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telepathic stuntman — Creative Visualization by Keven Siegert

telepathic stuntman

Creative Visualization by Keven Siegert

telepathic stuntman header image 1

Backpacking the Kalalau Trail – Music Montage Video

March 11th, 2017 · No Comments

Here’s a little music montage I created from some of the video and photos from the Kauai trip.
 

 

 

→ No CommentsTags: Camping · Landscapes · love

Kalalau Trail to Kalalau Beach on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast

March 6th, 2017 · 5 Comments

The Kalalau trail is located within the Na Pali Coast State Park on the north shore of Kauai, USA. It’s a one-way trail, out and back to the glorious Kalalau Beach, one of the most stunning and remote beaches in the world. There are no roads, and boats can’t land there, so the only way to experience this spectacular beauty is to hike the 11 miles along the rugged coastline and dense jungle, and then back out.

The trailhead is located at Ke’e Beach, literally at the end of the road that circles Kauai. I saw a Hawaiian Monk Seal, a sea turtle and a beautiful sunset there on the first night.

The next day was spent exploring the island of Kauai just a bit. Kauai and the other Hawaiian islands are unique in many ways: the islands are the most isolated land masses on Earth, located 2,400 miles from the nearest continent. Kauai is located at the most northern point of the islands and is estimated to be more than 5 million years old. Sandy beaches edge almost 50% of Kauai’s coastline and it certainly deserves the nickname of “the Garden Island”, with more than 2,000 species of native plants and another 5,000 introduced plants.

I visited the Kilauea Lighthouse and National Wildlife Refuge and then stopped to enjoy the views at Opaeka’a Falls.

In the late afternoon, I met up with the group that I would be hiking with: Russ and Crystal (with Backcountry Journeys ), who were the trip leaders, John and Ann, Mike and myself. We split up the food and cooking gear and ran through some safety issues and then parted for the night. I enjoyed some killer sushi and a coconut porter and then headed to Haena State park. It looked like it was going to be a beautiful evening, so I decided to camp on the beach.

It was an absolutely gorgeous night, with mild temperatures, clear and starry skies and the joyous crashing of waves just outside my tent door. I tried a bit of star photography, but it didn’t really work out very well, so I crashed and slept well until sunrise, when the rest of the group arrived, ready to start the adventure!

The trail starts at the base of the Makana Cliffs, reaching up to around 1,500 feet. It’s shaded by ironwood (Australian pine) and java plum trees and is sometimes called “Fireworks Cliff” because in days past, Hawaiians would push flaming branches off the top during celebrations.

We grabbed a quick group photo, and then attacked the steep incline, climbing up, up, up to a nice sweeping vantage point looking back down at Ke’e Beach, just a ½ mile later. The days is mild and dry, and the rocky, well worn path is in good condition, but I could see that this would be very slippery and challenging during any kind of rain. I hoped the clouds forming in the distance would hold off for a while.

 

 

We eventually reach the first river crossing and resting point: Hanakapi’ai Beach. The beach is strewn with a field of smooth round boulders and there are quite a few people here. The sand is soft and white and the water looks really inviting, but there are signs everywhere warning of dangerous riptides. It’s a nice place to take a break and check gear though. We see Akoko trees here as well, with really interesting roots structure that seem make them look like “walking trees”.

We continue on to Hanakoa Valley, our destination for the night. Some of the members of the party are having issues with footing, with slips and falls here and there. We move slowly and methodically through the jungle and climb up again, this time to the next stopping point of Space Rock.

Gliding along cliffs with the ocean at our right, we enjoy majestic and clear vistas of the impossibly blue water far below. Sea birds cruise just below us. A group of humpback whales put on a show of breaching and splashing on the distant horizon. It’s an absolutely gorgeous day!

The trail passes through a grove of Kukui trees, creating a path of glossy black nutshells, and we keep moving, except now the rain is starting to fall… and then becomes a torrential downpour very quickly! We all don pack covers and rain gear, but now the going is very slow and slippery. You do NOT want to take a misstep on some areas of this very exposed trail!

After hiking through the rain for a couple hours, we eventually make it to Honakoa Valley and setup camp. This is a seriously dense jungle! There’s a massive mango tree here and an extensive grove of coffee trees. I find a perfect campsite just above the group shelter, and the rain subsides to just a drizzle. We enjoy a fine meal of chicken curry and rice (washed down with some Green Spot of course) and call it a night. The six-mile hike today took us ten hours.

The next day we learn that two of the members of the party have decided it would be wiser to not try to continue on. The slips and falls have taken a toll. Russ decides to stay with them for the day of exploring the area and then hike out the following day. Mike and I continue on to Kalalau with Crystal.

We cross a tricky stream, climb a steep grade and then quickly emerge out into an entirely new ecosystem, much drier and open. The rain has stopped and the sun is shinning, it’s a great day for a hike! The trail here is made up of crumbly red dirt and descends down to the trickiest part of the trip: Crawler’s Ledge. It was just a bit scary, but fairly easily managed – a terrific thrill for me to look straight down to the ocean on my right and the cliff face on my left while walking on a ledge less than a foot wide!

Soon after lunch, Kalalalu Valley emerges in our sights and we can see the fabled beach far below! I want to be down there soooo bad! But we take our time, relishing the views and shooting lots of photos and video. We descend down Ka’a’alahina Ridge and pass by a stone with grooves worn in them – people used these rocks to sharpen their stone implements.

We cross a scenic stream and then we’re finally here! I find a perfect campsite right on the beach, under the shelter of a Tropical Almond Tree. Of all the places I’ve camped in my life, and there are MANY… this is the finest one I’ve ever had! And it would be my home for the next two days. I set things up, hang my wet clothes on a line and head straight to the ocean just steps away.

 

 

I really feel like I’m living in a dreamworld! There is absolutely no one on this remote beach. The waves are crashing fiercely, the sand is soft and smooth. The sun is warm and starting to lower toward the horizon. I turn around to survey the cliffs behind me. Soaring jagged and inaccessible – this is the landscape made famous in the movie “Jurassic Park” – it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful, and just when I thought things couldn’t be any more epic, I notice a dramatic waterfall off to the right… okay now you’re just showing off!

