Jacob W. Frank Photography: Blog https://www.jwfrank.com/blog en-us (C) Jacob W. Frank jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:38:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:38:00 GMT https://www.jwfrank.com/img/s/v-12/u749270601-o621644733-50.jpg Jacob W. Frank Photography: Blog https://www.jwfrank.com/blog 120 73 The Land Down Under https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2019/10/the-land-down-under I've been wanting to visit Australia for a while, but when we found out our friends from Melbourne were getting ready to move, we figured it was time to finally pull the trigger. We took off on Friday night and landed on Sunday morning. Our friend's picked us up at the airport and took us to their place downtown. We spent the day exploring, snacking, and bar hopping, trying to stay up as late as possible to avoid jet lag. The following day we jumped in the car and headed west to the Great Ocean Road. On the way through Great Otway National Park we saw our first wildlife sighting: a koala was walking across the road. We couldn't tell what is was at first, but when we finally realized what it was, I screamed to pull the car over and jumped out of a quick photo.

Koala climbing a treeKoala climbing a tree Koala checking us out through the treeKoala checking us out through the tree

When we stopped for a coffee and a bathroom break, there were crazy birds we've never seen before. You'll notice a lot of bird photos throughout this blog.

Masked Lapwing - Vanellus milesMasked Lapwing - Vanellus miles Galah Cockatoo - Eolophus roseicapillaGalah Cockatoo - Eolophus roseicapilla Silver Gulls - Chroicocephalus novaehollandiaeSilver Gulls - Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae White-faced heron - Egretta novaehollandiaeWhite-faced heron - Egretta novaehollandiae

Eventually we made it to our destination for the day: Twelve Apostles Marine National Park. It was a beautiful sunny day when we arrived. We explored the boardwalks and trails until we saw a big storm cell coming in off the ocean.

Afternoon sunshine at Twelve Apostles (wide)Afternoon sunshine at Twelve Apostles (wide) Afternoon sunshine at Twelve ApostlesAfternoon sunshine at Twelve Apostles Waves crashing into the Twelve ApostlesWaves crashing into the Twelve Apostles Twelvele Apostles alternate viewTwelvele Apostles alternate view Arch at twelve apostlesArch at twelve apostles

Our next big exploration day we headed out to Dandenong Ranges National Park. As soon as we got our of the car we were surrounded by exotic birds. Super colorful birds that you only see as pets in the states were all around us. We spent the day hiking through the forest, looking for birds, kangaroos, and wombats. Sadly, we never saw a wombat, only the square poops they left behind.

The sun shines through the DandenongsThe sun shines through the Dandenongs Crimson Rosella Parrot - Platycercus elegansCrimson Rosella Parrot - Platycercus elegans Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) in flightSulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) in flight Grey Fantail - Rhipidura albiscapaGrey Fantail - Rhipidura albiscapa Australian King Parrot - Alisterus scapularisAustralian King Parrot - Alisterus scapularis Superb lyrebird - Menura novaehollandiaeSuperb lyrebird - Menura novaehollandiae Laughing Kookaburra - Dacelo novaeguineaeLaughing Kookaburra - Dacelo novaeguineae Sulphur-crested cockatoo - Cacatua galeritaSulphur-crested cockatoo - Cacatua galerita Yellow wattlebird - Anthochaera paradoxaYellow wattlebird - Anthochaera paradoxa Pied Currawong (2) - Strepera graculinaPied Currawong (2) - Strepera graculina Eastern Yellow Robin - Eopsaltria australisEastern Yellow Robin - Eopsaltria australis Long-billed Corellas - Cacatua tenuirostrisLong-billed Corellas - Cacatua tenuirostris

When we were't doing trips our of the city, we would hit up the city parks. A super cool spot was the Royal Botanic Gardens. Lots of cool plants and birds to check out including my favorite bird of the trip, the Rainbow Lorikeet.

Rainbow Lorikeet - Trichoglossus moluccanusRainbow Lorikeet - Trichoglossus moluccanus Nymphaea LilyNymphaea Lily Pied Currawong - Strepera graculinaPied Currawong - Strepera graculina South Australia state flower - Sturt's Desert Pea - Swainsona formosaSouth Australia state flower - Sturt's Desert Pea - Swainsona formosa Rat Tail CactusRat Tail Cactus

Another great day in the city day we jumped on the tram and headed to St. Kilda Pier. We were hoping to get a glance at the smallest penguin species in the world: the fairy penguin. We found out that during the day they head out into the open water to hunt so we didn't have much luck. But after looking in the jetti rocks we found one hanging out in the shade. As we were walking back from the pier we did catch a glimpse of one fishing. They are awesome swimmers and extremely hard to get photos of them. The other cool species we saw was the arctic tern. We had previously seen this bird in Alaska and Iceland, but always cool to see it in an entirely different place.

Fairy penguin - Eudyptula minorFairy penguin - Eudyptula minor Fishing Fairy Penguin - Eudyptula minorFishing Fairy Penguin - Eudyptula minor Fishing Fairy Penguin (2)Fishing Fairy Penguin (2) Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) with Melbourne SkylineArctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) with Melbourne Skyline Arctic Tern in flight - Sterna paradisaeaArctic Tern in flight - Sterna paradisaea

The Australian Grand Prix was happening while we were in Melbourne, so we couldn't explore Albert Park until after the race. We hit a couple jogs around the lake and saw so many birds that we grabbed our cameras and went back just to take some photos. It's so cool that in such a big city there is so much green space for wildlife. Our friends are big birders, but by the end of the trip we had them sending us cool bird spottings.

White-faced heron hunting - Egretta novaehollandiaeWhite-faced heron hunting - Egretta novaehollandiae Australasian swamphen - Porphyrio melanotusAustralasian swamphen - Porphyrio melanotus Blue-billed duck on Albert Park Lake - Oxyura australisBlue-billed duck on Albert Park Lake - Oxyura australis Crested Pigeons - Ocyphaps lophotesCrested Pigeons - Ocyphaps lophotes Black Swan on Albert Park Lake - Cygnus atratusBlack Swan on Albert Park Lake - Cygnus atratus Black Swan - Cygnus atratusBlack Swan - Cygnus atratus Pied Stilt reflections - Himantopus leucocephalusPied Stilt reflections - Himantopus leucocephalus Red-rumped parrot - Psephotus haematonotusRed-rumped parrot - Psephotus haematonotus Crested PigeonsCrested Pigeons Pacific black duckPacific black duck Australasian swamphen - Porphyrio melanotusAustralasian swamphen - Porphyrio melanotus

The last of the things we saw around Melboure was heading out to Fort Nepean. We explored the fort and saw an echidna. What cool little critters.

Fort NepeanFort Nepean Short-beaked Echidna - Tachyglossus aculeatus aculeatusShort-beaked Echidna - Tachyglossus aculeatus aculeatus

We spent two weeks in Oz, and for the middle weekend we decided to fly out to Adilaide and take the boat to Kangaroo Island.

Gohana on the side of the roadGohana on the side of the road Koala resting in a treeKoala resting in a tree Jewel Spider and webJewel Spider and web Black swans, Australian Shelducks, banded stilts, and eurasian coots at Murray LakeBlack swans, Australian Shelducks, banded stilts, and eurasian coots at Murray Lake

When we are on the island we headed out to Seal Bay Conservation Park and took a tour out to the beach to see the Australian Sea Lions.

Australian sea lion yawningAustralian sea lion yawning Australian sea lions nappingAustralian sea lions napping Australian sea lionsAustralian sea lions Males sea lions sparring at Seal BeachMales sea lions sparring at Seal Beach Australian sea lion sleepyAustralian sea lion sleepy Australian sea lion in the surfAustralian sea lion in the surf Australian Sea Lions snugglingAustralian Sea Lions snuggling Seal Beach, Kangaroo Island panoramaSeal Beach, Kangaroo Island panorama Whale bones on the beachWhale bones on the beach

The other day on the island we headed out to Flinder's Chase National Park and hit a few trails. The first was out to Admiral's Arch where we saw a few New Zealand Fur Seals.

Cape du Couedic lighthouseCape du Couedic lighthouse Souther Ocean from Flinders Chase National ParkSouther Ocean from Flinders Chase National Park Overlooking the Great Australian BightOverlooking the Great Australian Bight Southern Ocean tidal zone in Flinders Chase National ParkSouthern Ocean tidal zone in Flinders Chase National Park Admiral's Arch in Flinders Chase National ParkAdmiral's Arch in Flinders Chase National Park New Zealand fur seal on the rocks in Flinders Chase National ParkNew Zealand fur seal on the rocks in Flinders Chase National Park New Zealand fur seal pupNew Zealand fur seal pup

Then we explored Remarkable Rocks.

Overlooking Remarkable RocksOverlooking Remarkable Rocks Remarkable Rocks indeed.Remarkable Rocks indeed. Remarkable Rocks indeed (2)Remarkable Rocks indeed (2) Remarkable Rocks indeed (3)Remarkable Rocks indeed (3) Remarkable Rocks indeed (4)Remarkable Rocks indeed (4)

After grabbing a snack we headed out on the Platypus Waterholes Walk. Since it was the dry season, the chances of seeing a platypus were extremely low but we rolled the dice anyway. No platypi, but we did see a goanna and cool birds. 

Goanna in Flinders Chase National ParkGoanna in Flinders Chase National Park New Holland Honeyeater (2) - Phylidonyris novaehollandiaeNew Holland Honeyeater (2) - Phylidonyris novaehollandiae White-faced heronWhite-faced heron

Since the weather was still nice we decided to hit a short walk along the Heritage Walk Trail. We wouldn't have picked this hike as a top pick since it's was only about a mile long, but we hit the motherlode of animals. On this short trail we saw wallabies, koalas, kangaroos, more birds, and an extended interaction with an echidna looking for food. It was definitely the highlight of the trip.

Wallaby blepWallaby blep Wallaby sitting under a treeWallaby sitting under a tree Splendid Fairywren - Malurus splendensSplendid Fairywren - Malurus splendens Kangaroo Island Short-beaked Echidna walking through duff - Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatusKangaroo Island Short-beaked Echidna walking through duff - Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus Kangaroo Island Short-beaked Echidna - Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatusKangaroo Island Short-beaked Echidna - Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus Koala in Flinders Chase National ParkKoala in Flinders Chase National Park Scarlet Robin - Petroica boodangScarlet Robin - Petroica boodang Australian Magpie Portrait - Cracticus tibicenAustralian Magpie Portrait - Cracticus tibicen Grey Kangaroo on Kangaroo IslandGrey Kangaroo on Kangaroo Island Cape Barren Geese - Cereopsis novaehollandiaeCape Barren Geese - Cereopsis novaehollandiae Kangaroo SunningKangaroo Sunning Moon through the gum treesMoon through the gum trees

Not pictured in the blog were all the great restaurants, dessert shops, bars, cafes, night tours, and DRT (designated rest time) naps we had. It was really awesome to visit a city with personal tour guides. City traveling is not usually what we set out to do, but it was a great change of pace. It was also great spending time with friends and catching up. What I also learned about OZ is that it's big: about the size of the US. So that means there's much more to see and do. We have some other places we want to visit in the short-run while we can still hike and backpack, but I definitely think we will be back in the area again. We also have to hit New Zealand and Tasmania. Standard: cross one thing off your travel list and then add two more.

I hope y'all are doing well, we're getting ready for winter here in Montana.

-Jake

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2019/10/the-land-down-under Sun, 27 Oct 2019 20:33:25 GMT
Climbing the Grand https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2019/10/climbing-the-grand Have you ever had an idea or goal that you always wanted to accomplish, but life kinda got in the way? Or maybe the idea was was a little too big and you just wrote it off as a pipe dream? Well that goal for me was climbing Grand Teton. When I moved to Jackson in the winter of 2008 it was my first time living in the mountains. I’d never been hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing, or anything outdoorsy other than car camping, really. That winter living in the mountains set me on a different path though. I knew that’s where I wanted to be, even though I was a fish out of water. When I left Jackson that spring and drove back to Florida, I remember visiting the park one last time for sunrise and thinking how awesome it would be to experience standing on top of that mountain.

During the 11 years that followed I slowly picked up more outdoor skills as I traveled the US: hiking, backpacking, climbing, and caving. Then last winter my buddy Chris got into mountaineering and asked if I’d be interested in joining him on an expedition. "Hell no... but I have always wanted to climb the Grand.” So, over [one too many] beers @cmferrante, @andyustinphoto, and I agreed that we would make a run at it this summer. 

The day had finally arrived. The plan had us hiking to the Lower Saddle to camp, summit, and then hike out. The advice we got for the approach was to start early, hike slowly, and enjoy the views. So the night before we packed our bags, divided up my extra weight I couldn’t carry (I HAD A DOCTOR”S NOTE GUYS), and loaded up the POWERWAGON!!! We arrived at the trailhead, moved the coolers into the cab of the truck, and vowed to return a few days later to consume the contents in celebration. We were off.

20190723-jwf-008320190723-jwf-0083 20190723-jwf-010620190723-jwf-0106NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190723-jwf-011620190723-jwf-0116NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190723-jwf-016520190723-jwf-0165NPS / Jacob W. Frank

We slowly made our way through the meadow, up the foothills, stopping often to drink water and eat snacks. A few weeks earlier, when I found out I needed surgery, I called the team and gave them the opportunity to back out. Both said as long as I felt good enough to hike that they were in to carry the extra weight. Since my pack was only supposed to be 25 lbs, that meant Chris and Andy were carrying close to 60-65, even though I was over my limit. So it was definitely slow going.

20190723-jwf-017120190723-jwf-0171NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190723-jwf-019120190723-jwf-0191NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190723-jwf-022020190723-jwf-0220NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190723-jwf-023120190723-jwf-0231NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Eventually we made it into Garnett Canyon where the trees and grasses were replaced with granite walls. The trail also petered out and became more uneven. We made our way through boulders, over moraines, across snowfields, along waterfalls, and up scree, until we reached the crux of the hike known as the “headwall.”

20190723-jwf-025620190723-jwf-0256NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190723-jwf-028120190723-jwf-0281NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190723-jwf-028420190723-jwf-0284NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190723-jwf-029220190723-jwf-0292NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190723-jwf-030620190723-jwf-0306NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190723-jwf-031020190723-jwf-0310NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190723-jwf-032920190723-jwf-0329NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190723-jwf-033420190723-jwf-0334

Once we all made it safely up we felt a single drop of rain, so I suggested we duck under a nearby glacial erratic to let the storm pass. Our timing couldn’t have been better. For the next 30 or so minutes it hailed nearly 2”, then rained, then hailed some more. It was a perfect opportunity to grab more snacks and watch and listen to the lightning and thunder roll over our heads. Once the storm passed we were greeted with a spectacular double rainbow.

20190723-jwf-034020190723-jwf-0340 20190723-jwf-036020190723-jwf-0360 20190723-jwf-036920190723-jwf-0369 20190723-jwf-037320190723-jwf-0373

The last 10 minute push and we arrived at the Lower Saddle. We filtered water, made dinner, drank whiskey, watched the sunset, and studied the route we planned to tackle in the morning.

20190723-jwf-038620190723-jwf-0386 20190723-jwf-039520190723-jwf-0395 20190723-jwf-040120190723-jwf-0401 20190723-jwf-040620190723-jwf-0406 20190723-jwf-042420190723-jwf-0424

I went to bed nervous, doubts were flowing through my head. I wasn’t sure if I was healthy enough to climb. It’s the first time in a long time that I thought I may have been in over my head. The next day we woke up to strong winds and rain. Since our permit allowed us more time, we decided to take a layover day and not push for the summit. We checked the weather for the following day and it called for clear skies. So we just hung out in camp for the day and took in the windy views.

20190724-jwf-046120190724-jwf-0461NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190724-jwf-055220190724-jwf-0552NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190724-jwf-059820190724-jwf-0598NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190724-jwf-060220190724-jwf-0602NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Eventually the clouds parted and we were greeted to a spectacular sunset. I took the time to get Chris a new Tinder photo.

20190724-jwf-065720190724-jwf-0657NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190724-jwf-064320190724-jwf-0643NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190724-jwf-067720190724-jwf-0677NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190724-jwf-068020190724-jwf-0680NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190724-jwf-070020190724-jwf-0700NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190724-jwf-077520190724-jwf-0775NPS / Jacob W. Frank

The next day my alarm went off at 3:30 am. Coffee and breakfast by headlamps. My nerves were on edge as we watched the guided teams leave one by one ahead of us. We filtered water, loaded up our gear, and I made sure we each had our summit soda for the top. As we picked our way through the route it was slow going. I read the route enough times that everything was memorized, but doing it in the dark was challenging. Black Dyke, check. Chockstone chimney, check. Eye of the Needle, check. Just as we made it to the Central Rib I looked back to check on the guys. The beautiful pink light that hits the mountains first thing in the morning was here, and it wasn’t thousands of feet above us, but below us, enveloping the Middle Teton. 

20190725-jwf-079120190725-jwf-0791NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-080620190725-jwf-0806NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-082220190725-jwf-0822NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-082720190725-jwf-0827NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-083120190725-jwf-0831NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-084120190725-jwf-0841NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-084520190725-jwf-0845NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-084920190725-jwf-0849NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-085620190725-jwf-0856NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-086620190725-jwf-0866NPS / Jacob W. Frank
Once we gained the Upper Saddle Chris took over. He had been training for weeks for this moment: his first lead climb. Pitch after pitch, Chris led us through icy chimneys until we arrived at the final slabs.

20190725-jwf-087020190725-jwf-0870NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-087520190725-jwf-0875NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-087720190725-jwf-0877NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-087920190725-jwf-0879NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-088120190725-jwf-0881NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-088320190725-jwf-0883NPS / Jacob W. Frank

As we gained the summit ridge I was overwhelmed with emotions I haven’t felt many times in my life: the first time I saw Denali or Halema’uma’u under the Milky Way, flying over Glacier, and watching my wife walk down the aisle. As we took in the cloudless views from the 13,770’ peak, I was covered in goosebumps.

20190725-jwf-093620190725-jwf-0936NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-092220190725-jwf-0922NPS / Jacob W. Frank

As we cracked our beers and toasted the accomplishment, our celebration turned back to focus: we were only halfway.

20190725-jwf-088720190725-jwf-0887NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-089220190725-jwf-0892NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-089320190725-jwf-0893NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-094420190725-jwf-0944NPS / Jacob W. Frank

We picked our way down, rappelled, and scrambled our way back to camp.

20190725-jwf-095120190725-jwf-0951NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-096520190725-jwf-0965NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-099520190725-jwf-0995NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-100020190725-jwf-1000NPS / Jacob W. Frank

We arrived just in time for the best sunset of the trip.

20190725-jwf-100520190725-jwf-1005NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-101720190725-jwf-1017NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190725-jwf-103820190725-jwf-1038NPS / Jacob W. Frank

The following morning we slept in til 8, packed up camp, and hit the trail. I'd like to say our packs felt lighter, but the food weight we carried in was replaced by our crap-filled wag bags. At least the weather was spectacular.

20190726-jwf-105020190726-jwf-1050NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190726-jwf-106620190726-jwf-1066NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190726-jwf-108520190726-jwf-1085NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190726-jwf-109420190726-jwf-1094NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190726-jwf-110720190726-jwf-1107NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190726-jwf-111720190726-jwf-1117NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190726-jwf-112720190726-jwf-1127NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190726-jwf-114020190726-jwf-1140NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190726-jwf-114220190726-jwf-1142NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20190726-jwf-119120190726-jwf-1191

Looking back, I still can’t believed it all happened. Teamwork definitely makes the dream work! Here's to the next adventure!

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2019/10/climbing-the-grand Sun, 20 Oct 2019 00:51:38 GMT
Honeymoon Part 3 of 3: Laugavegur Trail and Blue Lagoon https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2019/9/honeymoon-part-3-of-3-laugavegur-trail-and-blue-lagoon Welcome to the last of the Iceland Honeymoon blog. The off-road bus picked us up in downtown Reykjavik and we were off to Landmannalaugar. The route turned from highway, to dirt road, to what resembled a dirt road, to braided rivers, and riverbed. We arrived to Landmannalaugar, this remote location was a bustling hiker city. I was surprised at the amount of people. When we hiked in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, the few people that we did run into mentioned they noticed a huge difference in the amount of the people between the two locations. We were stoked to get there, but decided to go for a hike and have dinner away from the crowds. When we were eating a group of Icelandic horses rode by. I had a feeling we were in for a great trip.

Horseback ride through the river at LandmannalaugarHorseback ride through the river at Landmannalaugar

Our planned itinerary was as follows:

Day 1: Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker

Day 2: Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn

Day 3: Álftavatn to Emstrur

Day 4: Emstrur to Þórsmörk

It averaged about 9 miles per day which would allow us to arrive at camp early, drop gear, and explore the surrounding area by day hiking.

Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker

Thermals along the Laugavegur TrailThermals along the Laugavegur Trail

Day 1 arrived, which happened to be my birthday, and we woke up to spectacular weather. We wanted to get ahead of the crowds so we got up with the light and were one of the first groups on the trail.

Hikers near a thermal feature on the trailHikers near a thermal feature on the trail Colorful formations near the thermalsColorful formations near the thermals Corrie and colorful formations on the Laugavegur TrailCorrie and colorful formations on the Laugavegur Trail Colorful formations on the Laugavegur TrailColorful formations on the Laugavegur Trail

Immediately we were greeted with spectacular views. Colorful geology and hydrothermal features dotted the landscape. It was a hybrid of Yellowstone and Denali: two of my favorite places.

Morning light on the colorful formations of the Laugavegur TrailMorning light on the colorful formations of the Laugavegur Trail Corrie takes in the views of the thermals along the trailCorrie takes in the views of the thermals along the trail Thermal areas and mountains along the Laugavegur TrailThermal areas and mountains along the Laugavegur Trail Birthday self-portrait along the Laugavegur TrailBirthday self-portrait along the Laugavegur Trail

Around each new bend in the trail was another photo op. Since we only had to do about 9 miles, we were in no hurry. The trail to Hrafntinnusker was uphill and eventually we hit snow fields.

Laugavegur Trail hikerLaugavegur Trail hiker Corrie hikes the trail to HrafntinnuskerCorrie hikes the trail to Hrafntinnusker

Seeing the contrast of white snow and black volcanic sand was pretty awesome.

Corrie hikes the trail to Hrafntinnusker (2)Corrie hikes the trail to Hrafntinnusker (2) Corrie hikes the trail to Hrafntinnusker (3)Corrie hikes the trail to Hrafntinnusker (3)

We arrived to Hrafntinnusker around noon and spirits were high.

Corrie arrives at HrafntinnuskerCorrie arrives at Hrafntinnusker

I went to the warden hut to check in and pay for the night. Just then a winter storm warning came in over the radio. The storm was headed our way on what would be the morning of our third day. The warden recommended pushing on to the next spot because strong winds were expected to arrive before the storm and there was no cover in this location. I went outside and talked it over with Corrie. After some deliberation about our ability to do 18 miles with a full pack in a day, we decided that it was probably best to keep hiking since the days were long and the weather was good. So we ate lunch strapped on our packs and continued along the trail.

Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn

Hikers head to Álftavatn from HrafntinnuskerHikers head to Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker Views heading to Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker (3)Views heading to Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker (3) Corrie takes in the views along the trail Álftavatn from HrafntinnuskerCorrie takes in the views along the trail Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker Corrie hikes the trail to Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker (2)Corrie hikes the trail to Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker (2) Views heading to Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker (5)Views heading to Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker (5)

In the 8 or so miles we hiked to get here, the landscape had completely changed. Even though it was late season, there was green vegetation near the melting snowfields. The section was mostly high plateau hiking with views in all directions. I still couldn't believe that there was this much snow in late August. I'm curious what it's like doing this hike early season.

