Posts Tagged ‘rivers’

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Nearby Attractions (Day 43)

August 30th, 2009 No comments

Without a whole lot of time to explore the park, I decided I’d hit the Canyon area Friday, then the geysers on Saturday. As such, Friday:

yellowstone_lower-falls-sprayThere’s this stairway down to Lower (Yellowstone?) Falls that’s called Uncle Tom’s Trail. There are a lot of stairs there and a lot of overweight people who should maybe more-fully consider the trip back up the stairs before starting the trip down. Oh well. Also: rainbows.

yellowstone_lower-falls-viewpointLower Falls.

yellowstone_lower-falls-artists_pointSame waterfall, but this time with a “Grand Canyon” view. The canyon has interesting colors in it (not pictured).

yellowstone_grand-canyon-riverSee? Interesting colors.

yellowstone_hayden-valleyHayden Valley — sort of how you’d romantically envision all of Wyoming looking. I think it mostly doesn’t look like this, but maybe the government can fix that for us. Write your congressman (or congresswoman!).

  • Yellowstone is crowded.
  • I guess the good and bad thing about the place is that the most important sites are very accessible.
  • Actually, that seems mostly bad, since it’s hard to lose the sense that you’re not alone. Very hard.
  • Every photo ends up feeling trite since, well, anywhere you stand to take one there are five other people trying to do the same thing.
  • And then the trails don’t seem to take you anywhere you really need to go.
  • Plus, you have to buy intra-park regional trail guides ($0.50 each, but still — these are usually included on park maps).
  • But these trail guides really only talk about the often-paved little nature trails that run alongside the various parking lots.
  • In fact, some of the “trails” they include aren’t trails, they’re just parking lots.
  • And then if you ever do get onto a trail, the stuff in the guide doesn’t match up with the names of things on the signs at the trailhead.
  • Meh.


Review of the City of Spokane: ****1/2 (Day 38)

August 25th, 2009 6 comments

As I was driving down I-90, I realized I had a craving for a small- to mid-size city. Realizing that Spokane was nearby and that I hadn’t ever spent any time there, I decided to exit the freeway and check it out.

Eh. Enough with the Yelp review. I didn’t exactly see *all* of Spokane, either, just some of Riverfront Park, which seems like it would be better named “Riverstraddle Park”, but whatever. This is the area that was the site of the 1974 World’s Fair (also: Wod Fir) (the less I watch the Simpsons, the more interesting references to the show become). I kind of liked it. It was a cool blend of small-scale Central Park and ruins from 1974 that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in 1991-93-era Mittweida or Döbeln, although the people in Spokane were considerably more pleasant and there was somewhat less coal smoke in the air.

There were also some waterfalls and a gondola ride that seemed a little unnecessary. IMHO.

spokane_riverfront-park (1)Bikeway/walkway through the park. The tower, I learned, was donated by Burlington-Northern.

spokane_squirrelUrban wildlife.

spokane_sun-dialA loving homage to the Flintstones, which had been canceled only eight years prior to the fair…

spokane_abandoned-stageNever quite recovered from that 1980 April Wine booking. I love ruins, especially recent ones.

spokane fallsUpper Spokane Falls. This is all right in the middle of downtown, btw (in case you don’t know your Spokane geography). Maybe I should’ve mentioned that.

spokane_falls-gondolaLower Spokane Falls and the purple gondola ride rolling on, defying critics who have labeled it “unncessary”.

Spokane kind of reminded me of Reno — IMHO, a good thing.


Rafting the Skagit River Is Different from Rafting the Tuolumne (Day 35)

August 19th, 2009 2 comments

For example:

  • It was 55 degrees on the Skagit (vs. 103 at Yosemite).
  • The Skagit is all glacial melt. Like, in the morning it part of a glacier and a couple hours later you’re rafting on it. So the water was going to be cold regardless of air temperature.
  • On the Tuolumne I was worried about getting wet because it would increase the intensity of the sun on my skin. On the Skagit I was worried about getting wet because of hypothermia.
  • The Skagit has three rapids. Like, *three*.
  • No helmets!
  • You don’t really have to paddle ever, or turn, or know what “high-side” means.
  • The rafts don’t have toe-holds for the guys up front.
  • The most dangerous risk on the Skagit is, truly, getting whacked with a paddle by the person next to you during a boat-to-boat water fight.
  • The water on the Skagit is light green.
  • The river banks are covered with trees.
  • You really don’t *need* a water-proof case for your camera, so long as you got a dry pocket somewhere.
  • Five-year-olds can go on it, no problem.
  • Well, except for hypothermia, no problem.

