Caught by Fire While Hiking

In mid September we traveled to the White Mountains in northeast Arizona near Pinetop/Lakeside for some hiking. After much research, one of of the daily hikes we selected was the Los Burros Trail in the Apache Sitgreaves Forest.

“Killer hike” is how you’d describe Los Burros if you were writing a postcard. Even the historic red barn, which greets hikers at the trailhead, is alluring. Or maybe “mystical” is a better word. It’s the kind of place Django Reinhardt might have hunkered down with a bottle of Château Margaux, despite the “no trespassing” sign.

Source

While the hike was nice, it was somewhat rocky with little else to see except trees and a couple of meadows. There were no distant mountain vistas or breathtaking mountain views. Having said that, it was a typical forest hike with plenty of canopy. It was a good forest hike if that is your goal.

During our hours of hiking we passed one trio of horseback riders and a cyclist; that’s it!

Little did we know what an adventure this would ultimately become. According to our Garmin GPS device, we had hiked a bit over eleven of the 13.8 (+/-) miles and we noticed that the sky was turning dark. Initially we thought a storm was brewing.

We heard helicopters circling the area several times. We saw them and they should have seen us as there were many times they passed overhead and we were in clearings along the path.

We continued along the trail and then we saw this…


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There was a tremendous amount of smoke and haze. Part of the forest was on fire. It was nearly four o’clock on what was a sunny day.



Luckily, we were close to a rather wide service road. As we began to walk along the road to get to where the trail continued. At this point, flames were clearly visible.



see detail with flames below



detail from photograph above

We were really in a quandary regarding what would be the “best” strategy; especially when we saw exactly where our trail led…



The trail continued directly behind the sign along that path!

At this point, it was obvious we could not take the trail so we began to walk down the service road in the direction of the trailhead. We knew then and there that this had the potential to be a very long day.

We were prepared with headlamps, extra food, water, etc., but we had no firefighting mechanism and we were breathing smoke from the surrounding fires.

A fire truck came rambling along the road and after being flagged down, the driver was able to shout some vague directions to us, but it still left us guessing. We had a map and to the best of our knowledge of the area, we continued to walk.

After ten minutes or so, we caught a lucky break. A woman on an ATV was approaching along the road. She heard about the fire and wanted to see what was happening. After some conversation, she agreed to drive us back to the trailhead; apparently we were going to be spared an ordeal!

NOTE: We learned that the fire along our trail was set deliberately to prevent a lightning induced fire farther south from ravaging the area.


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The story has a happy ending, but it still leaves me with some interesting thoughts:

    1 – If the firefighters knew they were going to set a backfire, shouldn’t they have considered that there might be hikers along the Los Burros trail?

    2 – Shouldn’t the helicopters have reported that there were hikers on the trail and request help/rescue?

    3 – Wouldn’t it have been nice under the circumstances for the firemen on the truck who offered us “directions” to have given us a ride to the campground? We later saw firetrucks and firefighters at the trailhead just yards from where we parked. I can’t be sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the driver of the truck that stopped was among them.

    4 – Couldn’t the men on the truck call to get someone to help us get safely back to our car?

In the end, it all worked out and I thank that wonderful woman for giving us a ride to the trailhead. She wanted no reward, just to be remembered for a good deed. We thank you Susan! You saved us much anguish and consternation!

 

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©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Photography: My Shot — Wild Burros at Lake Pleasant – Morristown, AZ

We decided to take a hike at Lake Pleasant to see if we could locate the wild burros that reportedly live there. As we travel along the highways, we see signs to watch out for the burros, but we have never seen one.

The park has a Wild Burro Trail so naturally we decided this would be our target destination. Lucky for us we were less than ten minutes into the hike when we spotted a lone burro. Upon further exploration, we came across the tres amigos (three friends) pictured here.

So…there really are wild burros at Lake Pleasant!



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Capture time: 10:44:14 AM
Capture date: Feb. 15, 2019
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Focal Length: 79mm
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Camera: Canon PowerShot AS590 IS
Lens: 4.3-215mm
Edited in Lightroom/Photoshop

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Photography: My Shot —Deer Mountain Peak, RMNP, Colorado

My wife and I enjoy hiking and every year we take two significant hiking vacations. During these hikes or treks, I enjoy taking photographs of the scenery, nature and other interesting finds.

The hike to the top of Deer Mountain, Rocky Mountain NP, was somewhat difficult in parts, especially the last ascent with a steep upward grade. The view from the top was striking although the day was overcast and the colors subdued.

Nevertheless, I captured the streaks of light coming from the sky, piercing the clouds and hitting the Moraine Park area. The picture captures the mood.



