Hiking: Brins Mesa – Sedona, AZ


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

Years ago we tried to hike the Brins Mesa trail with some visiting friends, but they weren’t hikers and soon decided that they weren’t prepared for the adventure so we returned to the car to visit other nearby and easily accessible vistas.

The Brins Mesa trail is probably best described as moderate to a bit more than moderate (at times). The trail is relatively well marked, but it is primarily uphill if you are starting from the main trailhead at the outskirts of town.

Soon after starting the climb, this is one of the scenes you will see.


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

One of the reasons for undertaking this hike is to admire the beautiful scenery and red rock vistas encountered along the entire trail.

There are what has been referred to as “natural stairs,” but the operative word there is natural. Creating steps from a rock face formed by nature is no easy task and as you might imagine, the spacing is not always ideal. Hiking sticks may be helpful for those who are less sure-footed.


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

In almost every direction, the red and sand-colored rocks rise above the trees to the wonder and appreciation of trailblazers.


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

You don’t see the mesa itself for a while, but persevere and you will come to a shelf-like geological feature that is the Brins Mesa (pictured below).


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

It is unfortunate that years ago there was a fire that destroyed many of the trees and the carcasses of those sentinels can be seen along the mesa’s trail.


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

For those who enjoy photography, there are numerous opportunities to capture memorable landscapes.


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

As we were hiking along the trail, we noticed what looked like a ledge (drop off) and a valley. We also spotted an outcropping or rather a small hill and we decided to explore. There is a trail leading in that general direction.


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

The picture below was taken while I was standing at the ledge. Notice the darker, reddish dirt in the valley.


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

I took a couple of panoramas (linked below) as the red rock mountains were spread out before me. It was too wide and too beautiful for me to capture in just one or two pictures. After some exploration and appreciatiion, we decided to return to the trailhead. Although it was mid-October, the day was quite warm and we had a long day. This is the scene looking back toward the ridge and surrounding mountains.


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

One rule of photography is to look behind you as you travel because sometimes, the best view is not in front, but in back. When returning along the same trail, this maxim becomes self-fulfilling. These are a few of the pretty formations we captured during the return to the trailhead.


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

Famous Bell Rock can be seen in the center of the photo below where the sky seems to meet the low-lying structure. It is hard to pick out, but look for the little nub on top.


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

Red rock spires and hoodoos (column of rock) are abundant.


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

Here are the two panoramas…


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

To see a larger photo of the scene, make your browser window larger and click HERE


along the Brins Mesa Trail - Sedona, AZ

To see a larger photo of the scene, make our browser window larger and click HERE

More information about the Brins Mesa trail can be found at the following links:

Brins Mesa Trail No. 119 – Forest Service (USDA)

Brins Mesa Trail – AZ Highways

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017 – JBRish.com



Exploring Astoria, Oregon – Part 1


Map route from Portland to Astoria, OR
Map route from Portland to Astoria, OR – Green

As part of our “hike while you still can” regimen, my wife and I decided to schedule a hiking vacation along the coast of Oregon and then on to Crater Lake for September, 2017. Even before we landed at Portland International Airport, we could smell fire in the airplane. We knew it wasn’t the Boeing, but the fires breaking out all over Oregon which tainted the air.

We retrieved our luggage and made a beeline for the car rental counter. After dusting the ash off of our suitcases and getting the trunk of the car packed, we headed toward the Oregon coast and the town of Astoria.

Astoria is a river town sharing space along the Columbia River and it has the requisite trappings of a riverside town. Our hotel was just yards from a shipyard with a number of ships and boats in a variety of conditions. The sun was setting and I was tired, but I couldn’t resist the photographic opportunities. I took my Fuji X-T2 and snapped just two pictures.


Shipyard along the Columbia River, Astoria Oregon
Shipyard along the Columbia River

A better image of the boat above appears in my previous post Fuji X T-2: The Magic of Beginnings. We enjoy walking around towns and discovering the variety of shops and sights. As we explored the streets the next day, the reminders that this was a fishing and river town were abundant.


Salmon-themed trash can - Astoria, Oregon
Salmon-themed trash can

The antique shops, cafes and other stores proudly adorned their windows with sailing memorabilia and accessories. There were a number of “general” decorative touches along the sidewalks as well.


Bicycle planter along 12th Street - Astoria, Oregon
Bicycle planter along 12th Street

Our first major stop was the Garden of Surging Waves. This was a small, inner city park celebrating Astoria’s Chinese heritage dating back to the days of John Jacob Astor. Interestingly, “The Chinese written characters for the words ‘surging wave’ are also used to express hardship and struggle — experiences shared by many of America’s early immigrant groups.” *

* Read more about the Garden of Surging Waves and HERE.