Relevant photos:

skagit river raftingSpeaking of waterproof cases — I really should’ve taken my camera out of mine.

skagit river greenAnd the color palette is a little different on the Skagit.

skagit river alyssaMore than enough manpower to get through *these* rough waters.

skagit river raftsRafts, forelorn.

I appreciated our guide telling us that, yes, he was also freezing cold. And I was a little disappointed there were no animatronic hippos on the ride.


Hoh Rain Forest and Five Mile Island (Day 29)

August 11th, 2009 4 comments

With the truck still laid up, my dad was kind enough to let my brother and me borrow his Jeep and head out to Olympic National Park, which we now know was almost named Elk National Park. We didn’t see any elk or Greek gods while we were there, though. Maybe they should have gone with Option C.

I wanted to do this hike along the Hoh River in the Hoh Rain Forest, supposedly the greatest example of a temperate rain forest on earth. There were no toucans in the rain forest or three-toed sloths. Just a lot of trees and moss. Some rain. Went on it with my brother and three nephews with the goal being Five Mile Island (10 miles round-trip if you can believe it).

The rain forest is probably cooler than these pictures make it look, although I had fun trying to re-correct the colors in the photos to match my perception of reality.

rain forest realityAnd then the fairies came and performed a merry jig.

hoh rain forest mossStill not sure whether the trees like having the mosses and ferns growing on them.

hoh rain forest moss 2This one, for instance, seems a little irritated. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

hoh rain forest sam rickSam and Rick negotiate a deceptively difficult portion of trail.

rain forest cut logWhat the trail looks like. Sort of. Depending on your monitor.

mineral creek fallsMineral Creek Falls

hoh river trail stream crossingA treacherous stream crossing.

hoh river bridgeWe found troll scats under this bridge.

hoh rain forest treeAnd then we saw a tree!

five mile islandThe Hoh River at Five Mile Island. Sadly, we witnessed no nuclear melt downs — heck, we couldn’t even find the containment facility (although that might have just been more evidence of failsafes working as designed).

five mile island and meProof I was there.

Only one of my nephews (Ammon) and zero of my brothers made it to the island, and not without getting eaten alive by deerflies first, which only added to the richness of the experience — for both of us, really. Plus I got to use my first-aid kit for something. Finally.


Driving Mt. Rainier

August 7th, 2009 1 comment

Wanted to post some more photos from the drive around Mt. Rainier. I think it’s the kind of place that should seem otherworldly if you’re not from here. Maybe someone can let me know.

hwy 164 mt- rainierFor instance, I’m pretty sure this view never happens in California. This is heading toward the mountain, driving between Auburn and Enumclaw.

mt- rainier national park roadThis is the road heading west toward the Paradise Lodge inside the park. Tree tunnels don’t happen much in Orange Countay (sic).

box canyon mt- rainierBox Canyon, a canyon with water in it.

rainier and reflection lakeView of Mt. Rainier from the side of the road, across Reflection Lake. With wildflowers.

bee and flower rainierHow bees do business.

narada falls rainierNarada Falls — I enjoy the photo for its complete lack of perspective.

nisqually river gulchNisqually River tributary wannabes.

bridge and lineMy attempt at a Chadley photo.

It’s a pretty cool drive. At some point I’ll make a list of my favorite stretches of road on the trip and this one’s got a good shot of being on there. Fierce competition.


Camping on the White River (Day 23)

August 6th, 2009 1 comment

By Monday my stomach was mostly done gurgling, so I headed back out toward Mt. Rainier. I’ve driven (or more frequently been driven) out that way many, many times in my life, a lot of them on the way to go skiing at Crystal Mountain when I was a kid. Always wanted to spend some quality time with the White River that flows along the highway and thus took the opportunity.

It’s prose like that that keeps you coming back to the site. Admit it.


white riverIt’s more dishwater-brown than white, but you can kind of see what they were getting at. The sand on the beach to the left there is made of glacier silt and very, very soft.

white river tree collectionThe river collects trees like a person might collect, I dunno, antique rifles?

douglas fir 700-years-oldThe Dalles Campground includes this 700-year-old douglas fir tree.

dalles campground viewThe view out the back of my living quarters as the sun goes down. It’s kind of cool falling asleep to the sound of a river just outside your truck window.