I check in with Crystal and Mike, who have found a nice spot further up along the beach, under the canopy of trees. I wander over to the falls and then down to the sea caves at the far end of the beach. We hear about three guys who were caught in a riptide and had to be helicoptered out – I hope they’re okay.

 

 

There are perhaps about a dozen people camped around the area surrounding the beach, showering in the falls, playing in the surf, lying in the sun. Some are naked, so I figured what the heck, and stripped down for a swim! I return to my epic campsite and relax while waiting for the sun to lower into position for sunset photography. There are cats everywhere here! They must have been introduced to the area back when it was farmed for taro many years ago, perhaps to control the rodent population. Two of them are sitting near my tent, curious and looking for food.

The sunset was really nice – not as good as I hoped for, but still, in this location, everywhere I point the camera is stunning. The waves catch the light as they crash against the rocks. The smooth pools of water reflect the colorful sky. I shoot like crazy and get a couple good keepers, then join Mike and Crystal for a dinner of Loaded Mashed Potatoes (and whiskey).

 

The evening was warm and the sound of crashing waves made for a restful night. The morning was looking pretty gray though. We decide to take it really easy today, just hanging out at the beach and exploring the area. Crystal cooks up some Blueberry Cranberry Walnut Pancakes with Coconut Demi-glace. Tasty!

Mike and I head out for a bit of photography but the conditions are not great – it’s starting to cloud up and the rain slowly starts, light and misty and then a constant soft shower for most of the afternoon.

The next day we dine on pancakes again and then prepare to hit the trail back to Hanakoa. A jetski arrives to pickup hikers who didn’t want to make the walk out – about a dozen people left by boat! We head out and immediately have to cross a deep and raging river – slowly and carefully.

We pass by a herd of wild goats nibbling on the grass above the ocean. Again, it’s a perfect day for hiking – with breezes, blue sky, puffy clouds and a warm sun. We meet up with Russ early in the day and enjoy a relaxed hike back to our jungle campsite in Hanakoa. After setting up camp, we hike to an absolutely breathtaking (and quite chilly) Hanakoa Waterfall – probably at least 400 feet high – the power of the water crashing to the giant pool was spectacular!

 

We enjoy a nice meal of pasta with sausage and zucchini in tomato sauce. A couple from Tulsa who have been leapfrogging with us during this entire trip, Chris and Jenna, are here as well and we pretty much have the place to our selves. We’re all planning an early start the next day, so sleep comes early.

 

The fifth day is another fine day and we enjoy fantastic views of the surreal blue ocean on our left as we make our way to Hanakapi’ai Beach. It’s jarring to suddenly see a mass of people again, but we don’t care because the sun is shinning warmly and the surf is irresistible and Russ and I jump in for a refreshing swim. We’re now just two miles from the trailhead and I don’t want it to end! After a few final vistas, we reach Ke’e Beach and congratulations are passed around.

This was one of the toughest but most beautiful adventures I’ve ever been on. Thank you to Russ and Crystal for making the arrangements and providing guidance and meals! I need to return here someday soon…

                    

               

 

       

 

 

       

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

→ 5 CommentsTags: Camping · Cooking · fauna · flora · Landscapes · love · Travel · Weather · wildlife

Trek to Clear Creek in the Grand Canyon

February 14th, 2017 · 1 Comment

 

 

 

Clear Creek is a remote oasis deep within the Grand Canyon. To reach it, five of us hiked the Bright Angel Trail at sunrise to the Bright Angel Campground on the first day, then across the Clear Creek Trail to our destination on the second day.

 

 

 

Colorado River

 

The Clear Creek Trail was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. It’s a long shadeless trail with breathtaking panoramas as it roller coasters along the Tonto Platform.

 

 

At the trail’s end lies a steep and tricky descent into a gorge of slippery red shale, with the perennial Clear Creek happily bubbling through it.

 

 

 

 

 

We saw plenty of Engleman prickly pear, Mormon Tea, brittlebrush and beautiful abstracts of lichen on rock.

The trail starts by hugging the steep Tapeats cliffs, with expansive views of the Colorado River and the twin bridges below. The rock formation of “the Seahorse” can be seen upon rounding one of the corners.

 

 

We passed the imposing Sumner Butte and then the famous spire of Zoroaster. The clouds were heavy and low in the sky, with occasional spits of rain. It was a fine cool day, perfect for hiking.

 

Sumner Butte

 

Zoroaster Temple

 

The trail then opens up to a classic desert vista with plentiful yucca, agave and mesquite. We moved along at a relaxed pace, taking in the views of the stratus of the South Rim wall from our unique perspective.

 

The trail then turns kind of northeastern and skirts along the Vishnu gorge of Zoroaster canyon and we can finally see an immense canyon, which hosts Clear Creek.

 

From here, it’s a steep descent on Hakatai shale, gorgeous red color, but really tricky because of the exposure and our heavy packs. It was a great thrill ride to the bottom!

 

 

We made camp here by the water and enjoyed a relaxed afternoon of exploring the area. My tent site had a lot of rocks strewn about, so I created a mini “rock garden”.

That evening we enjoyed great meals (smoked salmon with brown rice and veggies) washed down with plenty of good Irish whiskey, as the rain continued to drizzle down. We were all well prepared for the weather though, so it was actually quite comfortable.

 

The sound of the rushing water along with the patter of rain on the tent and perfect temperatures created a restful night for sleeping and I crashed hard – waking only once during the night.

 

The next day, we hiked back out the way we came in, with very low clouds hovering above the spires and hoodoos above – creating a kind of spiritual feeling, especially along the top ridges of the canyon walls. We hiked along comfortably and all agreed it was one of the best hikes any of us had ever enjoyed.

 

 

 

After a final night at Bright Angel Campground, we made our way out of the canyon in about six hours – extremely grateful and happy to have had the privilege of being able to spend time in one of the most magnificent places on Earth.

