I recently passed a nice anniversary. My first blog post was on February 10, 2009 so this past February marked five years of blogging. Encouraged by colleagues Denise Bush and Terry Wilson I jumped into the WordPress world and, suddenly, it’s five years later. I’ve enjoyed it very much. I’d always wanted to write and the blog gave me an opportunity less intimidating than a book or even an essay although there has been at least one of those*. Serendipitously, the blog has been a place to display some of my photography which, in turn, has provided a raison d’etre for the writing. What a happy fit.
On the photography face of the coin here’s a recent image. These are about 8″ tall and I used to have to lie down to shoot them horizontally. That’s become too demanding so I have a new toy called the CamRanger. It plugs into the camera and transmits the camera’s view and settings to my Samsung tablet so I can focus, adjust the other settings and take the shot while standing or sitting comfortably nearby. Ahhh, technology.
Writing has been a demanding Muse. First comes the anxiety of not having posted for a while; then there’s the anxiety of what to write about; finally there’s the anxiety of whether what I’ve written is worthwhile. I may start out holding on to a steeeep slope but as I get going it always seems to evolve such that I feel good about it. My recent Hawaii travelogue was one such post … today we went here and then we went there etc. But, it evolved comfortably for me. I’m reminded of bird carvers who say, “The bird was inside the block; I just had to cut away the rest of the wood.” This post on the other hand has been fermenting and has rolled out easily. For any post a first draft eventually appears but then it is a process of review-correct-add-change, and then do it again. Each post gets reviewed and tweaked several times and yet, amazingly, I’ll reread an old post and find a typo or grammatical error.
The stats? 166 posts by the anniversary date (four more since then), over 900 images along with five audio clips, a short poem (The First Beach Nap of Summer), a handful of videos, and over 32,000 views. About 5% of those have come from seventeen foreign countries across all continents except Antarctica. My colleagues have had more views but my count is probably because the blog is more of a journal than a pure photography blog.
My all-time most popular post is Selected Beach and Sea Images With Sound Accompaniment That surprised me but also pleased me since I have such a bond with the sea. Two others that continue to draw readers are Charleston and the Low Country, and The 18th and 19th Century Fairmont Park Houses. Both of those lost out, however, to my three-post series on Hurricane Sandy, which drew a broad audience because of its news nature and its fearsome effects.
I find (and confess) that I enjoy my own work; I frequently scroll through old posts and re-enjoy a phrase or a sentence or paragraph. Who among us is without some narcissism? From time to time I’ll copy some of that and save it in a special folder which might …might … yield a book one of these days, of selected images and comments. Anyway, it’s been fun and satisfying and I hope to keep cranking them out. As long as I don’t run out of film … or words.
* The one essay that I wrote is included as a page (tabs at the top of the home page) rather than as a general post, and I originally only circulated it to some of my photography buddies, seeking their thoughts. It had to do with coming to terms with my disappointment with what I was shooting. It’s entitled A Photography Phunk – An Essay.
Vacations can be educational, entertaining, enlightening, exciting, maybe even euphoric in parts. This one was all of that but it was also exhausting because of all of the sightseeing and the long flights. Hawaii, however is above all else wonderful and well worth the effort. The scenery, the culture, the people, the flowers and the music are gentle and beautiful. Here is what we enjoyed with our morning coffee on our balcony overlooking Waikiki Beach.
We had flown in to Honolulu and spent the night, boarding our cruise ship the next day. The ship headed out that night for a seven day inter-island cruise.
I had taken such a cruise in 1997 aboard the U.S.S. Independence, a handsome, Gatsby-like throwback to the days of luxury cruising, with largely open sides on the common decks (closable in bad weather) such that one felt more a part of the sea and the islands. Now, a modern, plastic cruise ship with six dining rooms plus buffet, and seven bars (not sure we made it to all of them). The soft background music throughout the ship was gentle, mellifluous Hawaiian, and the screechy loud noise that defines pop music was limited to the pool decks ( I know, I know…showing my age). In any event I think the inter-island cruise is the best way to get a convenient, easy taste of several of the islands.
After a bumpy and rocky overnight cruise we pulled in to Kahului on the island of Maui for a two day visit. I was relieved that I wasn’t the designated pilot.