Some day I’m going to put together a review of campgrounds I’ve visited. The Dalles campground will probably fare well. It cost $18 for this “premium campsite” (premium because it backed up to the river), which was $2 more than the other campsites. But the vault toilet was well-tended and smelled all right, it wasn’t too big a campground to start with, weren’t many neighbors, and the bugs didn’t seem to like being there.


Eagle Creek Trail: The Oregon Waterfall Encounter! (Day 19)

August 1st, 2009 6 comments

Most importantly: this was a 12-mile hike (6 in, 6 out). The bottom four miles or so seemed like being on a conveyor belt and observing a nice river and several waterfalls through glass. Like at Sea World with the penguins. It was strange. Felt disconnected from stuff — like I could see the river and/or waterfall out there, but I wasn’t near enough to like touch it or anything. Plus the trail was pretty flat.

This trail was interesting in that it was mostly dynamited out of the side of the hill. You’re walking on a ledge for the most part. They had some cables up to hold on to, but it’s a pretty wide ledge.

The last couple miles on the way up (and the first couple on the way down) are pretty exciting, though. I hiked the trail up to Twister Falls, which comes right after Tunnel Falls. Tunnel Falls is the coolest waterfall I’ve seen in Oregon. Yes, including Multnomah. It’s just cool. The majority of the hike might have been merely pleasant, but the payoff was huge. IMHO. Always IMHO.

eagle creek trail ledgeSee, they just, like, blasted the trail out of the side of the hill.

upper punchbowl fallsUpper Punchbowl Falls: look, but don’t touch! Actually, I think it’s possible to get into that pool, there, but it requires some effort (the path at the lower-right of the photo does not go down to the pool) and wouldn’t it have made sense to blast the trail such that it, like, goes right by the waterfall? No?

unnamed waterfallAnother little waterfall keeping its distance.

tunnel falls tunnelThe tunnel (and trail) that goes behind Tunnel Falls.

tunnel falls tunnel exitExit tunnel right.

tunnel falls from behindThe view from behind the waterfall.

tunnel falls bottom halfBottom half of Tunnel Falls, with the trail cutting through it.

tunnel falls top halfThe top half of tunnel falls. Actually, both “half” photos are more like three-quarters. Key point: I couldn’t get the whole waterfall in frame.

twister falls

Twister Falls, just above Tunnel Falls.

tunnel falls landscape orientationYes, Tunnel Falls. Again. But!: landscape orientation. Well worth it.

Oh well. If you ever want to see more photos of waterfalls — especially this one particular waterfall — I have them available. (I mean, I *do* have them available, but — you know.)


Categories: west coast Tags: , , ,

The Rogue-Umpqua Byway Is Like New Zealand, But Not So Far Away (Day 16, Part 2)

July 28th, 2009 1 comment

It was kind of like going to a movie you haven’t heard anything about and then really, really liking the movie. I don’t have any photos that really do it justice, but the drive along the Upper Rogue and then the Umpqua Rivers heading out of Crater Lake was pretty fantastic. About every five miles or so there’s something spectacular — waterfall or mountain peak mostly.

rogue river gorgeThe Rogue River Gorge — the colors are reminiscent of NZ. To me. No kauri trees, though.

mt thielsen oregonMt. Thielsen and Hwy. 230. I’d never heard of the mountain, but — man, that’s an evil-looking mountain. IMHO.

lemolo lake and thielsenLemolo Lake and Mt. Thielsen in the distance. The sign posted at the lake said that the fine for swimming in the (public) lake was $10,000. Mussolini would feel *so* vindicated.

watson falls umpqua oregonWatson Falls — I think it’s the second-highest waterfall in Oregon.

hwy 138 and umpqua riverWhat Hwy. 138 looks like.

island campground umpqua riverMy private beach for the night at the Island Campground (only $8!).

Anyway: I thought it was pretty cool, favorite drive of the trip so far. I need to take up fly-fishing just so I have a reason to come back here. Would probably be a good place for rafting or whitewater kayaking, too, and I’m guessing the North Umpqua Trail would be worth hiking, too.



Checklist of Clicheed Yosemite Valley Photos! (Day 9)

July 23rd, 2009 3 comments

Figured I should play self-locomotion-unable tourist for a day. No hiking, no rafting, no biking, no swimming, just riding the shuttle bus around the valley and taking the most typical photos I could find. For a day. For one very hot, very crowded day (it was basically like being in Mexico City, but with waterfalls).