 

What a Great trip!

 

                

 

 

        

 

 

 

→ 1 CommentTags: Camping · Cooking · fauna · flora · Landscapes · love · Weather · wildlife

Desert Botanical Gardens

February 6th, 2017 · No Comments

Textures and colors study at the Botanical Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

→ No CommentsTags: flora

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

January 30th, 2017 · No Comments

You start by descending down through the mouth of the cave more than 800 feet below the surface on a fairly steep path, and then explore “The Big Room” which is amazing – there are side trips such as “King’s Palace” as well.

A spectacular cave well worth visiting!

The grotto

Lions Tails

 

→ No CommentsTags: Landscapes · Travel

Return to Big Bend National Park

January 30th, 2017 · No Comments

Big Bend National Park is vast and desolate, but with pockets of colorful beauty, spectacular vistas and starscapes, and teeming with wildlife!

Sunrise at “The Thing” a roadside attraction east of Tucson, Arizona

Window View

Western Diamondback? Rat Snake? I’m not sure…

Mexican art for sale on the USA side of the Rio Grande river at Boquillos Crossing.

Chisos Mountains

Taking a coffee break near Grapevine Hills

Coyote

Campsite at Boquillos Canyon, above the Rio Grande

Balancing Rock at Grapevine Hill

Yucca

Sunset at Chisos Mountain

Be careful!

Petroglyphs near the hotsprings

Hotsprings just above and flowing into the Rio Grande – NICE! And I had it all to myself.

 

→ No CommentsTags: Camping · fauna · flora · Landscapes · Travel

Big Bend National Park – Terlingua, Texas

January 8th, 2017 · No Comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

→ No CommentsTags: flora · funky · Landscapes · Travel

Cold Night in the Superstitions

December 9th, 2016 · No Comments

Under a sky of capricious clouds, I wandered through towering saguaros and fuzzy cholla of the Superstition Mountains, with not a soul in sight. I camped on the edge of Boulder Canyon, just north of Weaver’s Needle and enjoyed a quiet night of stargazing. It was cold, very cold… but I had the right gear and slept very comfortably. We’re sooooo lucky to have this playground in our backyards!

agave-needle

big-rock-cholla

boots

cholla-needle

cholla-rib

javelina

lichen

needle

nice-clouds

red-fruits

saguaro-2

saguaro

sunset

tent

trail-2

trail

 

 

→ No CommentsTags: Camping · flora · Landscapes · Weather

Coffee Flat

December 1st, 2016 · 1 Comment

My latest painting, “Coffee Flat” is inspired by the Coffee Flat trail in the Superstition Mountains, east of Phoenix, Arizona.

Acrylic – 48″ X 30″

coffee-flat

 

→ 1 CommentTags: Art · flora · funky · Landscapes · painting

Joshua Tree National Park

November 27th, 2016 · No Comments

Joshua Tree National Park is located in southwestern California and is comprised of the Mohave and Colorado Desert. It’s a massive desert, featuring numerous chollas and rock formations, but the star of the park is the enigmatic Joshua Tree. The Joshua tree is not actually a tree, but a Yucca plant, capable of surviving in the desert for hundreds of years; some specimens survive a thousand years.

I spent three days here exploring various parts of the park and camping in the back country and it was amazing!

The nights were bitterly cold, but stunningly clear starscapes. The days varied wildly from beautiful warm sunshine to violent windy snow storms. The first night was spent peacefully of the edge of a soft sandy wash and the next night was spent hunkered down in my tent for more than thirteen hours as the storm raged and raged, threatening to shred my tent to pieces or even lift it into the sky!

But the amazing vistas of the California Trail and the quirky Dr. Suess-like landscapes of the Boy Scout Trail made it a very interesting and enjoyable excursion!

 

ws-sunny-w-clouds

ws-sunny-w-clouds-matt

tent-view

storm

storm-ws

mws-sunny

kevs-camp

joshua-sunrise

joshua-siloutte

joshua-sillouette

joshua-sillouette-color

joshua-landscape

joshua-landscape-trail

joshua-landscape-single

joshua-landscape-single-dead

joshua-landscape-matt

hedgehog

cholla-singlesunset

cholla-single

bees-cholla

 

→ No CommentsTags: Camping · fauna · flora · Landscapes · Travel · Weather

Supermoonset and Phoenix Sunrise

November 16th, 2016 · No Comments

A beautiful Supermoon settled over the northwest valley this morning, followed by a nice crisp sunrise bathing light across downtown Phoenix, Arizona.

 

supermoon

 

phoenix

→ No CommentsTags: Landscapes · urban

Scotland – England – Northern Ireland – Ireland

October 10th, 2016 · 3 Comments

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yeats-statueYeats Statue, Sligo, Ireland

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McLoughlin’s Bar, Achill Sound – Location for the next film!

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weddingWedding photos being shot at Dark Hedges, Country Antrim

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three-sistersMizen Head, Ireland

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sunrise-at-keemKeel Beach, Keel, Ireland

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streong-currentsSlea Head, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

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Edinburgh, Scotland

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stone-tableTable by the road to Fanore, Ireland

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stone-cu2Sligo Abbey, Ireland

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spiky-wigAvant garde wig at Scottish National Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland

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sligo-pubSligo, Ireland

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sligo-abbey13Sligo Abbey, Ireland

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sligo-abbey12Sligo Abbey, Ireland

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sligo-abbey6Sligo Abbey, Ireland

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sligo-abbey3Sligo Abbey, Ireland

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sligo-abbey2Sligo Abbey, Ireland

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sligo-abbey1Sligo Abbey, Ireland

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slea-rockSlea Head, Ireland

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slea-headDingle Peninsula, Ireland

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slea-head-wsSlea Head, Ireland

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slea-head-storm2Slea Head, Ireland

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slea-head-stormSlea Head, Ireland

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slea-head-beachSlea Head, Ireland

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slea-head-beach-msSlea Head, Ireland

