Tag Archives: Clouds

Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 6

The Tre Cime de Lavaredo are the three mountain peaks that are the highlight of the Tre Cime Natural Park.  (In German, they are called Drei Zinnen.)  From the end of the road at Rifugio Auronzo, we began our three mile hike around Tre Cime to Rifugio Locatelli.  The hike took us up to 8000 feet, to a saddle between Tre Cime and the nearby Monte Paterno (Paternkofel), where we had lunch.  The trail descended from the pass back down a few hundred feet, before ascending again to Locatelli, back at 8000 feet elevation.  Temperatures were in the 50’s, and it was somewhat windy.

TreCimeHike

Shown below, the Locatelli hut, with the Torre di Toblin behind it.

(Click any image to enlarge.)

_DSF1594

On the side of the Monte Paterno, we saw some climbers on a Via Ferrata (Italian for “Iron Road”).  These are hiking and climbing routes that have a cable, fixed to the rock every few meters.  You wear a harness with two carabiners.  As you reach one of the iron stays in the rock, you unclip one carabiner and reattach it to the cable on the other side of the stay, then follow with the other carabiner.  Thus, you are always attached to the cable.

Many of the Via Ferrata in the Dolomites are left from World War I.  The Dolomites were a major battleground in the war between Austria-Hungary and Italy.

In the photo below, you see a couple of people on a fairly flat, easy section of Via Ferrata on Monte Paterno.

_DSF1602

We continued on to the Locatelli hut.  This is a much larger hut than the Resciesa hut we stayed in earlier—I’d guess they have room for over 100 people.  But note that they only have one shower, and it costs €5 to use it for six minutes.  (None of our group bothered with a shower that night.)

Many dayhikers come for lunch or dinner in the cafe.  Along with a lot of people, we saw a few dogs of all sizes on the trail.  Here’s a photo of a beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog.

_DSF1613

That night, the barometric pressure began to rise, and we set our alarms in hopes of clear skies for night photography.  We got started a little bit late, so this turned into a bit of night photography combined with pre-dawn photography.  Here’s a time-lapse sequence showing the transition from night to twilight.

We returned to bed for an hour of sleep before heading out for sunrise.  Here’s one of my favorite infrared images of the dawn light hitting Monte Paterno and the Tre Cime.

_DSC6473

We returned again to bed for another hour of sleep before breakfast, and then began our hike back to Rifugio Auronzo, where we waited for our taxi that would take us to Cortina.

_DSF1803

Up next, Cortina and Venice.

Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 5

(This is my 100th post on this blog.  Thank you all for reading.)

The morning of July 1, we left Selva/Wolkenstein for Lago di Dobbiaco.  I kind of think of this as a rest day between our weather-challenged hike from yesterday, and the 8000-foot-elevation hiking of tomorrow.  We also swapped out our guides–trading Hayden for Jake, who would be with us until the official end of the trip.  Both guides provided by AlpineHikers were excellent.

As we drove over to Dobbiaco, we saw many bicyclists preparing for the following day’s Maratona dles Dolomites, an 85-mile bike race with nearly 14,000 feet of elevation gain.  (The winner averaged 18.6 mph.)  Nearly 30,000 cyclists apply each year for one of the 9,000 starting positions.

ToDobbiaco

We checked into the116-year-old Hotel Baur, which sits right on the lake.

_DSF1455

(Click on any image to enlarge.)

We walked around the lake, then I settled on a view facing south for most of my images.  We played around with reflections, and slow shutter speeds as the water flowed over a dam at the north end of the lake.  Here’s an infrared photo from late in the day.

_DSC6433

Here’s a group shot of all of us on a bridge near the hotel.

_DSF1516

The next morning, we drove into the Tre Cime Natural Park and began our hike to Rifugio Locatelli.  Stay tuned for more.

ToTresCime

Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 4

The next day—June 29 if you’re keeping score—we took a taxi down to the ski village of Ortisei.  We spent a little time walking around the town and enjoying time at a cafe near the Hotel Adler before taking a funicular up into the mountains.

ToOrtisei

From the top of the funicular, it’s about a mile traverse (light blue route below) over to Rifugio Resciesa, where we’d stay for the evening.  Unfortunately, I fell ill with intestinal pain that afternoon, so once I got to the hut, I just rested.  As I look for a silver lining to being sick, the afternoon views were hampered by a whole lot of clouds.  My body chose a good time to demand rest.

The Resciesa hut is one of many different mountain huts scattered all over the Alps.  It’s a combination bar/restaurant and guest house.  The Resciesa hut is one of the smaller huts, with room for about 40 people.  We had a room of bunk beds for all eight of us.  Some rooms are larger; some smaller.  There were two showers and two bathrooms shared for everyone at the hut.  I was pretty pleased with the experience, and people who had been at other Alpine huts agreed that this was among the nicer ones.