I thought perhaps since the tonal values were not intense that it might be better depicted in a black and white rendition. As you can see, the subtle color of the streaks of light become lost as they blend in with the surrounding monochromatic tones. What do you think?



Longs Peak is almost directly north, far off in the distance of the leafless tree on the ledge. Here is a closeup of Longs Peak.



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Capture date: Sept. 16, 2016
Exposure: 1/80 sec @ f/25
Focal Length: 21mm
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Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: 18.0 – 55.0mm f/3.5-5.6
Edited in Lightroom/Photoshop

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Photography: My Shot — Elephant Mountain Cave Creek, Arizona

A couple of weeks ago, the weather was rather mild in our part of the Sonoran Desert so we decided to take a hike which was partly in the Spur Cross Recreation Area. As we hiked over a dozen miles that day, we could see Elephant Mountain from numerous vantage points.



This is a well-known landmark in the area and there are several ranger-led hikes to the mountain every year. You can call for information if you like. Our hike this day took us near the mountain and around the sides, but not on to it. It was our near constant companion as we trekked along.

If you are having difficulty “seeing” the “elephantness” of the mountain, here is another copy of the photo with my interpretation.



As a bonus, I included a relevant quote. If you read my website regularly, you probably surmised that I am a collector of quotes.

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Capture time: 10:50 AM
Capture date: Dec 14, 2018
Exposure: 1/160 sec @ f/10
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: 18.0 – 55.0mm f/3.5-5.6
Edited in Lightroom

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Photography: My Shot — Pine Cones in the Mist

When we plan our hiking and photography trips, we understand that we are most likely going to have some days when the weather is not ideal. Even if it rains, as long as it isn’t a deluge, we carry out our plans to hike. We may elect to alter the selection of trails, but hike we will.

During our adventures in Sequoia National Park, California, we wanted to see a stand of the giant sequoias that were located in the Muir Grove near the end of the Muir Grove Trail. The day was a dreary, drizzly one. To add a bit of drama, we had a map that accessed the trailhead through one of the campgrounds that was unfortunately closed for renovations. Cars were not allowed, but we were told we could walk in.

The construction turned the campground into ghost town and the cloudy, misty, rainy day created an eerie spectacle. Undeterred however, and with most of the landmarks altered or removed, we finally located the trailhead.

As we made our way along the designated path, we came across the beautiful branch pictured below. The two elongated pine cones were dangling in the air. They were posed in such near perfect juxtaposition against the misty background, that I was inspired to take this photograph and I am glad that I did.



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Capture date: June 10, 2018
Exposure: 1/60 sec @ f/16
Focal Length: 35mm
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Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: 18.0 – 55.0mm f/3.5-5.6
Edited in Lightroom

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BTW – Here is a picture of me by the unbelievably huge sequoia’s near the end of the trail. To give some perspective to the scene, I am nearly six feet tall and I am standing at the base of a single tree.

Click HERE for more information about the Grove Muir Trail.



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Photography: My Shot — Swirling Pine Needles


Pine Needles Swirling in the Stream

After hiking for more than a week in Yellowstone National Park, we moved on to Red Lodge, Montana to continue our adventure. We decided to explore a course along the Silver Run Plateau, Trail #102, Loop #3 just outside of town.

The first part of the loop was quite rocky with boulders and large rocks buried in and around the path. The return half of the hike, however brought us nearer to the river which had much better footing and more intersting views. Along the way, we passed a feeder stream that had a very slow, but consistent flow. A large number of pine needles were “caught” in a side channel and they were swirling around in a somewhat circular motion as the water worked its way around some rocks and debris.

The pattern was very appealing and I found that watching the movement was similar to playing with a kaleidoscope.

 

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Metadata

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Capture time: 11:18 AM
Capture date: Sept. 17, 2018
Exposure: 1/100 sec @ f/11
Focal Length: 55mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: 18.0 – 55.02mm f/3.5-5.6
Edited in Lightroom & Photoshop

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Yellowstone and Bear Country



I recently returned from more than a week of hiking in Yellowstone National Park and all I can say is WOW! We hiked over seventy miles, but enjoyed every hard-earned inch. We are so lucky to live in a country that has such natural beauty in abundance.

Whenever I explain to other people that I hiked in Yellowstone one of the first topics to be raised is bears. Yes, Yellowstone has bears and by reading all the literature, posted warnings and sales pitches for bear spray one would think they were lurking around every corner. I am not making light of visiting areas in bear country. It needs to be a real concern and we did take it seriously, but not everyone sees the bears of Yellowstone when they visit the park.