The first of several day tours took us to the Iao Valley State Park where we viewed the lush vegetation, rain-swollen streams and waterfalls, and foliage covered volcanic mountains. The Asiatic architectural motifs relate to the arrival of Japanese farm workers beginning in 1868 to work the cane fields. By the time that World War II broke out there were some 41,000 Japanese residents on the islands.
We also enjoyed the Maui Tropical Plantation with its cultivated displays of island flowers and foliage, some of which we’ve enjoyed at locations of comparable climate. The Heliconia below (commonly, Lobster Claw) is an example.
Then, off to Hawaii, “The Big Island” where we tied up at Hilo the first day and Kona, the second. More tours? You bet. A day long outing took us to Volcanos National Park on top of Kilauea Volcano, ranked among the world’s most active volcanos. The crater rim road took us along the caldera from which steam and fumes escape from molten rock in the Halema’uma’u Crater below. In 1997 one saw hot lava pouring into the ocean from a lava tube draining the crater, dramatic as we cruised past at night. Kilauea is regarded as the home of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, and she is apparently not presently upset ….maybe just a little steamed.
This landscape is tough for a landscape photographer. All of the islands were created as volcanos pushed up from the sea floor, beginning some 5 million years ago (Kauai) and continuing to Hawaii, itself, about half a million years ago. Continual eruptions of lava and volcanic ash add “land” and elevation to the islands. The ash provides a soil in which drifting or bird-deposited seeds can establish themselves. Meanwhile, it is a harsh environment. In such context the islands’ history of sugar cane and pineapple is impressive. Incidentally, sugar cane lost out to producers closer to demand, and labor costs drove pineapple to the Philippines.
Other days, other ports, other tours, other beautiful spots, and bussed back to the ship late afternoons, weary from the day. One hears that cruising results in weight gain because of the food services. Au contraire, we lost two to three pounds and we think it was from the daily touring. It was a relief and a pleasure to sit on our balcony and just enjoy a little cruising. Here’s a short clip to try and give you the feel of it all, enhanced by Richard Rodgers’ stirring Song of the High Seas. (Speakers on?) In my Navy days we called this kind of thing shipping over music. It was thought it would make one nostalgic for days at sea and want to reenlist. (I’m still vulnerable.)
On the last afternoon of our cruise we passed Na Pali Coast State Park, one of Hawaii’s many dramatic sights. It’s located on the northwestern edge of Kauai and is extremely difficult to reach on its land side. The scenery may well be reminiscent of Jurassic Park as much of that film was shot on Kauai. It was a powerful scene.
Minutes later the wispy clouds moved to give us a magical effect.
After which we began our return to Honolulu.
Back in Honolulu for a few more days we continued sightseeing but with a much reduced intensity. We spent an afternoon touring the Pearl Harbor memorial complex which was a sobering, poignant experience. We also toured the palace, last occupied by the last ruler of the Hawaiian royalty line, Queen Liliuokalani, forced from power in 1893 by the islands’ agricultural interests supported by the U.S. Marines.
At day’s end our hotel room balcony overlooking Waikiki Beach provided these restful views.
And as the sun sailed away and our ship sank slowly in the west, with the last drop of the last drink of the last cocktail hour of vacation we bid farewell to our vacation in Paradise. With the beautiful Hawaiian word for “thank you” we say mahalo (ma-hah’-lo) for visiting this lengthly journal entry, and we say Aloooha!
I enjoyed this year’s Flower Show and I’m glad I went, but … it was kind of blah. I thought the entrance display was large and colorful but it didn’t have the punch of last year’s England theme with its Big Ben centerpiece.
The theme was Articulture – Where art meets horticulture, and the entrance display was based on Calder’s mobiles. Pretty but hasn’t art always been involved in most of horticulture? OK, maybe not fields of corn stalks but how about wind blown fields of wheat, Whitman’s Seas of Grass? I had missed the pre-show hype about Articulture. I didn’t even think about Calder at the opening display and sure didn’t pick up the art theme elsewhere in the show. I did pass one exhibit made up as an artist’s studio. It caught my eye because it had an N. C. Wyeth painting on an easel as though a product of the exhibit’s artist. I thought it was brave to have something of such value just out there in front of all of us. Maybe it was a print.
