March 23, 2017 Lake Kaweah, California

Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom

Patiently Waiting on the Weather

Horse Creek Campground on Lake Kaweah, California
Horse Creek Campground on Lake Kaweah, California

Two days ago, I made the short move from Lake Success to Kaweah Lake and the Army Corps of Engineers Horsecreek Campground. I settled in on a fairly level campsite all but on the campground loop road. Fortunately, there are very few other campers here right now so I really haven’t been bothered by any traffic. I took this particular site because there are no other sites anywhere near it and it is fairly level … and level sites are pretty scarce in this campground. All the sites are primitive but there is a dump station on site, though I have yet to find any drinking water source here. Camping fee is $20/ night with a 50% senior discount making it $10. This place is probably very popular in the summer months, but with the roads up in the National Parks still intermittently closed by snow, most sites are empty right now.

Despite the very steep surrounding foothills I was able to get my rooftop satellite to lock on and surprisingly, there is a very strong Verizon signal here for some decent internet connectivity, something I have been lacking for the last several weeks.

Collapsing Arch
Collapsing Arch

Directly across the loop road from my site is a collapsing stone arch with a rubble pile of boulders below it, tumbling right down to the road’s edge.

Rock Rabbits
Rock Rabbits

And the rubble pile is home to several cottontail rabbits that are constantly hopping all over the rocks and ducking down under them every time they see the shadow of a black vulture or raven flying overhead.

Rock Rabbits
Rock Rabbits
Rock Rabbits
Rock Rabbits

Their antics are kind of fun to watch when I am stuck in the RV during the rainy days.

And speaking of rain … there has been plenty of it lately and more is forecast. I have made a couple of forays up into Sequoia National Park but can only venture in a dozen miles or so before encountering rain … or sleet … or snow … and always running into clouds ( literally ) once I get up to 3000′ elevation, and that makes any kind of photography impossible.

Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras
Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras

The entrance into the park is at about 800′ elevation and the sequoias grow at an elevation of 6000′-7000′. The morning I took the beautiful spring shots  ( above and below ) I ran into snow and ice just 12 miles into the park, probably no more than 15 miles from where these two shots were taken.

Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras
Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras

In the distance of just 15 miles of serpentine road climbing up into the park, probably no more than 8 or 10 miles as the crow flies, you go from beautiful sunny weather in the low 60’s to snow and ice and freezing temperatures … pretty amazing contrasts in weather here right now.

Kaweah River Rapids
Kaweah River Rapids

The Kaweah River runs next to the park road and there are some wonderful overlooks along the road. This is all snow melt runoff from the first good snow year in the Sierras in quite a few years.

Kaweah River
Kaweah River
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom

Redbuds are in bloom from 2000′ to 4000′ elevation along the park road and when the clouds allow, they are something to see.

Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom

I have only made it up to the elevation where the sequoias grow one time so far and everything was enveloped in a very thick fog, actually a cloud I suppose, so I didn’t bother taking any shoots. But there are supposed to be a couple decent days coming this week and I am sure I will eventually make it all the way up the mountains and into the sequoia groves, so stay tuned.

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July 7, 2016 Ridgeway State Park, Colorado

Heading North on Route 145
Heading North on Route 145

On to Ridgway and the Million Dollar Highway

The image above was taken along Route 145 as I headed north and upward towards Telluride, Colorado on July 6th. After doing some extensive research on whether or not to drive Route 550, the Million Dollar Highway, from Durango to Ridgway, I chose to take the slightly longer, safer ( read chickened out ), route staying on Route 160 west through Durango, then picking up Route 145 near Cortez, then north on Route 62 at Placerville, joining Route 550 at Ridgway, and then a few miles north on Route 550 to the Ridgway State Park where I have reservations for a two week stay.

Route 145 north through the mountains is a pretty decent road that makes a very long, gradual climb before a short steep ascent to Lizard Head Pass, elevation 10, 222′, and a steep decent to Telluride. It was touted as an easier route through the mountains than Route 550 and I would have to agree. I had no trouble at any point along this road and would do it again in a heartbeat.

I arrived at the State Park in the early afternoon with temps in the mid to high 80’s and found my  reserved site unusable, just way too severely sloped. What would have been a disaster was averted by some very nice, accommodating volunteer hosts and a park ranger who turned a potentially awful situation into a pleasantly resolved one. More on that in the next post along with some images of the campground in the next post.

