Lights in Motion: Aurora of Denali

“Lights in Motion”
A 2012 time-lapse compilation of the Aurora Borealis with original composition, “Coronal Mass Ejection,” by Peter Van Zandt Lane.
The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, has intrigued people throughout time. It was no different for seasonal Park Ranger Jake Frank when he first saw them in 2011. He wanted capture the magic of the lights on screen to share with everyone. Close to sixty hours were volunteered, shooting still photos in subzero temperatures. Some nights were so cold, -42 degrees F, that the camera only worked for about fifteen minutes.

Alaska, mountains, video
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Milky Way Over Lake McDonald

Milky Way over Lake McDonald

Glacier National Park, Montana April 16, 2015

Though I wish it was, this photo isn’t one of mine.  I took quite a few photos at or near this same vantage point at Apgar Village.  However, all were taken before dark.  We were not at all keen about being out after dark when a mountain lion was known to be on the prowl in and around Apgar Campground.

Image on Flicker by Jacob W. Frank, Attribution Some rights reserved by GlacierNPS

Haw Creek Shops

beach, lake, landscape, Montana, mountains, parks, photography, places, shore
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Drying Feathers.

A double-crested cormorant drying its feathers.
poster

great-cormorant-602782
Image by Ben Kerckx is licensed under CC0 Public Domain

In the last 15 years or so, cormorants have been regular winter inhabitants down in the Arkansas River Valley.  Large numbers often perch, many with wings spread wide, on the cross braces of an electrical transmission tower rising from the water between US 64 and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, where both cross the Illinois Bayou area of Lake Dardanelle.

The double-crested cormorant mainly eats fish, hunting for food by swimming and diving.  Like all cormorants, its feathers are not completely waterproof.  After diving, it stands for long periods in a characteristic wings spread pose, which allows the feathers to dry.

A member of the cormorant family of seabird, the double-crested cormorant occurs along inland waterways as well as in coastal areas, and is widely distributed across North America, from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska down to Florida and Mexico. Measuring 70–90 cm (28–35 in) in length, it is an all-black bird which gains a small double crest of black and white feathers in breeding season. It has a bare patch of orange-yellow facial skin.  (Wikipedia)

critters, photography, wildlife
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Tragedy in Yellowstone.

Searching online for material related to a photo of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone  (below), I learned a tragic accident had occurred there while we were in the park last summer.  An eight-year-old girl, hiking with her family to the observation platform at the brink of the falls, was two-third’s of the way down the trail when she fell 550 feet into the canyon. She had apparently stepped off the trail when she lost her footing.

Lower Falls of the Yellowston River

We last took the trail to the brink of the lower falls in 2010.  The high usage, 1.5 mile paved trail, round trip, is steep, dropping 600 feet over multiple switchbacks to the viewing platform.  The climb back up is strenuous.

Trail to Brink of Lower Falls of Yellwston

Trail to Brink of Lower Falls of Yellwston

Trail to Brink of Lower Falls of Yellwston

Numerous signs along the trail warn visitors to stay on the trail.  Some are intended to limit human caused erosion.

Warning Trail Sign at Grand Canyon of the Tellowstone

Some people choose to ignore the signs.

Shorcutting on Trail to Brink of Lower Falls of Yellwston

Shorcutting on Trail to Brink of Lower Falls of Yellwston

Other signs warn of danger.

Warning Trail Sign at Grand Canyon of the Tellowstone

imageUnfortunately, some people ignore these signs, too, some quite flagrantly.

Hiking a portion of the South Rim Trail last summer, we were passed several times by a large group, all of whom looked to be in their early 20s, except for one or two.  It was an organized group, possible a guided day hike.

If it was a guided hike, their trail discipline was very poor.

We saw several of the group venture off the trail to have their picture taken with the canyon in the background, including one young man repeatedly, including some balancing poses that could have ended badly.

Trail Sign at Grand Canyon of the Tellowstone - Uncle Tom and South RimOn the day the girl fell into the canyon, we took Uncle Tom’s Trail down into the canyon. The trail is asphalt with switchbacks and steps, including a metal staircase with 328 steps terminating at a  view platform about 3/4 of the way down into the canyon.

It’s across the canyon from where the accident occurred and slightly downstream.  The photo below is the observation platform at the brink of the lower falls, through a zoom lens.

Observation platform at Brink of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone

We were on Uncle Tom’s Trail in the middle of the afternoon.  The accident occurred in the morning, with the body recovered around noon.

Brink of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone

hiking, in the news, mountains, parks, people, photography, places, safety, travel, Wyoming
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Natural Bridge on Petit Jean Mountain.

Natural Bridge, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Today, we drove over to Petit Jean State Park and hiked the Seven Hollows Trail.  It’s a 4.5 mile hike that is quite strenuous in places.  The trail-head sign said to allow 4 hours to hike it.  We finished in about 2 hours and 45 minutes.  The parking lot was full when we got there so we parked in the parking lot of a different trail a short ways down the road.  That added a bit to our hike so we may have been closer to 5 miles.

My fitness level is not yet where I would like.  I was struggling on the steepest areas of the last half of the trail.  The last mile or so was a steady upward slope.

We were close enough to home that we actually ran into someone we knew, a young man who works at the gym we go to.

One of the features along the trail referred to as a natural bridge, but it is actually a natural arch.  To get this picture – which is better than the view from the trail – I climbed up through the arch.

Petit Jean Natural Bridge is actually an abandoned natural arch eroded through Hartshorne sandstone. It is located in Petit Jean State Park in Conway County, Arkansas. Access is via the Seven Hollows Trail, a 4.5 mile loop. It has a span of 30 feet, a height of 22 feet, a width of 23 feet, and a thickness of 20 feet.  (The Natural Arch and Bridge Society)

This type of natural arch is invariably isolated and the lintel is arched. There are two roughly vertical abutments, each having a vertical rise greater than its horizontal extent. For many natural arches of this type, the lintel and abutments form a single strand of rock whose breadth varies little over most of its curved length. In other examples, one of the abutments is noticeably broader than the lintel and other abutment, but this broadening is roughly in the plane of the opening aperture. Natural arches of this type are considered old, i.e., at the end of their lifecycle. Although there is no conclusive evidence for a specific formation process, it is clear that the natural arch continues to survive due to compression strengthening. Compression strengthening made the remnant rock more resistant to erosion than the rock that once surrounded it, and hence, gave it its characteristic arched shape. This type of natural arch is rare. (The Natural Arch and Bridge Society)

Arkansas, destinations, hiking, mountains, parks, photography, places
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