Resciesa

The next morning, the weather and my health had both improved.  I decided to hike the approximately one-mile loop from the hut, to the peak, and then over to a small chapel.  (This is the darker blue route on the map above.)  The temperatures were in the 50’s and windy.  I’d typically wear three to five layers of clothes to maintain comfort.

On my way up, I took this infrared photo of the Resciesa hut in the lower left, with the Langkofel Group of mountains in the distance.  There are still plenty of clouds around, but at least we could see for miles around.

_DSC6283

Click any image to enlarge.

It’s pretty common for hikable mountains in this area to have wooden crosses at their summits.  Here’s an infrared view of the cross above the Resciesa hut.

_DSC6288

And a closer look from my regular camera:

_DSF0848

I turned around the other way, and took this panorama.  The Resciesa hut is on the far left of the photo, and the chapel is to the right of the sign near the middle.

_DSF0849

In the late morning, we left the hut and started a traverse eastward.  The plan was to get a better perspective on the Geislergruppe, also to our east.  We would then take a trail down to the middle station of aerial gondolas ascending up to the Seceda ski area.  We could then take the gondola down to Ortisei, where we left the day before.

LeavingResciesa1

A typical lunch for us was a lunch sack prepared by our guide containing snacks and an always-excellent sandwich prepared that morning from local cheeses, meats, and vegetables.  On this day, it was more of a “build-your-own” affair.  Here’s a photo of our guide, Hayden, with the lunch preparations spread out under his tarp.

_DSF1196

We had lunch near one of the peaks above the funicular station.  We spent quite a bit of time there making time lapse videos.  Here’s an infrared time lapse of the Geislergruppe, to our east.

I would love to tell you that the rest of our day was uneventful.  But it was not to be.

The weather turned again.  Soon after we left our lunch spot, it looked like we might have a brief shower.  We put our rain covers over our packs, and donned our rain jackets.  Most of us had rain pants with us, but none of us felt like it was going to be necessary to put them on.  We were wrong.

The sleet started first.  Some called it hail.  The temperatures dropped to around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Then rain mixed in.  And then thunder.  If it weren’t for the thunder, we might have stopped to put on our rain pants.  On the map below, our travel route enters from the upper left, and we headed due east.  We were originally aiming for the intersection of trails just right of center.  With the rain, we debated going on to the Rifugio Malga Brogles a bit further on the trail to wait out the rain and sleet.  But it was the thunder that convinced us that it was time to exit the mountain as quickly as possible.

We went off trail, heading down an embankment to take us down below tree line to pick up the return trail.  It was steep and slippery, but it was the fastest way out of danger from possible lightning.  Once we got to the return trail, the hike finally met its promise of being uneventful, except for the part about being soaked.  The thunder stopped; the rain abated.  The temperatures rose as we descended.

LeavingResciesa2

We made it to the cable car and descended to Ortisei to catch the bus to continue our journey.  We stayed overnight that night in Selva (known in German as Wolkenstein).

ToSelva

Coming up, a visit to Lago di Dobbiaco, and on to the highlight of the trip, Tres Cime.

Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 3

The next day, we took the bus to the end of the road, and went for an approximately 7-mile hike near Santa Magdalena at around 2000 meters elevation.  Here’s the trail we took, hiking from east to west:

FirstHike

As I mentioned in my last post, the weather turned overcast with a low ceiling, and a nearly constant threat of rain.  The good news is that it didn’t actually rain much—a couple of passing showers that lasted only minutes.  The bad news is that we had to imagine what the scenery looked like:

_DSF0301

(Click on any image to enlarge.)

Once again, I turned to my infrared Nikon D300 to find elements of drama in the larger scene.  On this trip, I used the versatile Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens for all of my infrared photos.  This shot is using a focal length of 65mm (35mm equivalent of 100mm) at f/5.

_DSC6193

Another approach to photographing with uncooperative weather is to focus on details, such as this flower.

_DSF0300

I believe this is a Phyteuma orbiculare.
Common name: Round-headed Rampion

The weather improved marginally as we neared the end of our hike, descending to Santa Magdalena to catch the bus back to the hotel.  The mountains were still in the clouds, but we could at least appreciate more of the scenery.

_DSF0381_HDR

The next day, we hiked again for about five miles in the same area, heading more east:

SecondHike

The weather was slightly improved from the day before—the ceiling had lifted ever so slightly, and we saw some blue sky as the day progressed.

Here’s my favorite infrared photo from the day, with the brooding clouds hanging just at the top of the peaks.

_DSC6236

As long as the sky was cloudy, we could switch our focus to scenes that don’t include it.  I photographed these waterfalls with a 1/3 second exposure at f/22.