My wife and I both had bear bells to make noise as we walked so we didn’t startle any bears in the vicinity. One thing worse than an unintended encounter with a bear is to startle a bear unexpectedly and have them feel threatened. Wearing bear bells sometimes brought snarky comments like: “I thought you were Santa Claus.” My retort would be: “Not Santa Claus, but no bear claws!”


Yes, Yellowstone has two types of bears. Grizzlies are more agrgessive than Black bears. – Picture courtesy of naturalunseenhazards.wordpress.com

All the hype does make one a bit paranoid, but I am not sure that is a bad thing. According to the National Park Service, over 100 million people have visited Yellowstone since 1980. During that time 38 people were injured by grizzly bears.

Here is an interesting breakdown according to their website Bear-Inflicted Human Injuries & Fatalities in Yellowstone

Type of Recreational Activity: Risk of Grizzly Bear Attack

  • Remain in developed areas, roadsides, and boardwalks: 1 in 25.1 million visits
  • Camp in roadside campgrounds: 1 in 22.8 million overnight stays
  • Camp in the backcountry: 1 in 1.4 million overnight stays
  • Travel in the backcountry: 1 in 232,000 person travel days
  • All park activities combined: 1 in 2.7 million visits

Also noted is that only eight people have been killed by bears in Yellowstone since 1872. To keep things in perspective, the website reminds visitors that more people have died from drowning, burns, etc.

We had two grizzly bear encounters in and near Yellowstone National Park. We were hiking along one of the paths around Ice Lake in Yellowstone returning to the parking area. Three hikers were hiking towards us and as they passed, they explained that a mother grizzly crossed in front of them with two adolescent cubs and they were going to hike around the lake to get back to their car. This was a significant, lengthy detour part of which was uphill along the roadway.



Picture courtesy of National Park Service

All the literature I read indicated that the chances of being attacked in a group of three or more was only two percent. I suggested to the group that we continue heading back toward the parking lot and risk a bear encounter since we were a larger group and had several canisters of bear spray between us.



Picture courtesy of National Park Service

We walked quickly, but deliberately toward the area near the road where the bears were spotted. We noted their tracks along the path. Apparently they didn’t like the debris in the wooded area any more than we did and they were walking along the relatively clear hiking path.

About one quarter mile from our cars, the three bears (not those three) were spotted about 300 feet ahead of us. The mother bear (very large!) stood up on her hind legs and spread her arms wide in an “it was this big” fashion. I estimate that she stood at least nine feet tall at that point. One of the rather large cubs also stood in the same fashion while the other remained on all fours looking our way. The bears were only there for a half-minute or so when they scampered into the woods.

It was very exciting indeed, but we were glad that we did not have a more intimate bear encounter. We made it to the cars without further ado. My only regret was that the action happened so fast I couldn’t get a picture.

Our second sighting a few days later was of a grizzly with three cubs along the Beartooth Highway near Beartooth Lake. We noticed a group of people along the side of the road, a certain giveaway that something interesting was happening, and we pulled over.

Sure enough, there was a group of three Grizzly bears about 450 feet downhill munching on a carcass that I assume was that of an elk. The speculation was that this was a mother with her cubs, but the bears all looked to be similarly sized…so who knows? The bears were more interested in eating than in what we were doing and since we were a lineup of more than a dozen people standing quite a bit away uphill, it was not a tense encounter.

Bears are large and they look fat, but don’t ever think you can outrun one and don’t for one minute think climbing up a tree is going to help. Read the placards above to see how to survive a bear encounter.

I am an enthusiastic amateur photographer. I enjoy wildlife, but I don’t have an expensive wildlife kit. The closest I come is my Canon SX50HS bridge camera that has a telephoto lens of approximately 600mm of reach. This isn’t the highest quality camera or lens, but I think you can get an idea of what we saw at the bear buffet along the Beartooth Highway.


group of grizzly bears


lone grizzly bear


two grizzlies bears


lone grizzly bear with carcass



After leaving Yellowstone, we stayed in Red Lodge, Montana one night and did some hiking along the Silver Run Plateau, Trail # 102, Loop #3 in the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

There were warnings there as well.



There’s a reason for all these signs. One shouldn’t be afraid, but it is important to take precautions and be aware. They refer to it as being “Bear Aware” and they aren’t kidding.

Yellowstone even uses celebrities to help impress the importance of bear safety upon visitors.



We now have bear encounter memories that will last forever and we are very happy that they turned out the way they did.

 

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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 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Photography: My Shot — a Tree with Character

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.

— William Blake —

A Tree with Character - Rocky Mountain National Park

While hiking along the Glacier Gorge Trail to Loch Lake, we came across an evergreen tree nestled off to the side of the trail. The photograph is not technically excellent, but I like the way it shows the character of this tree. It appears to me that this tree has been in this location for a long time and it has had to fight to survive.