We entered the garden, part of Astoria’s Heritage Square project, through the Moon Gate which appeared to be the main entrance although there are a number of entryways. The ironwork was bold and attractive.


Traditional Moon Gate entrance to the Garden of Surging Waves - Astoria, Oregon
Traditional Moon Gate entrance to the Garden of Surging Waves

The ironwork not only serves as an entry, but also a story screen. There are a multitude of quotes and phrases related to the experience of the Chinese families and workers who helped to build the town of Astoria.

One touching quote appearing in the picture below, across two vertical sections, reads:

“Grandma said that Dad was so sick on the boat from China that he would have been fed to the fish if he had died. Now a seafood lab is named after him for the fish feed that he and his team developed.”


Part of a story screen near the entrance to the Garden of Surging Waves - Astoria, Oregon
Part of a story screen near the entrance to the Garden of Surging Waves”

There are granite columns carved with traditional dragon, Chinese cloud and ocean wave symbols.


Traditional dragon columns of the central pavilion at the Garden of Surging Waves - Astoria, Oregon
Traditional dragon columns of the central pavilion at the Garden of Surging Waves

The columns hold a series of wooden beams which in turn serve to frame a colorful stained glass crown-like structure. Although the day was grey, the sun did try to poke through as we stood in the open air pavilion.


Circular glass artwork at the central pavilion at the Garden of Surging Waves - Astoria, Oregon
Traditional dragon columns of the central pavilion

Further investigation led us to a large cast bronze lantern in the style of an incense burner which depicts characters in a story about a mythical dragon and a wise monkey. You can read about the statue and myth HERE. This was our last stop in the garden before we headed for 11th St. and more discoveries.


Cast bronze lantern in the style of an incense burner at the Garden of Surging Waves - Astoria, Oregon
Cast bronze lantern in the style of an incense burner

This was just a small portion of our day exploring Astoria. JBRish.com will soon have more stories about Astoria and other adventures in Oregon.

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017



Photography and Birding: Good Photo, Bad Photo

Introduction

We were recently visiting Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks on one of our bi-yearly hiking vacations where we take to America’s beautiful national parks and spend a week or so hiking up and down mountains and admiring as many beautiful and natural areas as possible during the time we have set aside.

As stated on this blog before, I am an occasional bird watcher. For those who are just chiming in, I enjoy locating and identifying birds especially when I am in a new area. Here’s my problem…I am not a very well educated birder. I am a rank novice, but I don’t let that discourage me.

How I Bird

Here is my approach. A couple of years ago, I purchased a bridge camera with a long zoom lens. It has the equivalent of a 24-1200mm lens on a 35mm camera. That is a long zoom and it allows me to photograph birds at quite a distance. Truth must be told here…I can’t say this is a great camera. It is a good camera and certainly good enough for me. When I chose the Canon SX50 HS, it was a “cost-benefit” decision. In other words, it was a camera that had what I wanted at a price I thought was reasonable and I was willing to compromise a bit on picture quality.

That being said, it has done most of what I asked of it. The one thing I now know that I didn’t know before is that it has a relatively slow autofocus and doesn’t always select the object of my photographic desire. Even the best cameras, costing ten times more than my selection, have misfires as well.

OK, so let’s get to the meat of this post. I have my bridge camera and we are hiking through Zumwalt Meadow near Road’s End, Kings Canyon. BTW when they say Road’s End, they mean it. That is where the road ends!

The meadow was beautiful. We had some concern that parts of the Zumwalt Meadow trail would be under water, but we got lucky and the water at receded enough that we could complete the loop.

During our walk, shortly after we crossed the boardwalk portion, I saw a quick moving bird a distance away. Surprisingly, it looked like a shore bird that I would see on the coastline. What was it doing here?

I quickly got my SX50 HS ready and began to focus on the moving subject. I fired away and, at the time, I knew I was missing some of the shots because the focus was “hunting” for the bird, but I also knew it was getting some pictures of the bird.

Lucky for me, I was able to capture three photos that, added together, enabled me to identify the avian mystery.

WARNINING *** These photos are not of great quality. They are what I call “good enough.” I generally take time to compose and double check focus, etc., but with moving birds it is a bit difficult.

The Evidence

Here is the worst picture of them all.


Sandpiper Photo number 1
Spotted Sandpiper moving across a fallen log

As you will note from the photograph, there is a lot of debris between me and the bird. Now remember the camera is zoomed in so it is difficult to keep the bird in the viewfinder. If you ever tried to follow a bird or even find a stationary bird using a binocular, I think you will understand the problem.

The camera had a hard time deciding what was the area of focus. It appears the camera locked on the branch or broken part of the log as the main subject. I really can’t find fault with that. The bird was scurrying so there was no way for me to change the focus options at that point. This is a small version of the photo so it may look sharp to you, but the bird is not in focus.