I passed an exhibit plot of field brush…wild grasses and flowering weeds, all lifeless gray-brown. It was as though it was an exhibit left over from last year’s show that hadn’t been watered all year. It’s the kind of scene we’re trying to get beyond as winter approaches an end. No beauty. Art? I dunno. It reminded me of a major garden retailer’s exhibit years ago which featured a summer brush patch littered with trash including, as I recall, a toilet bowl and a truck tire. Why bother exhibiting?
Here’s an interesting artistic scene; even got some flowers in it. Said to have been inspired by the work of a Wassily Kandinsky, referred to as the “father of abstract art.” It made me think of a futuristic solar system.
The art theme was carried over into the live entertainment: two couples described as vertical dancers. They pulled themselves halfway to the ceiling on cables and then performed various movements. Kind of a Cirque Soleil. Who said Ed Sullivan’s dead? I was still looking for flowers.
They were there, of course. The members’ specimens were lovely to look at. Specialty societies, e.g. succulents, ferns, rock gardens, the Camden Children’s Garden etc. But the Bonsai Society’s exhibit was an example of my letdown. In years past this was a ceilinged, somewhat darkened space such that the plants lighted in their niches stood out. Now it’s wide open and had only a few entries. Where did they go? Why did they go?
The biggest exhibit was that of PHS, the Philadelphia Horticultural Society. They had the usual information and cultural assistance booths but their space of things for sale was sprawling. I wonder how commercial section exhibitors feel about having to compete with their landlord. Here’s a scene at one of those exhibitors, City Planter (not a paid link; just nice people with nice product), offering plants, planters and garden accents.
My daughter and I had lunch today and reminisced about shows past (she wasn’t impressed with the show, either). We remember great plots of pine barrens wild azalea and birch saplings and other flora around dark, moss-edged quiet ponds; we remember great florists’ displays of outdoor summer parties with tables set with flower extravaganzas; we remember selected house rooms, decorated with plants and flowers; we remember sweeping banks of spring flowers around back yard garden huts; we remember kitchen window boxes bursting with hanging petunias and dwarf marigolds. They weren’t there.
There were some eye-catching scenes here and there as in this case:
Well, only 51 weeks to go.
It certainly has not been a nice winter and I’m looking forward to the Philadelphia Flower Show followed by spring. But, to stay in the cave day after day is not good either. A couple of weeks ago we escaped to two favorite antique malls in Redbank. After antiquing we watched the ice boats and related hardy types enjoying life on the adjacent Navesink River. These boats are said to be the fastest wind-driven sport craft, easily capable of 50 mph and, if the wind’s right, up to 100 mph. On my bucket list along with kite-surfing.
I recently returned to Island Beach State Park, still in search of the Snowy Owls. I failed again: not even a flash of white feathers as I scanned over the dunes. Full stomachs dictating naps in the branches? There were, however, several foxes on the dole. They actually emerge from the brush when they hear a car approaching. Here’s Freddy, again.
And another snowy beach scene.
Back home I’ve been playing with the contrast between the indoor flowering houseplants and the cold bleakness of winter. Herewith one of my columneas, happy to be inside.
On a recent snowing day (one of too many this winter) I was drawn to the same kind of contrast between a constant spring inside and bitterness outside. The falling snow, however, is one of winter’s best features so I tried to capture a sense of it here, to be reviewed on a 98° day next August.
On yet another morning we were having a winter mix of snow, sleet and rain. Yeah, a really nice morning. But, there was some lemonade to be made. I was caught by the buildup of sleet at the bottom of a window being pac-manned as it were by the rain drops sliding down the window. Would I hang this one in the living room? I doubt it but it’s interesting.
Don’t go away depressed by winter. There’s always color in Marty Lou’s greenhouse.
No Swimming Today! This was one of the signs that greeted me as I pulled into Island Beach State Park with the temperature in the 30′s Well, I had forgotten my swim trunks anyway.
This was only my second visit to this nearby barrier island park and I enjoyed it. The trip was in response to the great images of foxes and snowy owls being captured on the island by an outstanding photographer, Ray Yeager.