Corrie hikes the trail to Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker (5)Corrie hikes the trail to Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker (5) Hikers crossing a snowfiled along the trail to Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker (2)Hikers crossing a snowfiled along the trail to Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker (2) Corrie hikes the trail to Álftavatn from the passCorrie hikes the trail to Álftavatn from the pass Waterfalls from the pass between Álftavatn from HrafntinnuskerWaterfalls from the pass between Álftavatn from Hrafntinnusker

Eventually we reached the highpoint where we could see our destination: Álftavatn. From here it was all downhill or flat. 

Views along the trail to Álftavatn from the passViews along the trail to Álftavatn from the pass Álftavatn from the passÁlftavatn from the pass

As we descended from the pass, the miles started to take their toll. We needed to stop more frequently for breaks and food.

Corrie hikes the trail dropping down to Álftavatn from the passCorrie hikes the trail dropping down to Álftavatn from the pass   Corrie arrives at ÁlftavatnCorrie arrives at Álftavatn

We made it and were one of the first groups to arrive for the day. We found a nice flat spot to set up our tent and then headed over to the warden hut to celebrate. As we were enjoying our freeze dried dinners, a local guide came over to say hello. He had just finished making Icelandic meat soup (lamb stew) for his guests. He said they had too much and asked if we would like some. I offered him a trade: meat soup for some of the bourbon we brought on the trip. He was more than happy to help lighten our load. As we sat there having second dinner, drinking bourbon, enjoying the birthday Oreos that Corrie packed, it began to lightly rain. We had timed our day perfectly. It was time to hit the sack after 18 miles. We decided that we should get up early, hike to Emstrur, recheck the weather, see how we felt, and make a decision to stay put or to push all the way to Þórsmörk.

Campsite at ÁlftavatnCampsite at Álftavatn

Álftavatn to Emstrur

We woke up around 6 am and the wind had picked up. It had stopped raining so we took advantage of packing our gear when it was still dry. We moved over to the hut, ate breakfast, and the rain began to fall. The low clouds and rain had brought out the vibrant color in the vegetation. Bright green on black soil. This particular stretch would be the longest of the 4 we were covering so we made sure to keep a good pace.

Views between Hvanngil and Emstrur (2)Views between Hvanngil and Emstrur (2) Corrie crossing near HvanngilCorrie crossing near Hvanngil Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from HvanngilCorrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil

After a couple miles the rain stopped and the sun started to poke through the clouds on occasion. Again, this section of the trip was drastically different from the previous two. Black volcanic rocks with green vegetation patches on the steeper hillsides. This section of the trail was also lower in elevation and the rivers were much larger. This allowed us to filter more often so we didn't need to carry as much water.

Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (2)Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (2) Views along the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (2)Views along the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (2) Waterfalls along the trail to Emstrur from HvanngilWaterfalls along the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (3)Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (3) Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (5)Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (5)   Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (6)Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (6) Views along the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (6)Views along the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (6) Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (7)Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (7)

Eventually the clouds raised enough that we were able to see Eyjafjallajökull in the distance. 

Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (8)Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (8)

Just as we were debating whether to stop and each lunch or try to push on to Emstrur, the warden hut came into view in the distance.

Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (9)Corrie on the trail to Emstrur from Hvanngil (9)

Upon arrival we checked in with the warden and the storm was supposed to hit around 10 the following morning. We were pretty exhausted at this point. We figured we should make the call to stay or go after lunch. After going back and forth and chatting with some other hikers, we decided to make some coffee and push on. Again, the weather was on our side at the moment and the days were long. We figured it was better to do the hike tired in good weather versus rested in snow. 

Emstrur to Þórsmörk

Not too long after leaving Emstrur, the landscape changed again. Giant glaciers backdropped the trail and rivers roared through canyons.

Hikers on the trail to Þórsmörk from EmstrurHikers on the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur Corrie on the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (4)Corrie on the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (4) Corrie on the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (5)Corrie on the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (5) Views along the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (4)Views along the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (4) Views along the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (5)Views along the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (5) Views along the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (8)Views along the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (8)

The weather continued to stay dry until we hit mile 15 for the day. We could see the rain in the direction we were headed although it hadn't reached us yet.

Hikers on the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (2)Hikers on the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (2) Views along the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (11)Views along the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (11) Views along the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (14)Views along the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (14)

When it did reach us, we decided it was a good time to stop and take a break. We were about 34 miles into the hike with a few more to go, but we were toast. Since we were carrying 4 days worth of food with us and didn't want to carry the food for no reason, we decided to sit there and start housing it. It was really hard getting up after that break. Tired legs, sore feet, and full bellies made the last few miles extremely slow going.

Corrie not not smiling along the trail to Þórsmörk from EmstrurCorrie not not smiling along the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur Corrie on the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (6)Corrie on the trail to Þórsmörk from Emstrur (6)

Ahead of schedule and nearly 40 miles later, we made it to Þórsmörk. The rain cleared up for the rest of the day and we celebrated with more Oreos and bourbon. It had been a long time since we had hiked that hard. The bonus is that we made it ahead of most of the other groups, so we were first on the waitlist to catch the shuttle out 2 days early. 

Corrie smiling as we arrive at ÞórsmörkCorrie smiling as we arrive at Þórsmörk Our campsite at ÞórsmörkOur campsite at Þórsmörk Views at ÞórsmörkViews at Þórsmörk

The following morning, as we got on the off-road bus, the storm finally arrived. We were lucky to be off the trail only having to deal with slight rain. The other exciting thing is that for the remainder of the trip we would be spending it at Blue Lagoon. Since we were staying at the hotel we had a private pool to soak in. We spent the following days soaking, eating, and drinking. We still had a bottle of vodka that we needed to finish and nothing to do. Well, except our appointments for our in water massages! 

Corrie soaking at Blue LagoonCorrie soaking at Blue Lagoon Sunny morning at Blue LagoonSunny morning at Blue Lagoon Sunrise sunburst at Blue LagoonSunrise sunburst at Blue Lagoon Colors of Blue LagoonColors of Blue Lagoon  It was the perfect ending to a spectacular honeymoon in Iceland.

Corrie and I at Blue LagoonCorrie and I at Blue Lagoon

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2019/9/honeymoon-part-3-of-3-laugavegur-trail-and-blue-lagoon Sat, 28 Sep 2019 20:18:17 GMT
Honeymoon Part 2 of 3: Snaefellsnes, Golden Circle, and Southern Coast https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2019/9/honeymoon-part-2-of-3-snaefellsnes-golden-circle-and-southern-coast Welcome back! If you didn't read the first part, I recommend going back for that to give you some context from the first week of the trip.

This week was planned to be more relaxing and to see the sights near the roads. Some days the weather didn't cooperate so I wont give a day-by-day, but rather a general overview of the things we saw during the week. 

We picked up the car and headed out of town to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Corrie was navigating and we had no planned route.

Gerðuberg basalt columns with hikerGerðuberg basalt columns with hiker

This house was featured in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. We didn't realize it until we came back and rewatched the movie. That's kinda neat.

Stykkishólmur coastlineStykkishólmur coastline

I was pretty excited to see Kirkjufell, but when we got there it's literally off the side of the road. I was pretty surprised how that was the case for many things in Iceland. Because of that, you have multiple tour busses full of people sharing the view with you. I definitely fell victim to how people portray these places on Social. Still a cool spot though for sure.

Kirkjufellsfoss and rainbowKirkjufellsfoss and rainbow

From there we hit more waterfalls and headed out to Snæfellsjökull National Park. It was socked in and raining that day, but we did enjoy the views of the beach.

Svödufoss from downstreamSvödufoss from downstream Skarðsvík BeachSkarðsvík Beach Skarðsvík Beach and coastlineSkarðsvík Beach and coastline

After the peninsula we headed back towards Reykjavík on our way out to the southern coast. Þingvellir National Park is beautiful and holds some pretty awesome history of the country. It's essentially where the first courts of the country were held. Before the times when written word was common. They would read the laws out loud for everyone to hear and would hold courts. In fact one of the rivers was used to carry out the death sentences. It's also where two continents meet: known as Silfra. This is visible throughout the country, but in this park you can actually dive down between the continental plates. Þingvellir is definately worth the trip if you go.

Þingvvellir National ParkÞingvvellir National Park Öxarárfoss at ÞingvvellirÖxarárfoss at Þingvvellir Geology at Þingvvellir with sunburstGeology at Þingvvellir with sunburst

From Þingvellir we headed out to Gullfoss, one of the larger waterfalls we saw on the trip. The water coming off this thing was nuts.

Gullfoss and Hvítá riverGullfoss and Hvítá river Gullfoss and rainbowGullfoss and rainbow

And living so close to Yellowstone we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see some sights that reminded us of home...

Strokkur Geyser eruptionStrokkur Geyser eruption Krýsuvík thermal areaKrýsuvík thermal area Cloudy black pools in KrýsuvíkCloudy black pools in Krýsuvík Boardwalks through KrýsuvíkBoardwalks through Krýsuvík Gunnuhver Hot SpringsGunnuhver Hot Springs Gunnuhver Hot Springs (2)Gunnuhver Hot Springs (2)
Views along the shore of KleifarvatnViews along the shore of Kleifarvatn Road along KleifarvatnRoad along Kleifarvatn

After we hit Reykjanesfólkvangur we headed out to the coast to take in some views that we weren't familiar with.

Krisuvikurberg CliffsKrisuvikurberg Cliffs Sandvík continental platesSandvík continental plates Coastline near Reykjanes Lighthouse (2)Coastline near Reykjanes Lighthouse (2) Coastline near Reykjanes Lighthouse (3)Coastline near Reykjanes Lighthouse (3)  After crashing in the worst place on earth, Selfoss (its a long story I'll get into later), we started to make our way east along the southern coast. The further away we got from Reykjavik the more amazing the sights got. We saw some pretty kick-ass waterfalls.

HjálparfossHjálparfoss Hjálparfoss and mountainsHjálparfoss and mountains Seljalandsfoss from the foot bridgeSeljalandsfoss from the foot bridge Seljalandsfoss and double rainbowSeljalandsfoss and double rainbow Corrie hiking behind SeljalandsfossCorrie hiking behind Seljalandsfoss Þjóðvegur viewsÞjóðvegur views Skógafoss and rainbowSkógafoss and rainbow

With all the glacial melt, there were tons of braided rivers that reminded us of Alaska, but with smaller mountains. 

Eyjafjallajökull views near SkógarEyjafjallajökull views near Skógar Eyjafjallajökull views near Skógar (2)Eyjafjallajökull views near Skógar (2)

But Iceland has horses...good looking ones.

Icelandic horse and EyjafjallajökullIcelandic horse and Eyjafjallajökull

That night we soaked at our BnB during the sunset. I got up that night to see about the aurora. It was out a little, but too cloudy for any decent views.

Corrie and I toes soaking at Hotel LambafellCorrie and I toes soaking at Hotel Lambafell Hotel Lambafell and auroraHotel Lambafell and aurora

The next morning we continued further east. We arrived in Vik pretty early in the morning and explored the beaches and watched lots of puffins fishing along the coast.

Katla VolcanoKatla Volcano Dyrhólaey from Reynisfjara BeachDyrhólaey from Reynisfjara Beach Reynisfjara BeachReynisfjara Beach Sea stacks at Reynisfjara BeachSea stacks at Reynisfjara Beach

From Vik we continued on to Skaftafell for some hiking and more waterfalls and glaciers.

Svartifoss from the platformSvartifoss from the platform Svartifoss and basalt columnsSvartifoss and basalt columns Corrie hikes in Vatnajökull National ParkCorrie hikes in Vatnajökull National Park Walking a glacier tour road in Vatnajökull National ParkWalking a glacier tour road in Vatnajökull National Park

Since the days were so long we weren't ready to call it quits. One of the highlights we were excited to see was Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon. This place was amazing. The wildlife and scenery was top notch.

Jökulsárlón and icebergsJökulsárlón and icebergs Jökulsárlón in evening lightJökulsárlón in evening light Jökulsárlón and icebergs (2)Jökulsárlón and icebergs (2) Corrie hiking at JökulsárlónCorrie hiking at Jökulsárlón
In addition to the lagoon with giant glacier background, you could walk across the street to the black sand beach known as diamond beach. Huge chunks of ice would wash up on shore as the tide came in and out. We could have spent more time in that area for sure.

Diamond Beach icebergsDiamond Beach icebergs Diamond Beach icebergs and sunsetDiamond Beach icebergs and sunset Waves crashing at Diamond BeachWaves crashing at Diamond Beach

But it was time to head back to Reykjavik to get ready for another backpacking trip. We also had planned to splurge and do a fixed wing flight to take in some of the sights from the air.

Driving towards Vatnajökull National Park.Driving towards Vatnajökull National Park.

On our way back through Selfoss our rental car broke down. They told us that a rock had hit the radiator and we would need to pay for it. So after cancelling our overflight, we waited for the tow truck to take us the rest of the way back to Reykjavik. I guess it was a good thing we didn't take the flight, because the bill for the tow and the radiator was like $1,700. But we weren't going to let it ruin our good time. We eventually made it to our AirBnB where we would relax and prep for the Laugavegur Trail. Little did we know it was going to be the highlight of the trip, even though we were about to unknowingly hike 40 miles in 2 days.

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2019/9/honeymoon-part-2-of-3-snaefellsnes-golden-circle-and-southern-coast Fri, 27 Sep 2019 14:41:24 GMT
Honeymoon Part 1 of 3: Backpacking Hornstrandir Nature Reserve https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2018/11/honeymoon-part-1-of-3-backpacking-hornstrandir-nature-reserve Hey everyone,

It's been a LONG time since I've put together a blog post. I've had a bunch of people asking for photos from our recent honeymoon so I figured it was a good time to dust off the keyboard. We've been home for a few weeks now, but trying to edit 3 weeks worth of photos and video has taken the back seat to other work trips and projects. Since there are so many photos to share I am going to break it up into 3 parts. Hover over the photos for more info on them. Here goes...

After a long trip to Iceland we landed in Reykjavik. From there we jumped on a bus, transferred to a bus, and then caught a domestic flight to Isafjourder. We grabbed pizza and beers, packed our bags, and hit the sack. The following morning we woke up and headed to the docks to catch our boat to Hornstrandir. 

Ísafjörður morning reflectionsÍsafjörður morning reflections

It was a beautiful morning and we were excited to get our first glimpses of the country after so much travel and poor weather. Spirits were high especially after we finally got a good night's rest.

Boat ride out to the HornstrandirBoat ride out to the Hornstrandir Sea arch in West FjordsSea arch in West Fjords Sea arch in West Fjords (2)Sea arch in West Fjords (2)

After an hour or so of boating and soaking up the scenery, we arrived at our first stop. Our boat was equipped with boat-on-boat technology so the captain unloaded the zodiac and the dayhikers all jumped on.

Our trusty steed in West FjordsOur trusty steed in West Fjords Dropping off hikers with the zodiacDropping off hikers with the zodiac

After the first drop, we headed to Veiðileysufjörður where we would start out hike. When the boat finally left, Corrie and I just sat on the shore and started laughing. It had taken us over two days of traveling by car, planes, trains, busses, taxis, and boats to get here, and we were finally able to enjoy it. After shedding layers and grabbing some snacks we set off for the pass. The plan for the day was to hike from one fjord to another by going up and over a pass.

Zodiac head back to the boatZodiac head back to the boat Leaving veiðileysufjörðurLeaving veiðileysufjörður veiðileysufjörður reflectionsveiðileysufjörður reflections The sound of musicThe sound of music Our first unnamed waterfallsOur first unnamed waterfalls Waterfall and veiðileysufjörðurWaterfall and veiðileysufjörður Away we go from veiðileysufjörðurAway we go from veiðileysufjörður Historic cairns along the trailHistoric cairns along the trail

After a few hours on the trail we finally made it to the pass. The weather was so nice and I was still jet-lagged so I dropped my pack and took a nap. We knew that today's weather was going to be the nicest of this leg of the trip so we weren't in a hurry. Eventually we decided to move on so we could set up camp. As we made it to the other side of the pass we could see the Horn, the destination of the following day's hike. 

veiðileysufjörður from the passveiðileysufjörður from the pass Heading towards Hornvik from the passHeading towards Hornvik from the pass Crossing snow bridgesCrossing snow bridges

As we dropped into the Hornvik area the entire valley was ringed with waterfalls. As we were nearing camp we were discussing how much we hoped we would see an arctic fox. It's an animal that neither of had seen before. Just as we made it to camp I said, "hey look at that!" as an arctic fox ran past us. It wasn't close enough for a photo so we were a little bummed, but we didn't know that we'd be seeing many more up close.

More waterfalls along the trailMore waterfalls along the trail

The next morning we woke up to a low ceiling. We had the advantage of long days on our side so we slept in hoping that the weather would improve. That cool feature that we planned to hike out to today, the Horn,
was completely hidden in clouds. We decided that we should hike out there anyway and hopefully the weather would improve. Since it was high tide we decided to hike out and cross the river where it was wider instead of near the ocean.

Private residence in HornvikPrivate residence in Hornvik Hiking to the HornHiking to the Horn Hiking to the river crossingHiking to the river crossing

Once we made it to the river we took off our shoes and started across the chilly water. On the other side the trail took us past some spectacular waterfalls and black cobble beaches.

River crossing at high tideRiver crossing at high tide Moody views along the Horn trailMoody views along the Horn trail More waterfalls with CorrieMore waterfalls with Corrie Corrie on the Horn TrailCorrie on the Horn Trail

As we pushed further out to the Horn the weather started to improve behind us. The trail ahead was still in the clouds, but we were finally able to see our camp and where we had come from. 

Corrie Climbing up the Horn overlooking HornvikCorrie Climbing up the Horn overlooking Hornvik

As we made it to the Horn you could barely see the Arctic Ocean below or the views ahead. So we decided to sit and see if the weather would improve. Lucky for us, it did.

Corrie on the edge of the HornCorrie on the edge of the Horn Corrie hiking the Horn as clouds roll over the edgeCorrie hiking the Horn as clouds roll over the edge

The trail took us along a beautiful, lush ridgeline that looked down on the Arctic Ocean. As we made it to the pass we could see all of Hornvik and the sea of clouds rolling in from the north. It was such an awesome view to take in.

Corrie overlooks Hornvik from above (panorama)Corrie overlooks Hornvik from above (panorama)

I was slightly behind Corrie on the way up and once she hit the ridge where she could see into the next valley all I heard from her was "Oh fuck yea!" When I made it there a few seconds later I shouted something similar. We were staring at this awesome knife-edged geologic feature with clouds rolling up and over below them. This view was one of the main reasons that we wanted to visit this area and we knew that we had lucked out with the weather. So I pulled out our bottle of Woodford Reserve and we just sat there by ourselves and enjoyed the view.

Corrie and I at HornbjargCorrie and I at Hornbjarg Whiskey views at HornbjargWhiskey views at Hornbjarg Hornbjarg rising above the cloudsHornbjarg rising above the clouds Wildflower and Hornbjarg as clouds roll over the cliff (3)Wildflower and Hornbjarg as clouds roll over the cliff (3)

We knew that we were going to get hungry for dinner eventually so we decided to push on. The trail was along some of the craziest terrain. It was awesome.

Corrie hikes the trail out to HornbjargCorrie hikes the trail out to Hornbjarg A cliff of green rises above an ocean of cloudsA cliff of green rises above an ocean of clouds Corrie hike the trail to Hornbjarg in the distanceCorrie hike the trail to Hornbjarg in the distance
Corrie taking in the views of HornbjargCorrie taking in the views of Hornbjarg

We stopped often to take photos of the scenery, flowers and foxes playing. There was still plenty of sunlight but we were running out of snacks for the day so we looped back around the ridge and backtracked our way to camp. 

Private residence along the coastline of HornvikPrivate residence along the coastline of Hornvik Cottongrass and the HornCottongrass and the Horn

On the way back it was low tide so we decided to cross the river at the ocean this time. The day was still warm enough that I decided to go for a swim. After that the last couple miles home was along a black sand beach, no shoes needed.

Black sand beach at HornvikBlack sand beach at Hornvik Sunset beach walk back to campSunset beach walk back to camp Corrie walking on the beach back to campCorrie walking on the beach back to camp

After dinner we had a visitor. 

Curious arctic foxCurious arctic fox

Needless to say it was a long but amazing day.

Hot tea after a great day of hikingHot tea after a great day of hiking My babooshkaMy babooshka

The next day we woke up to rain.  That would be our reality for the rest of the trip. Every once in a while the weather would quit long enough for me to break out the camera and take a few shots, but overall it was extremely cold and wet. 

Corrie on the trail to HloduvikCorrie on the trail to Hloduvik Moss-covered cliff along the trail to HloduvikMoss-covered cliff along the trail to Hloduvik Trail sign to RekavikTrail sign to Rekavik

We weren't the only ones that were cold and wet. I'm sure a lot of what we hiked through was awesome looking, but at points the visibility was so bad that we had to split up to find the next cairns. All part of the adventure I guess.

Arctic fox curled up to stay warmArctic fox curled up to stay warm Hiking to Hloduvik in the cloudsHiking to Hloduvik in the clouds Corrie coming down from the passCorrie coming down from the pass Corrie hiking the trail to HloduvikCorrie hiking the trail to Hloduvik Following the cairns to Hloduvik (2)Following the cairns to Hloduvik (2)

Day 4 we woke up to more rain. My sleeping bag had finally dried out from my body heat but I was not looking forward to putting wet clothes and shoes back on. We made breakfast in the tent, a luxury not afforded to us normally because we camp in bear country, and then continued on through rivers and marshes and over more mountain passes.

Corrie taking one last look at Hloduvik before heading outCorrie taking one last look at Hloduvik before heading out Corrie and river crossings on the trail to HesteyriCorrie and river crossings on the trail to Hesteyri Corrie and waterfalls on the trail to HesteyriCorrie and waterfalls on the trail to Hesteyri

At one point I was so cold and tired that I started to get the "umbles." All of my gear was soaked. Either from sweat or rain. It was so wet and windy that the only gear that would have kept us completely dry would have been like rubber fisherman slickers. So when we finally made it to the pass where we could see our final destination we were both extremely happy.

  Corrie hiking down to Hesteyri from the passCorrie hiking down to Hesteyri from the pass Hesteyri and cairn from the passHesteyri and cairn from the pass Corrie hiking to the campgroundCorrie hiking to the campground

We made it to camp, set up our tent, and magically the rain stopped long enough for us to have dinner and hang our stuff out to dry. We also found out that there was a small coffee shop where we could grab some coffee and sweets and get out of the elements for a short bit. 

Our campsite at HesteyriOur campsite at Hesteyri
Corrie enjoying Rhubarb cake in HesteyriCorrie enjoying Rhubarb cake in Hesteyri

Hornstrandir was an awesome trip. We got to see the area at it's best and it's not-so-best. When the weather is good it's mostly easy hiking if you're in good shape and have some navigational skills. When the weather is bad you better have lots of high-calorie food, good rain gear, and excellent navigational skills.

When the boat came the following day to pick us up were weren't too sad to leave, only because we were ready for hot showers and non-dehydrated food. We grabbed dinner and beers back in Isafjourder, hit the sack, grabbed a taxi the following morning, and took the plane back to Reykjavik. From there we planned to rent a car and explore some of the island by road. I'll start working on that and let you know when it's ready! Shoot me some questions if you got 'em!