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skye-sheepIsle of Skye, Scotland

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skye-lightIsle of Skye, Scotland

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sheep-penIsle of Skye, Scotland

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sheep-field-oceanCauseway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland

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sheep-and-ocean2Cliffs of Croaghaun, Achill Island

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sheep-and-oceanCliffs of Croaghaun, Achill Island

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rainy-beachBeach along the Mizen Peninsula, Ireland

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quiraingThe Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland

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quinn-abbey7Quin Abbey, Ireland

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quinn-abbeyQuin Abbey, Ireland

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quinn-abbet2Quin Abbey, Ireland

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quinn-abbet1Quin Abbey, Ireland

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portreePortree, Isle of Skye, Scotland

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portree-bayPortree Bay, Isle of Skye, Scotland

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people-make-glasgowGlasgow, Scotland

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path-to-storrPath to Old Man of Storr rock formation, Isle of Skye

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old-man-of-storr-wsOld Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland

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ocean-windows2Cliffs of Croaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland

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ocean-windowsCliffs of Croaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland

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ocean-doorCliffs of Croaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland – Looking down at Keem Beach

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nice-driveCliffs of Croaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland

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mizen-head13Sea Cave at Mizen Head, Ireland

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mizen-head12Mizen Head, Ireland

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mizen-head11Mizen Head, Ireland

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mizen-head3Mizen Head, Ireland

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mizen-head2Mizen Head, Ireland

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mizen-head1Mizen Head, Ireland

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mealt-falls-and-kilt-rockMealt Falls and Kilt Rock, Isle of Skye, Scotland

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market-guysGlasgow Market

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ma-murphysMa Murphy’s in Bantry, Ireland

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lady-godivaLady Godiva painting, Coventry, England

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kilarny-parkKillarney National Park, Ireland

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kibble-palaceKibble Palace, Glasgow, Scotland

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kev-at-croaghCliffs of Croaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland

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kelvingrove-huseum-headsKelvingrove Museum, Glasgow, Scotland

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keem-beach-house2Keem Beach, Achill Island, Ireland

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keem-beach-houseKeem Beach, Achill Island, Ireland

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keem-bayKeem Beach, Achill Island, Ireland

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keem-bay-sheepKeem Beach, Achill Island, Ireland

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keelAchill Island, Ireland

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inch-clouds6Inch Beach, Ireland

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inch-clouds5Inch Sound, Ireland

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inch-cloudsInch Beach, Ireland

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inch-boardsInch Beach, Ireland

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hilltop-ruinsCliffs of Croaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland

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highlands-above-glen-coeScottish Highlands, above Glen Coe, Scotland

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headstoneSligo Friary

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harp-pubThe Harp Tavern, Sligo

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hagis-ballsEdinburgh, Scotland

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group-with-josieMcLoughlin’s Bar, Achill Island, Ireland

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godiva-sculptureLady Godiva Square, Coventry, England

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goatsCushendun, Northern Ireland

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glasgow-taxiGlasgow, Scotland

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glasgow-revoiltGeorge’s Square, Glasgow, Scotland

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glasgow-musiciansBuchanan Street, Glasgow, Scotland

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glasgow-momaMuseum of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland

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glasgow-kiltsGlasgow, Scotland

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glasgow-emblemGlasgow, Scotland

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glasgow-buchanan-streetBuchanan Street, Glasgow, Scotland

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glasgow-bubbles2Buchanan Street, Glasgow, Scotland

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glasgow-bubblesBuchanan Street, Glasgow, Scotland

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giants-causeway12Causeway Coastline, Northern Ireland

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giants-causeway11Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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giants-causeway10Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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giants-causeway9Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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giants-causeway8Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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giants-causeway7Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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giants-causeway6Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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giants-causeway5Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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giants-causeway4Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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giants-causeway3Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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giants-causeway2Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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giants-causeway1Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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giants-causeway-sunsetCauseway Coastline, Northern Ireland

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gallarus-oratoryGallarus Oratory, Dingle Penisula

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foleys-barFoley’s Pub, Inch, Ireland

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ennis-friary3Ennis Friary, Ireland

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ennis-friaryEnnis Friary, Ireland

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ennis-cathedralEnnis, Ireland

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eilean-doonan-castleEilean Donan Castle, Scotland

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edinburgh-museum3Scottish National Museum, Edinburgh, Scotland

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edinburgh-museum2Scottish National Museum, Edinburgh, Scotland

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edinburgh-museumEdinburgh, Scotland

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donegal-castleDonegal Castle, Ireland

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dingleDingle, Ireland

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dingle-sculptureDingle, Ireland

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dingle-penn-beachDingle Peninsula, Ireland

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dingle-countryside2Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

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dingle-countrysideDingle Peninsula, Ireland

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dingle-bayDingle Bay, Ireland

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dark-hedgesDark Hedges, Northern Ireland

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cu-stoneSligo Friary, Ireland

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croughan-wiewCliffs of Croaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland

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croughan-cliffs-viewCliffs of Croaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland

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croughan-cliffs-view-ruinsCliffs of Croaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland

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croughan-cliffs-view-ruins-sheepCliffs of Croaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland

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cowsPasture near Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

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coventry-windowCoventry, England

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colored-birdsAchill Island, Ireland

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clock-gearsScottish National Museum, Edinburgh, Scotland

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cliffs-of-mohrCliffs of Moher, Ireland

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chairs-at-cullen-hills-hotelPortree Bay, Isle of Skye, Scotland

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causeway-coastCauseway Coastline, Northern Ireland

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cathedral-wsCoventry Cathedral, Coventry, England

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cathedral-ws-sculptureCoventry Cathedral, Coventry, England

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cathedral-side-roomCoventry Cathedral, Coventry, England

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cathedral-glass-wallCoventry Cathedral, Coventry, England

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cathedral-dice-of-humanity“Dice of Humanity” – Coventry Cathedral, Coventry, England

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cathedral-bg-wallCoventry Cathedral, Coventry, England

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castle-at-mohrCliffs of Moher, Ireland

