The Watchman

The-Watchman
The Watchman stands resolute Canon 5D II 21mm, F

Standing high in the distance in a familiar site to anyone visiting the Zion national park in Utah. The Watchman mountain is to Zion, as Half Dome is to Yosemite, or even Old Faithful to Yellowstone. I had the pleasure of sleeping in the campsite beneath it, and it was amazing.

My friend and I had a few days traveling around the canyon taking photos and doing some crazy hikes. One in particular, the Angel’s Landing hike, is something I think everyone visiting the park should consider trying. It really is an endurance test. And if your totally out of shape like I am, it can be down right death defying!!!

Something I always find incredible when we talk to rangers in the parks, is the true power of nature that makes up these magical places. The river, quietly running through the park, can be turned to one of the most dangerous forces in the blink of an eye. It claims many peoples lives a year because of a hike they affectionately call “The Narrows”. Which is essentially a hike through shallow water in the gorge going up river. But if it starts to rain far off in the distance, the water can build and travel at tremendous speeds. Catching anyone in the tunnel completely unaware with very little to grab onto. The evidence of this is scattered all over the bank of the river where whole, mature trees, have been ripped right out of the ground with root still attached. Scary stuff.

I prefer to sit under the watchful eye of the Watchman, drink my Polygamy Ale, (Which is hilarious that they have this!) and watch the stars roll by.

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The Waters of Larch Mountain

Larch-Mountain-Stream
Flowing Waters of Larch Mountain Canon 5D II 21mm, F16

When I drove into the Columbia River Gorge area from Portland it was quite late at night. I could still see the immensity of the gorge even though it was so dark. Instead of taking the freeway, you still have the choice to take the historic highway that runs along the side of the steep cliffs that start the mountain range.

Along the road there are a number of pull outs that have great majestic waterfalls running down and under the road. Almost like they were put there on purpose.

I rolled up and grabbed one of the last remaining campsites near Multnomah Falls. Probably the most recognizable one of them all!

In the morning I started at the crack of dawn and hiked up the trail. I know I say it a lot, but I’m used to flat ground. This is anything but. The trail heads straight up with no place to rest really until you reach the top of the falls. And there’s always that one guy in the morning running the whole thing. Makes you feel so crappy about yourself ;(

Along the trail, which is long and very winding, there are so many other amazing waterfalls. Each with their own dynamics. Very cool to walk under a bunch of them. Not to mention the greenest place I have ever been.

My goal that day was to reach the triple falls on the way up to Larch mountain. Unfortunately some kids got there before me, presumably from the other side, and would not get off the top. So I knew I was going to have to wait to get a good pic. So I went further down the trail and found this amazing little bend in the river. It was so quiet and amazing, with fallen logs and moss growing everywhere. So I stopped and got out all my equipment and started to set things up when I heard a “Hello” come from behind a huge boulder behind me.

I guess I didn’t get up as early as I thought. Because behind me there were two couples in about their 70’s set up for a picnic! With a table cloth and everything! It was like a mad tea party in the middle of the forest. Very cool, and super strange at the same time.

So I had a little chat with them, as every time you take a picture in the middle of nowhere, people always want to know what your doing. Not my favourite thing, but in a place like that, and no rush, it can be fun. Plus they had beer 😉

 

St Mary’s Falls

St.-Mary-Falls
Water flowing from St.Mary’s Falls Canon 5DII 21mm, F11

When I head out on my random road trips, I seem to always end up in the mountains. I guess it’s the prairie in me that strives for something higher than… well anything higher than a tree I guess. One of the great places I like to find myself is Glacier National Park in Montana. It really does seems to have it all. And every time I go I try and find new little corners I haven’t been before. One such corner is the St. Mary’s Falls trail.

I knew I wanted to see it early in the morning as the light might be a little more even, considering it is pretty tree covered. As well as getting to see such a quiet place without all the Summer crowds that come along with such great parks. The only concern I had with all of this is, of course, the bears. If you know me at all, you will know (or will get to know) I am afraid of bears. Most people are afraid of smaller things like bugs and snakes. But a bear will EAT you. That’s not cool…

That morning I found myself walking down the trail talking to myself very loudly about anything I could think of. After a while I just started talking to the bear, I was sure was out there listening. Before running into my first sign of life. A really nice couple from New Zealand who were in the park with their daughter that was about to get married to a guy from Montana. Crazy world we live in.

After we reached the falls I picked up another straggler that was also afraid of the furry threats lurking in the forest, and decided to tag along with me for the remainder of my journey. I was happy about this because he was better equipped to handle the danger than I was.

Once we were done with our shooting, and patted each other on the back for not getting eaten, we made our way back to the road. Well, what they say about getting turned around in the woods is a real thing. And the trail we thought would take us back to our cars, was not the one we were on. needless to say we had to hike it back another 40 minutes to the parking lot, laughing about how stupid we are the whole way. If there’s a better way to make friends, I’d like to hear it!