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) Backpacking Horn Hornstrandir Hornvik Iceland Isafjourder https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2018/11/honeymoon-part-1-of-3-backpacking-hornstrandir-nature-reserve Sun, 18 Nov 2018 19:03:38 GMT
Goodbye Glacier Country - Top Photos from 2016 https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2016/11/goodbye-glacier-country Hey everyone! Things have been pretty hectic these past few months but I finally found some time to sit down and share some photos. I am currently sitting on the couch overlooking the Yellowstone River. I just finished my first week of work in my new job and my feet are a little sore from our hike yesterday, a perfect time to write my last blog with photos from Glacier. This last year was awesome. I couldn't have planned it better. We had an awesome group of people to ski, bike, hike, camp, climb, boat, and hang out throughout the year all over the park. I will definitely miss the park and the community of people. I suspect that I will be back again in the near future, but until then I look forward to seeing the park through the eyes of all the people I have met these past two years. 

Here are a few of the highlights of Glacier from 2016. I hope you enjoy!

 

Winter

Middle Fork Sunset from West Glacier BridgeMiddle Fork Sunset from West Glacier Bridge Lake McDonald Lodge SunsetLake McDonald Lodge Sunset Sunset over Apgar MountainsSunset over Apgar Mountains Lake McDonald 2.17.16Lake McDonald 2.17.16 Historic Boat Dock BeachHistoric Boat Dock Beach Lake McDonald Sunset 2.22.16Lake McDonald Sunset 2.22.16 Lake McDonald at Dusk 2.23.16Lake McDonald at Dusk 2.23.16 Mallards Flying Towards StantonMallards Flying Towards Stanton Crashing Waves on Lake McDonald 3.17.16Crashing Waves on Lake McDonald 3.17.16

Spring

Lake McDonald Public Dock Sunrise 3.19.16 (2)Lake McDonald Public Dock Sunrise 3.19.16 (2) Lake McDonald 4.12.16Lake McDonald 4.12.16 Lake McDonald Layers at SunriseLake McDonald Layers at Sunrise Lake McDonald 4.26.16Lake McDonald 4.26.16 Self-portrait Lake McDonald 4.26.16Self-portrait Lake McDonald 4.26.16 Chilling at Bowman LakeChilling at Bowman Lake Bowman Lake ShorelineBowman Lake Shoreline Alpenglow at Bowman Lake (3)Alpenglow at Bowman Lake (3) Sunrift Gorge to Baring Falls (2)Sunrift Gorge to Baring Falls (2) St. Mary FallsSt. Mary Falls Osprey in Flight - Pandion haliaetusOsprey in Flight - Pandion haliaetus East Glacier Black BearEast Glacier Black Bear Cristos at Running Eagle FallsCristos at Running Eagle Falls Lina By Weeping WallLina By Weeping Wall Lina at Big Bend (2)Lina at Big Bend (2) Lina and Livingston Range SunsetLina and Livingston Range Sunset Lina at Warp SpeedLina at Warp Speed McDonald Valley Sunset UpvalleyMcDonald Valley Sunset Upvalley Bo Riding Past the Weeping Wall (2)Bo Riding Past the Weeping Wall (2) Bo Riding Past the Weeping WallBo Riding Past the Weeping Wall Bikers Near the Weeping WallBikers Near the Weeping Wall Bo Riding Over Triple ArchesBo Riding Over Triple Arches Approaching Oberlin Bend 5.14.16Approaching Oberlin Bend 5.14.16   Chief MountainChief Mountain James on the Belly Suspension BridgeJames on the Belly Suspension Bridge Gable Mountain and Belly Ranger Station (2)Gable Mountain and Belly Ranger Station (2) Cosley Lake Sunrise PanoramaCosley Lake Sunrise Panorama James at the Belly River Ranger StationJames at the Belly River Ranger Station Calm Pray Lake and SinopahCalm Pray Lake and Sinopah Overlooking Two Medicine Valley (2)Overlooking Two Medicine Valley (2) Overlooking Lower Two Medicine LakeOverlooking Lower Two Medicine Lake Arrowleaf Balsamroot - Balsamorhiza sagittata (2)Arrowleaf Balsamroot - Balsamorhiza sagittata (2)

Summer

Views of McDonald Valley From OberlinViews of McDonald Valley From Oberlin Evening Light Along Going-to-the-Sun Road from OberlinEvening Light Along Going-to-the-Sun Road from Oberlin Holly Taking in the Sunset From OberlinHolly Taking in the Sunset From Oberlin Garden Wall From OberlinGarden Wall From Oberlin Sunset over Mount Reynolds and JacksonSunset over Mount Reynolds and Jackson Cloud ShadowsCloud Shadows Colorful CloudsColorful Clouds Megan on The Middle ForkMegan on The Middle Fork Middle Fork ReflectionsMiddle Fork Reflections Wildflowers along the Many Galcier Road (2) 7.2.16Wildflowers along the Many Galcier Road (2) 7.2.16 Wildflowers along the Many Galcier Road (4) 7.2.16Wildflowers along the Many Galcier Road (4) 7.2.16 First View of Cracker LakeFirst View of Cracker Lake Tent view From Cracker Lake at SunriseTent view From Cracker Lake at Sunrise Cracker Lake Campground SunriseCracker Lake Campground Sunrise Cracker Lake at SunriseCracker Lake at Sunrise Cracker Lake at Sunrise (4)Cracker Lake at Sunrise (4) Cracker Lake and BeargrassCracker Lake and Beargrass Mount Siyeh and BeargrassMount Siyeh and Beargrass Evening Light on the Avalanch Lake TrailEvening Light on the Avalanch Lake Trail Avalanche Lake Hike with Off-road Wheelchair 13Avalanche Lake Hike with Off-road Wheelchair 13 Avalanche Lake 7.15.16Avalanche Lake 7.15.16 Oberlin Bend From the Highline TrailOberlin Bend From the Highline Trail Clements and Oberlin from the HighlineClements and Oberlin from the Highline Lake McDonald and Historic DeSmet from Highline TrailLake McDonald and Historic DeSmet from Highline Trail Swiftcurrent Lookout SunsetSwiftcurrent Lookout Sunset Granite Park Chalet SunsetGranite Park Chalet Sunset Heavens Peak (2)  7.19.16Heavens Peak (2) 7.19.16 Tent View from Granite Park Trails CabinTent View from Granite Park Trails Cabin Grinnell Glacier OverlookGrinnell Glacier Overlook May Glacier Valley From the Garden WallMay Glacier Valley From the Garden Wall Sunset at Swiftcurrent Lake 7.23.16Sunset at Swiftcurrent Lake 7.23.16 Grinnell Point ReflectionsGrinnell Point Reflections Swiftcurrent Creek SunriseSwiftcurrent Creek Sunrise Wynn Mountain and Swiftcurrent Creek SunriseWynn Mountain and Swiftcurrent Creek Sunrise Many Glacier Hotel SunriseMany Glacier Hotel Sunrise Moonset over Grinnell PointMoonset over Grinnell Point Quinn Dropping in Iceberg LakeQuinn Dropping in Iceberg Lake Beargrass in Iceberg Valley (2)Beargrass in Iceberg Valley (2) Grinnel Lake and Angel WingGrinnel Lake and Angel Wing Grinnel Glacier Trail FlowersGrinnel Glacier Trail Flowers Upper Grinnell LakeUpper Grinnell Lake Upper Grinnell Lake Reflections TightUpper Grinnell Lake Reflections Tight Quinn, Brittany, and Lex Crossing the OutletQuinn, Brittany, and Lex Crossing the Outlet Wildflowers and Grinnell GlacierWildflowers and Grinnell Glacier Looking Down on Grinnell Lake From Angel WingLooking Down on Grinnell Lake From Angel Wing Coming off Angel WingComing off Angel Wing Grinnell Creek in Grinnell Glacier BasinGrinnell Creek in Grinnell Glacier Basin Grinnell Lake, Allen Mountain, and Angel WingGrinnell Lake, Allen Mountain, and Angel Wing Sunrise over Logan Pass 7.30.16Sunrise over Logan Pass 7.30.16 First Light on Heavens Peak 7.30.16First Light on Heavens Peak 7.30.16 Going-to-the-Sun Mountain From Hidden Lake TrailGoing-to-the-Sun Mountain From Hidden Lake Trail Hidden Lake 7.30.16Hidden Lake 7.30.16 Hidden Lake PanoramaHidden Lake Panorama Forrest on the Reynolds RouteForrest on the Reynolds Route Dan Climbing ReynoldsDan Climbing Reynolds Hiker on the Summit of ReynoldsHiker on the Summit of Reynolds Saint Mary Lake From ReynoldsSaint Mary Lake From Reynolds Seth Walking on the Reynolds SummitSeth Walking on the Reynolds Summit Reynolds Summit View PanoramaReynolds Summit View Panorama Hikers at Cutbank Pass PanoramaHikers at Cutbank Pass Panorama Pitamakan Lake From the Pass (2)Pitamakan Lake From the Pass (2) Oldman Lake, Flinch Peak, and Mt. MorganOldman Lake, Flinch Peak, and Mt. Morgan Hikers on Tinkham Mountain Ridge (5)Hikers on Tinkham Mountain Ridge (5) Shawn and Lauren on Tinkham Mountain Ridge (7)Shawn and Lauren on Tinkham Mountain Ridge (7) Tinkham Mountain and Pumpelly GlacierTinkham Mountain and Pumpelly Glacier Saint Mary Lake Sunset Panorama 8.13.16Saint Mary Lake Sunset Panorama 8.13.16 Backcountry Beers and Kayak Toast at Hidden LakeBackcountry Beers and Kayak Toast at Hidden Lake Rowing on Swiftcurrent LakeRowing on Swiftcurrent Lake Ranger Jake and Sally JewellRanger Jake and Sally Jewell Centennial InstaMeetCentennial InstaMeet Rainbow at Lake McDonald for Centennial InstaMeet (2)Rainbow at Lake McDonald for Centennial InstaMeet (2)

Fall

Alpine Sunset over Mount CannonAlpine Sunset over Mount Cannon Alpine Sunset over Mount Cannon (3)Alpine Sunset over Mount Cannon (3) Alpine Sunset From OberlinAlpine Sunset From Oberlin Alpine Sunset over Heavens Peak (3)Alpine Sunset over Heavens Peak (3) Cloudy TreesCloudy Trees Middle Fork of the Flathead From the Belton BridgeMiddle Fork of the Flathead From the Belton Bridge Fall Drive Along Lake McDonald 10.21.16Fall Drive Along Lake McDonald 10.21.16 North Fork RIver DrivingNorth Fork RIver Driving Forrest Pancakes FireForrest Pancakes Fire Self-portrait Bowmand Lake RoadSelf-portrait Bowmand Lake Road Morning Fog on Bowman LakeMorning Fog on Bowman Lake Bowman Lake Sunrise 10.22.16Bowman Lake Sunrise 10.22.16 Thunderbird Flank Through the CloudsThunderbird Flank Through the Clouds Rainbow Peak SunriseRainbow Peak Sunrise Bowman Lake Campground Sunrise HikerBowman Lake Campground Sunrise Hiker Larch Trees at BowmanLarch Trees at Bowman Larch Trees in the North ForkLarch Trees in the North Fork Lina, Forrest, and QuinnLina, Forrest, and Quinn

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) fall glacier montana National park photos spring summer sunrise sunset winter https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2016/11/goodbye-glacier-country Sat, 12 Nov 2016 18:07:10 GMT
Logan Pass to Many Glacier Via Highline and Swiftcurrent Pass Trails https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2016/7/Logan-Pass-Many-Glacier Day 1: Logan Pass to Granite Park

We got on trail about 3 pm and it took us forever to arrive at Granite Park because the flowers were OFF THE HOOK! Lots of stopping for photos along the way. It was a little windy until the evening when it calmed down and the bugs came out. After that we weren't stopping for photos as much. Regardless, it was an awesome day.

Oberlin Bend From the Highline TrailOberlin Bend From the Highline Trail Corrie and Haystack ButteCorrie and Haystack Butte Clements and Oberlin from the HighlineClements and Oberlin from the Highline Green on the HighlineGreen on the Highline Corrie, Beargrass and the HighlineCorrie, Beargrass and the Highline Going-to-the-Sun Road and Reynolds MountainGoing-to-the-Sun Road and Reynolds Mountain Corrie on the Highline Trail near Haystack ButteCorrie on the Highline Trail near Haystack Butte Glacier Lilys on the Highline TrailGlacier Lilys on the Highline Trail Lunch Spot on the Highline TrailLunch Spot on the Highline Trail McDonald Valley View Near Haystack ButteMcDonald Valley View Near Haystack Butte Corrie and Heavens PeakCorrie and Heavens Peak Lake McDonald and Historic DeSmet from Highline TrailLake McDonald and Historic DeSmet from Highline Trail Lake McDonald Portrait from Highline TrailLake McDonald Portrait from Highline Trail McDonald Valley and Rays from Highline TrailMcDonald Valley and Rays from Highline Trail Mt. Cannon and Lake McDonald from the HighlineMt. Cannon and Lake McDonald from the Highline Highline Trail near Grante ParkHighline Trail near Grante Park Swiftcurrent Lookout SunsetSwiftcurrent Lookout Sunset Highline Trail and Heavens Peak near Granite ParkHighline Trail and Heavens Peak near Granite Park Golden Eagle over Granite ParkGolden Eagle over Granite Park Granite Park Chalet SunsetGranite Park Chalet Sunset Corrie on the Highline Near Granite ParkCorrie on the Highline Near Granite Park Mt. Cannon, Lake McDonald, Heavens Peak and Glacier LilysMt. Cannon, Lake McDonald, Heavens Peak and Glacier Lilys Heavens Peak 7.19.16Heavens Peak 7.19.16 Heavens Peak Portrait 7.19.16Heavens Peak Portrait 7.19.16 Garden Wall PortraitGarden Wall Portrait Heavens Peak (2)  7.19.16Heavens Peak (2) 7.19.16 Heavens Peak (3)  7.19.16Heavens Peak (3) 7.19.16 IMG_5383IMG_5383

We arrived to camp just in time for sunset, dinner, and whiskey all before the clouds came in and started raining. 

Day 2: Granite Park to Grinnell Glacier Overlook and Back, then Granite Park to Many Glacier via Swiftcurrent Pass Trail

The plan the following morning was to hike up the spur trail early am for sunrise, but when the alarm went off at 5:30 it was still raining. When we woke up the second time the clouds hard parted and the sun came out. It was a pretty awesome view to wake up to. Just before we headed out to the spur trail the packers arrived to the chalet so I had to chat and take a few snaps. On days like these the packers have one of the coolest jobs in the park, no doubt. 

We got up the Grinnell Glacier overlook and hung our for lunch. Just as we were coming down the day hikers were arriving from Logan Pass. We headed back to the chalet, grabbed our packs, and started heading over to Many Glacier. I had never heard anything about Swiftcurrent Pass before, so needless to say we were blown away by the view and the trail coming off the pass in the valley. Waterfalls, headwalls, Swiftcurrent Glacier, and blue-green lakes. It was another picture perfect day, apart from the 40-50 mph gusts. 

Tent View from Granite Park Trails CabinTent View from Granite Park Trails Cabin Heavens Peak ReflectionHeavens Peak Reflection Relaxing at Grinnell Glacier OverlookRelaxing at Grinnell Glacier Overlook Grinnell Glacier OverlookGrinnell Glacier Overlook May Glacier Valley From the Garden WallMay Glacier Valley From the Garden Wall Gem GlacierGem Glacier Grinnell Lake and Lake SherburneGrinnell Lake and Lake Sherburne Salamander and Grinnell GlaciersSalamander and Grinnell Glaciers Grinnell Glacier From the Garden WallGrinnell Glacier From the Garden Wall Highline Spur TrailHighline Spur Trail Corrie on the Spur TrailCorrie on the Spur Trail Heavens Peak from the Spur JunctionHeavens Peak from the Spur Junction View From the Granite Park Chalet Front DoorView From the Granite Park Chalet Front Door Mt. Grinnell From Swiftcurrent PassMt. Grinnell From Swiftcurrent Pass Swiftcurrent Glacier From Swiftcurrent PassSwiftcurrent Glacier From Swiftcurrent Pass Headwaters of Swiftcurrent CreekHeadwaters of Swiftcurrent Creek Corrie and Mt. GrinnellCorrie and Mt. Grinnell Bullhead Lake Portrait From Swiftcurrent Pass TrailBullhead Lake Portrait From Swiftcurrent Pass Trail Corrie and Swiftcurrent GlacierCorrie and Swiftcurrent Glacier Bullhead Lake From Swiftcurrent Pass TrailBullhead Lake From Swiftcurrent Pass Trail

After we got off the switchbacks it seemed to take forever to make it back to the road. By the time we arrived we were ready for some beers and some food. Good thing the Motor Inn has the perfect cure for what we needed, pizza and beer. Perfect end to an awesome overnight.

As we headed out the next morning we had to stop and smell the flowers.

Wildflowers in Many Glacier 7.21.16Wildflowers in Many Glacier 7.21.16

I am headed back over to Many Glacier this weekend for work and a little RnR. I am hoping to do a couple fun hikes in additions to getting some filming done. I hope all is well with you!

-Jake

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2016/7/Logan-Pass-Many-Glacier Sat, 23 Jul 2016 02:47:39 GMT
Summer Solstice Summit and Backpacking at Cracker Lake https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2016/7/summer-solstice-summit-and-backpacking-at-cracker-lake Happy Independence Day Everyone! Just got off an awesome backcountry trip in Many Glacier this weekend and finally got caught up editing so I figured a post was in order. But before I get to the backcountry trip I had to share a few shots from our Solstice hike up Oberlin. Celebrating the solstice is a tradition that I picked up while living in Alaska and I have tried to do something fun every year since then. For my first summer here, last year, I climbed Oberlin and had a six pack while relaxing on the summit all day. So i figured it would be cool to run it back again, but this time invite a bunch of people see how many we could get to hang out for a sunset. Needless to say, the group and the sunset didn't disappoint. 

Daniel Hiking Mount Oberlin (2)Daniel Hiking Mount Oberlin (2) Sledding Mount Oberlin SaddleSledding Mount Oberlin Saddle James Hiking (2)James Hiking (2) Summit SelfieSummit Selfie Views of McDonald Valley From Oberlin (3)Views of McDonald Valley From Oberlin (3) Holly Taking in the Sunset From OberlinHolly Taking in the Sunset From Oberlin Garden Wall From OberlinGarden Wall From Oberlin Upslope ManUpslope Man Summer Solstice Summit Soda SyndicateSummer Solstice Summit Soda Syndicate Last Light on Mount ReynoldsLast Light on Mount Reynolds Solstice Panorama 6.20.16Solstice Panorama 6.20.16 Cloud ShadowsCloud Shadows Colorful CloudsColorful Clouds

I tried to head into Cracker lake earlier this year and had to bail since the weather was too windy. The forecast was calling for 50mph winds so I just called it. This weekend the weather looked pretty decent so I decided to try again. All I gotta say is wow. I have been to Cracker Lake before, but nothing beats watching a sunrise there. I would put it very high on the list of things to do in Glacier. The drive into the valley started off with a bear jam due to a grizz on the side of the road, but we didn't care about the bear because the wildflowers were off the hook!

Wildflowers along the Many Galcier Road (4) 7.2.16Wildflowers along the Many Galcier Road (4) 7.2.16 Wildflowers along the Many Galcier Road (2) 7.2.16Wildflowers along the Many Galcier Road (2) 7.2.16

Once we got on trail it's a pretty boring hike for the first 4 miles or so minus a few open spots. Then eventually you get into the basin and you are greeted with this spectacular view.

Group Hiking in Cracker Lake (2)Group Hiking in Cracker Lake (2)

The lake itself is the most unique color of blue. It looks fake even in real life.

First View of Cracker LakeFirst View of Cracker Lake Hiking to Cracker Lake CampgroundHiking to Cracker Lake Campground Jenn at Cracker LakeJenn at Cracker Lake

Eventually we made it to camp had some beers and whiskey, made dinner, and then explored the area during the last hour of daylight.

Dinner at Cracker LakeDinner at Cracker Lake Cracker Lake Campground SunsetCracker Lake Campground Sunset Head of Cracker Lake SunsetHead of Cracker Lake Sunset Canyon Creek SunsetCanyon Creek Sunset Canyon Creek and Cracker Lake SunsetCanyon Creek and Cracker Lake Sunset Cracker Mine Equipment SunsetCracker Mine Equipment Sunset Cracker Mine Equipment Sunset (2)Cracker Mine Equipment Sunset (2)

The next morning at 5:38 am we work up to an amazing sunrise. This was the entire reason that I wanted to come out to Cracker Lake and it didn't disappoint.

Tent view From Cracker Lake at SunriseTent view From Cracker Lake at Sunrise Cracker Lake Campground SunriseCracker Lake Campground Sunrise Cracker Lake at SunriseCracker Lake at Sunrise Cracker Lake at Sunrise PortraitCracker Lake at Sunrise Portrait Cracker Lake at Sunrise (2)Cracker Lake at Sunrise (2) Cracker Lake at Sunrise (3)Cracker Lake at Sunrise (3) Cracker Lake at Sunrise (4)Cracker Lake at Sunrise (4) Cracker Lake CampgroundCracker Lake Campground Corn Lily LeavesCorn Lily Leaves

After breakfast half our group left and the rest of us stayed to explore more of the area and relax. We started our way up Allen Mountain but again, it was SUPER windy so we decided to just chill in an awesome patch of beargrass where we watched a moose browse along the lake and the clouds float by.

Mount Siyeh and BeargrassMount Siyeh and Beargrass Relaxing in the BeargrassRelaxing in the Beargrass Emily at the Head of Cracker LakeEmily at the Head of Cracker Lake Me in the Furnace (2)Me in the Furnace (2)

After a few hours of chilling we were supposed to meet another group of friends back near the campground so we headed back to make lunch, finish our whiskey and catch some more sun. They never showed because the went on a different hike so we ended up taking a nap before waking up and deciding to head back to the trailhead. This was our last view of the lake and the views on the way out. Needless to say it was a blast of a trip. 

Twisted Wood at Cracker LakeTwisted Wood at Cracker Lake Canyon Creek Below Cracker LakeCanyon Creek Below Cracker Lake Hiking back to the Cracker Lake TrailheadHiking back to the Cracker Lake Trailhead

I'm hoping to stretch a bunch this week and get loose to try and do Mount Siyeh if the weather cooperates. Not sure how I will do, but I won't know unless I give it a go. Hopefully you all are having a great summer so far! If you make it this way be sure to hit me up! Happy 4th!

–Jake

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2016/7/summer-solstice-summit-and-backpacking-at-cracker-lake Tue, 05 Jul 2016 04:22:02 GMT
Backpacking in Belly River https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2016/6/backpacking-in-belly-river So this story starts at the local bar, Freda's. After a few beers we started looking at the map of Glacier National Park on the wall and decided to see if we could get a backcountry permit in the morning. Fast forward to 6:30 am the next day and I was up trying to shake off the slight hangover. My friends were slow to rise. It was obvious that people wanted to sleep in. I eventually got them up and over to the permit office. As we were trying to figure out where to go pre-food and pre-coffee, there was a feeling that people wanted to back out. Admittedly, I was thinking about it also. We still needed to shop, pack, drive 3 hours to the trailhead, then hike the 9 miles into the site. That's when I just said eff it, let's do it. 

The plan was to head into Cosley Lake for two nights. The first night we planned to get on trail by 4pm so we could make camp by sunset. The drive out to the trailhead was spectacular. We also ran into Daniel aka Mammoth, who walked to Glacier National Park from NY and has been walking for 2 years. He just crossed the 16K mile mark! We ended up speaking with him for a little while and he said he was about to begin his hike of the CDT from Canada to Mexico. Such a cool spot to run into him.

Chief MountainChief Mountain Yellow Mountain EastYellow Mountain East Daniel Johnson-UtsognDaniel Johnson-Utsogn

Eventually we made it on trail, and it was glorious. It was my first time in the Belly River area, and I don't know what took me so long to get there.

