Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wildflowers at Eielson Alpine Hike Denali National Park

We went on a ranger led hike to the Eielson Alpine. Its a slightly strenuous hike with 1000ft elevation gain, but the ranger talk made the hike a lot more casual. Top of the hike gives an amazing view of the Mt. McKinley and Denali National Park.

While coming down the hike, clicked some summer flowers and a squirrel on the trail. Not sure of all the names, but the last blue flower is Alaska state flower Forget-me-Not


Friday, May 15, 2015

Snow & HorseShoe bend

Page was on the travel list during our visit to Monument Valley. It had snowed heavily a day before and everything was covered under the soft white blanket. We cancelled the Upper and lower Canyon tours since there was no sun and snow was definitely there.

The walk to horseshoe bend is very short and easy from the parking area, probably less than a mile round trip. It was hard to get a nice frame, since the edges of the horseshoe cliffs had slippery ice. But we managed with one person holding the tripod base so that it doesn't slip into the river and me taking the shot.

A trip to the canyons and horse shoe bend without snow is still pending.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Alaska Trip Day 2 - Road Trip from Anchorage to Denali National Park

After a great day at Whittier, we had to drive from Anchorage to Denali. It was supposed to be an extra long drive, since we had to stop at every place we had on the map. Reached Denali an hour after midnight and sun was about to set.
First pit stop was Thunderbird falls, which is a mile round trip to the waterfall. In my opinion it was simple and can be missed.

Thunderbird falls trail

Next stop was Wasilla lake, it was a little cloudy else the colors in this valley were beautiful. It was a pleasant lake, perfect for picnic or a rest stop.

A Mirror lake is a definite stop, but this mirror lake did not charm us. The water had gone a little muddy and unclear and the clouds did not help for sure.

A lunch stop at Talkeetna downtown. Downtown is a really small place, we picked up few souvenirs.

Mt. McKinley the tall one behind the clouds, from one of the pit stops near Talkeetna. 

The legendary McKinley lodge with the famous Denali View. We reached here around 9:30 PM and the lodge had closed, though a cup of hot chocolate would have been so good.

Mt. McKinley behind the clouds as seen from the lodge,

The road trip from Anchorage to Denali had been so picturesque, you want to stop at every turn and click pics. The below rays of lights was clicked around 11 PM somewhere near Denali National Park.

We stayed at Grizzly bear resort near Denali, reached quite late and tucked ourselves into the bed.

Midnight sky at 1:30 AM

The road trip was beautiful, definitely a better idea than taking the train as you have flexibility and option to take detours.


Hetch Hetchy Dam/Valley

I am amazed that not many people know about the Hetch Hetchy valley, it's like a sister valley to Yosemite but at lower grounds and not a valley anymore. The valley was converted into a dam and reservoir to provide water to the city of San Francisco. This valley has a lot of history and political story behind it which can readily be found on the net.

Hetch hetchy valley was the favorite of all in Yosemite to John Muir, he spent his last days in hope of conserving it but fate had some other plans. This was our first visit to the Hetch Hetchy valley and in one word it was beautiful. The reservoir was blue at its best neighbouring the towering granites and displaying the humongous Wapana waterfall which is undoubtedly looked the largest of all waterfalls in entire Yosemite valley.

Since Hetchy Hetchy is not very crowded like the Yosemite valley, parking was easy to find just at the dam entrance. Trail to Wapama falls is a 5 mile roundtrip walk with not much elevation gain.

The trail starts with a short tunnel at the other end of the dam, and it moves on the edges of the reservoir. The granite mountain on the right is Kolana Rock a large portion of which is submerged in the reservoir. If you have seen the X-Men II you might relate with me when I say, the reservoir looked mysterious.

Wapama waterfall is humongous, it's huge when compared to many other waterfalls in the Yosemite valley and still had water even in this serious drought. The last section of this trail is wooden bridge, which had washed away few years back owing to high water levels leading to casualties. So cross it with caution.

A mini rainbow at waterfall edge. Another note of caution would be to look out for rattlesnakes, we saw two on our way back.

The trail continues on to reach elevated levels, to the lake source for Wapama, but we left that for another day.

This valley is serene with no crowd, you can hear silence and enjoy it. Its nature at its best.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Yosemite Moonbow

Yosemite if not read or explored about can leave you unfamiliar to many natural wonders. We visited Yosemite in February to capture the Horsetail firefall but unfortunately the waterfall had dried up but it was still a good feeling to see how the sun plays with the sunset color.

More about Yosemite Firefall here,

The April visit was to see a new wonder in itself the Lunar Bow. First noticed by the legendary John Muir himself, yosemite moonbows need plenty of water in the lower yosemite falls, full moon on a clear night only certain days of the year when the moonlight is at a particular angle to the waterfall.

Don't forget to grab a night light to reach the lower falls, we made this mistake and had to spend 15-20 min to make our way to the bridge only to realize the large crowd had taken up all possible tripod space available.

The moonbow is not very colorful to the human eye as its unable to identify color range at night and rather looks like a silver arch over the waterfall. Only camera when set on long exposure capture the true colors of the bow. Due to less water the bow appeared quite low on the bridge and went flat in an hour or so.

I am definitely coming back to click this wonder again, but this time with a clear camera sensor, better skills to focus and better planned shots. No doubt the first timings have their own charm.