Look at how the roots encircle that large rock in the middle and how the other roots are “hugging” smaller rocks at the base. The roots are running shallow along the earth which denotes how hard the ground is in that area. This tree is holding on and fighting for life.

This is survival of the fittest at work!

 

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Capture time: 5:23 PM
Capture date: Sep 11, 2018
Exposure: 1/3 sec @ f/18
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 1600
Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: 18.0 – 55.02mm f/3.5-5.6
Edited in Lightroom

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Photography: My Shot at Puente Nuevo – Ronda, Spain


Puento Nuevo - Ronda Spain

It was an unusual decision for us, but we decided to take a trip to Portugal and Spain this spring. Usually we enjoy hiking the national parks and beautiful areas of the United States while our knees and joints can still take to the hills and dales America the beautiful has to offer.

One of our favorite stops on the tour was Puento Nuevo in the town of Ronda Spain. My wife and I often remark at the historic nature of towns in Europe which are very old compared to those in the United States. We tend to think of something as being old if it was founded two hundred years ago, but in Europe we are often talking about multiples of that or even thousands of years.

Ronda was first settled in the sixth century B.C. That is old! The photograph above is one of my favorite shots from our trip. It was taken from the Puente Nuevo bridge which is the largest of a number of bridges spanning the gorge of the Guadalevín River that meanders through Ronda. I was hoping to capture the beauty and uniqueness of this spot and I think I managed to do so fairly well.

 

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Metadata

File Name: ronda_spain_PuentoNuevo_DSC_3082.jpg
Capture time: 9:36 AM
Capture date: May 16, 2018
Exposure: 1/320 sec @ f/9.0
Focal Length: 22mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: 18.0 – 55.12mm f/3.5-5.6
Edited in Lightroom

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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 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Adventures in Oregon: From the Shore to the Falls


Adventures in Oregon: From the Shore to the Falls

Our maps and notes were showing the wear and tear of daily folding, unfolding and occasional markings incurred through our journey. Indeed our coastal exploration of Oregon was nearing the end.

One of the last points of interest we highlighted at the southern leg of our trip was the marine viewing area near Cape Arago State Park with views of Shell Island and Simpson Reef.


Shell Island

We were told by locals that we would be able to view wildlife at this viewpoint and a closer look revealed colonies of seals and sea lions on nearby Shell Island.


Seals basking on Shell Island

The water near Simpson Reef was a bit more shallow and appeared to be a tropical color.


More tropical-like waters near Simpson Reef

Read more about Simpson’s Reef and Shell Island via this brochure.

Our day began to take on a theme of land and sea as we were motivated to hike and explore the Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area farther inland. With maps and cell phone access, we figured it should not be hard to find.

There were some quirky twists and turns which led us temporarily astray, but perseverance and a trip down a bumpy road that was hard packed led us to our desired destination; the parking area near the trailhead to the falls. We chatted a bit with a couple familiar with the hikes and gained some advice about which trails to consider.

We thought that the view of the Golden Falls would be better if we headed there first to capture the best light. It was after 3PM and the sun was beginning to cast shade on the gorge. The flow of water was not dramatic, but steady and picture-worthy.


Approaching Golden Falls

My assumption is that the yellowish color of the rocks along with the tones cast by the sun inspired the name of the Golden Falls.


A closer view of Golden Falls

Our last adventure this day was the hike to the Sliver Falls.


Silver Falls

This proved less dramatic than the Golden Falls, but we wanted to complete the circuit and appreciated nature’s offerings along the way.


Another view of Silver Falls

This was a full day so we were glad to find our lodging for the evening as we prepared for our long drive inland to our final destination; Crater Lake National Park.


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Read previous posts about our adventures hiking and exploring in Oregon:

Exploring Astoria, Oregon – Part 1

Exploring Astoria, Oregon – Part 2

Exploring Astoria, Oregon – Part 3

Adventures in Oregon: Warrenton to Seaside

Adventures in Oregon: Hiking at Indian Beach

Adventures in Oregon: Views from Ecola Point

Adventures in Oregon: Movin’ On Down the Road

Adventures in Oregon: Garibaldi’s Graces and Pier

Adventures in Oregon: Tillamook – Cape Meares Lighthouse

Adventures in Oregon: Pacific City, Neskowin & Lincoln City

Adventures in Oregon: Cascade Head and Hart’s Cove in Lincoln City

Adventures in Oregon: Cape Foulweather & Drift Creek Falls

Adventures in Oregon: Newport to Yachats

Adventures in Oregon: Heceta Head & Sand Dunes

Adventures in Oregon: State Parks: Umpqua to Shore Acres

 

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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 – 2018 – JBRish.com