Mariah and Emily (2)Mariah and Emily (2) Emily on the TrailEmily on the Trail Belly RiverBelly River Emily and Mariah on the TrailEmily and Mariah on the Trail Hiking into the Ranger StationHiking into the Ranger Station Emily Looking at the MapEmily Looking at the Map Mariah Taking in the ViewMariah Taking in the View Views at the Gable JunctionViews at the Gable Junction James on the Belly Suspension BridgeJames on the Belly Suspension Bridge Gable Mountain and Belly Ranger Station (2)Gable Mountain and Belly Ranger Station (2) Mariah and Emily at Gros Ventre FallsMariah and Emily at Gros Ventre Falls Gable Mountain THrough the TreesGable Mountain THrough the Trees Stormy Chief MountainStormy Chief Mountain Gable Mountain (2)Gable Mountain (2) Cosley Lake TrailCosley Lake Trail

We made it to camp just in time for for dinner, some whiskey, and to set up camp before the the wind started to pick up and the rain to start. The next morning we woke up to fresh snow and a quiet serene morning. I walked around the lake while the others stayed in the tents. Then the reflection on the lake started to fade so I headed back to camp to wake the others and make breakfast.

Cosley Ridge in the CloudsCosley Ridge in the Clouds Silky Phacelia at Cosley LakeSilky Phacelia at Cosley Lake Mariah and Emily in the TentMariah and Emily in the Tent

After the morning we decided to chill around camp. We saw a bear, pine marten, moose, beaver, deer, as well as some crazy clouds that kept forming and breaking up over the mountains.

Emily Reading the Map at Cosley LakeEmily Reading the Map at Cosley Lake Nick Along Cosley LakeNick Along Cosley Lake Moose Along Cosley LakeMoose Along Cosley Lake James Chilling on the Shore of Cosley LakeJames Chilling on the Shore of Cosley Lake Eastern Shore of Cosley LakeEastern Shore of Cosley Lake

The rain picked up again in the evening so we called it a night. The next morning we woke up to some of the best backcountry views I have had in a while. 

Cosley Lake SunriseCosley Lake Sunrise Morning Fog at Cosley LakeMorning Fog at Cosley Lake Morning Fog on Cosley Lake (2)Morning Fog on Cosley Lake (2) Mt. Kipp PortraitMt. Kipp Portrait Cosley Lake Sunrise PanoramaCosley Lake Sunrise Panorama Cosley Lake and LogCosley Lake and Log Pyramid Peak PortraitPyramid Peak Portrait Nick and James at Cosley LakeNick and James at Cosley Lake Geology Reflections on Cosley LakeGeology Reflections on Cosley Lake

After spending about 2 hours shooting, we decided it was time to head back to the car. On the trail we saw some fresh tracks.

Black Bear Track on the TrailBlack Bear Track on the Trail Gros Ventre FallsGros Ventre Falls Gros Ventre Falls Portrait (2)Gros Ventre Falls Portrait (2) James on the Cosley Lake TrailJames on the Cosley Lake Trail

We stopped at the Ranger Station for lunch and to take in the views. 

James at the Belly River Ranger StationJames at the Belly River Ranger Station Belly River Ranger StationBelly River Ranger Station

After all the rain, the trail was muddy on the way back. The hill back up to the car was a little tough because of it. We were slipping around all over the place. Once we made it back to the car we had a cooler waiting for us with ice cold beers. We sat in the parking lot for an hour, stretched, and enjoyed the sun. As we passed back through East Glacier we made sure to stop at Serrano's and grabbed some food and margaritas. It was an awesome trip with some good company. 

This next week I am headed out to Quartz Lake for 3 days. Here's hoping the weather holds out. Things in Glacier are moving along. The Going-to-the-Sun Road just opened, people are showing up, and it looks to be a great summer. If you are in the area, be sure to hit me up!

-Jake

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2016/6/backpacking-in-belly-river Sun, 19 Jun 2016 04:30:15 GMT
A Month in Paradise https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2016/3/month-in-paradise Hey Everyone!

Back on the mainland and back to reality… Just got around to finishing up my edits from the trip so I figured I would fill you in on some updates. The main reason for our trip was to attend a wedding on Kaua’i, and we figured we should stay an extra 3 and a half weeks for a little vacation. Especially after spending the holidays in Montana with a pretty stormy and cloudy winter, we were ready for no shoes, sun, swimming, cocktails, poke, volcanoes, hammocks, hiking, backpacking, skinny-dipping, and anything else that might sound warm.

On our first trip to Hawai’i we found out about a weird rule that Hawaiian airlines has about camp stoves; they don’t allow them. So we decided to fly into Big Island, spend a couple days, leave our stove on the Island, head to Kaua’i for 2 weeks, and then return to Big Island for 10 days where our camp stove would be waiting for us to use on our backpack trip.

Upon arrival on Big Island we headed to Captain Cook for the next couple days. The only thing we did worth mentioning is we went down to Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historic Park for the sunset where some huge waves were crashing against the shore.

Sunset TikisSunset Tikis Rough Seas at SunsetRough Seas at Sunset Crashing Waves at SunsetCrashing Waves at Sunset Pu'uhonua O Honaunau Shorebird SunsetPu'uhonua O Honaunau Shorebird Sunset Pu'uhonua O Honaunau Sunset (2)Pu'uhonua O Honaunau Sunset (2)

Once we landed in Kaua’i we headed to the store, picked up supplies, and then drove up to Koke’e state park where we would be staying in a cabin for the next few days. Because I was a little hobbled from my knee injury, we were limited to hiking around 5 miles per day. Even still we hit the sunrise and sunset every day, took naps, hiked, and birded. Koke’e is one of our favorite spots on the island and it was awesome to be back and explore some new areas.

Flying Into KauaiFlying Into Kauai

First Look at Waimea CanyonFirst Look at Waimea Canyon Morning Fog Rays (2)Morning Fog Rays (2) Lehua SunriseLehua Sunrise Vog Sunrise from Waimea Canyon Lookout (2)Vog Sunrise from Waimea Canyon Lookout (2) Views from the Canyon Rim TrailViews from the Canyon Rim Trail Two DimensionsTwo Dimensions Vog Sunrise from Waimea Canyon LookoutVog Sunrise from Waimea Canyon Lookout Vog Sunrise from Waimea Canyon Lookout (4)Vog Sunrise from Waimea Canyon Lookout (4) Waimea Canyon and Waipo'o FallsWaimea Canyon and Waipo'o Falls Waimean Canyon ColorsWaimean Canyon Colors Waimean Canyon Sunrise at Canyon OverlookWaimean Canyon Sunrise at Canyon Overlook Forest Trail Koke'e TreesForest Trail Koke'e Trees Waimea Canyon Voggy Sunrise PanoramaWaimea Canyon Voggy Sunrise Panorama Waimea Canyon Sunset from Canyon TrailheadWaimea Canyon Sunset from Canyon Trailhead Waipo'o Falls Brink and Waimea CanyonWaipo'o Falls Brink and Waimea Canyon

Kalalau Overlook (2)Kalalau Overlook (2) Kalalau OverlookKalalau Overlook Sunrise from Wai'ale'aleSunrise from Wai'ale'ale

IMG_7257 IMG_7265

IMG_7270

From Koke’e we left the mountains and headed to the beach for some RnR. We beach camped at Anini Beach with a prime camping under a sweet hammock tree. While on north shore we met up with friends from Montana, did lots of snorkeling, went kayaking and zip lining, visited the Kilauea lighthouse the last day it was open before it closed for renovations, and spent a good amount of time in the hammock.  

KayakingKayaking

Hanging at 'Anini BeachHanging at 'Anini Beach Sunrise at 'Anini BeachSunrise at 'Anini Beach

IMG_7274 Kīlauea Point Sunrise from 'Anini BeachKīlauea Point Sunrise from 'Anini Beach Kīlauea PointKīlauea Point Kīlauea Lighthouse Fresnel LensKīlauea Lighthouse Fresnel Lens

Hawaiian Goose (Nēnē) - Branta sandvicensisHawaiian Goose (Nēnē) - Branta sandvicensis Laysan Albatross - Phoebastria immutabilisLaysan Albatross - Phoebastria immutabilis Red-footed Booby - Sula sulaRed-footed Booby - Sula sula

Dueling Red Junglefowl - Gallus gallusDueling Red Junglefowl - Gallus gallus

After our stay on the beach it was time to head to Kapa’a for the wedding. Our friends rented a big house right on the water and we spent the next few days snorkeling, drinking, and eating. The wedding was at Moloa’a Beach, where Gilligan’s Island as filmed, in front of a small group of people.

The following day was out last day on the island so we went down to dukes, rented some paddleboards, and learned how to SUP. I was starting to get the hang of it, even though it was a little rough. At lunch we took a break and had too many cocktails. Since I was a little tipsy I thought it was a good idea to wear my sunglasses out on the water, hit a wave and my glasses went into the drink. That was really the only bad thing that happened for the entire month, so I was a little bummed, only because I had to buy a temporary pair that was no good.

Sunrise at Kapa'aSunrise at Kapa'a

SUP at Sunrise (2)SUP at Sunrise (2) Moloa`a BeachMoloa`a Beach IMG_6986IMG_6986 IMG_7012IMG_7012 Moloa`a Beach Waves CrashingMoloa`a Beach Waves Crashing Jess at SunriseJess at Sunrise

Green Anole - Anole carolinensisGreen Anole - Anole carolinensis

After saying our goodbyes we headed back to Big Island and down to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We spent the next couple days in Kulanaokuaiki campground where we could day hike and explore some new areas of the park. We were able to hook up with a ranger from the park that was willing to offer us a shuttle on a backcountry trip, so the next day we grabbed a permit and headed out to Halape. The plan was to stay there for two nights, then head to ‘Apua for a night to break up the 12 miles back across the coast and lava fields. This was probably the coolest part of the entire trip.

Blue Hour at Halema'uma'uBlue Hour at Halema'uma'u Halema'uma'uHalema'uma'u

Camping at KulanaokuaikiCamping at Kulanaokuaiki Enjoying the Sunrise at Halema'uma'uEnjoying the Sunrise at Halema'uma'u Mauna Loa Access RoadMauna Loa Access Road

We were super tired and hot when we finally made it to Halape, but it was such a cool campsite. It has a small lagoon for snorkeling and swimming in addition to a brackish pond that feels more like freshwater. It was so nice to be able to swim everyday in the backcountry, and we even snorkeled which was a backcountry first. This was the best snorkeling up to that point in the trip. Lots of cool coral, large schools of small fish, and like a 4ft trumpet fish scared the shit out of me. Or camp spot was super choice also. It had a table and chairs built out of rocks, trees for shade, and a private walkway out to the beach with some decent tide pools. 

IMG_7342

Sunrise at HalapeSunrise at Halape Morning Coffee Views at HalapeMorning Coffee Views at Halape Halape TidepoolsHalape Tidepools Spinx Moth CaterpillarSpinx Moth Caterpillar Halape CampspotHalape Campspot Brackish Ponds at HalapeBrackish Ponds at Halape Relaxing in the Shade at HalapeRelaxing in the Shade at Halape Hammock Swing at HalapeHammock Swing at Halape HalapeHalape Sunset Stroll at HalapeSunset Stroll at Halape Sunset at Halape (2)Sunset at Halape (2) Halape SunsetHalape Sunset Halape Campspot (2)Halape Campspot (2) Campspot at Halepe (3)Campspot at Halepe (3) Sunrise from our Camp Spot HalepeSunrise from our Camp Spot Halepe

IMG_7361

The only hiccup that we had was with our fuel can. I used the wrong top and it took me about 40 minutes of hacking away at it to get it open. Wouldn’t have ruined the trip, but having warm food and drinks is one of the small comforts in the backcountry.

IMG_7354

Moving day we decided to get an early start to beat the heat. It was a solid plan except when we arrived at ‘Apua there was zero shade and it was crazy hot. We were able to use my hammock and tent poles to create a little shade where we grabbed a nap during the heat of the day. Once the heat broke we explored more tide pools and watched the sunset. The wind was strong that day, creating some huge waves that made for some great photos. 

Backpacking to KeahouBackpacking to Keahou Backpacking to Keahou (2)Backpacking to Keahou (2) Backpacker on the CCC wall to KeahouBackpacker on the CCC wall to Keahou Corrie at Apua PointCorrie at Apua Point Apua PointApua Point Apua Point Afternoon LightApua Point Afternoon Light Evening Light at Apua Point Tidal Flats (2)Evening Light at Apua Point Tidal Flats (2) Evening Light at Apua Point WavesEvening Light at Apua Point Waves Evening Light at Apua Point Waves (2)Evening Light at Apua Point Waves (2) Evening Light at Apua Point Waves (3)Evening Light at Apua Point Waves (3) Evening Light at Apua Point Tidal Flats (3)Evening Light at Apua Point Tidal Flats (3) Sunset at Apua PointSunset at Apua Point Apua Point CampspotApua Point Campspot Sunrise on Mauna Loa From Apua PointSunrise on Mauna Loa From Apua Point Sea Arch Sunrise Near Apua PointSea Arch Sunrise Near Apua Point Sea Arch Near Apua PointSea Arch Near Apua Point Corrie on the Lava FieldsCorrie on the Lava Fields

Once we came out of the backcountry we rented a small place down in Pahoa where we would spend the last few days relaxing, and get our last of the snorkeling in. We visited the Kapoho tide pools which were amazing for snorkeling. Some of the best for clear water, little to no currents, and loads of fish. I highly recommend visiting them if you are in the area.

The last day we grabbed massages and drove back to Kona via the saddle road.  We checked into Uncle Billy’s in Captain Cook, watched our last sunset of the trip from our balcony, had our last dinner and drinks, and headed to the airport the next day.

Last Sunset of the TripLast Sunset of the Trip

The first time I went to Hawaii we spent a lot of time camping and moving often. We were able to see a good amount of stuff, but it wasn’t very relaxing. The second time I went was for a wedding and did a little too much relaxing, to the point where I was looking for more to do. This time we dialed it in perfectly. We picked our 2 favorite islands, stay for two weeks each, and only moved every 3-5 days. It was a great combination of relaxing and adventure, and was just what the doctor ordered. 

I hope everyone is well and I am looking forward to the spring and getting back on the trail in the mountains here again!

-Jake

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) Hawaii National Park big island kauai kokee sunrise sunset volcanoes https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2016/3/month-in-paradise Sat, 12 Mar 2016 22:56:59 GMT
Glacier Top 100 of 2015 https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2015/12/Glacier-top100-2015 It's been a spectacular year (9 months) since I have moved to Columbia Falls. It was a great year of meeting new people, learning new things, and exploring one of my favorite parks in the lower 48. I picked my top 100 photos from the year and put them in chronological order. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them! Here's to a great 2016. If you are in the area be sure to look me up, let's go shoot!

Spring

Mergansers over Lake McDonaldMergansers over Lake McDonald Lake McDonald SunsetLake McDonald Sunset Crashing Waves on Lake McDonaldCrashing Waves on Lake McDonald Lake McDonald Shoreline SunsetLake McDonald Shoreline Sunset Lake McDonald ShorelineLake McDonald Shoreline Afternoon Light Along North Fork RoadAfternoon Light Along North Fork Road Eagle with Coot SunsetEagle with Coot Sunset Morning Reflections at Lake McDonaldMorning Reflections at Lake McDonald Harlequin Duck (Long exposure)Harlequin Duck (Long exposure) Lake McDonald Dock and AuroraLake McDonald Dock and Aurora Aurora Arc on Lake McDonaldAurora Arc on Lake McDonald Aurora Reflections on Lake McDonald PanoramaAurora Reflections on Lake McDonald Panorama Red-necked Grebe and Mount Brown AlpenglowRed-necked Grebe and Mount Brown Alpenglow Red-necked Grebe - Podiceps grisegenaRed-necked Grebe - Podiceps grisegena Avalanche Lake SunsetAvalanche Lake Sunset Lake McDonald Sunrise 4-29-15Lake McDonald Sunrise 4-29-15 Mule Deer and Lake McDonald SunsetMule Deer and Lake McDonald Sunset Moonrise over Camas RoadMoonrise over Camas Road Lead Image Many Glacier HotelLead Image Many Glacier Hotel Lake SherburneLake Sherburne Lake McDonald Sunset - 5:26:15Lake McDonald Sunset - 5:26:15 Foggy Lake McDonaldFoggy Lake McDonald Dark-eyed Junco NestDark-eyed Junco Nest Bald Eagle and ChickBald Eagle and Chick Avalanche GorgeAvalanche Gorge Birdwoman Falls (2)Birdwoman Falls (2) Haystack Creek Falls from GTSRHaystack Creek Falls from GTSR Ali on Numa Fire Lookout TrailAli on Numa Fire Lookout Trail Bald Eagle near Lake McDonaldBald Eagle near Lake McDonald Two Medicine LakeTwo Medicine Lake Chipmunk eating FlowerheadChipmunk eating Flowerhead Rufous Hummingbird Female on Nest (2)Rufous Hummingbird Female on Nest (2)

Summer

Hikers on Oberline SummitHikers on Oberline Summit Alpine Avens on OberlinAlpine Avens on Oberlin Backlight GnatsBacklight Gnats Swiftcurrent Lake SunriseSwiftcurrent Lake Sunrise Baring Falls StillBaring Falls Still Virginia FallsVirginia Falls Shooting Stars at Virginia FallsShooting Stars at Virginia Falls Wild Goos Island OverlookWild Goos Island Overlook Smokey Wild Goose Island OVerlook PanoramaSmokey Wild Goose Island OVerlook Panorama Lake McDonald - August 6, 2015Lake McDonald - August 6, 2015 Bighorn Sheep at Logan (2)Bighorn Sheep at Logan (2) Lewis Monkey Flowers and Reynolds AlpenglowLewis Monkey Flowers and Reynolds Alpenglow Going-to-the-Sun Alpenglow and WIldflowersGoing-to-the-Sun Alpenglow and WIldflowers Hiker Under Milky WayHiker Under Milky Way Flowers and Milky WayFlowers and Milky Way Tree Pose at Lake McDonaldTree Pose at Lake McDonald Upper Lake McDonald Valley SunsetUpper Lake McDonald Valley Sunset Haze over Lake McDonaldHaze over Lake McDonald Milky Way and AuroraMilky Way and Aurora Portrait of a KidPortrait of a Kid Marmot on a RockMarmot on a Rock Early Afternoon at Hidden LakeEarly Afternoon at Hidden Lake Evening Light at Hidden LakeEvening Light at Hidden Lake Evening at Hidden LakeEvening at Hidden Lake Hidden Lake PanoramaHidden Lake Panorama Hidden Creek Valley SunsetHidden Creek Valley Sunset DeSmet ProfileDeSmet Profile Lake McDonald Lodge LobbyLake McDonald Lodge Lobby Blood Moon over Snyder RidgeBlood Moon over Snyder Ridge Split Level near first PulloutSplit Level near first Pullout

Fall

Sunrise up the Saint Mary ValleySunrise up the Saint Mary Valley Reynolds Creek SunriseReynolds Creek Sunrise Saint Mary Lake ShorelineSaint Mary Lake Shoreline Wild Goose IslandWild Goose Island Aspen Grove SunburstAspen Grove Sunburst Fall in Lake McDonald Valley PanoramaFall in Lake McDonald Valley Panorama Heavens Peak SunsetHeavens Peak Sunset Heavens Peak Red Sky SunsetHeavens Peak Red Sky Sunset Sunset at the Remnants of Clements GlacierSunset at the Remnants of Clements Glacier Going-to-the-Sun Mountain and Blood Moon Double-exposureGoing-to-the-Sun Mountain and Blood Moon Double-exposure Blood Supermoon - Milky Way Double Exposure 9.27.15Blood Supermoon - Milky Way Double Exposure 9.27.15 Lake McDonald Fall ShorelineLake McDonald Fall Shoreline Sunrise over Glacier National ParkSunrise over Glacier National Park Golden LayersGolden Layers Mount Brown and Mount Brown Fire LookoutMount Brown and Mount Brown Fire Lookout Looking Down on Grinnell GlacierLooking Down on Grinnell Glacier Grinnell Glacier, The Garden Wall, and Heavens Peak in the DistanceGrinnell Glacier, The Garden Wall, and Heavens Peak in the Distance Swiftcurrent Lookout From the AirSwiftcurrent Lookout From the Air Grinnell, Salamander, and Gem GlaciersGrinnell, Salamander, and Gem Glaciers Mount Reynolds and Logan Pass AreaMount Reynolds and Logan Pass Area Mount Jackson and Harrison GlacierMount Jackson and Harrison Glacier Mount Stimpson and Mount St. NicholasMount Stimpson and Mount St. Nicholas Saint Mary Lake (2)Saint Mary Lake (2) Logan, Pumpelly, Blakfoot, and Harrison GlaciersLogan, Pumpelly, Blakfoot, and Harrison Glaciers Flinsch Peak in Two MedicineFlinsch Peak in Two Medicine Little Dog and Summit MountainLittle Dog and Summit Mountain Mount St. NicholasMount St. Nicholas Lake McDonald HomecomingLake McDonald Homecoming

Winter(ish)

Avalanche Lake 11-15-15Avalanche Lake 11-15-15 Lake McDonald Fall Sunset 11.16.15Lake McDonald Fall Sunset 11.16.15 Driftwood Sunset PanoramaDriftwood Sunset Panorama Lake McDonald Morning 11.20.15Lake McDonald Morning 11.20.15 Lake McDonald Sunset Wide Angle 11.20.15Lake McDonald Sunset Wide Angle 11.20.15 Alpenglow at Lake McDonald 11.20.15Alpenglow at Lake McDonald 11.20.15 Sunset on Vaught, Cannon, and BrownSunset on Vaught, Cannon, and Brown Alpenglow Over Lake McDonald ValleyAlpenglow Over Lake McDonald Valley Stanton, Vaught, and McPartland from Lake McDonald LodgeStanton, Vaught, and McPartland from Lake McDonald Lodge Self-portrait - Relaxing on the DockSelf-portrait - Relaxing on the Dock

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) birds Glacier hiking landscape montana National park sunrise sunset https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2015/12/Glacier-top100-2015 Mon, 14 Dec 2015 00:42:26 GMT
My Return to Alaska https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2015/8/my-return-to-alaska We flew into Anchorage, picked up supplies for the two weeks, and then headed to the park. The initial plan was to head out to Donaho Basin for a backpacking trip, shoot some scenic over flights, then spend another few days in the Bremner historic mining district area. Inevitably, there were some bumps in the road but we were able to figure everything out as we went along.

If you’ve never been to the park, Wrangell is 13.2 million acres, the largest national park in the United States, roughly the size of Switzerland. Access is limited. There is only one main road into the center of the park, which dead ends in the town of Kennicott, a historic copper mining area. This is where we would be based out of for the next 10 days. We spent the first night in the Lodge and then packed for our backpack trip out to Donoho Basin.

Bohemian waxwing - Bombycilla garrulusBohemian waxwing - Bombycilla garrulus

Bohemian Waxwing seen along the McCarthy Road

Tundra Swans - Cygnus columbianusTundra Swans - Cygnus columbianus

Tundra Swans seen along the McCarthy Road

Kennicott Glacier view from Hotel PorchKennicott Glacier view from Hotel Porch

View from the Lodge

In order to get the Donoho basin you are required to traverse the Root glacier roughly 1 mile wide. Once on the west side of the glacier, there is a route towards series of unnamed lakes.  This is where we planned to camp because there are bear boxes. We had a bit of a late start but weren’t too worried since the sun wasn’t setting until 11pm. Hiking across the Root Glacier was a very unique experience. I have traveled next to glaciers and under glaciers, but never on a glacier. It felt exactly as I thought it would, walking on a giant piece of ice. It was fairly slow going because of the difficulty of the terrain, but also because of how scenic it was. 