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black-pudding-and-hagis-pizzaHaggis and Black Pudding Pizza

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big-hillAchill Island, Ireland

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bervie-gateBervie House B&B – Achill Island, Ireland

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belfastBelfast, Northern Ireland

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belfast-mural2Belfast, Northern Ireland

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belfast-muralBelfast, Northern Ireland

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belfast-barrellsBelfast, Northern Ireland

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bantryBantry, Ireland

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bantry-windowBantry Gardens, Ireland

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bantry-marketBantry Market, Ireland

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bantry-gardens-towerBantry House, Ireland

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bantry-gardens-stepsBantry House, Ireland

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bantry-gardens-houseBantry House, Ireland

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bantry-gardens-debi2Bantry House, Ireland

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bantry-gardens-debiBantry House, Ireland

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bantry-bayBantry Bay, Ireland

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bagpipper-wallEdinburgh, Scotland

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bagpipe-player-edinburghEdinburgh, Scotland

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ashleam-bayAshleam Bay, Achill Island, Ireland

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achill-west-coast3Achill Island, Ireland

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achill-west-coast2Achill Island, Ireland

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achill-west-coastAchill Island, Ireland

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→ 3 CommentsTags: Ireland · Landscapes · Travel · Uncategorized

Mount Wrightston, Madera Canyon and Saguaro National Park

August 14th, 2016 · 4 Comments

The clouds were hanging low to the ground and everything was soaking wet from the frequent storms during the past few days. The sky was dark and heavy with moisture. I walked silently along a trail, thickly padded with layers of pine needles. There wasn’t a breath of wind or noise of any kind and I had the entire mountain to myself.

cloudy hills

pine needles

After a few hours of hiking, I sat down on a low hill for a rest and water. When I heard the branch snapping behind me, I thought perhaps it could be a Coatimundi or Ringtail… so I was excited to creep around for a better look and hopefully a photograph. Then I heard the loud CRACK of a big branch and I knew it had to be a pretty large animal. Through the branches I could see him – a massive Black Bear!

black bear

Black Bear (hidden behind the tree)

I couldn’t get a clear shot, so I moved around the tree and that’s when he saw me. He turned from the tree and stood up on his hind legs – his head was the size of a garbage can lid and he stood a good seven or eight feet tall! My brain had an instant battle between “get the hell out of here!” and “shoot a photo now!”. The size of him was unnerving and “get the hell out of here” won – I backed away slowly and continued down the trail, glancing over my shoulder every ten paces and stopping frequently to listen.

trail to florida saddle

scarletbush

Scarletbush

 

side blotched lizard

Side Blotched Lizard

 

This starts a challenging and beautiful (and unnerving) trek into the Santa Rita Mountains in southern Arizona, starting in the high desert at around 4,000 feet and ascending through Madera Canyon to the summit of Mount Wrightston (9,452 feet).

chaparral yuccaYucca

cholla flowerCholla Flower

I began the morning at Saguaro National Park to scout out a location for a photo shoot I wanted to do later in the week. I hiked around the park, exploring Signal Hill and found a fantastic site of ancient rock art, created by the Hohokam people more than a thousand years ago. There are dozens of petroglyphs on the rocky hill and I found the perfect angle for a sunrise and sunset shot. I walked through the Sonoran Desert Museum as a thunderstorm moved across the desert floor and hammered the valley with a torrential rain. The scent of Desert Sage hung heavy in the air and the cool moisture felt great.

desert ramblerThe Desert Rambler!

backlit cholla

Cholla

 

baja loop road

agave heartAgave

agave kaleidoscopeAgave

agave stalk

Agave Stalk

 

barrel cactus flowersBarrel Cactus

buckhorn cholla

Buckhorn Cholla

chrysocollaChrysocolla

 

desert storm

coville barrel cactusCoville Barrel Cactus

 

diamond cholla

Diamond Cholla

 

Engelmann Hedgehog CactusEngelmann Hedgehog Cactus

 

fishhook budsFishhook

fishhook cactusFishhook

 

fishhook flower

Fishhook Flower

 

golden agaveGolden Agave

 

huachuca agaveHuachuca Agave

 

ocotillo backlight

ocotillo cuOcotillo

 

ocotillo

Ocotillo

 

organ pipe cactusOrgan Pipe Cactus

 

prickly pear fruit

Prickly Pear Cactus

 

prickly pear long spikes

Prickly Pear Cactus

 

prickly pearPrickly Pear Cactus

 

 

After a short drive just south of Tucson, I reach the Santa Rita Mountains. Mount Wrightston is completely shrouded in clouds and the range looks ominous indeed. It’s a Tuesday and it’s been raining all day so there was absolutely no one around at all. I spent three days in the mountains there and didn’t see a single person.

santa rita mountains

santa rita range

The trail starts in Madera Canyon, a habitat that’s world famous for the variety of flora and fauna here, especially birds. Between the desert floor and the high mountain peaks, there are four distinct life and climate zones.

purple clump

 

The Super Trail is a wonderfully graded trail that follows a creek and provides many scenic vistas on the way to the halfway point of Josephine Saddle. I reach it late in the afternoon, and decide to camp there. A porcupine shuffles into the brush as I walk around looking for a suitable site for the tent. I’m still a bit nervous about the bear and so every noise signals an alert.

plaque

flowing water

I build a nice fire, cook up a bit of dinner and settle in with a book for the night. The rain drizzled on and off and it was too cloudy to see stars, so I crashed early and slept soundly all night.

camp1

Dark threatening clouds enveloped the mountain as I ate breakfast and packed up my gear. I continued along the Super trail, aiming for Baldy Saddle, and then the summit of Mount Wrightston. I was carrying a lot of photography gear and everything was wet, so my pack was really heavy. The ground was slick in muddy in places, so I moved fairly slowly up the mountainside. Again, there was not a bit of wind and even the birds were quiet. It was sublimely peaceful, but also just a bit disconcerting… where was everyone? Am I missing something and I’m not supposed to be here?

