Rewards of West Fork Trail

Sedona’s West Fork Trail is described in the guide books as iconic with towering cliffs and 13 stream crossings as you follow Oak Creek for 6.4 miles round trip. The elevation change is moderate (245 ft.), so I considered it doable with camera equipment on my back.

It took us 3.5 hours to reach the end point, as I stopped for photos so often, but the exertion was well worth it. You know you have reached the end when you can’t go further without getting wet, and in November it’s too cold for that!

A mirror-like reflection was the reward at the end point of the West Fork Trail. Sunny conditions were perfect for the hike, as rain can create dangerous flash floods, and snow would make the hike too slippery.

The cave like erosion you can see along the left side of the creek reminded me of “the subway” in Zion National Park created by the Virgin River. I had to explain myself to my husband after exclaiming, “there is the subway!”

I find myself fascinated by the power of moving water that erodes rock over time. Are you?

Hello Sunshine

After two days of rain and fog over Lake Louise and Emerald Lake, you can image how grateful we were to see the sun shine on Athabasca Falls.

Make sure to stop at Athabasca Falls along the Icefields Parkway, Alberta Canada if you drive yourself. A boardwalk provides many different views of this natural wonder.

I included the man in the red jacket for a few reasons. I used to hate it when a tourist in my frame wore red and stood out, but now I feel differently. I know that I can remove him in Photoshop most of the time, and on the other hand, including a person in the landscape helps to provide scale and help the viewer imagine himself in the scene. What do you think?

Nature’s Mysteries

Sometimes I can’t figure out why Nature develops the way it does, from the big questions (How was the Grand Canyon carved?) to the little ones (why did this tree grow like this?)

Why did this tree grow with a twisted trunk? From a hike in Joshua Tree National Park, California.

Nature’s mysteries keep us coming back to explore some more, and keep us reading and wondering why. I’m always impressed when I see “opportunistic plants” growing in the desert from tiny cracks in the rock where rainwater pools.

Ballet in the Desert

Whenever the shapes of Nature remind me of ballet, I have to stop and take a picture. This Joshua Tree seems to be arcing a curved arm overhead in a graceful reach to frame the desert.

A single leaning Joshua Tree frames the desert scene on a sunny day in May, 2019.

When you are visiting from the East Coast, you don’t normally think of rattlesnakes and jumping cacti (the cholla or teddy bear cactus), but I was watching my step too.

Was your week wet or dry?

We have had a wet and stormy week in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and other parts of the United States have endured worse — floods or even tornadoes. This late spring/early summer weather can be violent.

So, my mind is traveling back to last week in the dry high-altitude desert. We had cacti all around us in Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. The Joshua trees themselves are as numerous as they are unique. This one, uniquely shaped, seemed to point toward the setting moon in the west.

Old Joshua Tree points toward the moon as it sets behind the mountains in Joshua Tree National Park, soon after sunrise in late May 2019. We were thankful for a clear day to enjoy some hiking.

Discovering the High Desert

As a part-time Floridian, I’m in love with the coastline, the ocean, tropical plants and birds. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy an adventure into the California desert, but I did!

My daughter booked an Airbnb in Yucca Valley for a couple days’ visit to Joshua Tree National Park, and we got to hike and explore the “high desert,” something new to me. I found the Joshua Trees to be really funky, and the sandstone boulders fascinating too.

We could see the snowy peaks of the San Bernadino Mountains in the distance, while taking in the textures of the high desert terrain at our feet. Just a short time after sunrise, the sunshine was brilliant.

We were lucky that the temperatures were moderate for our May 20-21 visit, and that we stayed close to the national park, in order to get there for sunrise. Stay tuned to this blog for more photographs from this special national park, Joshua Tree.

Great Blue Heron in Flight

Ten days ago, I was biking in the Everglades National Park, working hard to get some photographs of the Great Egrets and Great Blue Heron in flight. I write to you today from my desk in Pennsylvania, because my efforts paid off and I have more images to share!

Great Blue Heron is up and away, spreading those enormous blue wings and stretching out its long body. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park.

For you photographers out there, I had to use ISO 2500 in order to freeze motion with a shutter speed of 1/1000 and keep the aperture wide enough to achieve enough depth of field that the heron would not fly out of my focus zone too quickly. My camera is the Nikon D800, with the Nikon 70-200 mm lens, handheld. When birds take flight, it is a challenge to keep them sharp in the final image.

The success of this image reminds me of why I prefer still photography to video: with a print, one can freeze this moment to enjoy forever. All of these camera settings worked to create an image you can enjoy as a 10″ x 10″ print, available on my website.