Hikers on the Root GlacierHikers on the Root GlacierNPS / Jacob W. Frank

People on the Root Glacier

Backpackers Exploring the Root Glacier (8)Backpackers Exploring the Root Glacier (8)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Backpackers Exploring the Root Glacier (9)Backpackers Exploring the Root Glacier (9)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Pool on the Root GlacierPool on the Root GlacierNPS / Jacob W. Frank Backpackers Exploring the Root Glacier (12)Backpackers Exploring the Root Glacier (12)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Backpackers Exploring the Root Glacier (13)Backpackers Exploring the Root Glacier (13)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Views from the Root Glacier (3)Views from the Root Glacier (3)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Views from the Root Glacier (5)Views from the Root Glacier (5)NPS / Jacob W. Frank

We walked over rivers, along lakes, navigated through crevasses, and over moraines (all on the glacier) until we finally reached the other side. From there we needed to make a decision whether to camp or to continue to push on to the next campsite. Since it was only 5 o’clock and the map said we had 3 miles to go, we made the decision to continue. For those of you who have hiked off-trail bushwhacking in Alaska, you know that 3 miles is no easy task. We hiked, and hiked, and hiked some more, and it seemed that we were barely moving.  When one of our team members fell ill from food poisoning the night before, we decided that we would not make it to the bear boxes that we hoped to camp at and found trees to tie our food up into instead. Once camp was set up and we made dinner it was about 10:30 PM. I can honestly say that it was one of the most difficult hikes that I’ve ever done, not because of the elevation or distance, but rather the difficulty in pushing through the bush with a significantly large and heavy pack.  It seemed all the branches were reaching out to touch me and say, “Slow down, take it all in. There is no need to go so fast.” Ughh.

Lake 2 Creek Sunset and Mount BlackburnLake 2 Creek Sunset and Mount BlackburnNPS / Jacob W. Frank Mount Blackburn and Donoho Peak from Lake 2Mount Blackburn and Donoho Peak from Lake 2NPS / Jacob W. Frank Fireweed Sunset at Lake 2Fireweed Sunset at Lake 2NPS / Jacob W. Frank

When I woke up the next day and stuck my head out of the tent it was apparent that had made the right decision to push on. It was a beautiful sunrise with the perfectly still lake. It looked as if it were going to be great weather all day. We grabbed breakfast, packed our daypacks, and headed further up valley towards Gates glacier. As we made it past the second lake and eventually to the third lake we were directly alongside the Kennicott glacier. The 16K ft foot mountain Mt. Blackburn rose in the distance behind a sea of ice.

Morning Reflections from Lake 2 - Donoho BasinMorning Reflections from Lake 2 - Donoho BasinNPS / Jacob W. Frank Gates Glacier From Lake 3 - Donoho BasinGates Glacier From Lake 3 - Donoho BasinNPS / Jacob W. Frank Hiker viewing Kennicott Glacier near Wilderness Boundary - Donoho BasinHiker viewing Kennicott Glacier near Wilderness Boundary - Donoho BasinNPS / Jacob W. Frank Kennicott Glacier Crevasses with BlackburnKennicott Glacier Crevasses with BlackburnNPS / Jacob W. Frank Kennicott Glacier Lateral View - Donoho BasinKennicott Glacier Lateral View - Donoho BasinNPS / Jacob W. Frank Hiking the Kennicott Glacier Lateral Moraine (2)Hiking the Kennicott Glacier Lateral Moraine (2)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Kennicott Glacier and Hidden Creek PassKennicott Glacier and Hidden Creek PassNPS / Jacob W. Frank Panoramic View from Wilderness Boundary - Donoho BasinPanoramic View from Wilderness Boundary - Donoho BasinNPS / Jacob W. Frank

After a few hours of day hiking we decided to turn around, pack up camp, and head to our next camp spot alongside the Root glacier. This time we knew where we were going and we still managed to lose the route and ended up bushwhacking in 10+ ft tall alder. Gotta love AK.

Backpackers Near Lake 2Backpackers Near Lake 2NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Backpackers Bushwhacking in Donoho BasinBackpackers Bushwhacking in Donoho BasinNPS / Jacob W. Frank Porphyry Mountain and National Creek Rock Glacier From Donoho BasinPorphyry Mountain and National Creek Rock Glacier From Donoho BasinNPS / Jacob W. Frank

People are in the photo!!!

Blackburn From Lake 2 - Donoho BasinBlackburn From Lake 2 - Donoho BasinNPS / Jacob W. Frank

Views from first Lake and Mount Blackburn 16Kft​

Hiking the Lateral Morain of Root GlacierHiking the Lateral Morain of Root GlacierNPS / Jacob W. Frank

Once we made back to the Root Glacier it was time for a cocktail or two and a little time to soak in the scenery.

The next morning we woke to another bluebird day. After grabbing some breakfast we only had to traverse the glacier once more, this time deciding to take an alternate route. Walking on a glacier is like being on a maze of ice. You never know when your route will dead-end. Sometimes you can find a work-around; sometimes you just have to backtrack. It makes for fun, but tiring hiking.

Tent View of the Root GlacierTent View of the Root GlacierNPS / Jacob W. Frank Backpackers Headed Towards the Root GlacierBackpackers Headed Towards the Root GlacierNPS / Jacob W. Frank Backpackers Stepping onto the Root GlacierBackpackers Stepping onto the Root GlacierNPS / Jacob W. Frank Backpackers Exploring a pool on the Root Glacier (2)Backpackers Exploring a pool on the Root Glacier (2)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Views from the Root GlacierViews from the Root GlacierNPS / Jacob W. Frank Backpackers Exploring the Root Glacier (2)Backpackers Exploring the Root Glacier (2)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Recording the Sounds of the Root GlacierRecording the Sounds of the Root GlacierNPS / Jacob W. Frank Ice Climbing on the Root GlacierIce Climbing on the Root GlacierNPS / Jacob W. Frank Ice Climbing on the Root Glacier (3)Ice Climbing on the Root Glacier (3)NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Along the way we found some spectacular scenery and the weather was perfect. So much so that I thought I could catch a tan for a little bit.

The next day was a day of flying. We had two flights scheduled. The first flight we would head south to the Tana River, to the Tana Glacier, Bagley Icefield, and Icy Bay before heading back along Baldwin and Chitina Glaciers.  Instead of picking my favs I put all of them in a slide show so that you can view all of them in order if you like. I have also included a map of all of our flights. This first one is labeled Lynn Flight 1. http://caltopo.com/m/031C

After landing and grabbing lunch we headed back up in the air and out towards Tebay Lakes, the Bremner River, Fan Glacier, then north past the Chitina River to Hidden Creek and the Kennicott Glacier. Here is a slide show from that flight. It’s amazing what we saw up there. I think I am forever ruined about what will excite me in the future. I can’t remember the last time I felt so blown away by what I was seeing. Oh wait, yes I can. It was in Denali NP looking at the Mountain. Alaska is awesome if you aren’t picking up what I am laying down…

The next day was spent conducting interviews of some local residents before having the chance to tour the historic Kennicott Copper Mill. This entire building is nuts. It’s a 14 story building and was used to mine the copper our of the surrounding mountains. It was the most productive copper mill in the world profiting nearly $1.5 billion in today’s dollars. Everything was vertically integrated from the mines, to the mill, to the railway to the coast, and eventual boats that would transport the copper down to Seattle.  It’s really an amazing sight to see.

The next day we would be flying into Bremner historic mining district where we would be camping for the next 3 days. We were concerned about getting stuck out there so we planned for an early pickup just incase the weather turned and we needed to spend a few extra days out there. This time we were allowed to “pack” heavy because we were not carrying all of our gear. So we brought everything including a case of beer. We had a late arrival due to our plane breaking down just before takeoff (That’s not what you want to hear about your plane before you get in it). So when we landed we spent the remaining time exploring the area around camp and hit the sack.

Backpackers Watching their Flight LeaveBackpackers Watching their Flight LeaveNPS / Jacob W. Frank Bremner Campsite (2)Bremner Campsite (2)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Wildflowers of Bremner (6)Wildflowers of Bremner (6)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Dinner Near Bremner Landing StripDinner Near Bremner Landing StripNPS / Jacob W. Frank

The next day we woke up and explored around camp for a short while before heading up to the Bremner bunkhouse and checking out all the historic garbage. When I say garbage I mean artifacts including buildings, a powerhouse, cars, tractors, stoves, tools, etc. All very cool, very heavy stuff. It’s crazy they were able to get everything out to this remote spot. The stuff is so cool in fact that they hire volunteers to live on site and make sure people don’t steal anything. We met the volunteers, and their dog companion, and had a great time chatting about their experiences so far. The wildflowers were also still blooming despite a rather dry summer so I was excited to see all the familiar faces.

Wildflowers of Bremner (3)Wildflowers of Bremner (3)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Bremner Mine EquipmentBremner Mine EquipmentNPS / Jacob W. Frank Bremner Historic DistrictBremner Historic DistrictNPS / Jacob W. Frank Taking off from Bremner Landing Strip (2)Taking off from Bremner Landing Strip (2)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Hiking from the Landing Strip (3)Hiking from the Landing Strip (3)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Bremner CrossBremner CrossNPS / Jacob W. Frank Bremner VehiclesBremner VehiclesNPS / Jacob W. Frank Bremner Equipment (2)Bremner Equipment (2)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Bremner ToolsBremner ToolsNPS / Jacob W. Frank Inside Dry HouseInside Dry HouseNPS / Jacob W. Frank

Powerhouse Equipment (4)Powerhouse Equipment (4)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Powerhouse EquipmentPowerhouse EquipmentNPS / Jacob W. Frank

From the mining camp we headed up to one of the area tarns that was used as an aqueduct for the area water. Along the way we saw some nice waterfalls, cool animals like ptarmigan, pika, and marmots, and some great views of the mountains. Once we were done we headed back to the bunkhouse and made a plan to hike with the volunteer couple the following day.

Waterfalls Along the Aqueduct (2)Waterfalls Along the Aqueduct (2)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Hoary MarmotHoary MarmotNPS / Jacob W. Frank Collared Pika (3) - Ochotona collarisCollared Pika (3) - Ochotona collarisNPS / Jacob W. Frank Collared Pika (2) - Ochotona collarisCollared Pika (2) - Ochotona collarisNPS / Jacob W. Frank Wildflowers Along Shore of Tarn Above AqueductWildflowers Along Shore of Tarn Above AqueductNPS / Jacob W. Frank Historic Tools in BremnerHistoric Tools in BremnerNPS / Jacob W. Frank Hikers Along Shore of Tarn Above AqueductHikers Along Shore of Tarn Above AqueductNPS / Jacob W. Frank Hiker in Aqueduct DrainageHiker in Aqueduct DrainageNPS / Jacob W. Frank

The next day we woke up to the entire valley covered in fog. We took the old mining road up to another site where they used to mine for gold. As we went up in elevation we hike out of the fog and the sun was burning off what remained. Immediately when we made it into the cirque basin I noticed more pika, ptarmigan, and marmots. The ptarmigan were everywhere in fact. We noticed that the rock ptarmigan at higher elevations were not as skittish as the willow ptarmigan at lower elevations. In fact they seemed to like us. We even had a few chicks walk right up to us and scope us out. After a beautiful day of hiking we headed back to camp and waited for the plane to pick us up. 

Camping in the FogCamping in the FogNPS / Jacob W. Frank Wildflowers of Bremner (7)Wildflowers of Bremner (7)NPS / Jacob W. Frank Old Chevy in the Bremner DistrictOld Chevy in the Bremner DistrictNPS / Jacob W. Frank Rock Ptarmigan and Chicks - Lagopus mutaRock Ptarmigan and Chicks - Lagopus mutaNPS / Jacob W. Frank Wildflowers of BremnerWildflowers of BremnerNPS / Jacob W. Frank Taking off from Bremner Landing StripTaking off from Bremner Landing StripNPS / Jacob W. Frank

Once we were back in McCarthy we headed out for dinner and dumped our memory cards in preparation for our final day of flying.

The weather was a little iffy but since we didn’t have a particular agenda for this flight we were able to seek out the good weather. We went up the Nizina River to the Nizina, Federika, and Russel Glaciers via Skolai pass and then over to the Bonanza Ridge area including the Stairway Icefall, Root/Gates/Kennicott glaciers. This day wasn’t as spectacular as the other flights, but it was still a good opportunity to shoot some other areas of the park we had yet to see.

I mentioned that we had the chance to head out to Bremner for our overnight trip but we were supposed to hit Skolai Pass area also. I didn’t really know what I was missing until this flight. If you go to Wrangell for a fly-in trip, Skolai is like a mini Switzerland. If I get the chance to go back I hope that I can get a few days in that area.

After that flight our trip was pretty much over. We turned in all of our flight equipment, headed back to Anchorage to drop off the car. Then we headed out for some celebratory drinks. We had no car so we didn’t need to worry about a DD so we were all having a great time. So much so that when I ordered my 3rd or 4th drink I felt really tipsy, even sitting down. I looked at my drink and thought to myself, I better slow down here a little. Then I looked up and realized that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. It wasn’t the alcohol making me feel tipsy but rather we were in the middle of a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The ENTIRE building was shaking and people started standing up. Apparently that is a thing? After that we headed out to dinner and had a few more drinks before calling it a night to make our early flights the next morning.

Overall I shot around 6500 photos in 10 days pairing that down to about 500. The majority of those shots came during the scenic flights. It was totally amazing to see this park from the air. You lose all sense of scale when you are up there. Mountains that look close enough to crash into are a quarter mile away. Icebergs the size of houses are just dots in the bay. It’s the only way to really “see” the majority of the park. It’s a wild and untamed place. You could take any individual feature from this park whether it’s a mountain, waterfall, glacier, lake, etc. and place it in the lower 48 and it would be its own National Park. But here, it’s just another unnamed feature. Alaska really is the last frontier. It’s so freaking big and majestic that you can’t help but be humbled by it.

Going back to Alaska was like a breath of fresh air. It also sounds like there is opportunity to return to Alaska next summer for a chance to work with a different park, possibly Lake Clark or Katmai. I will be in Rocky Mountain, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks next month. If you are in the area and would like to meet up for a drink, hike, or drink while hiking just let me know! Thanks again for following along with my travels and sorry it’s been so long. 

Cheers and happy travels!

 

 

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2015/8/my-return-to-alaska Mon, 31 Aug 2015 20:37:00 GMT
East Coast Trip and Yellowstone Trip https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/11/yellowstone-trip Hey Everyone!

We made it here the day it started snowing in addition to subzero temps. It's not enough snow to ski yet, but a little too much snow to hike. But before I get into that, I recently returned from a short trip to the east coast to see my photos in the Smithsonian and check out a few parks as well. It was pretty much a whirlwind tour.

THE PLAN: Arrive in DC, pick up our rental car, and drive towards Shenandoah National Park that night. Drive Skyline Drive through the park, hike as time allowed, and then continue on towards the north entrance of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Then head out to Cades Cove for sunrise and continue on to Charleston, SC. From there we would spend a few days in Charleston, and make a day trip up to Congaree National Park where we could paddle and hike for the day. From Charleston we would head back to DC, drop off the car, and spend the long weekend in the city visiting museums and monuments before flying back to Denver and starting the new job in Yellowstone.

The drive through Shenandoah was really nice. Even though the fall color in the park was mostly gone, we did find a few spots that still held their leaves. We got a chance to watch the sunrise, get out on a short hike to a couple waterfalls, and check out the new exhibits in the visitor center.

Shenandoah SunriseShenandoah Sunrise

Shenandoah Sunrise

First Light on the Fall ColorsFirst Light on the Fall Colors

First Light on the Fall Color

Darj Hollow FallsDarj Hollow Falls

Dark Hollow Falls

I was surprised to learn that both Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks were created using eminent domain. The history of both parks include some deep-seeded resentment for the government, and rightly so. People in Shenandoah were told that they would be able to stay on their land in the newly created park, then that decision was reversed by the next administration. I was also surprised to learn that Shenandoah was also home to a campground that was only for "negroes." I am really glad that the national park doesn't shy away from topics that may be uncomfortable to discuss because it is a reminder that segregation is not in our too distant past and that racism was an institutional part of our government. From there we headed to Pigeon Forge to stay for the night.

Now I won't get into it too much, but WTF is Pigeon Forge?!? It's like a honkey-tonk Vegas in the middle of nowhere. As we were driving through the city to find a place to eat we were driving through a never-ending gauntlet of amusement rides, dinner theaters, and flashing signs. The entire town is a tourist-trap. I have no idea how that town exists or why people go there.

The next morning we woke up early again, this time it was cold and foggy. We made our way into the park and started driving on the one-way road out to Cades Cove. Just as we came out of the trees we were greeted to an iconic misty-morning sunrise of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Sunrise in Cades CoveSunrise in Cades Cove

Sunrise in Cades Cove

Morning DewMorning Dew

Morning Dew on the Spider Webs

Morning Light in Cades CoveMorning Light in Cades Cove

Morning Light on the Webs

Morning in Cades CoveMorning in Cades Cove

Pasture Sunrise in Cades Cove

Misty Morning in Cades CoveMisty Morning in Cades Cove

Misty Morning Sunrise and Spiderwebs

Once we made it to the Cades Cove ranger station we watched live demonstrations at the Cable Mill and Blacksmith shop. Both the guy in the mill and blacksmith shop were descendants of the people who settled the area. It was really cool to talk to the people who had a strong connection to the land that is now the national park.

Cable Mill in FallCable Mill in Fall

Fall colors at the Cable Mill

After leaving Cades Cove we drove south towards Cherokee and stopped to see the sights along the way.

Meigs Falls in AutmnMeigs Falls in Autmn

Meigs Falls in Autumn

Fall ColorsFall Colors

Fall Color in Great Smoky Moutains

LayersLayers

Endless Ridges

We eventually made it to Charleston and took the next day to relax and hang with family. After catching up on some much needed sleep we hit the road again for Congaree National Park. This park was initially created as a national monument and later upgraded to a national park in 2003. I had heard great things about it so I had been wanting to go for sometime now, but when I looked on the website it mentioned that the best way to see the park was on one of their kayak tours. I looked to sign up for one but they weren't being offered when we were there so I reached out to the park and asked if they were in need of some photos in exchange for a "guided tour" on the water. They were happy to oblige and Ranger Lindsey was our guide for the day. She was very knowledgeable and friendly and gave us a great tour. We were even lucky enough to see 4 river otters. Lindsey told us that in 2 years of working for the park she has only previously seen 3 otters before that day. So definitely a big sighting!

Kayaking Cedar CreekKayaking Cedar Creek

Setting out on Cedar Creek

Reflections on Cedar CreekReflections on Cedar Creek

Cedar Creek Reflections

Corrie and Lindsay on Cedar CreekCorrie and Lindsay on Cedar Creek

Corrie and Our Fearless Leader

Reflections on Cedar Creek (2)Reflections on Cedar Creek (2)

Widest Part of Cedar Creek on our Paddle

Bald Cypress Reflections (2)Bald Cypress Reflections (2)

Bald Cypress Reflections

Kayaker on Cedar CreekKayaker on Cedar Creek

Morning Light on the Creek

Kayakers on Cedar Creek (3)Kayakers on Cedar Creek (3)

Light at the End of the Tunnel

North American River Otter (2) - Lontra canadensisNorth American River Otter (2) - Lontra canadensis

Our River Otter Friend!

After our paddle we got back on terra firma and decided to go for a short hike to check out the park on foot. We saw a cardinal, a young white-tailed buck, rat snake, and some champion trees. I believe we saw the champion loblolly pine tree. It was a huge freaking tree. 

Black Rat Snake - Pantherophis obsoletusBlack Rat Snake - Pantherophis obsoletus

Black Rat Snake

Once we were back in Charleston we were looking for a few things to check out in the area during the day and stumbled on a private park called Cypress Gardens. They have a swamp on the property and boats for you to use, aquariums, and have a butterfly house. So we spent the day on the water, looking for small wildlife, and trying to take pictures of the butterflies in the butterfly house. They are tricky buggers to shoot because they wouldn't stay still.

Sunning on a LongSunning on a Long

Turtles on a log

Pond LilyPond Lily

Pond Lily Bloom

Turtle ReflectionsTurtle Reflections

Turtle Reflections

Cypress GardensCypress Gardens

Cypress Gardens

Carolina Anole - Anolis carolinensisCarolina Anole - Anolis carolinensis

Carolina Anole

Reversed ReflectionsReversed Reflections

Reversed Reflections

Baby GatorBaby Gator

Baby Gator

Buterflies

From Charleston we headed back to DC and dropped the car off at the airport and met up with my family at the hotel. The next day was supposed to be the nicest while we were there so we decided to do the mall that day. We went up in the Washington Monument and visited the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and the U.S Marine Corps Memorial. It was a day full of patriotic sight-seeing and some real-world reminders about what this country has gone through to get where we are today.

Washington MonumentWashington Monument

Washington Memorial at 555' 5 1/8"

One of the FallenOne of the Fallen

Arlington Funeral Procession

On GuardOn Guard

Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Changing of the GuardChanging of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard (2)Changing of the Guard (2)

Changing of the Guard

Arlington National CemeteryArlington National Cemetery

Lives Lost

Washington Monument seen From Arlington National CemeteryWashington Monument seen From Arlington National Cemetery

Washington Monument Seen From Arlington National Cemetery

Sunset at Marine Corps War MemorialSunset at Marine Corps War Memorial

Sunset at US Marine Corps Memorial

The rest of the trip we spent wandering around the museums including Ford's Theater, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and the U.S Botanical Gardens.

Ford's TheaterFord's Theater

Ford's Theater and the Balcony Seat Where Lincoln was Shot

Lots of Cool Flowers in the US Botanical Gardens

Group at the MallGroup at the Mall

Family Shot at Washington Monument

Me at the SmithsonianMe at the Smithsonian

Me and My Photo in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

The trip to DC was a great. I was humbled to get to see my work in the Smithsonian and it was a blast to see new parks, make new friends, and see friends and family. Then we flew back to Denver and started packing for the trip to Yellowstone. 

Eye on the PrizeEye on the Prize

Eye on the Prize

RoadblockRoadblock

Standing in the Road

Fresh Snow in Norris Geyser BasinFresh Snow in Norris Geyser Basin

Fresh Snow in Norris Geyser Basin

Ghost TreesGhost Trees

Ghost Trees

MeanderingMeandering

Meandering

Norris Geyser Basin ReflectionsNorris Geyser Basin Reflections

Norris Geyser Basin Reflections

I hope this update finds everyone well, and if you happen to be in the area, be sure to look me up!