super path

super trailhead

thistleThistle

 

I sat down for a rest and the quietness was actually aching. I could hear the clicking of the tendons in my neck when I turned from side to side. It felt like I was in some kind of peaceful, semi-meditative state. Now at about 7,500 feet, I could see clouds below me, and thunderstorms moving across the desert floor.

fuzzy six leaf

gaillardiaGaillardia

As I continued ascending, I spied a few black lizards, rock squirrels, a number of unusual birds (I wish I knew my birds better), and a couple of Whitetail deer. I came to a point in the trail that was covered in spider webs – now I knew no one had been here for a while! I knocked the webs down with a stick and trudged upward. Each time the rain started up, I would hunker down under a tree with full rain gear on and wait it out. A couple times I just threw my tent up (which only takes about three minutes) and waited the storm out with my book.

web

western pine

white mushroooms

wild garlicWild Garlic

 

wood fern

Wood Fern

 

yucca w podsYucca

 

I made it to Baldy Saddle by mid day and the peak was still heavily shrouded in dark clouds. There would be no chance for any kind of photography up there, so I decided to make camp and wait for the clouds to clear. I napped, wandered and generally spent a really relaxed day just hanging out in the shadow of this impressive peak.

columbineColumbine

 

delicate center

desert willowsDesert Willows

false acacias

False Acacias

 

 

firecracker penstemon

Firecracker Penstemon

fleabaneFleabane

 

foggy valley

At this point I’d like to acknowledge a great set of photography products by Peak Design! I’ve tried a variety of harnesses, holsters, straps, etc., but have never found a comfortable way to carry my full size camera while backpacking. Well the Peak Design Capture Camera Clip is the answer. I’ve used it on a couple trips now and I really like it! I allows you to mount the camera to your chest, so there’s no swinging around, and it works fine with the Peak Design Rain Shell. I also carry the strap for day hikes and side trips, which clips on and off quickly. Nice work guys!

 

pd 1

pd 2

pd 3

pd 4

 

pd 6

pd 5

Finally at about 5pm, I decided it was now or never. Even If I got to the top and couldn’t see anything, I still wanted to do it. The final mile to the top was a bit steep but really nicely graded and fairly easy. I could hear and see thunderstorms all around me, and that was certainly scary. I almost quit and turned around three or four times, but it never came close enough to put me in serious danger.

 

It was a joyous feeling to finally reach the top! Sure enough, visibility was almost zero. I signed the book, hydrated and took a few shots of the clouds and then…

 

log book

baldy marker

Stunningly, the clouds started to dissipate and separate! I could now see spectacular epic views in all directions as puffy clouds floated through. I scampered around joyously shooting photos and shaking my head in disbelief of my good fortune! I could see a really cool thunderhead moving across the desert floor from Mexico towards Tucson. I saw bits of rainbows trying to peak through. At one point I saw a small circular rainbow with my shadow in the center of it, on the side of a mountain a good five miles away. I have no idea what causes this phenomena, and I tried to capture it with the camera, but couldn’t really get it.

sky starts to open

small rainbowUpdate: This is actually a phenomena called a “Brocken Spectre”:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brocken_spectre

A Brocken spectre (German Brockengespenst), also called Brocken bow or mountain spectre, is the apparently enormous and magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the upper surfaces of clouds opposite the sun. The head of the figure is often surrounded by the glowing halo-like rings of a glory—rings of coloured light that appear directly opposite the sun when sunlight meets a cloud of uniformly-sized water droplets.

The phenomenon can appear on any misty mountainside or cloud bank, even when seen from an aeroplane, but the frequent fogs and low-altitude accessibility of the Brocken, a peak in the Harz Mountains in Germany, have created a local legend from which the phenomenon draws its name. The Brocken spectre was observed and described by Johann Silberschlag in 1780, and has since been recorded often in literature about the region.

 

cool sky

desert storm from summit

hazy mountains

panaromic 3

panoramic 1

panoramic 2

Then after about twenty minutes, I was again shrouded in clouds again, this time even darker as the sun started to set below the horizon and the thunder seemed louder and closer. Time to get down from here!

north view from top

 

clouds below

kev on wrightston

I had another restful night from this very nice campsite, one of the nicest I ever seen, with views to the east and west.

campsite2

sunset from camp

The next day I hiked down to the Florida Saddle, then across to Madera Road and back to my truck. I returned to Saguaro National Park West and setup for the sunrise photo shoot at Signal Hill. It was hot and steamy on the desert floor and again, no people to be seen anywhere.

richardsons geraniumRichardsons Geranium

cloverClover

 

green beetleBeetle

 

indian paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush

 

jojobaJojoba

 

 

lupines

Lupines

 

mushroom with caterpillar

A nice collection of clouds gathered on the horizon as the sun set, and I captured a really great image of the rock art. It was fairly dark when I made my way back to my campsite and I cooked up a bit of dinner and then just sat still in the darkness and listened to the coyotes – about a dozen of them, yipping and yowling and crying in the distance.

abundant wildflowers

This night was a peak night for the Perseid Meteor shower, so I set up my camera for some star photography, set my alarm for 11:30pm and caught some sleep. I shot stars from 11:30 to about 1:30am and the shooting stars gave me a fantastic show! I saw about a dozen of them, including one that went the full length of the sky. Unfortunately none of the photos caught even one shooter (bummer).

Back awake at 4:30, I headed back to Signal Hill for the final shoot – a spectacular sunrise that unfolded exactly as I had hoped! The position of the sun, the clouds, everything was really great and I scored another cool photo.

pencil cholla catepillar

Pencil Cholla

 

signal hill sunrise

signal hill sunset 2

 

pincusion cactusPincushion Cactus

rock art alt sunset

rock art deer vert

rock art deer ws

 

rock art four

rock art two deer

rock art wheels

rock art ws

rock art ws2

rock squirrel 2

From there I packed up my gear and called it good. A wonderful trek in the spectacular wilderness playground of Arizona!

