to cool off. I made a couple of snowballs and threw them over the cliff on the other side.
Sepulcher Mountain looked small in the distance.
The walk out was easy and I spent the afternoon at Yellowstone lake swimming and then making some photos at sunset.
Two days later I visited with a ranger at Old Faithful who offered more information about the actual summit. So I hope I get the chance to try again, and if I do I'll let you know how it goes.