-Jake

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/11/yellowstone-trip Sun, 16 Nov 2014 03:21:07 GMT
My First Summer in Rocky https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/10/summer-in-rocky I hope you enjoy looking at the photos as much as I did taking them. Rocky is a special place... Thanks to everyone who made it a summer to remember! - Jake

Back Yard AlpenglowBack Yard Alpenglow Winter Melting AwayWinter Melting Away View From Lumpy RidgeView From Lumpy Ridge Gem LakeGem Lake Snowy Trail Ridge RoadSnowy Trail Ridge Road Ypsilon, Chiquita, and Chapin SunsetYpsilon, Chiquita, and Chapin Sunset Moose Cow in the FieldMoose Cow in the Field Broad-tailed Hummingbird - Selasphorus platycercusBroad-tailed Hummingbird - Selasphorus platycercus Meatball SquirrelMeatball Squirrel Mallards - Anas platyrhynchosMallards - Anas platyrhynchos Wilson's Warbler - Cardellina pusillaWilson's Warbler - Cardellina pusilla American Pipit Ground NestAmerican Pipit Ground Nest Ute Trail Hiker in the AplineUte Trail Hiker in the Apline Ute Trail AlpineUte Trail Alpine Honeymoon Over Bear LakeHoneymoon Over Bear Lake Sprague Lake ReflectionsSprague Lake Reflections Morning in Moraine ParkMorning in Moraine Park View from Sundance MountainView from Sundance Mountain Sunset on Longs PeakSunset on Longs Peak Sunset over Deer MountainSunset over Deer Mountain Meeker and Longs from Estes ConeMeeker and Longs from Estes Cone Sunset and Lava Cliffs From 12K ftSunset and Lava Cliffs From 12K ft Sunset Through the CairnSunset Through the Cairn Sunset on CCYSunset on CCY Elk on Sundance MountainElk on Sundance Mountain Ross Avens in the Evening LightRoss Avens in the Evening Light Hazy Sunset PanoramaHazy Sunset Panorama Hazy Sunset From Sundance MountainHazy Sunset From Sundance Mountain Milky Way and Sky Glow Over Bear LakeMilky Way and Sky Glow Over Bear Lake Pond Near Lake HiyahaPond Near Lake Hiyaha Field of DreamsField of Dreams Geum rossii in the AlpineGeum rossii in the Alpine Elk Calf in the AlpineElk Calf in the Alpine Pika with AvensPika with Avens Bear Lake Sunrise PanoramaBear Lake Sunrise Panorama Napping MarmotNapping Marmot Evening BeersEvening Beers South Ute Trail Ridge Sunset (2)South Ute Trail Ridge Sunset (2) South Ute Trail Ridge SunsetSouth Ute Trail Ridge Sunset Sunrise on Old Fall River RoadSunrise on Old Fall River Road Early Morning on the CCY TrailEarly Morning on the CCY Trail Chiquita Creek Drainage and Horseshoe ParkChiquita Creek Drainage and Horseshoe Park Avens on Chiquita and YpsilonAvens on Chiquita and Ypsilon Hiking the Ridge to YpsilonHiking the Ridge to Ypsilon Ridge Walking YpsilonRidge Walking Ypsilon Ross Avens and Never Summer MountainRoss Avens and Never Summer Mountain Old Man of the MountainOld Man of the Mountain The Road HomeThe Road Home The PoolThe Pool Fern Falls LandscapeFern Falls Landscape First View of Lost Creek FallsFirst View of Lost Creek Falls Sunset From Huffer's HillSunset From Huffer's Hill Summit Soda Syndicate on Huffer's HillSummit Soda Syndicate on Huffer's Hill Sunrise at Timberline FallsSunrise at Timberline Falls Jon Overlooking Sky Pond and Loch ValeJon Overlooking Sky Pond and Loch Vale Sharktooth Ridge, Sky Pond, and Lake of GlassSharktooth Ridge, Sky Pond, and Lake of Glass Fields of BistortFields of Bistort Sky PondSky Pond Young Elk in the SunYoung Elk in the Sun Badger in the Front YardBadger in the Front Yard Continental Divide Near Hallet PeakContinental Divide Near Hallet Peak Hikers on The SharkstoothHikers on The Sharkstooth Group on Andrews GlacierGroup on Andrews Glacier Azure and Inkwell Lakes from IdaAzure and Inkwell Lakes from Ida Summit Sodas on IdaSummit Sodas on Ida Sunset at Fern LakeSunset at Fern Lake Debris in Fern LakeDebris in Fern Lake Summer into FallSummer into Fall Relaxing in the AspensRelaxing in the Aspens Rocky Mountain HighRocky Mountain High Mouth of Dream LakeMouth of Dream Lake Emerald Lake PanoramaEmerald Lake Panorama Forest Canyon and Lost Creek FallsForest Canyon and Lost Creek Falls Self-portrait Upper Lost Creek FallsSelf-portrait Upper Lost Creek Falls Rocks and Water Near Sky PondRocks and Water Near Sky Pond Columbines and Sharktooth RidgeColumbines and Sharktooth Ridge Badger in the Front Yard (4)Badger in the Front Yard (4) Butterfly on BistortButterfly on Bistort Top of SundanceTop of Sundance Sundance ProposalSundance Proposal Curious PikaCurious Pika Golden-mantled Ground SquirrelGolden-mantled Ground Squirrel Trevor Hiking Lava Cliffs (2)Trevor Hiking Lava Cliffs (2) Tundra Sunset HikeTundra Sunset Hike Tundra CartwheelTundra Cartwheel Lava Cliffs SunsetLava Cliffs Sunset Crepuscular RaysCrepuscular Rays Sunset From Trail Ridge RoadSunset From Trail Ridge Road Mom and Friends Watching the SunsetMom and Friends Watching the Sunset Boulderfield SunriseBoulderfield Sunrise Self-portrait Chasm ViewSelf-portrait Chasm View The Diamond and Chasm LakeThe Diamond and Chasm Lake-
Projection: Cylindrical (1)
FOV: 186 x 103
Ev: 14.45
Mount Lady Washington and Chasm Lake from Chasm ViewMount Lady Washington and Chasm Lake from Chasm View Chasm Lake JunctinoChasm Lake Junctino Cooling off with some UpslopeCooling off with some Upslope Bridal Veil FallsBridal Veil Falls   Fogbow on SandbeachFogbow on Sandbeach Mount Meeker from Sandbeach LakeMount Meeker from Sandbeach Lake   Thunder Lake at NightThunder Lake at Night Sunrise at Thunder Lake (2)Sunrise at Thunder Lake (2) Sunrise at Thunder Lake (4)Sunrise at Thunder Lake (4) First Light at Thunder LakeFirst Light at Thunder Lake Pilot Mountain and Mount AlicePilot Mountain and Mount Alice Reading the MapReading the Map Pilot, Alice, Cheifshead, Longs, and Meeker PanoramaPilot, Alice, Cheifshead, Longs, and Meeker Panorama Queens Crown and Chiefshead PeakQueens Crown and Chiefshead Peak Tundra Beers in Wild BasinTundra Beers in Wild Basin Meeker, Longs, and ChiefsheadMeeker, Longs, and Chiefshead   Ouzel FallsOuzel Falls Hallett and Bear Lake Fall Colors PanoramaHallett and Bear Lake Fall Colors Panorama Hallett and Fall ColorsHallett and Fall Colors Gold AspensGold Aspens Milkyway over Fern LakeMilkyway over Fern Lake First Light at Odessa LakeFirst Light at Odessa Lake Odessa Lake reflections (2)Odessa Lake reflections (2) Little Matterhorn ReflectionsLittle Matterhorn Reflections Odessa BeachOdessa Beach Odessa Lake PanoramaOdessa Lake Panorama Short-tailed WeaselShort-tailed Weasel Waterfall Above Spruce LakeWaterfall Above Spruce Lake Pond Below Loomis LakePond Below Loomis Lake Rams chewing their cudRams chewing their cud Ram in the Sun PanoramaRam in the Sun Panorama Buck Mule DeerBuck Mule Deer Bull Elk ProfileBull Elk Profile Sparring in the Front YardSparring in the Front Yard The Upper HandThe Upper Hand Refereeing the MatchRefereeing the Match Moraine ParkMoraine Park Stormy Hallett and FlattopStormy Hallett and Flattop Solitude LakeSolitude Lake   Glacier GorgeGlacier Gorge Sunrise from BMVCSunrise from BMVC Elk in Moraine ParkElk in Moraine Park

Last Alpine Sunset 2014Last Alpine Sunset 2014

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/10/summer-in-rocky Thu, 09 Oct 2014 19:15:33 GMT
Fall in the Rockies https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/10/fall-in-the-rockies Well, fall is officially here in Rocky. The peaks are covered with snow, the leaves are gone, and the valleys at night are constantly filled with elk bugles. Before the snow fell I was able to get in some pretty great day hikes and overnight trips so I wanted to share the photos from those trips and some random wildlife photos I captured recently as well.

A few weeks ago was my first trip down to Wild Basin. A group of us headed up to Sandbeach Lake for the day in some pretty overcast weather. We started out in the clouds and as we climbed up we were greeted with a foggy view of the lake. Eventually the clouds broke and the sun created my first ever view of a fog-bow over the lake. Then we headed to the other side of the lake and got a great shot of Mount Meeker in the background.

Fogbow on SandbeachFogbow on Sandbeach

Fog-bow over Sandbeach Lake

Fishing Sandbeach LakeFishing Sandbeach Lake

Fishing the Point

Mount Meeker from Sandbeach LakeMount Meeker from Sandbeach Lake

Meeker over Sandbeach Lake

The following weekend we headed back to Wild basin but this time to Thunder Lake. I was told that there was a possibility that we might see some aurora so I decided to head out at midnight to see if I might see a glimpse, but no dice. The views at night under the moon weren’t too shabby even without the aurora.

Thunder Lake at NightThunder Lake at Night

Thunder Lake under the Stars

Thunder Lake at Night (2)Thunder Lake at Night (2)

Thunder Lake under the Stars

That next morning was a pretty awesome sunrise. It was still too windy for a great reflection shot, but there was some great color in the sky. After we had breakfast we decided to hike up from the Lake over the Bench towards the Lion Lakes area. I was so surprised to see so many flowers in bloom. It was fall already in other areas of the park and I found a spot that looked like it was spring. In addition to stepping 2 months back in time, the views from up there were AMAZING. It was a high alpine area that was surrounded by big mountains. We had great views of Longs, Meeker, Alice, Chiefshead and the whole continental divide. The lakes and waterfalls up there were pretty cool as well.

Sunrise at Thunder LakeSunrise at Thunder Lake

Sunrise from Thunder Lake

Sunrise at Thunder Lake (2)Sunrise at Thunder Lake (2)

Sunrise from Thunder Lake

Sunrise at Thunder Lake (4)Sunrise at Thunder Lake (4)

Sunrise from Thunder Lake

First Light at Thunder LakeFirst Light at Thunder Lake

Sunrise from Thunder Lake

Pilot Mountain and Mount AlicePilot Mountain and Mount Alice

Ponds on the Alpine Bench

Reading the MapReading the Map

Orienting Ourselves

Pilot, Alice, Cheifshead, Longs, and Meeker PanoramaPilot, Alice, Cheifshead, Longs, and Meeker Panorama

Alpine Bench Panorama

Cascades and ChiefsheadCascades and Chiefshead

Snowbank Falls

Lion Lake No. 2 and Chiefshead PeakLion Lake No. 2 and Chiefshead Peak

Lion Lake No. 2

Lion Lake No 2. and CascadesLion Lake No 2. and Cascades

Snowbank Falls

Cascades and Cheifshead (2)Cascades and Cheifshead (2)

Snowbank Falls

Queens Crown and Chiefshead PeakQueens Crown and Chiefshead Peak

Queens Crown and Chiefshead Peak

Tundra Beers in Wild BasinTundra Beers in Wild Basin

Afternoon Beers

Meeker, Longs, and ChiefsheadMeeker, Longs, and Chiefshead

Lush in September

On the way back down we took the long route so we could swing by Ouzel Falls and Calypso Cascades. After this trip I was kind bummed it took me so long to get down to WB but I guess better late than never.

Ouzel FallsOuzel Falls

Ouzel Falls

Calypso CascadesCalypso Cascades

Calypso Cascades

The weekend after the Thunder Lake trip we planned another trip to a Ranger patrol cabin; the Fern Lake cabin. I had still not done the Bear Lake to Fern Lake through hike yet so we decided to head in from Bear Lake and boy am I glad we did. The fall color at the lake was UNREAL. It was a prefect bluebird day and the colors were peaking. 

Hallett and Bear Lake Fall Colors PanoramaHallett and Bear Lake Fall Colors Panorama

Fall Colors at Bear Lake

Hallett and Fall ColorsHallett and Fall Colors

and more...

Hallett and Fall Colors (2)Hallett and Fall Colors (2)

and more...

Gold AspensGold Aspens

aaaaand more...

We then made our way to Fern Lake and just decided to swim, lay out in the sun, and drink G&T’s for the rest of the day. That night I went out again to check out the stars and the night sky from Fern Lake is pretty nice. The next morning we hiked back up to Odessa Lake to watch the sunrise and it was definitely worth it. We watched the sunrise from the mouth of the lake and then walked around to the head of it where there was a little granite sand beach. There were some really spectacular views from there. 

Milkyway over Fern LakeMilkyway over Fern Lake

Milky Way from Fern Lake

First Light at Odessa LakeFirst Light at Odessa Lake

Sunrise at Odessa Lake

Little Matterhorn ReflectionsLittle Matterhorn Reflections

Reflections in Odessa Lake

Odessa Lake reflections (2)Odessa Lake reflections (2)

East Shore of Odessa Lake

Odessa BeachOdessa Beach

Odessa Lake Beach

Odessa Lake PanoramaOdessa Lake Panorama

Odessa Lake Panorama

Then we headed back to the cabin, made breakfast, went for a swim, and got ready for a hike up to Loomis Lake, just above Spruce Lake. While I was putting my shoes on a short-tailed weasel stuck his head out from around the corner and I was able to grab a shot of him before he ran back into the woods. On the way up to Loomis we found a really cool little waterfall and a small pond. We hung out at the lake for a little while, jumped in and swam, and then headed back to the cabin for beers, dinner, and an after dinner sunset. That night a few friends hiked in after work and resupplied us with more beer and a bottle of Tequila. All in all it was a great weekend as well. 

Short-tailed WeaselShort-tailed Weasel

Short-tailed Weasel

Waterfall Above Spruce LakeWaterfall Above Spruce Lake

Falls above Spruce Lake

Pond Below Loomis LakePond Below Loomis Lake

Pond Above Spruce Lake

Sunset at Fern LakeSunset at Fern Lake

Fern Lake Sunset

To cap it off, we had a great sunrise at Fern Lake and I was able to grab good shots as well as a few more fall color shots on the hike out to the Fern Lake trailhead.

Debris in Fern LakeDebris in Fern Lake

Early Light at Fern Lake

East Shore of Fern LakeEast Shore of Fern Lake

Early Light at Fern Lake

Summer into FallSummer into Fall

Spring into Fall

Relaxing in the AspensRelaxing in the Aspens

Fall Colors at the Pool

We have also had some pretty great wildlife viewing experiences lately. I FINALLY saw some bighorn rams this past weekend up at Forest Canyon overlook. There were 6 of them just hanging out chewing their cud. I would have stayed longer but it was a huge SHIT SHOW in the park this last weekend. I am pretty sure the entire population of Colorado was in the park at the same time. There were no places to park at all on the east side and the traffic was bumper-to-bumper so we bailed back home.

Just the BoysJust the Boys

Rams chewing their cudRams chewing their cud

Funny Faces (2)Funny Faces (2)

Ram in the Sun PanoramaRam in the Sun Panorama

My Favorite of the Bunch

Then after work last night I came home to some mule deer bucks and elk in my front yard. So we just hung out near the house and watched the bulls spar and listened to the bugles into the evening. Fall is really a great time around here.

Buck Mule DeerBuck Mule Deer

The Upper HandThe Upper Hand

My Favorite of the Bunch

Refereeing the MatchRefereeing the Match

Evenly MatchedEvenly Matched

Sparring in the Front YardSparring in the Front Yard

On a personal note I only have 3 weeks left before I leave here. I will pack up head to Denver, then fly out east to check out my photos in the Smithsonian. We hope to check out some parks while back east, hang out in DC, and then come back in time to move up to YELLOWSTONE for the winter. I am pretty excited to work for the World’s first National Park, especially in the winter. I got to visit last winter and it was a pretty awesome experience.

I hope everyone else is doing well and if you happen to be in the Mammoth area of Yellowstone, be sure to let me know beforehand so we can potentially meet up. Thanks again for all the support and I will talk to everyone soon!

Jake

P.S. Here are two photos from 10/2/14 showing the snow.

Moraine ParkMoraine Park

Moraine Park

Stormy Hallett and FlattopStormy Hallett and Flattop

Stormy Hallett and Flattop

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) colorado fall national park rockies https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/10/fall-in-the-rockies Wed, 01 Oct 2014 20:12:16 GMT
Dirty Thirty https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/9/dirty-thirty Hey everyone, do I sound any different from the last post? I just celebrated my 30th birthday last Monday the 25th and everyone tells me I'm getting old. But I couldn't care less what they think because this past year was a pretty awesome year, I would dare to say the best so far. I feel that if you live your life doing what you love it's just like a fine wine, it just keeps getting better with age. Sure, I have to stretch these days and sometimes I wake up feeling sore or with a hangover, but my philosophy is that if this year was better than the last then who cares how old you are. 

As far as festivities go we had lots of visitors in August, did some great hikes, and had some fun times. The Wilderness Forever exhibit is now up in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History with one of my photos. Thanks for all the well wishes and here are the highlights from the past couple of weeks.

Summit Soda Syndicate Evening Hike to Lava Cliffs

Trevor Hiking Lava Cliffs (2)Trevor Hiking Lava Cliffs (2) Tundra Sunset HikeTundra Sunset Hike Tundra CartwheelTundra Cartwheel Lava Cliffs SunsetLava Cliffs Sunset Monica and UpslopeMonica and Upslope

 

Sunset Hike with Mom and her Friends at 12K feet.

Crepuscular RaysCrepuscular Rays Sunset From Trail Ridge RoadSunset From Trail Ridge Road Mom and Friends Watching the SunsetMom and Friends Watching the Sunset

The biggest part of the last two weeks has bee the attempt on Longs Peak. We did everything we could to make it a successful summit but the weather didn't cooperate with us... not much you can do about that. 

Backpacking Trip with the Crew up to the Boulderfield

Group Before ShotGroup Before Shot

It was a pretty cloudy day with spitting rain all day. We made it to camp about noon and we decided to take a nap and see if the weather was going to get any better as the evening went along.

Cloudy Camp spot in the BoulderfieldCloudy Camp spot in the Boulderfield

Annnnndddd... it didn't. It actually got worse so we decided to do a short hike up to the Chasm view ridge regardless. 

Mount Lady Washington RidgeMount Lady Washington Ridge

Our plan A was to bring beer to drink on top of the summits, but since we weren't gonna get a summit we decided to just get drunk instead. It was pretty spectacular having a 24 pack of Upslope with us at 13K ft.

Beer ThirtyBeer Thirty

The next morning this is what we woke up to. For a brief moment the sun broke through the clouds and onto Longs Peak. I would say that this made the trip worth it, even though we didn't get the summit.

Boulderfield SunriseBoulderfield Sunrise

Not a bad way to celebrate the big 3-0...

Sunrise from CampSunrise from Camp

Even though the wind was pretty extreme we headed back up to the ridge where we would be able to check out the views of Longs and Chasm Lake.

Cristos at Chasm ViewCristos at Chasm View

Taking it all in just before a huge gust of wind caused me to fall over... Scary shit.

Self-portrait Chasm ViewSelf-portrait Chasm View The Diamond and Chasm LakeThe Diamond and Chasm Lake-
Projection: Cylindrical (1)
FOV: 186 x 103
Ev: 14.45

Chasm Lake and the Diamond as seen from Chasm Lake

Cristos,Mount Lady Washington, and Chasm Lake from Chasm ViewCristos,Mount Lady Washington, and Chasm Lake from Chasm View

It is a really amazing view from up there. I hope to get back up at a later date in order to explore a little more.

Chasm Lake From Chasm ViewChasm Lake From Chasm View

Not a whole lot of sense carrying all that beer down back to the car. So we just drank it all in the boulderfield. Delicious.

Camp Beers at 12.7K ftCamp Beers at 12.7K ft

Mount Lady Washington and Longs Peak from Chasm Lake Junction

Chasm Lake JunctinoChasm Lake Junctino

Last weekend we decided to just do a short hike up to Bridal Veil Falls before the weather was supposed to hit.

Afternoon Hike to Bridal Veil Falls

Jon Climbing Bridal Veil FallsJon Climbing Bridal Veil Falls Sunny Day at Bridal Veil FallsSunny Day at Bridal Veil Falls

Backcountry Bromance... No homo.

Backcountry BromanceBackcountry Bromance

Then Lina jumped in to fix the ratio. That water is crazy cold...

Cooling off with some UpslopeCooling off with some Upslope Backcountry BeersBackcountry Beers Bridal Veil FallsBridal Veil Falls

 

Visitors Stop by the House

Bull Elk and HaremBull Elk and Harem

Nursing ElkNursing Elk

The last thing that happened this week is that the Wilderness Forever exhibit in the Smithsonian just started and my photo in now on display through 2014. If you are in the DC area you should check it out. Here is a Washington Post article about it with a photo of mine and the shot that will be displayed in the Museum of Natural History:

Trees AflameTrees Aflame

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/9/dirty-thirty Thu, 04 Sep 2014 19:44:45 GMT
Big Hikes, Proposals, Wildlife and More https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/8/big-hikes A lot has happened these past 2 weeks. We have had a few visitors, saw some cool wildlife, and did some awesome group hikes. I'll let the photos do the story telling on this one and I will fill in the gaps. Enjoy!

Young Elk in the SunYoung Elk in the Sun

Young Bull Relaxing in the Morning Sun

To start off the week I woke up and opened the blinds to about 25 elk surrounding my house. Most were females but there were a few young bulls as well. It has been a while since they have been around here. I suspect they will start coming back soon once the rut starts.

Badger in the Front Yard (4)Badger in the Front Yard (4)

Badger Digging a hole in my Front Yard: No shits given

In addition to the elk I also got my first great sighting of a badger. I have seen them before but they were always on their way to someplace else or they were out at night. I saw this little guy under my car and thought it was a marmot at first and then realized it was a badger when I saw it move. I got some great shots of it and also some decent hand-held video of it digging. A very cool sighting indeed. After the badger sighting we headed up into the alpine for a short acclimatization hike for our visiting friends, Ryan and Kacie.

Butterfly on BistortButterfly on Bistort

Butterfly on an American Bistort Flower.

Top of SundanceTop of Sundance

Group on top of Sundance Mountain having a beer.

Oh, and while we were up there Ryan did this...

Sundance ProposalSundance Proposal

She said yes...

Then we rolled over to Rock Cut for a short while to check out some wildlife where we saw some pikas, marmots, and squirrels.

Curious PikaCurious Pika

Curious Pika

Golden-mantled Ground SquirrelGolden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Hungry Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Then the next day we woke up at 4am to do our longest hike to date: Flattop to Taylor and out Andrews Glacier. 15+ miles and 4,500 ft of elevation change. The weather was so perfect it was hard to take photos. Not a cloud in the sky all day until we were headed back to the cars.

Continental Divide Near Hallet PeakContinental Divide Near Hallet Peak

Coming off the Summit of Hallet Peak

Hikers on The SharkstoothHikers on The Sharkstooth

Coming down the boulderfield from Taylor

Continental Divide HikerContinental Divide Hiker

Panorama from the Boulderfield on Taylor

Group on Andrews GlacierGroup on Andrews Glacier

Group on Andrews Glacier

This was an amazing hike with amazing weather all day. Climbed some mountains, drank some beer, got some sun, glissaded down a glacier, jumped in Andrew's tarn. All in all great day. Here are some of the video highlights...

Then this weekend, yesterday, we decided to do a shorter hike up to Mount Ida. I hadn't been up there yet and I recently saw some photos from the top and decided it was time to see it for myself. We hit the trail about 7:30am and made for the 12,889 ft summit.

Ida TrailheadIda Trailhead

Trailhead sign at Milner Pass

The trail the whole way out is in great shape but it is a fairly steep climb initially and then turns into a ridgewalk until the final approach to the summit. We had spectacular weather on the way out but the clouds started to build as we made our way out to the summit.

CDT PanoramaCDT Panorama

Section of the CDT closer to the trailhead at Milner Pass.

CDT out to IdaCDT out to Ida

The ridgewalk out to Ida

We had extremely high winds so it was possible to watch the shadows from the clouds move over the landscape in real time. It was very cool to see.

Clouds on the CDTClouds on the CDT

More views along the trail

Unnamed Lakes Below the Continental DivideUnnamed Lakes Below the Continental Divide

Our first views east of the divide onto some unnamed lakes.