_DSF0603

The photo below is a 1/10 second exposure, also at f/22.

_DSF0640

If you haven’t figured it out by now, one of the themes of this week was to find different ways to photograph something interesting while having challenging weather conditions.  This led us to time-lapse photography.

Here’s a very short video of sixty time-lapse frames.  Each frame was taken 3 seconds apart, and the video below speeds it up by 36x.  I’ll have a few more examples like this in later blog posts.

Next up, an afternoon in Ortisei, on our way up to our first mountain hut, the Rifugio Resciesa.

Alaska Homestead Lodge, Silver Salmon Creek

[Updated:  See addendum at the end of this post.]

While in Alaska, we stayed at a great lodge, The Alaska Homestead Lodge.  It’s part of a small Alaskan bush community at Silver Salmon Creek.  The owners, James and Shelia Isaak, live next to the lodge and keep it in great shape.

(Click any image to enlarge.)

_DSF5754

The lodge itself is on the inland side of the tidal marshes, only a few hundred yards from the coast.  It was common to be sitting in the upstairs dining room and watching bears walk in from the beach, right past the lodge on their way into the forest.

_DSC3939

We also had a great guide, Belle, who has been guiding three years at the lodge.  There are two lodges along the coast, and the guides from both lodges cooperate with each other to share information on the radio about what the bears are doing.  The guides drive four-wheel ATVs with small trailers.  I did this trip with four of my friends, and we all rode in the trailer together up and down the beach, through the creek, and along the trails.

_DSC4475

Here’s a snapshot showing a typical morning at the beach, with a group from each lodge watching the mom and three cubs dig for clams.  We all wore rubber boots (supplied by the lodge) to keep our feet dry.

_DSF4795

A pleasant surprise was the food at the lodge.  Not just good; it was great.  Our chef’s summer job last year was at Bouchon.  Meals were prepared in the lodge’s upstairs kitchen and served at the communal dining table.  The grilled salmon was fresh and expertly prepared—I think we had it three different nights.  We also had pork tenderloin, lasagna, chicken fajitas—and fresh desserts, such as berry crisp, and chocolate pie.

_DSF5995

The lodge had a garden and greenhouse from which the salads came… lettuce, kale, broccolini, cabbage, and more.  For the most part, the bears left these alone—even the berries used in the desserts.

_DSF5755

Like much of Alaska, the only reasonable way in and out of the lodge is by plane.  We used Natron Air Taxi as our charter to get to the lodge from Anchorage.  We had cloudless, blue sky for our flight on this GA-8 Airvan.

_DSF4171

And here we are coming in for a landing on the beach.

_DSC2719

The weather continued to be great for the first five days.  The previous three weeks were rainy, and the following two weeks were predicted to be rainy—but we had five solid sunny days.  And then it turned foggy, misty, and rainy for us, too.  The lodge recommends having a buffer travel day on each side of your stay, in case you get weathered in and can’t get into or out of the lodge.  We almost were stuck at the lodge an additional day.  Tim, our pilot, persisted and was able to land further north and taxi down the beach for a couple of miles to get us.

On a positive note, the fog and clouds added some variety to our scenery and photographs.

_DSC5527

[Addendum]

It occurred to me after posting this that I didn’t describe what a typical day was like.  Each day, you work out your schedule with your guide.  We’d typically get up for an early shoot around 7:00 AM, then back to the lodge at 8:00 AM for breakfast.  Then we’d head back out after breakfast for a few hours, and return for lunch around noon.  Because of the high latitude, the quality of light stayed pretty good until 10:00 or 11:00 AM—even longer if it was a little hazy.  If something especially good is happening, our guide would radio the lodge to let them know we’d be running late.  After lunch, we’d often take a break (nap time), and head out again for a few hours before or after dinner.

A lot is dependent on the tide.  At high tide, the bears are usually in the meadow eating grass and sleeping.  At lowest tide, they are clamming.  Near low tide, they could fish.  During our week, high tide was in the afternoons, so we spent most of the time photographing in the mornings.

Just talk to your guide about the photos you want to take, and they’ll do their best to make it happen.  If you want photos of bears eating grass, you’ll love going out during high tide.  If you want photos of bears fishing, you might go out a few hours after high tide.

A Few More Photos of the Alaska Range

I was going back through some of my photos, and realized that I hadn’t processed some of my infrared photos of the Alaska Range.

I use a Nikon D300 that I’ve converted to infrared through LifePixel.com.  (Please use that affiliate link if you are thinking of converting one of your cameras.)

All but the last of these images are from Talkeetna, which is about 60 miles south of Denali.  I think the view from Talkeetna gives a better overview of the Alaska Range.  The weather was also a lot better when we were in Talkeetna.  I would have loved to seen Denali from Wonder Lake on the north side, but that just didn’t work out.