 

four spheres

artists conkArtist’s Conk

palafoxPalafox

 

pineapple cactus

Pineapple Cactus

 

range below

rattlesnake area

red spine barrel

 

 

saguaro forest on mountain

saguaro forest

saguaro national park ws 1

saguaro upshot

Saguaro Cactus

 

 

 

spiky nodes

spiky symetry

spiny center

spiral rock art

storm coming in from the west

sunflower dark bkgd

Sunflower

 

sunflower with miteSunflower (with a mite or spider)

 

sunflower

sunflowers

 

tiny purple flowers

top of truck landscape

 

turquoise

Turquoise

 

unknown blue mineral

velvetpod mimosa

Velvetpod Mimosa

 

vervainVervain

 

view from campsite 2

view to the north

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

→ 4 CommentsTags: Camping · fauna · flora · Landscapes · Uncategorized · Weather · wildlife

Cholla Sunrise at Phoenix Mountain Preserve

August 5th, 2016 · No Comments

A couple shots from my hike this morning…

cholla sunrise

skeleton

spines2

spines

saguaro

 

→ No CommentsTags: flora · Landscapes

July 28th, 2016 · No Comments

Montage of my favorite shots from the last seven Coachella Music and Arts Festivals!

And here’s the video from 2016…

→ No CommentsTags: Art · Camping · crazy · funky · love · music · Travel

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

July 28th, 2016 · No Comments

Had a nice trip up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon – it’s still really relaxed and not nearly as touristy as the South Rim. There’s a great restaurant there at the Lodge!

canyon view

big tree up

blue grouse

canyon view rock foreground

 

chairs on the porch

debi in cabin

fern

lodge

 

paintbrush

stlk

trees upshot

 

→ No CommentsTags: flora · Landscapes · love · Travel · Uncategorized

Nothing, Arizona

July 28th, 2016 · No Comments

nothing

→ No CommentsTags: funky · Landscapes · Travel

Shooting “A Proper Pint 2” and “A Proper Pint 3”

May 17th, 2016 · No Comments

We’ve just finished an extremely ambitious shoot in Ireland, capturing enough footage to create two more great films in the “A Proper Pint” series!

It was part adventure, part hard work and part driving/traveling, but a LOT OF FUN! Thank you to everyone who helped us a long the way, and a massive thanks to my crew, Tom and Greg for going on this crazy ride with me!

ws landscape w tom

Tom shooting down into a sparsely populated valley on Achill Island.

sun rays

Ashleam Bay

storm shoot

Shooting in a storm!

slieve mor

Slieve Mor

skiberdeen

Skiberdeen

sheeps head tom

Sheeps Head

sheeps head road

Sheeps Head

sheep at deserted village

Deserted Village, Achill

seamie

My good friend Seamie in Roscommon

roscommon sky

Roscommon

roscommon pub

Roscommon

roscommon pub door

Roscommon

roscommon church

Roscommon

roscommon castle ws

Roscommon Castle

roscommon castle wall

Roscommon Castle

rope heart

On the Fairy path in Achill

ready to cross

Getting ready to cross the dangerous channel in Europe, at Bullsmouth

omalleys castle

Grace O’Malley’s Castle, Achill Island

offerings at well3

Holy Well Tobar na súl (for the eyes) outside Skiberdeen

offerings at well2Holy Well Tobar na súl (for the eyes) outside Skiberdeen

offerings at wellHoly Well Tobar na súl (for the eyes) outside Skiberdeen

mohr castle

Castle at Cliffs of Mohr

metl balls

Metal bocce balls at the fairy path

mcloughlins

Tom visiting with Francis and Jackie at McLoughlin’s pub

lough hyne

Lake outside Siberdeen

labyrinth

Tom’s labyrinth, Ballyvaughan

kildownet cemetary

Achill Island

kev at omalleys castleAchill Island

keem beach rainbow

Keem Beach

keem beach rainbow ws

Keem Beach

keel

Keel

keel ws

Keel

keel ws w crew

Crew shooting epic landscapes at Keel

josie interview ws2

Interviewing Josie at McLoughlin’s

josie interview ws

Interviewing Josie at McLoughlin’s

joe crossing

Crossing the channel with Joe

jeweler

Watching John the Jeweler at work in Bantry

jackie interview2

Shooting Jackie’s interview at McLoughlin’s

jackie interview

Shooting Jackie’s interview at McLoughlin’s

inishbiggle

Stark landscapes in Inishbiggle

heading to inishbiggle

Making the dangerous crossing on a nice day

guinness

Ahhhh Pints!

greg at kildownet cemetary

Greg at the Achill Graveyard

francis at babys

Francis at Baby’s house having a bit of tea

francie and tom on beach

Francis picking periwinkles on Inishbiggle

francie and tom greg on beach

Inishbiggle

ferry boats

Curraughs at the Bullsmouth crossing

fairy tree

Fairy houses

fairy bridge

Fairy bridge

eileens pub

Having carrot cake and coffee with Eileen at her pub on Sheeps Head

eileens pub ws

Eileen’s bar – a wonderful little place

deserted village

Deserted Village, Achill

danger

Danger!

crew shot

Crew shot on Achill Island

crew at omalleys castle

Crew shot on Achill Island

coyle kegs

J. Coyle and Sons at Four Roads

coyle interior

J. Coyle and Sons at Four Roads

coyle interior ws

J. Coyle and Sons at Four Roads

coyle interior 2

J. Coyle and Sons at Four Roads

coye exterior

J. Coyle and Sons at Four Roads

cliffs of mohr

Cliffs of Mohr

beara pennisula

Beara Pennisula

beara coutrysidecows

Beara Pennisula

beara coutryside

Beara Pennisula

beara castle

Bantry countryside

bar doors

Ma Murphy’s Bar, Bantry

 bantry

Bantry

 bantry countryside

Bantry

bantry boat

Bantry

bantry anchor

Bantry

baby henry shoot

Baby’s House on Inishbiggle

baby henry shoot kitchen

Baby’s House on Inishbiggle

ashleam bay

Ashleam Bay

ashleam bay tom

Ashleam Bay

aheam bay

Ashleam Bay

aheam bay sunset

Ashleam Bay

achill south cliffs

South Coast of Achill Island

achill south cliffs tom_

South Coast of Achill Island

achill south cliffs tom greg

South Coast of Achill Island

achill sign

achill sheep_

Achill Island

achill sheep ws

Achill Island

achill road sign

Achill Island

achill gravesite

Achill Island

achill cliffs and road

Achill Island

achill church ruins

Achill Island

→ No CommentsTags: Ireland · Landscapes · love · motion projects · Travel

Argentine Giant in BLOOM

April 5th, 2016 · No Comments

The Argentine Giant only blooms once per year, for less than a day. I was lucky enough to see it today while testing out a new camera!