Just after this view we started up to the summit. The trail kind of peters out but it is very obvious where to go, up. You basically just need to pick your way through a boulderfield. On the way to the top I can across a ptarmigan family and lots of pikas. Then I made it to the top and was greeted with this view from the summit @ 12,889 ft.

Azure and Inkwell Lakes from IdaAzure and Inkwell Lakes from Ida

Inkwell and Azure Lakes, Terra Tomah and Julian Mountains from Ida

Summit Sodas on IdaSummit Sodas on Ida

Of course we had our Summit Sodas...

SSS on IdaSSS on Ida

Obligatory Group Shot

It's really amazing the color difference of the two lakes that are right next to each other.

Azure and Inkwell Lakes Through the DrawAzure and Inkwell Lakes Through the Draw

Lakes seen through the Draw

Then we decided it was time to head back so that we would beat the storm. 

Old Flowers on the TrailOld Flowers on the Trail

The Road Home

All in all we did 9.6 miles and had 3,200 ft of climbing in 5 hours. It would have been great to stay out there longer but it's not safe in the alpine when there are thunderstorms in the area. Hopefully I can get out there this week because I will be in Ft. Collins for the weekend. Then the weekend after that we have our Long's Peak trip just before I turn 30! Only two weeks left, time to do work!

Hope everyone is doing well!

Jake

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/8/big-hikes Sun, 10 Aug 2014 19:30:12 GMT
Trip to Taylor Glacier Terminus https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/7/taylor-glacier Hey everyone! This week was another spectacular week in Rocky. We had some severe storms again but I got out for an evening sunset in the alpine and also an all day hike up to the terminus of the Taylor Glacier. I also just got word that our permit for Long's Peak was just approved for the last weekend in August so there is no backing out now. I am excited and also nervous because yesterday was the second fatality of the year on the mountain. I am unaware of the experience of either individual but it still looms in the back of your mind that there is a chance that something could go wrong. Sunset From Huffer's HillSunset From Huffer's Hill Sunset from the Alpine Visitor Center

Summit Soda Syndicate on Huffer's HillSummit Soda Syndicate on Huffer's Hill

Summit Soda Syndicate taking in the views after work

Pink Clouds From Huffer's HillPink Clouds From Huffer's Hill

Clouds going off over the Mummy Range and Endovalley

So the plan for the big hike of the week was to head up to Sky Pond early in the am. I had heard great things about this hike but hadn't made it up there yet. The plan was to meet at the Bear Lake trailhead at sunrise and then head out on trail. The first part of the hike went quickly because we were practically the only ones on that trail. We did make a quick stop when we came across a patch of ripe raspberries.

Wild Red Raspberry - Rubus idaeusWild Red Raspberry - Rubus idaeus

Wild raspberries

Then just as we started to come out of the trees we were greeted with Timberline falls. This is a great waterfall and you actually have to climb through a small portion of the falls in order to continue on to Lake of Glass, Sky Pond, and Taylor Glacier. I was very surprised that this is an NPS trail because of the class 3 scramble required. If you were to fall there could be some serious injuries. But as I would soon find out, there was a reason that people of all ages and skill levels make the trek.

Sunrise at Timberline FallsSunrise at Timberline Falls

First Light on Timberline Falls

Timberline FallsTimberline Falls

Timberline Falls

Once we got past the falls we made it to Lake of Glass. A few of us decided to jump in for a swim to cool off and completely get rid of the morning hangover. From there we suited back up and made for Sky Pond.

Trail to Sky PondTrail to Sky Pond

Trail between Lake of Glass and Sky Pond

Once we got past Lake of Glass and into the krummholtz, the flowers were everywhere. Columbines, gentians, bistort, primrose, louseworts, and more. It was really spectacular to see all the varieties with an amazing backdrop.

Columbines and FinsColumbines and Fins

Columbines near Lake of Glass

Columbines in Loch ValeColumbines in Loch Vale

Columbines Near Sky Pond

Once we mad it to Sky Pond we stopped and had lunch. It was only 8:30 in the morning and the weather was looking great so Jon and I decided to push on up valley to explore more of the area. In the distance we could see what looked like a terminal moraine and the promise of an unnamed tarn so we headed around the right-hand side of the lake and made our way up.

Exploring Sky PondExploring Sky Pond

Side skirting Sky Pond

Rocks and Water Near Sky PondRocks and Water Near Sky Pond

Small retention area near Sky Pond

Columbines and Sharktooth RidgeColumbines and Sharktooth Ridge

More Columbines

Snowfield CrossingsSnowfield Crossings

Crossing a snow field up to the terminal moraine

Jon Overlooking Sky Pond and Loch ValeJon Overlooking Sky Pond and Loch Vale

Our first view looking down valley

Once we made it to the top of the moraine we were a little disappointed to find that there was no tarn, just ice and rock. The disappointment soon faded as we turned around and had this view from around 11.5K ft. Once we were at the top we were able to look over the entire valley and we decided to make our way back along a different route to explore the lush meadow on the other side of the lake.

Sky Pond and Loch Vale from Taylor Glacier TerminusSky Pond and Loch Vale from Taylor Glacier Terminus

Down Valley view from the Taylor Glacier Terminus

Overlooking Sky Pond and Lake of GlassOverlooking Sky Pond and Lake of Glass

Making our way back down

Sharktooth Ridge, Sky Pond, and Lake of GlassSharktooth Ridge, Sky Pond, and Lake of Glass

Spectacular of the Sharkstooth Ridge, Sky Pond, and Lake of Glass

Fields of BistortFields of Bistort

Subalpine meadow wildflowers

Falls between Sky Pond and Lake of GlassFalls between Sky Pond and Lake of Glass

Falls between Sky Pond and Lake of Glass

Just as we made it to the falls we looked behind us and the clouds started to roll in. We headed back to the car only stopping for a short snack and to filter water. When we were about 2 miles away from the trailhead we heard our first thunder so we started hiking at maximum speed. We were surprised to see how many people were STARTING their hikes when lightning and thunder were rolling in. We made an effort to to inform people that we were seeing lightning, but no one seemed to care. Then as we were crossing the bridge we also saw a group of people drinking directly out of the stream that flows out of Bear Lake. We kindly told him that doing that wasn't the best idea because of the potential for giardia and cryptosporidium but he replied, "Don't knock it 'til you try it." So it seems that no matter how hard you try to help people make good choices you just gotta let them do their own thing. Just as we made it back to the Bear Lake parking lot the sky opened up and lighting was crashing directly overhead. We lucked out and only had to run about 50 yards in the rain before making it safely back to the car. 

This hike was one of the best day hikes I have done in Rocky to date. If you have the chance to make it up there I highly recommend it. To make it past Sky Pond you will need some route-finding and scrambling skills but it is totally doable if you take your time. I think next week I plan on hiking either Meeker or the Shark's Tooth. If anyone out there has done either I would love some input if you have any. Looking forward to getting back out there soon and I'll be sure to share the photos!

Lastly I added a slideshow of the flowers that we saw along the hike as well as some video of the trail.

Sky Pond

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/7/taylor-glacier Sat, 26 Jul 2014 19:16:05 GMT
In Search of Forest Canyon Waterfalls https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/7/forest-canyon I had some friends visit a few weeks back and we went for a short hike out on the Ute trail to overlook Forest Canyon. As usual we brought some beers, and this time OJ, so we could make some manmosas. As we were sitting and enjoying the view I noticed a fairly large waterfall down in the canyon. The few waterfalls that I have been to in the park aren't very big so I was surprised that I was able to see it from so far away. Then I got to wondering how tough it would be to hike to it. So I looked on the map and asked a few people about it (got mixed reviews). Forest Canyon is a WILD place with lots of down trees and no trails making it very difficult to navigate your way through the area. One of my coworkers, Sam, had mentioned to me that he had been back there before and told me the best way to access the canyon. So I figured I would give it a try and see what happened.

Mike's Summit SodaMike's Summit Soda Our Forest Canyon Inspiration hike

We started from the Fern Lake Trail head and headed out at 7am. It was a cool morning and few people were on the trail. The people we did see were on their way up to Fern Lake in order to fish. The first few miles of the we're fairly easy all the way up to Fern falls.

Dusky Grouse and ChickDusky Grouse and Chick

Dusky Grouse and chick

The Road HomeThe Road Home

Fern Lake Trail in the early morning

The PoolThe Pool

The Pool

Big Thompson RiverBig Thompson River

Big Thompson River

Fern Falls LandscapeFern Falls Landscape

Fern Falls

Fern Falls BaseFern Falls Base

The Base of Fern Falls

It wasn't until we started hiking from Fern Falls into Forest Canyon where we started to experience difficulties. Our first obstacle was a fairly easy stream crossing that we were able to get across via log. Then we found ourself in a very marshy area. We wanted to get out so we made our way to a ridgeline and headed for the top where we were greeted with our first great view of the day.

Mouth of Forest CanyonMouth of Forest Canyon

The ridgeline Exit/Entrance point of Forest Canyon

From the ridgeline we headed down into the canyon making our way through burned trees and flood areas. For the most part the hiking was relatively easy to navigate, but every so often we would come across an obstacle that would force us to make a decision how to get around it. This seemed to be the pattern for a few hours. Hike through burned trees, hike through marshy areas, and then get to an obstacle where we would have to figure out how to get around it. It was starting to get later in the day and we still had yet to reach our waterfall destination. We made the decision to hike into the canyon for another hour and if we did not reach the waterfall we would just turn around. Then with roughly 15 minutes before our turnaround time, I picked up my head to see the waterfall we were looking for about 400 yards away. We found it and now it was time to get up close and personal. First View of Lost Creek FallsFirst View of Lost Creek Falls

Our First view of out destination

After about another 20 minutes of navigating through marshy areas, under rocks, and eventually bushwhacking through about 40 yards of trees up hill at a 45° angle, we got to the waterfall. 

Forest Canyon and Lost Creek FallsForest Canyon and Lost Creek Falls

Base of Lost Creek Falls

Upper Lost Creek FallsUpper Lost Creek Falls

Lost Creek Falls

Self-portrait Upper Lost Creek FallsSelf-portrait Upper Lost Creek Falls

We made it!

After hanging out at the waterfall for roughly 45 minutes we really needed to start heading back to make it out on time. We decided to gamble by taking a shorter more direct way back without knowing what the terrain was like. For the first part of the hike it proved to be successful, but then we got to an area that was roughly one quarter of a mile long with no way around other than just navigating our way through the fallen trees like a jungle gym. It was fun and challenging at the same time but also very scary because if either of us were to fall, we were in an area that would be very very difficult for a rescue. 

Adam in Forest CanyonAdam in Forest Canyon

The Rough Road Home

Eventually we made it back to the trail and then it was just another mile and a half until we reached the trailhead at around 5 PM. It was a long and grueling day but totally worth it. It was one of the best wilderness experiences I've had in a long time. I'm glad we went but I'm not sure if I'm going to head back anytime soon. If you're curious to check it out, shoot me a message and I can give you the route (roughly) that we took. Remember that there's no trails so it would be really hard to follow our exact footsteps without a GPS.

Waterfalls

Video of the Falls

I am hoping to get out both days this weekend for some other long hikes. I'll be sure to fill you guys in if I find anything cool!

-Jake

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/7/forest-canyon Wed, 23 Jul 2014 03:10:24 GMT
My 1st (and 2nd) 13K ft Peak https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/7/1st-13K Hey again!

If you have been following my blog since I arrived in the area you know that I have been wanting to climb Long's Peak before my 30th birthday. I have been working my way up higher and higher each week in an attempt to try and get used to the altitude. So far the highest mountain I have climbed is Sundance (12,466 ft) and I was looking to break 13K. When I first arrived back in late May I was scouting hikes and mountains from along the road and I saw a ridge hike that I immediately put on my list.

Ypsilon, Chiquita, and Chapin SunsetYpsilon, Chiquita, and Chapin Sunset

My first view of Ypsilon, Chiquita, and Chapin Mountains (Left to Right) from May

I later came to find out that the mountains were Chapin (12,454 ft), Chiquita (13,069 ft), and Ypsilon (13,520 ft).  It is a popular hike that starts along the Old Fall River Road. The problem is that last year that road was washed out from the flood and is closed this year. So I kinda put that out of my mind until I started looking at the map a little closer and realized that with the road being out, it would only add about 3 miles and 800ft of climbing if I hiked from the Alpine Visitor Center. So after thinking about it for a couple days I decided to give it a shot. The goal was to at least summit Chiquita so that I could get break my PR of 12.5 and get over 13K to see how the altitude would affect me. The other issue is that the weather was calling for lightning in the afternoon so we would have limited time. The previous day there was a lightning strike on the Ute trail at 11.5K ft injuring 7 and killing 1 so we were not going to push our luck. We decided to start our hike at 5:30 am right at daybreak from the Alpine Visitor Center and headed down the Old Fall River Road.

Sunrise on Old Fall River RoadSunrise on Old Fall River Road

Sunrise on the Old Fall River Road

From there we walked the 1.5 mile social trail through the woods until we got to the Chapin pass trail and the start of the official trail to the summits.

CCY Summit TrailCCY Summit Trail

Trail sign on the Chapin Pass Trail

Early Morning on the CCY TrailEarly Morning on the CCY Trail

Trail along the base of Chapin

First Light on the CCY TrailFirst Light on the CCY Trail

First direct sunlight of the day

The plan for the day was to hit the summits of Chiquita and Ypsilon first and if time/weather allowed to then hit Chapin on the way down.

Chiquita Creek Drainage and Horseshoe ParkChiquita Creek Drainage and Horseshoe Park

Horseshoe Park from Chapin/Chiquita Saddle

Avens on Chiquita and YpsilonAvens on Chiquita and Ypsilon

Chiquita Summit with Ypsilon in the Distance

Hiking the Ridge to YpsilonHiking the Ridge to Ypsilon

Descending backside of Chiquita headed to Ypsilon

Mount ChiquitaMount Chiquita

Chiquita from Ypsilon/Chiquita saddle

Ypsilon Summit 13,520Ypsilon Summit 13,520

Ypsilon summit 13,520 (my watch is slightly off)

We had been hiking all day and had not seen a single soul. As my hiking buddies were eating I headed over to the ridge to scope out the views and I started to hear voices from below the ridge. I thought I was going crazy at first but then two dudes popped up on the ridge in front of me and I was able to grab an "in the moment" shot of them. Apparently they had hiked up from Lawn Lake trailhead which is a silly-long hike. 

Ypsilon Summit ClimbersYpsilon Summit Climbers

Our friendly neighbors on Ypsilon ridge

Spectacle Lakes from Yspilon Summit RidgeSpectacle Lakes from Yspilon Summit Ridge

Spectacle Lakes from Ypsilon ridge

Ridge Walking YpsilonRidge Walking Ypsilon

Adam and Danielle scramble the ridge to see the Spectale Lakes view

Ypsilon Summit RidgeYpsilon Summit Ridge

Time to head back from Ypsilon riidge

As we started our descent the afternoon clouds started to roll in on us so we headed straight for tree line but I was able to grab a couple of shots on the way down.

Afternoon Storm Clouds on YpsilonAfternoon Storm Clouds on Ypsilon

Afternoon storm clouds rolling in

Ross Avens and Never Summer MountainRoss Avens and Never Summer Mountain

Ross Avens and the Never Summer range in the distance

Ross Avens on ChiquitaRoss Avens on Chiquita

Alpine wildflowers galore

Old Man of the MountainOld Man of the Mountain

Old Man on the Mountain

We eventually made it back to treeline and eventually the road for the last 1.5 miles. This really sucked because after you just did this bomber hike you now have to climb another ~800ft to get back to the visitor center. The weather continued to clear and then cloud until we reached the visitor center and then it started to rain. We planned it just right. We did around 10 miles with 4,200 ft of climbing in 7.5 hours. We were able to take in some great views, explore a new part of the park, and also summit my first and second 13K ft peaks. We made it back home just in time for the sky to open up and then we heard sirens racing into the park where we would later find out that a second person died of lightning in 2 days. That shit is no joke.

I highly recommend this hike if you get the chance, the only problem is that they will be closing the road to all traffic in the near future so they can begin construction to repair it. If nothing else, keep it on the list for future visits to the park once the road is open for business.

Cheers,

-Jake

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/7/1st-13K Sun, 13 Jul 2014 20:24:35 GMT
Living the Rocky Mountain High Life https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/6/rocky-mountain Hey Everyone! It's been super busy here but I am finally getting my feet underneath me so I figure its time for an update. I have already had some visitors to Estes Park, and I am expecting some more throughout the summer. I have been hiking 2-3 times a week trying to get in good hiking shape in order to do Long's Peak for my 30th birthday. Long's is the only 14K foot peak in the park and since I have never done a 14'er before, I set that as my goal for the summer. I have already hit two mountains over 12.5K and look to hit 3 more this weekend named Chapin, Chaquita, and Ypsilon that are 12.5, 13, and 13.5K respectively. Here's hoping. So this post is gonna be photo heavy and I will give descriptions below the photos. Feel free to share and ENJOY!!

Back Yard AlpenglowBack Yard Alpenglow

Sunrise on the range after a late spring snowstorm viewed from my front porch

Pink TreesPink Trees

First light on the trees with fresh snow

Ypsilon, Chiquita, and Chapin SunsetYpsilon, Chiquita, and Chapin Sunset

Chapin, Chaquita, and Ypsilon with fresh snow

Ute Trail AlpineUte Trail Alpine

First hike in the alpine

Ute Trail Hiker in the AplineUte Trail Hiker in the Apline

Sunrise and Honeymoon over Bear Lake

Honeymoon Over Bear LakeHoneymoon Over Bear Lake

Honeymoon over Bear Lake

Meeker and Longs from Estes ConeMeeker and Longs from Estes Cone

Meeker and Long's Peak from Estes Cone

Morning in Moraine ParkMorning in Moraine Park

Morning in Moraine Park

Sprague Lake ReflectionsSprague Lake Reflections

Honeymoon over Sprague Lake

Sunset and Lava Cliffs From 12K ftSunset and Lava Cliffs From 12K ft

Sunset near Lava Cliffs

Sunset Through the CairnSunset Through the Cairn

Sunset through the cairns

Sunset on CCYSunset on CCY

Sunset on Chapin, Chaquita, and Ypsilon

Sunset over Deer MountainSunset over Deer Mountain

Sunset from my house

Meeker and Longs PeakMeeker and Longs Peak

Estes Cone Scramble with Meeker and Long's Peak

View from Sundance MountainView from Sundance Mountain

Evening Light on Long's Peak

Hallet Mountain and Tyndal Glacier PanoramaHallet Mountain and Tyndal Glacier Panorama

Hallet Peak and Tydall Glacier

Hazy Sunset From Sundance Mountain (2)Hazy Sunset From Sundance Mountain (2)

Hazy sunset from 12.5K

Hazy Sunset PanoramaHazy Sunset Panorama

Fire in the sky

Milky Way and Sky Glow Over Bear LakeMilky Way and Sky Glow Over Bear Lake

Milky Way over Bear Lake

Field of DreamsField of Dreams

Field of dreams

Evening BeersEvening Beers

After work beers in the mountains

South Ute Trail Ridge Sunset (2)South Ute Trail Ridge Sunset (2)

Sunset and wildflowers

Pond Near Lake HiyahaPond Near Lake Hiyaha

Reflections near Lake Hiyaha

Elk Calf in the AlpineElk Calf in the Alpine

Elk calf in the alpine

Moose Cow in the FieldMoose Cow in the Field

Young moose near Cub Lake

Pika in the Boulder FieldPika in the Boulder Field

Pika enjoying the sunset with us

Pika with AvensPika with Avens

Pika dinner time

Chipmunk ProfileChipmunk Profile

Alert chipmunk

Backyard CoyoteBackyard Coyote

Resident coyote

Wood Lily with Lady Bug - Lilium philadelphicumWood Lily with Lady Bug - Lilium philadelphicum

My first wood lily!

Parry's Primrose - Primula parryiParry's Primrose - Primula parryi

Beautiful primrose near a seep spring

Brownie Lady's Slipper - Cypripedium fasciculatumBrownie Lady's Slipper - Cypripedium fasciculatum

My First Brownie's Fairy Slippers!

Plains Pricklypear - Opuntia polyacanthaPlains Pricklypear - Opuntia polyacantha

Prickly Pear Cactus

Ball Cactus - Escobaria viviparaBall Cactus - Escobaria vivipara

Pasque means it's spring time!

Snow Buttercup - Ranunculus adoneusSnow Buttercup - Ranunculus adoneus

More orchids

Great-horned OwlGreat-horned Owl

Great-horned Owl

Violet Green Swallow - Tachycineta thalassinaViolet Green Swallow - Tachycineta thalassina

Violet-green Swallow

Broad-tailed Hummingbird - Selasphorus platycercusBroad-tailed Hummingbird - Selasphorus platycercus

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (4) - Selasphorus platycercusBroad-tailed Hummingbird (4) - Selasphorus platycercus

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird Feeding on Golden BannerBroad-tailed Hummingbird Feeding on Golden Banner

Broad-tailed Hummingbird feeding

Clark's Nutcracker - Nucifraga columbianaClark's Nutcracker - Nucifraga columbiana

Clark's Nutcracker

Mountain Bluebird with Feather - Sialia currucoidesMountain Bluebird with Feather - Sialia currucoides

Bluebird making a nest

American Pipit Ground NestAmerican Pipit Ground Nest

American Pipit nest!

Wilson's Warbler - Cardellina pusillaWilson's Warbler - Cardellina pusilla

Wilson's Warbler Singing.

Ill be sure to keep posting as I get more. I hope everyone is doing well, and enjoying their summers. Life is certainly good here. No update on any job prospects here yet. I'll let you know when I know! Thanks and I'll talk you to all soon.

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/6/rocky-mountain Wed, 18 Jun 2014 06:31:00 GMT
Canyons, Caves, Rapids, Rivers, & More... https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/4/canyons-caves-rapids-rivers This one is gonna be a long one so grab a drink, get comfy, and enjoy the ride…read.  

After the last roadtrip I headed back to Denver where I caught a flight to Dallas for a long weekend with some old college buddies. I won’t get too into that trip, other than it was a blast and it delayed the start of my next trip because I wasn’t able to pack quickly enough on the turnaround. That’s important because then we were hit with another 6” of snow that made us have to throw our plans out the window. So this was the ultimate go with the flow, little/last minute planning road-trip. Most of the time it worked out well, but there were definitely a few hiccups where some good buddies saved the day by bailing us out. But before I get too ahead of myself I’ll start at the beginning.

Because we were going to be backpacking in a few of the parks we first had to roll through Cortez, CO and visit the good people at Osprey Packs to get some TLC on both of our packs. Not to pitch it too hard, but I can’t say enough good things about Osprey. Their gear is top-notch and in the rare instance that it breaks on you, they will bend over backward to get you back on the trail. We showed up with 2 packs and the repair office had fixed both in about an hour. Now that we had our gear we hit the road south for the Land of Enchantment.

Parks 1 & 2: El Morro and El Malpais National Monuments

We pulled into the park just in time to hit both visitor centers, get the lay of the land, and get a free caving permit. Then we got a free campsite for a few nights so that we would have the chance to hike and explore the lava tubes in El Malpais and explore the trails in El Morro. I want to preface with the fact that I didn’t know anything about either monument upon arrival. With that said, I am so glad that I had the chance to explore both of them. I would consider them “sleeper parks” because they fly under the radar for most people. After talking with the ranger at the El Malpais Visitor Center, we decided to check out Big Skylight, Junction, and Giant Ice caves. It was like being transported to Hawaii. Dormant cinder cone, shield, splatter cone, etc. type volcanoes were everywhere. And if you have ever been to landscape that has had lava flows you know how rugged it is. But somehow life finds a way. Trees, shrubs, and flowers all grow directly out of the ‘a’a lava flows. The first cave we got to was Big Skylight Cave, which was very cool. It’s a giant lava tube that is slowly collapsing in on itself, forming lava skylights and bridges. We hiked all the way to the back of the cave and as we got further and further away from the entrance the light slowly faded until we were in complete darkness. After exploring that cave we hiked to Giant Ice Cave, and then Junction Cave. Junction cave was great for photography because it was a little smaller than either of the other two caves and was long and fairly straight. We had a few bats flying around inside the cave, also very cool. 