The island is reached via a causeway from Toms River. The park begins 2.5 miles south of the causeway, and continues on for about 8 miles paved and another mile of beach-walk to Barnegat Inlet. Along the way are numerous places to park and walk through the dunes to either the beach or the bay.
The above image is a little soft in the foreground. I had my 100-400 on in case I spotted an owl and they’re just not good for landscape work. (370mm, f/16, 1/400, tripod mounted, and composed in live view)
The dunes are impressive compared to those on LBI as they are taller and generally covered with berry-laden holly, scrub pine, white cedar, sassafras and so on. They reminded me of the dunes called Sandy Hills in Margate where we often played war in my childhood years.
Elsewhere there were eye-catching zen scenes of simplicity and gracefulness.
I drove to the end of the paved road. I had contemplated a sunset behind Barnegat Light but found that would require a hike along the beach of about 0.8 mile. I realized that I was missing a camera accessory: a truck whose tires I could deflate in order to drive along the beach. Must check the B&H Catalog. I decided the hike would be good for me…but on another day so I drove back up to leave the park and get some lunch. On the way I passed some fox activity which is one of the things I had hoped to see. I saw five of them off and on; they were working the road in anticipation of being fed. The signs, of course, say Don’t Feed the Fox but the foxes don’t read. One gal had brought a box of hot dogs and was using them to entice a fox which enabled me to get this image.
It’s also a little soft (370mm, f/16 and 1/166th, handheld) so I want to return and try some more. I also had hoped for a snowy owl shot as Yeager’s are to be envied, and they are such beautiful animals. I walked a lot of off-the-road trails but nary a flash of white. I actually did have one in my crosshairs but it asked me if I were Ray Yeager. When I said no, it gave me the claw and flew off.
I got back into town (such as it is in February) and found a pizza place. I asked the proprietor if he expected a busy Super Bowl Sunday. He said he didn’t; “Everyone’s back in New York and nobody lives here in the winter.”
I then headed back into the park as hope springs eternal. Here are two more typical scenes I found. The first, an unglamorous drainage cut from the Bird Blind Trail, the second on a beach trail after emerging from the trees.
All in all it was a pleasant and informative afternoon and I mean to return.
With my electric blanket and Pearl’s heating pad we survived the storm quite well and awakened to blue sky and puffy clouds and snow on the roofs…….and 6°! !
But, we landscape photographers can not ignore this kind of scene so…….
The good folks at Medford Leas had the roads and driveways plowed by 7:30 so I could get out. I fortified quickly with some breakfast, boots, long johns, a sweater layer and a fresh battery and headed out. With my balaclava I was good to go except there were slippery icy spots of which I had to be careful. Along the red trail there were plenty of critter tracks in the snow and even a faint odor of skunk but no deer or big-foot tracks. No one was using the resting bench, either.
There were nice things to see along the way, particularly in the warm light of early morning winter sun.
Over at the nature center green house the heating system was already having its way.
The plants inside were warm and secure, wondering what all the fuss was about.
One more stop, at the atrium within the Community Center, and some winterberry that has escaped the birds so far.
A quite beautiful morning. Now, back to the cave to enjoy it from inside and with a cup of coffee.
It’s the first full week since the end of the holiday season and with the morning alarm comes the question that I’ve been raising since New Year’s day: What are you going to do with the rest of this year? That’s a troubling question.
On a macro level I guess it’ll be more of the same and that’s not all bad. More photography in its many forms, e.g. camera club meetings, competitions and workshops, and field trips, always fun albeit maybe a bit more physically demanding. Don’t know about a winter getaway, yet…maybe…maybe. But, there’ll be another spring, wildflowers on the trails, balmy days, flowering shrubs and trees. Then, of course, they’ll be summer at the shore…Saturday mornings on the dock with coffee and friends, watching the kids racing…and beach naps, hard to think about on these cold mornings. Then as fall approaches, the chlorophyll supply in the leaves will diminish revealing their underlying reds and yellows. Before we know it it’ll be time to put the tree and trains back up again.
As to the New Year on a micro level it comes a day at a time so that’s the way I’ll be taking it. For us in the northeast it began with a snow storm. I went out at about 8:00 AM because I felt that I should. My resolve melted away in the face of the wind chill but here are some scenes on the campus:
My wreath greeted me, looking splendid with its dusting. I also liked the reflections of the winter scene in the windows on either side of the wreath.