My main goal in this situation is to get the pictures of the bird and worry about the details later. It doesn’t always work, but more often than not I have success (check out Photography – When is good enough, good enough? A bird story).


Spotted sandpiper picture number two
A photo of the Spotted Sandpiper just as it started to move its wings

The photo above is a bit better because more if it is in focus and the movement of the wings still leaves the head relatively clear.


Spotted sandpiper photo number three
This was the last photo I took in the sequence before the bird was totally hidden by the nearby foliage

This is perhaps the sharpest overall photograph I was able to capture of this particular bird. It is a shame that the sandpiper was slightly out of frame and the beak is only partially visible, but that’s the way it goes sometimes!

Please understand…I am not blaming the camera. I am not as skilled in using this equipment as I should be, but I do the best I can. That being said, when I added all three pictures together, I have a good idea of what this bird looks like.

Solving the Mystery

My modus operandi is to review my photos when I get home and then gather my bird identification books and a good piece of birding software – iBird Ultimate – to identify the mystery bird.

Let me say one thing about iBird Ultimate. This is a great program for someone like me. One of the major benefits is that the user can enter a geographic location in the United States and it will show which birds may be visiting at that time of the year. This helps to narrow the search.

Additionally, if you find a bird that looks like the potential subject, there are usually several additional photos to view which enables users to see a variety of views and variations for that particular bird.

Once I queued up my resources, I was easily able to determine this bird was a Spotted sandpiper. The last thing I do, which is much fun, is I take out my ABA North America birding list and mark off the bird as “seen.” Now I have one less bird to worry about although I will continue to seek a better photograph if the opportunity presents itself.

Read more about the Spotted Sandpiper HERE.


**********

 

All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross



Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160701

The Finale of the Peralta Trail Photo Essay

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Long shadows, time to head backk
Toward Sunset

After spending some time at the Fremont Saddle and having a snack, we wanted to head back to the trailhead. As you can note from the picture, the shadows were getting longer and with that the cool, soon to be followed by cold, December chill would be setting in.

Even the decaying plants add a beauty to the desert if we take time to notice and appreciate them. Desert life is hard and any plant or animal that can survive gains my immediate and ever-lasting respect.

This is the final post about our experience along the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, Arizona. If you like moderate hiking and a walk in a very different and beautiful landscape, I recommend it. Just be prepared, heed all warning signs and read about the hike before you commit.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


**********

 

All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.


©Jeffrey B. Ross


Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160630

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160630

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Spent desert flower stalk
Spent desert flower stalk

As I pointed out in one of the first posts about the Peralata Trail, there is an abundance of desert flora along the trail as far as the eye can see. There is beauty all around during the spring as cacti and desert trees bloom freely.

Once the bloom is over, some of the plants continue to provide aesthetic interest with their dry stalks, etc. I so appreciated this willowy structure highlighted against the dark, shadowy background in the picture above. It was truly striking! The lower group of plants sporting their colors of yellow and orange were supporting cast members.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


**********

 

JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160629

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Weavers Needle from the Fremont Saddle - one last shot!
Weavers Needle – one last picture

Once we made it to the saddle and took in the view of Weavers Needle, we realized that it was time to head back down the trail. We started the hike later in the day and we were satisfied to have reached the saddle.

Before we started our journey back to the trailhead, I couldn’t resist taking one last picture of the needle and I am glad I did!

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


**********

 

JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160628

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Weavers Needle close up
Weavers Needle close up

A closer view of Weavers Needle from the Fremont Saddle on the Peralta Trail. Read more about this particular formation in the post of June 27, 2017 linked at the bottom of this entry.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


**********

 

JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160627

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


The Peralta Trail Payoff
The Peralta Trail Payoff

This view is what I call the “payoff” for hiking uphill along the Peralta Trail. A bit more than two miles along the trail, hikers will come to the Fremont Saddle. For those who don’t know, a mountain’s saddle is generally a flatter piece of land between two mountains, or two rises of a single mountain, which often provides a wide area for sitting, resting, etc.

The vista from the saddle is a startling view of Weavers Needle. For those who don’t suspect what is coming, it can be awesome as it rises up just over the horizon and comes into view as you push upward onto the saddle.

You can read more specifically about Weaver’s SaddleHERE

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


**********

 

JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160626

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Another window in a rock formation
Another window in a rock formation

As we hiked further, we came across another window rock. This is what I enjoy about hiking; there are discoveries along the way most of the time.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


**********

 

JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160625

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Approaching the saddle
A view from close to the saddle near the top of the Peralta Trail

As hikers continue to climb, it pays to look back “down” the trail. In some cases, hikers may find that the best views are behind them. This photo was taken as we began to approach the part of trail leading to the saddle, but looking back toward the trailhead.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


**********

 

JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.