Giant Skylight CaveGiant Skylight Cave

Big Skylight Cave

Hiker in Junction CaveHiker in Junction Cave

Junction Cave and New Petzl Light

Lava Tube BridgeLava Tube Bridge

Lava Bridge Near Big Skylight Cave

The next day we packed up and hiked around in El Morro. There is only about 2.5 miles of trail in the monument but it is a very unique place. It is the only guaranteed water source in the area for miles and has attracted people for hundreds of years including ancestral puebloans, the Spanish, surveyors etc. indicated through sandstone inscriptions. It’s a very small monument but if you are in the area it’s definitely worth a stop.

El Morro SunsetEl Morro Sunset

Sunset at El Morro

El Morro with Composite Volcano in the DistanceEl Morro with Composite Volcano in the Distance

Hiking on El Morro Trail

Box Canyon HikerBox Canyon Hiker

Overlooking the Canyon

Ramon 1709Ramon 1709

Inscriptions on El Morro

E. LongE. Long

Inscriptions on El Morro

After hiking the loop we got back on the road headed for Carlsbad.

Parks 3,4, & 5: Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe Mountains, & White Sands

So if you know me, you know that I used to work at Carlsbad back in ‘10-11 and caught the caving bug when I was there. I had been trying to get back for a while but never did, so this was the big reunion. I contacted some friends that still work for the park and they set up a couple caving trips into Hall of the White Giant and Spider Caves. Both caves are amazing and only about 500 people a year get to do them. I definitely lost my caving muscles. Man I was sore the next day after Hall. The following day we headed into Spider, then down the natural entrance, through the King’s Palace, and lastly the Big Room. It was a whirlwind of a day and it was great to be back.

Near Cactus SpringsNear Cactus Springs

Spider Cave

AmphitheaterAmphitheater

Natural Entrance

The ChandelierThe Chandelier

The Chandelier

Witches BroomWitches Broom

The Witches Broom

King's PalaceKing's Palace The King's Palace

The next day we headed to Guadalupe Mountains NP for a short visit to see some friends and hike McKittrick Canyon, because the wildflowers were peaking before heading to White Sands. First of all, if you have never been to White Sands, you gotta go. It is spectacularly photogenic. I have a 100% awesome sunset score in that park. My recommendation would be to camp out overnight in the backcountry because you basically get the park to yourself, get to watch the sunset, get deep into the untouched dunes, and then you get to be in the park at night. It’s a super beautiful place but the surrounding towns are starting to kill the dark night sky with all the light pollution.

Strolling in the DunesStrolling in the Dunes

Fresh Tracks in the Dunes

The PedestalThe Pedestal

Pedestal in the Dunes

Dune FormationsDune Formations

Untouched Dunes

Desert CurvesDesert Curves

In Search of the Perfect Dune

White Sands PanoramaWhite Sands Panorama

Dune Sunset Panorama

Soft Evening LightSoft Evening Light

Soft Light on the Dunes

Red Sunset at White SandsRed Sunset at White Sands

Sunset From the Dunes

Camping under the Milky WayCamping under the Milky Way

Camping Under the Milky Way in my trusty Kelty Tent

Sunrise in the DunesSunrise in the Dunes

First Light on the Dunes

From there we headed to Santa Fe for the night to grab much-needed showers and then head up to Bandelier for a few nights.

Parks 6,7, & 8: Bandelier, Pecos, and Petroglyph

Since being in the 4 corners area for the past year I have seen lots of cool Ancentral Puebloan archeology sites, but Bandelier was a refreshing and new experience. The site itself is totally different because of the type of rock that they were surrounded by. Instead of the typical sandstone, it’s a compressed volcanic ash that has lots of solution pockets that looks like Swiss cheese. In addition to building freestanding houses, they also took advantage of these naturally occurring caves/pockets in the rock and further dug into the hillsides. It is a very unique canyon and was well worth the trip. In addition to the dwellings, the park also has terrain above 10K feet. In fact, it has the southernmost population of pika in North America. We climbed Cerro Grande, 10,199 ft to look for them but were unsuccessful because we were unaware that we needed to go off trail in order to find them. The park is very beautiful but had recently been hammered by a flash flood in the canyon followed by a bad fire, so they are in the process of rebuilding areas of the park. Still, it’s worth a few-day visit if you like to hike.

Upper Long Houses Cliff Dwelling RuinsUpper Long Houses Cliff Dwelling Ruins

Upper Ruins

Talus Houses Cliff Dwelling RuinsTalus Houses Cliff Dwelling Ruins

Talus House Cliff Dwellings

Alcove House Kiva EntranceAlcove House Kiva Entrance

Alcove House Kiva

Alcove House KivaAlcove House Kiva

Alcove House

Cerro Grande Peak ViewCerro Grande Peak View

Cerro Grande Summit 10,199 ft

Rock Squirrel with DandelionRock Squirrel with Dandelion

Cute Visitor

El RIto de los FrijolesEl RIto de los Frijoles

El Rito de los Frijoles

Cañon de los FrijolesCañon de los Frijoles

Los Frijoles Canyon

White-breasted NuthatchWhite-breasted Nuthatch

White Breasted Nuthatch

The next on the list was to head to Grand Canyon but I had found out that we were close to a couple of small parks, Pecos National Historic Site and Petroglyph National Monument, so we decided to hit those parks as half-days, then crash somewhere on the way to the Grand Canyon.

Pecos is the crossroads for so many historical things its ridiculous. Ancestral Puebloan, Spanish, Missionaries, Santa Fe Trail, Civil War Battle and prospectors all made their way to Pecos at some point. If I got to do it all over again I would spend a full day there because there was so much to take in. They have great exhibits and a museum with lots of pieces found on site including in tact puebloan pots, Spanish swords, bullets from the Civil War battle etc. 

Pecos Kiva LandscapePecos Kiva Landscape

Inside the Kiva

Pecos Mission DoorwayPecos Mission Doorway

Mission Doors

Pecos National Historic Park PanoramaPecos National Historic Park Panorama

Mission Ruins and Kiva

Pecos Mission PanoramaPecos Mission Panorama Mission Ruins

After we hit the road we made it to Petroglyph with enough time to hike in Boca Negra Canyon where there are some really great petroglyphs. The thing that surprised me most about this monument is that it is basically in Albuquerque. When you are hiking through these great rock fields, you are essentially in someone’s backyard. The development backs right up to the monument. All the more reason that I really dig the NPS because they protect sites like this from going away forever.

Boca Negra Canyon PetroglyphsBoca Negra Canyon Petroglyphs Boca Negra Petroglyphs

Boca Negra Canyon Rim PetroglyphsBoca Negra Canyon Rim Petroglyphs

Boca Negra Petroglyphs

As we started our drive to Grand Canyon we were planning on camping until we drove right into a dust storm. It was the first time that I checked the weather on my iPhone and it said “Dust.” So we pulled over and grabbed a hotel in Holbrook, AZ for the night. When we checked in I gave the guy my zip code for my credit card and it turns out that that he used to live right down the street from where I grew up in FL. Small world.

Park 9: Grand Canyon

So I have been to the Grand Canyon briefly in the past but I have never been below the rim. I have a few friends that work there so I figured it was about time to see the park, for real. So I called my friend in the backcountry office and picked her brain. Because we had not made plans in advance, our only chance at getting a backcountry permit would be to show up at the office in the morning, wait in line, get a number, then wait in line with our number the following day so that we could get our permit for the following day. Everything worked out and we finally got our permit, but had a couple days to kill on the rim. It actually worked out nicely because we were there for the full moon rise. So we headed out to find a good spot and just as we figured where the moon would come over the horizon we noticed a faint GIANT moon coming up over the rim. What an awesome sight. As it rose the sunset and we were front row to a great sunset on the rim.

Full Moon Rise from Yavapai PointFull Moon Rise from Yavapai Point

Full Moon Rise Near the Canyon

Full Moon Sunset from Yavapai PointFull Moon Sunset from Yavapai Point

Full Moon Rise Sunset Panorama

Yavapai Point SunsetYavapai Point Sunset

Grand Canyon Sunset

Enjoying the Sunset at Yavapai PointEnjoying the Sunset at Yavapai Point

Taking in the View

The following day we packed and then started down the South Kaibab trail for a night at Bright Angel Campground and Indian Gardens. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the trail but damn is that thing steep. As we made our way down, there were plenty of amazing views, but it was definitely a relief to see the campground. All the downhill with a heavy pack takes a toll on your joints. But once we made it down to Phantom Ranch we headed to the canteen for some lemonade and cheap beer.

Hiking down the South Kaibab TrailHiking down the South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab Trail

Hiking Down the South Kaibab PanoramaHiking Down the South Kaibab Panorama

Near Ohh Ahh Point

Grand Canyon View Along the South KaibabGrand Canyon View Along the South Kaibab

More Canyon Views

Enjoying the View Overlooking Phantom RanchEnjoying the View Overlooking Phantom Ranch

First View of the River

Blooming Prickly Pear Cactus Along the South KaibabBlooming Prickly Pear Cactus Along the South Kaibab

Prickly Pear in Bloom

Hiking the Final Stretch of the South KaibabHiking the Final Stretch of the South Kaibab

Nearing the Bridge

The Black BridgeThe Black Bridge

The Black Bridge

Hermit Shale Colored BootsHermit Shale Colored Boots

My Vasque Boots at the Bottom of the Grand Canyon

Exploring Near Boat BeachExploring Near Boat Beach

Launching from Boat Beach

Bright Angel Creek Looking DownsreamBright Angel Creek Looking Downsream

Bright Angel Creek Downstream

Bright Angel Creek Looking UpstreamBright Angel Creek Looking Upstream

Bright Angel Creek Upstream

Sunset Along the ColoradoSunset Along the Colorado

Sunset on the Colorado

Last Light on the ColoradoLast Light on the Colorado

Last Light from the Silver Bridge

The next day we got up early and headed to Indian Gardens. It was a pretty warm day down in the canyon so hiking up was warm. We rolled into Indian Gardens around 11am grabbed a nap, dinner, and then headed out to Plateau Point for the sunset. If you camp at Indian Gardens, the hike to Plateau Point is a MUST.

Yellow-backed Spiny LizardYellow-backed Spiny Lizard

Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard

Bolting AgaveBolting Agave

Bolting Agave Pleateau Point Evening LightPleateau Point Evening Light

Evening Light at Plateau Point

Plateau PointPlateau Point

Soft Evening Light at Plateau Point

Plateau Point SunsetPlateau Point Sunset

Sunset at Plateau Point

Canyon Tree FrogCanyon Tree Frog

Canyon Tree Frog

The day after was the final hike out. We had 3K more feet to climb in about 5 miles. It was an overcast day but I still was sweating like a beast. The hike out of the canyon isn’t terrible in the spring, but I can’t imagine doing it in the summer when it’s hot outside. We made it out just in time for the bad weather to roll in, grabbed some beers, and then grilled out at our friends place before crashing early.

Morning Hike on Bright AngelMorning Hike on Bright Angel

Leaving Indian Gardens

Morning Light Overlooking Indian GardensMorning Light Overlooking Indian Gardens

Last View of the Campground

Park 10: Canyonlands

If you read my last blog post you might have remembered that I went to Yellowstone to visit some friends from Moab that recently moved there. Well they had planned a river trip through Cataract Canyon and had extended an invite to us. The plans were mostly in place but every once in a while we would get the news that there was a minor change and we would have to adjust accordingly. Normally that wouldn’t be an issue, but we were getting these messages as we were coming out of the backcountry and into cell service. Then we would have a short amount of time to figure out how to solve the problem with conflicting information. Specifically, we didn’t have a ride to the put in other than ourselves and we were being told that the road was in bad condition. If you have ever been to UT you know that when someone says the road is in bad condition, it most likely is not a road that you want to take a low-clearance vehicle on. So we started calling everyone (3 people) that we knew in Moab to see if they would be willing to give us a ride. It turns out that our friends from AK were willing to help us out and get us to Mineral Bottom so that we could start our trip. So I want to say a big thanks to them!

The plan for the trip was for 6 of us to float through Stillwater Canyon with two rafts and a canoe. Then we would drop the canoe at the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers and float the remainder of the trip through Cataract Canyon and take out at Hite. The trip was planned for 6 days with a single layover day so that we could hike to the Doll House in the Maze District. As excited as I was to do this trip, I was also a little nervous because I have never been in a canoe that didn’t flip. Normally that isn’t a big deal but this time I had all my camera gear with me in the canoe. I had tried multiple times to figure out a system that I would be able to take my camera out for photos but ultimately decided that it was best to just wait until we were on shore or on a raft. As we floated through the canyon we were seeing lots of new birds, great views, and the occasional archaeological site.  When we made it to camp each night we were treated to some of the best food I have eaten in a long time. One of the couples we were on the river with used to guide in the area in the past. It was really a treat to be able to float down the river with such great company who knew the area so well. It was a great learning experience.

Stillwater Reflections PanoramaStillwater Reflections Panorama

Our First Camp

Petroglyph Rock Near Turk's HeadPetroglyph Rock Near Turk's Head

The Maze's Random Petroglyph Rock

Sunset at Ledge CampSunset at Ledge Camp

Sunset at Camp #2

Still Water Canyon In CanyonlandsStill Water Canyon In Canyonlands

Camping under the Stars in my trusty Kelty Tent

Prince's Plume SunrisePrince's Plume Sunrise

Sunrise at Camp

Indian PaintbrushIndian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush

Fish-hook Cactus in BloomFish-hook Cactus in Bloom

Fishhook Cactus

Once we got to the confluence and dropped the canoe we got a sweet camp spot where we would have our layover day. We woke up with a spectacular sunrise, packed up, and started our hike up the “trail” and it turned out to be the most spectacular hike I have done in Canyonlands to date. The hike was challenging, there were flowers everywhere, spectacular views of the canyon and river, and the weather was perfect, warm in the sun and cool in the shade. Once we made it up the backside of the canyon we were greeted to the view of Surprise Valley which is a Hoarst and Gräben type valley. It was a lush valley that was basically hidden from view until you walked into it. From Surprise Valley we had to hike up another route towards the Doll House. On this route we went over more spectacular terrain, through some joints, and eventually popped out in the Cedar Mesa Formation. It was like being back over in the Needles. Once we made it to the top we had a spectacular view of the entire park. From the Maze we could see Chesler Park, iSky, the La Sals, and the Abajos. We hung out at the top for an hour or so, soaked in the views, then headed back down towards camp just in time for cocktail hour. It was by far my favorite day of the trip.

Sunrise from the TentSunrise from the Tent

Great View From the Gunny

Morning Glory SunriseMorning Glory Sunrise

Sunrise and Field of Primrose

Floating the Colorado through Cataract CanyonFloating the Colorado through Cataract Canyon

Boating Down Cataract Canyon

Mile 5 Camp PanoramaMile 5 Camp Panorama

The Colorado River and Cataract Canyon

Off-trail Hike in Mile 5 canyonOff-trail Hike in Mile 5 canyon

Hiking Up the "Trail"

Surprise Valley HikersSurprise Valley Hikers

Surprise Valley Hikers

Surprise ValleySurprise Valley

Surprise Valley

Seeking the SunSeeking the Sun

Enjoying the Sun's Warmth

Hiking in the Doll HouseHiking in the Doll House

Hiking the Doll House

Overlooking Surprise ValleyOverlooking Surprise Valley

Hiking Back Down into Surprise Valley

Mile 5 Canyon HikersMile 5 Canyon Hikers

The Last Leg of the Hike coming off the "Trail"

Campfire in Cataract CanyonCampfire in Cataract Canyon

Rapid 5 Camp

Cataract Canyon at NightCataract Canyon at Night

Gunny in a Field of Primrose

The following day was The Rapid Day. We geared up to get wet and rigged the boats to flip. The first few rapids we went through were only class 2/3 and I was able to keep my camera out. Then I was told that I might want to put it away because we were about to go through our first big wave. As soon as I clipped my dry bag shut the river swallowed our boat momentarily. I was caught so off guard when the wave hit that I had my mouth open from laughing and got a mouth full of dirty-ass river water. Then we had a few more smaller rapids before we got out to scout Big Drop #2 and #3. Once the boatmen had their line we jumped in the boats and went for it. HOLY SHIT! Big wave train followed by a huge rapid that smashed our boat, almost throwing our boatman out into the water. If the other two of us hadn’t high-sided and kept the boat from getting too vertical, it might have been the case. At that point I knew that we were in some big water. After we made it through the rapid I looked upstream to watch the other boat go through and it was like a mirror image of our boat. They went through the wave train and then were thrashed as they hit Big Drop #2 spinning the boat and forcing the boatman to drop the oars and highside to keep the boat from flipping. Needless to say, once we made it through we were all happy and celebrated with a bottle of champagne.

Cataract Canyon RapidsCataract Canyon Rapids

Cataract Canyon Rapids

Scouting Big Drop 2Scouting Big Drop 2

Scouting Big Drop #2

For the rest of the trip it was a smooth float with towering canyon walls, and a nice current. Now that the lake is so low, the river is taking over again and slowing washing all of the sediment further downstream.

The Walls of Cataract CanyonThe Walls of Cataract Canyon

Cataract Canyon

The last day on the river was a cold one right from the start. We woke up to a windstorm rolling through the canyon and eventually the rain rolled in as well. We shared rowing duties to keep warm in the wind and rain and pulled into Hite around 11am. Overall, it was a great trip and it made me like Canyonlands even more than I already did. I think the next trip I want to do in Canyonlands will be the White Rim Road. Any takers?

Special thanks to:

Osprey for fixing our packs so quickly

Lee & Mandy for taking us caving

Jenn for putting us up for the night

Edna for putting us up in GUMO

Susan for the inside tips in Santa Fe

Addie for putting us up in Grand Canyon

Rick and Christy for the advice and BBQ

Janet for letting us borrow some river gear and putting us up

Clare and Ken for the ride to Mineral Bottom

Glenn for watching our car

And Neal, Jen, John, and Suzette for the awesome river trip

And Corrie for being a faithful travel companion.

 

It’s gonna be hard to beat this last trip, but rest assured I will certainly try. I move to Rocky Mountain this Weekend and will be there until September. If you are in the area be sure to hit me up! I hope you are all doing well! Happy Travels!

-Jake

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jacob@jwfrank.com (Jacob W. Frank Photography) https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/4/canyons-caves-rapids-rivers Wed, 30 Apr 2014 20:30:06 GMT
Back in Moab https://www.jwfrank.com/blog/2014/3/back-in-moab Hey Everyone! Just wanted to send out a last update because I am going to be fairly busy over the course of the next few months.  New on my end is that I received an Honorable Mention in the National Wilderness Photo Contest and one of my photos will be put on display in the Smithsonian starting early September. If you get the chance to go, check it out and let me know what you think. I hope to make the journey to DC to see it myself but you never know… I also had a photo featured in a CNN article about night skies (photo #2), and after the feature I was contact by another news agency looking to create a story featuring my photography. I will let you know when I hear more. On the job front, I just accepted a seasonal job at Rocky Mountain National Park and I will be moving there in May. If you are in the area be sure to hit me up and we can go for a hike and drink some beers.

In the mean time, I am going to go on a 4-6 week road trip to enjoy the spring out in the Southwest. Plans are very soft at the moment but I think I’m headed to New Mexico to visit Chaco, Carlsbad Caverns, and Bandalier. Then maybe head over to the Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon and some other parks there as well. I think the trip will cap off with a weeklong river trip through Cataract Canyon before heading back to CO to start work. I also hope to get on the Yampa this year, but I wont know about that trip for a couple weeks yet.

Onto the fun photo stuff… I just made it back from a trip to Moab where I was doing some contract video work in addition to some day hiking in Arches and an awesome backcountry trip in Canyonlands. In Arches I did a canyoneering route to the top of Park Avenue where I got some great views of the La Sals and found a churt quarry with lots of lithics. If that doesn’t make sense, it was a place where ancestral puebloans were making stone points and other tools.

Dune Field and LasalsDune Field and Lasals

Dunes and La Sals

Sneak Route ViewSneak Route View

View Near the Stone Quarry

Looking down on Park AvenueLooking down on Park Avenue

Looking Down on Park Avenue

Then I headed down to the Needles District where we would be starting our trip. We headed out over Elephant hill in my buddy’s 4x4 vehicle out to the Joint Trail just in time for the sunset and full moonrise. From there we hiked up Chesler Wash under the full moon where we camped out in the wash. The next morning we woke up and scouted a route up a Chesler Wash tributary that would hopefully take us into Butler Wash. As we made our way up the canyon we were making good time until we found a difficult obstacle to climb with our overnight packs on. My buddy had a climbing rope on him so we decided to scramble up the feature and pull our packs up via the rope. Once we made it over that obstacle we were greeted with a spectacular view of Chesler Wash.

Hoisting our PacksHoisting our Packs

Pulling our Bags Up

Chesler Wash en Route to Butler WashChesler Wash en Route to Butler Wash

View from the top of the Canyon Pass

As we continued up Butler Wash we found some cool stuff along the way including some deer antlers and a fossil.

Antlers in Butler WashAntlers in Butler Wash

4 Point Buck Antlers

Butler Wash FossilButler Wash Fossil

Gastropod in Butler Wash

If any of you have ever hiked in the desert you know how important and difficult it is to find water. A friend of ours had told us a general area where he found water once in the past so that was our immediate goal. We were told that we would see a petroglyph panel and that water would be in drainage near the panel. So as we got to the area where we were supposed to find the panel I ran out of water, and we only had a few liters between the 3 of us. So if we weren’t able to find water, we would have to turn around and bail on the trip. So you can imagine the joy we felt when we saw this in the distance.

The Water PanelThe Water Panel

Butler Wash Petroglyph Panel

In addition to the panel, we also found potsherds, hand pictographs, lithics, and WATER!! Finding a good source of water in the desert is always a reason for celebration. Now that we were good to push on, we headed into Starvation Pocket where we would find some elk and mountain lion tracks. We then setup camp just in time to enjoy a nice sunset and moonrise.

Ancestral Puebloan Camp PictographsAncestral Puebloan Camp Pictographs

Butler Wash Pictograph Panel

Hiking in Starvation PocketHiking in Starvation Pocket

Hiking in Starvation Pocket

Mountain Lion TracksMountain Lion Tracks Mountain Lion Tracks

Starvation PocketStarvation Pocket

Starvation Pocket Sunset

Full Moon Sunrise in Starvation PocketFull Moon Sunrise in Starvation Pocket

Starvation Pocket Moonrise

Starvation Pocket Arch Under the Full MoonStarvation Pocket Arch Under the Full Moon

Arch lit by the Full Moon

The last day we decided to take a different route to avoid having to down climb the feature the day before. We made it up butler wash very easily but had a difficult time finding a way down into Chesler Wash. Our route kept getting cliffed or pinched out so we just kept probing until we found a way through where we were greeted with another great view of Chesler Wash.

Chesler Wash PanoramaChesler Wash Panorama

Chesler Wash Panorama

Eventually we made our way back to the wash and then the car. We started our drive back home and decided to take a side trip to the confluence overlook, which is the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. This is the also the river that we hope to float later in April. So all in all is was a blast of a trip. Utah in March is pretty amazing and I am looking forward to getting back here next month.