On another recent day we drove down to the shore area just to drive past the snow-covered fields along the way. Here’s a scene captured at Smithville. It made me glad that I’m not a Canada Goose.
Smithville is another virtual hard drive of family memories. It was a good meeting point for us to have dinner with my shore-resident parents now and then; it was a place where Sigrid once vociferously rejected the Quail Lodge (now gone) Santa as not being the real one who, of course, worked at Strawbridges; it was a place where, in the 60′s, we celebrated my parents’ 50th with a private party. The fee covered an open bar and dinner; I remember thinking that the more I drank the cheaper each became. Ahhh, youth.
The post title is Winter Wanderings so here are two more images, both made in December.
The above was made on a trail walk on Christmas morning.
And, on the stormiest or most bitterly cold days, be reminded that the sun is out there somewhere. A Happy New Year to all.
I drove down to the shore house to enjoy it for one more night this year and then to drain its bodily fluids for winter. What a pleasure driving down the island at 45 mph through blinking traffic lights. No wonder the locals resent our summer arrival with its return of traffic lights and lower speed limits. The sky was overcast with broken clouds so no dramatic sunset but it was pleasant to have a couple drinks in front of the gas logs as they brought the house from its winter thermostat setting of 50°. The near-full moon asserted itself through the spotty clouds and I kicked myself for not having brought my long lens.
Later, a good dinner at the Engleside and a good night’s sleep which Pearl ended at 7:30. Not bad. The day seemed gray. At first I thought the window was just dirty but when I cracked the sliding door I saw that the fog was on its way.
Later it began to thicken up.
At the boat landing, however, there was a bright spot. These marigolds have dodged the frosts so far. I wished them well.
I enjoyed one of my favorite breakfasts at Fred’s Diner and learned that they’ll close in two more weeks. They weren’t busy so we could chat a little. He said that Sandy’s waters a year ago reached the tops of his booth tables. That’s scary. The town looks as though it has recovered and it has been functional but there are still closed shops and homes that are sad shells. The town really closes down though I know that several merchants will stay open through Christmas, and a handful even beyond. Uncle Will’s and Buckalews will continue as oases till next season. My year round friends down there will survive though some will surreptitously slip away to Florida for a few weeks.
After breakfast the fog was becoming thicker so I set off down Bay avenue to Holgate. On the way I passed these tidal ponds in the marshes.
Further down at the end of Bay Avenue at the entrance to the wildlife refuge the foggy waves were more interesting.
At this time of year pickups and vans are permitted to drive onto the refuge beach for fishing. Here, one just passed me and another can be dimly seen ahead of it.
A surf fisherman was working three rods in front of me.
And this seagull was working the fisherman.
My last photo trip to Vermont was four years ago. The itch was itchy. I googled Vermont photo tours and serendipitously found Kurt Budliger Photography offering an early October tour in the more northern part of the state. This was appealing as I’ve done plenty of touring down in the Weston-Chester area and below. Budliger’s landscape images have a dreamlike quality so it’s no surprise that he’s part of the Dreamscapes team which includes Ian Plant, Joe Rossbach, and Richard Bernabe, with all of whom I’ve enjoyed previous productive workshops. So, into the saddle and off to the great northland.
I joined eight others at a nice Comfort Inn in the countryside outside of Montpelier, which served as our base. We left early each morning to see the sunrises that absolutely no one else had ever photographed. They would be followed by some early morning scenes before the sun became too harsh. Then back to the inn for lunch, a rest, and afternoon classwork before setting out again for sunsets and twilight photography. The classroom emphasis was on composition ideas and post-processing. I learned things in both categories. Deep sigh: I keep thinking I know what I need to know but along comes someone like Kurt, and suddenly there’s a couple of those “Why didn’t that occur to me?” things.
For me, the above was our best sunrise location (Marshfield Pond). It was still quite gray when we got there and the fog was rolling in from the pond. It was somewhat surreal; my mood was excited but in awe of what I was seeing. I was so moved that I captured some video to better convey the mood. (Please, no comments about watching grass grow; rather, think how you’d be feeling in such a setting.)