Looking Down on Ouray
Looking Down on Ouray

The Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Road
View From the Million Dollar Road

At the crack of dawn Thursday, I loaded my photo gear, and Sam, into the Prius and headed back south down Route 550 to see if there were any million dollar views along the Million Dollar Highway.

( I have included all the images in this post in a gallery, located at the end of this post, where you can see larger images and view them as a slideshow, if you like.)

View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View Along the Million Dollar Highway
View Along the Million Dollar Highway

Turns out, there are ! Quite a few indeed. WOW ! I have never been here before and I will say, I am REALLY impressed with this country.

View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway

Of course, ideal conditions, a blue sky day with temps around 70 ( once I climbed to above 8000′ ) didn’t hurt.

View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar road
View From the Million Dollar road
View From the Million Dollar road
View From the Million Dollar road
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway

Heading south and climbing to an elevation of 11,118″ at Red Mountain Pass, I was really glad I chickened out and did not decide to take this road in the motorhome towing the Prius. That said, a lot of other folks obviously feel otherwise as I passed several motorhomes with toads, along with 5th wheels and some travel trailers. There also were a few tractor trailers poking along the highway, but not all that many. What did amaze me were the number of cars , not quite traffic jam numbers but a whole lot more traffic than I anticipated on a highway with such a fearsome reputation.

Stream Along the Million Dollar Highway
Stream Along the Million Dollar Highway
Stream Along the Million Dollar Highway
Stream Along the Million Dollar Highway

There is just SO much to see along this road, it is going to take a few trips to even begin to take it all in. And since I am spending all my time rubbernecking along the way, this highway may well be the end of me since there are countless opportunities to go off the edge of the road, and straight down hundreds of feet, no guardrails along much of the way, At one spot I stopped to take a few shots, I could see the remains of three different vehicle several hundred feet below.

View From the Million Dollar Road
View From the Million Dollar Road
Along South Mineral Road
Along South Mineral Road
Along South Mineral Road
Along South Mineral Road
Along South Mineral Road
Along South Mineral Road

I took only one side trip off the highway today, out South Mineral Road to check out the campgrounds, and designated camping areas, located along the road. If I ever worked up the courage to take the motorhome up into these mountains, the camping along this road would well be the reason why.

Roadside Attraction
Roadside Attraction
Roadside Attraction
Roadside Attraction

I passed this bicyclist heading up to Red Mountain Pass and just after doing so saw these two deer on the side of the road, so I did a quick u-turn and waited off the road to see what their reaction would be to the guy on the bike as he approached them. Thought I might get something interesting, but as luck would have it,  some jackass on his roaring Harley ( one of many, way too many, on this road today ), came through in the opposite direction and just had to rev it up as he passed the deer, scaring them off just before the bicyclist got to them. I will never understand the mentality of these idiots, destroying so much in their wake, I guess just to draw attention to themselves, pretty pathetic.

Waiting Alone
Waiting Alone

And speaking of pathetic, here is lonesome Sam, waiting for the photographer to return to the Prius after shooting something along the way. I guess it’s going to take some more time before she gets over our loss … she hasn’t touched her food bowl in going on three days now, and is just seriously depressed. She is getting a lot of attention now with no competition, so I’m sure she will come out of it sooner or later. This is the first time in her ten years that she has been alone, so it is a new experience for her.

View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway

The area around Red Mountain is simply spectacular, I’ll just let the images show you what I mean.

View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Road
View From the Million Dollar Road
View From the Million Dollar Road
View From the Million Dollar Road
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
View From the Million Dollar Highway
Looking Down on Silverton
Looking Down on Silverton

South of Red Mountain Pass is the town of Silverton, seen here from an overlook a little farther south of the town itself. Note the Railroad train coming into town in the lower right.

Million Dollar Highway Image Gallery

Click on the first ( or any other ) image to see larger versions of the images in this post.

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September 15, Stewart, B.C.

Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek

Another Trip in to Fish Creek and Salmon Glacier

Up and out very early and made the 35 mile drive in to Stewart/Hyder while it was still dark. My game plan was to try and get up the Salmon Glacier Road in time to catch some early morning light, and hopefully some blue skies.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier

As the Prius climbed up the road, I could see some pretty heavy cloud cover moving in and it looked like I wasn’t going to get my early morning shots.

Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier

I did manage to snap a few shots before the blue sky disappeared completely …

Clouds Moving in on Salmon Glacier
Clouds Moving in on Salmon Glacier

… but it didn’t take long before the clouds were only allowing shafts of sunlight through. No sense in wasting the long trip up here so, since the cloudy conditions were conducive to shooting a couple of the small  waterfalls up here, I turned my camera around to concentrate on the uphill side of the road and slowly headed back down the mountain.

Waterfall Above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall Above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier

You’ll have to forgive my fixation with this type of waterfall shot …

Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier

… but i just have this thing about a single rock fixed in the center of a waterfall.

Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
A Little Autumn color
A Little Autumn color

A little local color and then on down to …

Fish Creek Bear Observation Site

Fish Creek Bear Observation Deck
Fish Creek Bear Observation Deck

A view of the platform above Fish Creek on this gloomy day. I wandered along the platform for about two hours patiently waiting in the drizzle and rain for a bear to show up. There were only a few other hardy ( foolhardy? ) souls here today who risked getting wet for an opportunity to see some bears in action.

Chum Salmon Spawning
Chum Salmon Spawning

There are still quite a few, a little worse for wear, chum salmon spawning in Fish Creek. One of the rangers here told me that this season has seen the best chum salmon run in nine years. The female fish ( on her side in the image above ) is fanning out a spot in the gravel, with her tail, where she will deposit her eggs. The male, the darker fish behind her, will then fertilize the eggs.

A Sign That Bears Are Around
A Sign That Bears Are Around

Salmon remains on the bank of the stream indicate that there are still bears in the area that are coming in here to feed.

Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek

And finally, on my third trip in here, this handsome fellow comes wading down the stream to try his luck!

Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek

Kind of a thrill to be this close to one of these beautiful animals. This guy is almost directly below me, only about 20 feet from where I am standing on the deck above.

I just happened to stumble on this blogger’s post on Fish Creek and was a little surprised to see what she was lucky enough to run into when visiting the site, click: here to check it out.

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September 13, 2015 Stewart, B.C.

Just One of Those Days!
Just One of Those Days!

Just a Spectacular Day !

This part of the world certainly has it’s fair share of gloomy, damp weather, and my trip through the region has experienced more dark days than sunny ones, to be sure.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Meziadin Provincial Park Campsite
Meziadin Provincial Park Campsite

But as I left my campsite at Meziadin Provincial park this morning …

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

… on the 35 mile trip down Route 37A to the small coastal towns of Stewart and Hyder, it became quickly apparent that today was going to be one of those blue sky days that leaves an indelible mark on your memory.

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

Route 37A weaves it’s way down through the coastal mountains along a glacier fed stream that parallels the highway and those jagged mountains rise rapidly above the stream and loom over the road.

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

The autumn colors, the golds of the aspens and birches and the reds and oranges of the shrubs and ground cover, certainly add to the spectacular scenery.

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

Hidden above the steep mountains that tower over the valley are extensive glaciers that every now and then reveal themselves as their toes dip down to the valley they carved out below.

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

Glacier fed waterfalls from the ice fields far above tumble to the river below as you approach the small town of Stewart, British Columbia.

Along the Road to Stewart
Along the Road to Stewart

The image above reveals only above one quarter of the height of this waterfall …

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

… somewhere way up there lies an enormous ice field, an example of which I shall find later in the day.

Salmon Glacier

Initially, way back before the disasters on the Top of the World Highway, I had planned to be here in Hyder the last week of August for the final chum salmon run on Fish Creek to get a chance at some grizzlies enjoying that last run of the season.

Muddy Toe of Salmon Glacier
Muddy Toe of Salmon Glacier

Even though I most likely had now missed that salmon run, I still wanted to come down here to once again experience the climb up the Salmon Glacier Road, a drive I did 22 years ago in my old Class C motorhome.

Camping Above Salmon Glacier, 1993
Camping Above Salmon Glacier, 1993
Half Way Up the Salmon Glacier Road
Half Way Up the Salmon Glacier Road
Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier

The view at the top was every bit as wonderful as I remembered, perhaps even more so on this gorgeous day.

Above Salmon Glacier
Above Salmon Glacier

And when you turned around, the autumn colors of the upper slopes of the mountain just added to the wonder of this very special place.

Above Salmon Glacier
Above Salmon Glacier
Above Salmon Glacier
Above Salmon Glacier

WHAT A DAY ! Kind of makes up for missing the bears and the salmon run, but I think I will check out Fish Creek anyhow tomorrow, just in case there happen to be some stragglers still around.

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