July 29, 2015
I’ve had several fun adventures lately, but today I have to share how fun my own ‘back yard’ is. I knew I was going to have a great hike when a Northern Flicker landed right in front of me as I headed out!
Meandering along the path I noted it was fairly quiet ~ yesterday the forest was filled with the sound of woodpeckers…..
….and little Tree Sparrows chatting to each other,
parents still bringing food to babes.
I was also thrilled when a Clark’s Nutcracker flew into a pine tree on the bluff ~ I watched him as long as he let me.
Today when I arrived at my destination I watched a flock of Lazuli Buntings!
It was amazing to see them here. Staying in the shadows, I crept closer hoping to get a better shot.
My dog, usually passive by my side while I photograph suddenly alerted. She didn’t bark but was insistent, so I tried to see what she was so intent on. Suddenly a black bear slowly ran behind the trees about 25 feet away. I froze, my heart pounding with a bit of fear, but I was thrilled and awe-struck. The sun made his fur glisten and I thought about lifting my camera, but I didn’t want to miss a second of watching him. If I had, the above is what it would probably look like!
I have NEVER been more alert on my way home from a hike. Yesterday I leisurely hiked home stopping for this bee, but not today…..
Back home an abundance of sweet little fledglings take advantage of my bird bath. American Goldfinch siblings above.
Black-headed Grosbeak just out of the bath.
Sweet, serene, and fun to watch. Did I say I saw A BEAR today? I DID!! I am giddy with excitement that I saw him!!
July 14, 2015
I knew there wasn’t much of a chance, but I had to try anyway. Practicing for the next Aurora is what I’m calling last night’s little adventure! Since my first exposure to Aurora photography, I’ve been waiting for another opportunity!
I only saw city lights behind Mt Adams (or was it the last of sunset at midnight?) and gorgeous stars in the night sky. I’m glad I went because I did get a better understanding of how to photograph in the dark at night. Still not great at it, but practice makes perfect!!
Bonus, I get to sleep in when I’m out photographing at night!!
July 11, 2015
The last Sunday in June a friend and I went to Cloud Cap Inn for a tour offered by the Forest Service. It’s only available during summer and only on Sundays.
It’s one of those places near me that I’ve always wanted to go see, but until now didn’t take the opportunity.
Bear Grass blooms lined one section of the winding gravel road bringing life back to the charred forest from the Gnarl Ridge wildfire in 2008.
Ranger Ron Kikel is incredibly knowledgeable and led us through the Inn room by room, telling us the history of the Cloud Cap Inn.
Most of the interior was too dark for my camera without a tripod or flash but one of the tiny bedrooms, flooded with light from a window displayed signatures from those who stayed at the inn and signed their names on the bedroom walls.
The dining area ~ boots lining the top beam belong to Crag Rats, the oldest volunteer mountain rescue group in North America. They have leased this building for more than 50 years as a staging site for rescues on Mt. Hood.
“Built in 1889, the Cloud Cap Inn is the country’s oldest high alpine ski cabin. It was built on the site of the first “season long” public resort at timberline (1883), a tent camp hosted by Mrs. David Cooper, of the Cooper Family which gave its name to the distinctive ridge above the inn.
The inn, built at an elevation of 5837′, was constructed of amabilis fir, cut from a site about 2.5 miles below the inn and hauled up the mountain by teams of horses. William Marcy Widden, a Portland architect drew the plans.”
You can read more here and Google for images of days gone by.
Out the back door, we enjoyed our picnic lunch, then hiked this little path.
Clouds gently blew in and we caught a few sprinkles of rain.
One last shot of Mt. Hood before heading back to our ‘city’.
By the way, we thought we had to park at the campground below Cloud Cap Inn and walk up, but there’s a large gravel parking lot you drive up to. The road isn’t as daunting as it looks.
On the way back down we stopped at Inspiration Point. The waterfall and river were muddy brown.
At the bottom of the Inspiration Point trail is this stone monument. I would love to know the story of Stephen.
Driving on Cloud Cap Road through the scorched forest was eery. On a clear day we could’ve seen Mt Adams glow as the sun lit her up.
July 7, 2015
The Columbia Gorge Bird Nerds journeyed to Laurance Lake on Sunday to see what we could find. Of course we expected to find birds…. We stopped at the dam first and found this cute little chipmunk eating and posing! We saw an American Robin high in a tree, an Oregon Junco singing it’s heart out and a White-crowned Sparrow sitting on a fence. Across a clearing we saw warblers scampering about. They were mostly too fast for me, but I caught this juvenile Yellow-rumped warbler before we headed for the lake. We saw bumblebees playing in knapweed… …and Swallowtails drifting among tall stands of fireweed. At the lake we saw an Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler high in a conifer. Did I mention it was a gorgeous blue-sky day? The campground was full, the day after Independence Day but we arrived before most campers woke. I believe this is a Western Wood Pewee, hope you’ll correct me if I’m wrong. Looking for Pica on the rocky hillside as we walked down the path, half our group missed the Bald Eagle that flew low over our heads. Towards the end of the lake an Otter delighted us with his fishing skills. This end of the lake was full of activity, including a family of Mallards. Two of the kids bathed in the sun while Mama and 3 siblings stayed in the shade until they all went for a foraging swim. We saw Red-winged Blackbirds and a Merganser and an Osprey in flight. I was mesmerized by a flock of Cedar Waxwings including a parent feeding a juvenile. We watched a Northern Rough-winged Swallow skimming the surface of the lake and a Spotted Sandpiper skittering along a beaver dam. We all squeezed through a narrow path and found ourselves next to a beautiful little creek so clear we could see the rocky bottom. An American Dipper worked his way very close, until he noticed us & quickly left. It was a great place to snap some group shots, splash cold water on our hot heads and just enjoy the morning. As we exited, our last bird sighting was the same that we started the day with, an American Robin. Most of our group then headed up to Pinnacle Trail head where we found huckleberries!!! Mt. Hood photo at the top of this post was shot there. We ended the day with lunch and ice cream in Parkdale.
A few of the Columbia Gorge Bird Nerds cooling off by the creek. Photo courtesy of Ann Zuehlke.
Other birds that were heard and/or seen by others: Pileated Woodpecker, Warbling Vireo, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Swainson’s Thrush, Chipping and Song Sparrows and a Western Tanager. Fun times!! See you next time, first Sunday in August.