Here ‘goes.

yosemite black bear on roadThe blurry bear-on-road photo: check!

yosemite falls merced riverLong-distance shot of Upper Yosemite Falls: check!

yosemite falls and selfPhoto of bus-riding tourist in front of Yosemite Falls: check! (Check out the long hair — lousy hippie!)

yosemite falls pathwayPhoto of other tourist(s) taking photos of Yosemite Falls: check!

yosemite washington columnShot of the river, because there’s a river there: check!

yosemite el capitanPhoto of El Capitan taken from the cleverly named “Valley View” turn-out: check!

yosemite tunnel viewPhoto of tourist taken from the tunnel viewpoint: check! (Oh, sorry, “vista point”.)

yosemite bridal veil fallsTypical shot of Bridal Veil Falls, with oddly cropped co-tourists: check!

half dome and falls from glacier pointPhoto that tries to capture everything in Yosemite Valley all at once, as taken from Glacier Point: check!

yosemite half domePhoto of Half Dome by itself, as if to accentuate its perceived profundity: check!

105 degrees, wall-to-wall people. Yosemite is fantastically beautiful, no doubt, and the valley presents it all on a very large scale. But man, the crowds…! Vince and Tammy recommended the Hetch Hetchy area, Sri talked about Tuolumne Meadows — I’m guessing I’d head there instead of the valley if I’m ever in the area again.


Rafting the Tuolumne: We Got Swimmers! (But Mostly Paddlers) (Day 8)

July 22nd, 2009 2 comments

When I got to Shalini and Raj’s loft in San Francisco, it turned out they and some of their SF friends were planning on rafting in Yosemite at the same time I was planning on being there. Then they invited me on their rafting trip with them. This is the story of that trip.

Actually, more just another blog post with photos, not so much a story. Trying to find the meet-up place for where the trip was supposed to begin *might* be a story, and props to Shalini for keeping the faith that I would make it on time (or close enough), a faith based on the fact that she and Duncan and I had found each other in the middle Cologne with, well, no fall-back options or connectivity possibilities. And it was well-placed faith. But probably still not much of a story.

Anyway, Chander-Bhan and their gang apparently try to one-up themselves with the next-harder rafting trip every year. This is the third year they’ve done it, so the river was selected because it was Class V. I think the Buller River in New Zealand might have been Class V — the level of death-likelihood seemed similar.

There is no plot line to this post and no amount of random fact-regurgitation on my part is going to change that. May as well get on with photos. Please note that the photos are not of the good parts of the trip. During the good parts, you’re usually paddling, holding on, and getting a face full of water, any of which preclude good photography.

tuolumne river team photoOne of these kids is not like the others. Actually two aren’t. But on the plus side, I now know how to say “you have a head wound” in Punjabi, Gujarati, and Tamil.

tolumne river raft crewSri, Dennis, me — 60% of our rafting crew. I’m guessing Shaan’s swimming somewhere and our guide is smoking a joint in an air pocket under the raft. Image is slanty in order to imply something’s happening — like in a Bourne movie.

tuolumne valley raftingThe wet lens probably conveys something accurately.

tuolumne lunch break raftsLunch break. This happened just right after the wildest part of the river — which would’ve been a better photo, if only I wasn’t paddling, holding on, and getting a face full of water.

tuolumne cliff jumpingThe bad part is that this isn’t Sri — my photo of him didn’t take until he splashed (apologies!). Cool shadow, though, IIDSSM.

Other random facts that don’t make this post a story:

  • The run starts below the Hetch Hetchy reservoir and is only made possible by whoever it is releasing water out of the reservoir.
  • The scariest part of the trip was the bus ride down the steep, one-lane dirt road to the put-in point.
  • Despite being Class V, it didn’t seem all that daunting to me. OTOH, I suppose anything that you survive readily enough without cracking your head on anything seems un-daunting in retrospect.
  • Still, rafting down the Skagit is going to be like the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland by comparison. Or maybe the Tuolumne was Jungle Cruise and Skagit will be It’s a Small World.
  • Ours was the only boat without any accidental swimmers.
  • But we did seem to get stuck on rocks a lot.
  • I still wonder whether the accidental swimmers don’t get more out of the experience.
  • I got a pretty good sunburn on my legs — next time, wear pants!

Fine with me.


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