Anyway, I wanted to share these, and hope you enjoy them. (Click the photos to see larger versions.)

 

_DSC6144

Denali

 

_DSC6146

Mt. Foraker (17,400 ft), Mt. Hunter (14,573 ft), and Denali (20,310 ft)

These are the three highest peaks in the Alaska Range, and the 1st, 3rd, and 10th highest in the US.

 

_DSC6147

Mt. Foraker, Mt. Hunter, and Denali

 

_DSC6150

Mt. Foraker.

The lenticular cloud above the summit indicates high winds.

 

_DSC6152

Denali

 

_DSC6156

Mt. Foraker, Mt. Hunter, and Denali

 

_DSC6158

Mt. Foraker

 

_DSC6160

Mt. Hunter

 

_DSC6165

Mt. Hunter, and Denali

This is taken from Denali State Park (about 35 miles from Denali), with the Chulitna River in the foreground.  In Talkeetna, stop at the Denali Brewing Company for a Chuli Stout, named after this river.

Alaska, Days 6-10

I apologize for not posting in a few days.  Our days have been full, and the internet less than speedy and reliable, so updating the blog took a back seat.

In Skagway, we took the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad to White Pass, briefly crossing into Canada before returning to Skagway.

 

_DSC0947

 

The next port of call was Sikta, where our good weather karma started to run out.  Our last day at sea met swells up to 18 feet, and winds up to 50 knots, as a large storm passed from west to east, as we went through in the opposite direction.  This same storm caused significant flooding in Sikta the day after we were there.

In the photo below from somewhere in the Gulf of Alaska, note the relationship between the horizon and the boat.  Our motion sickness patches worked great, though._DSC1017

 

One of the highlights of our trip so far was a stop at Happy Trails Kennels, home of Martin Buser, a four time Iditarod champion.  We loved the excitement of the dogs, playing with some 10-week-old puppies, and sitting in Martin and Kathy’s home talking about dog training philosophy.

_DSC1026

 

We next worked our way up to Talkeetna, where the good weather karma returned.  Denali is only visible about 30% of the time.  Many people come to Alaska and stay for days without seeing it.  Here are a couple of photos from Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.  These are from about 60 miles away.

_DSC6109

_DSC1196

 

Tomorrow, we will probably be off the air for a couple of days in the Denali Backcountry.  More when we return.

Inspiration

20110516_0199_200_201_202_203_tonemapped_1Sunset Over Kalalau Valley, Kaua’i

I had a great time in Hawaii, and made it back home safely. I very much appreciated the words my friends suggested for this series of articles. I want to talk about one more word… “inspiration”.

Hawaii is a pretty inspiring place, especially for a visual artist.  Remote islands with beautiful scenery and amazing wildlife. Grab your camera and just head out for the day to see what you’re given.

But as I’ve said before, the most important inspiration comes to me from the people around me in my life.  Family and friends.  Really amazing family and friends.  Amazing.  And imperfect.  And courageous.  And especially, inspiring.

Thank you all for being here, for gathering here, in my life.

Hawaii, Day Six

A reminder that I asked a few friends to suggest words to inspire topics in this blog.

Today’s word is “strength”.

I found out this afternoon that one my best friend’s dog passed away.  Those of you who know me know that I’m a dog person, and I was deeply affected by this news.  My heart goes out to Shelley, Cory, Sierra, and Lyla for the loss of their family member.

I also learned today that two people were killed Tuesday in an ultralight plane crash along the Na Pali coast of Kaua’i. I didn’t know them, but I saw the police and ambulance crews rushing to the north side of the island.

We get through times like these with strength—our own inner strength, but more importantly, the strength of our friends and family. People who love us and care for us, and make us feel better when we lose loved ones and we hurt.

Today’s images are from the Na Pali coast.  These photos are taken with my Nikon D200, which I had converted to an infrared camera by LifePixel.  These daunting cliffs, especially rendered in infrared, say “strength” to me—Nature’s strength, the strength of the Hawaiian people who lived there, and the strength of the people who visit the coast today on foot, on the water, and in the air.  This is a challenging place.

20110517_infrared_0019_1

 

20110518_infrared_0047_1

I hope tomorrow’s better.  See you then.

Hawaii, Day Three

We had a tough day today.  The weather didn’t cooperate; only a bit of rain, but a lot of clouds that socked in some of the canyons all day.

Today’s word is “wonder”, which is what you feel all along a hike we did to the top of Waipo’o Falls, in Waimea Canyon.  The canyon is up to 3000 feet deep in places.

20110515_0090_1_2_tonemapped

This is an HDR (high dynamic range) image, created from three exposures with a one stop difference between each.

I enjoy your comments; keep them coming!