argentine trio

argentine w bees

yellow stalks

hedgehog

argentine vert

argentine vert2

caterpillar

single argentine w bee

yellow pods

argentine w approaching bee

yellow flowers galore

argentine center cu

prickley pear flowers

argentine trio 2

prickley pear flowers row

argentine ws

hedgehog ws

→ No CommentsTags: flora

Backpacking in the Snowy Grand Canyon

February 14th, 2016 · 3 Comments

Note: Because of the air clarity, many of the shots in the post look fantastic full screen! Be sure to click on some of them.

It’s February and snowy in the North Country, so why not try a backpacking trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon?

looking back from near indian garden

tree silouette                         mathers point

mathers point view into canyon  mathers point pano

heading out snow ws      heading out snow              dawn at gc alt

 

 

It sounded a bit mad, but it was absolutely wonderful weather for hiking! There were six of us on this trip and the plan was to arrive at the South Rim in the afternoon, check out Hermit’s Rest, Powell Memorial and a few other viewpoints, try some jib shots with the new Kessler Jib, and enjoy a quiet evening of star gazing before heading down.

powell monument

powell monument mcu

kev jib

We enjoyed a fantastic meal at El Tovar and then headed out to see what we could see in the evening sky. Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy, so we bagged it early and prepared for a predawn start the next day.

About an hour before sunrise we packed up and headed out to see if we could spot the five planets: Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter all in a view simultaneously – something that was last seen more than a decade ago. (Photo by Elliot Herman)

planets

It was a chilly 17 degrees and the window of opportunity was tight – too early and we wouldn’t see Mercury rising over the horizon – too late and the light of the sun would wash it out… but there it was! All five planets lined up in the twilight! It was a cool way to start the hike.

At the Bright Angel trailhead, we stopped to put crampons on our boots – the trail was completely covered with snow and ice. As the sun started to peek over the far horizon, we began the descent down.

beginning the descent

 

The morning air was still and quiet, with the snow muffling all sounds.

sunrise peeking through

 

matt and george at start

There was no one else crazy enough to be out this early so we had the canyon to ourselves. The air was crisper and clearer than I had ever seen it. The sun kissed the top of the canyons plateaus as we made our way very, very carefully through the slickest sections. It was quiet and meditative but at the same time, a bit scary and required full focus of every step.

trio

After about the first two hours of hiking we had made it past the snow and ice section and were about to remove the crampons. From here we made good time all the way to the bottom, crossing the Silver Bridge across the Colorado River to the Bright Angel Campground, where we would stay for the next two nights.

century plant

quartzlike spheres

 

Bright Angel Campground is an idyllic oasis near Phantom Ranch. The delightful Bright Angel creek runs along all of the campsites and the sound of the bubbling rapids was a very nice accompaniment to our time spent there.

bright angel campgrounds

bright angel camp

bright angel creek2
After setting up camp, we wandered over to Phantom Ranch – they had beer! Cold Grand Canyon Amber Ales on a sunny afternoon in the bottom of the most amazing place on Earth – sublime!

group

phantom ranch chalkboard

 

phantom ranch mules

In the evening, we all cooked up dinners (I made “Deconstructed Lasagna” washed down with some Green Spot Irish Whiskey) and then hiked down to the beach where George led a fascinating and ultra informative star gazing session. The sky was super clear and the stars were impossibly bright – probably the best I’ve ever seen!

stars w tent

stars w cliff by beach

 

We saw Orion, the Charioteer, the Twins, the Big Dog, the Little Dog, the Bull, the Hare, Perseus, Cassiopea, Cepheus, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, Virgo, Scorpio, Leo, and the Herdsman, which contains Arcturus.

group below stars

In addition, we saw shooting stars, satellites, the Milky Way and the moon even participated in the show by emerging up over the ridge, just a sliver but with Earthshine illuminating the dark side. It was phenomenal and THANK YOU GEORGE for the excellent information you imparted to us over those three nights.

stars w cliff light

It was a great night for sleep, with the temperature only getting down to 32 degrees, and we rose to another absolutely beautiful day. Bright, clear and cloudless – perfect for a day of exploring. After a breakfast of Whiskey Bacon Pancakes and coffee, we loaded up minimal supplies and headed out on the Clear Creek Trail – a superb trek that climbed high above the Colorado River and then followed it north toward Zoroaster Temple.

 

matt and george w deer

black bridge

blue buds

 

clear creek trail vista 2

Along the way we spied many deer, ravens, coyote, scrub jays and canyon wrens.

greg heading toward zoroaster

yucca

purple prickly foreground

brittlebush foreground

The following morning we made breakfast and prepared for the long and arduous climb out. It was extremely challenging but made much easier by the spectacular scenery. It was a Sunday and we were now starting to see more people. As the first of the two arches on the Bright Angle trail came into view, I knew the adventure was coming to the end. I shot a few final photographs from near the top and then emerged to the trailhead and civilization.

final arch

final vista

 

 

An absolutely stunning trip with a wonderful group of guys!

silver bridge bob

rock face

silver bridge craig

prickly pear vista

silver bridge looking south

→ 3 CommentsTags: Camping · Cooking · fauna · flora · Landscapes · Weather · wildlife


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