Not all of our sunrises were so dramatic but they were at least peaceful, quieting, tranquil. Here the boats await the day ahead on Seyon Pond.
After our sunrise experiences we were guided to other locations to enjoy the scene as the day’s light evolved through the mists. One such spot was Ricker Pond.
I then hiked out on the above peninsula and was rewarded with lots of dewy spider webs. I wish the leaf hadn’t been there or that I had pre-processed by snipping that twig but that’s nature.
Just as we had early morning shoots, so did we have pre-sunset shoots on the way to a sunset location. Among these was Moss Glen Falls on Route 100 north of Granville. I had photographed this with Joe Rossbach in 2009 and had told Kurt that, having been there, I wasn’t keen on returning. But, his workshop so back we went. I was astounded at how large it had become as my four year old memory was of a rather unimpressive scene. Wow! I was glad we had returned to it.
Sunsets were also lovely. They induce mixed reactions. One is the warm power of the scene. Another is the primitive feeling of one’s own mortality: day is ending, darkness comes. This image is of Lake Champlain from Oak Ledge just outside of Burlington. It also brought back memories of piloting our rented houseboat on the lake years ago with my then two pre-teeners taking tricks at the wheel; of late afternoon anchoring and swimming, leaping from the roof of the boat; and cozying in for the night after a Marty Lou dinner.
The glow from a sunset can also result in some powerful non-sky-sun images as in this case. Note the rock alligator emerging at right from the grasses. Careful!
We finished the workshop on a hillside above Peacham, founded in 1776. Here we are in the fog again, waiting for some sign of the valley, and photographing whatever appeared with some promise.
It was here that I bid my new friends and colleagues goodbye. On the way down the hillside, however, I passed the cattle on the farm below, ambling out to pasture in the mists.
It was a splendid workshop, and I brought home some of the best images I’ve done in recent years.
Ricketts Glen is a 13,000 acre Pennsylvania state park west of Scranton and north of Bloomsburg, about 30 driving miles easterly from Eagles Mere. It features some 22 named waterfalls along Kitchen Creek which flows down the Allegheny Front escarpment. I’ve heard about it over the years as a photographic destination, always with the caveat that it’s physically demanding. Our South Jersey Camera Club field trip co-chairs, Pat W. and Larry L, decided to schedule it for a field trip, and drove out there to scout it out. Based on that visit their plan was to leave a couple of cars at the bottom of the trail so that we could avoid having to climb the 953′ back to the entrance lot. Good thinking.
SInce it was a four hour drive there they decided to spread the trip over three days in order to be able to spend a full day in the park. The first day would take us to some covered bridges en route which Larry and Pat had discovered. The group left very early the first day and headed for the bridge country. With age my enthusiasm for such early starts has diminished so I left later after a pleasant breakfast and civilized early morning. Using Larry’s lat-long coordinates I arrived precisely at the first bridge which was in the middle of a pleasant nowhere. I enjoyed the bridge on my own but it being late morning the sun was not helpful…lots of glare and bright spots especially from its aluminum roof. I worked around and came up with this which I liked.
I moved on and came upon the rest of the group (nine colleagues) trying to make lemonade out of the bright sun at the second bridge. This property, adjacent to the covered bridge, was more interesting than the bridge, and was more workable in the bright light.
We then headed off to our intended lodging to rest up before trying some sunset and night shooting. Arrangements had been made at the Crestmont Inn at Eagles Mere, PA. My family and I had stayed in the original 1899 inn in the sixties. Besides the mountain trails and the swimming beach one could also join in Sunday night hymn sings in the parlor (no TV so no Ed Sullivan). The old inn deteriorated in the 70′s and was torn down in 1982, to be replaced by a structure of condominium residences. Two of the original out-buildings were then converted into suites and dining rooms which we enjoyed for two nights.
After recuperating from covered bridge stress we headed out to High Knob in the Loyalsock State Forest to shoot the sunset. The night was clear and that doesn’t make for dramatic sunsets but the colors and cloud forms were still beautiful. (Tech note to colleagues: this was made more dramatic by under exposure.)
When the residue of twilight was gone we looked to shoot the Milky Way as colleagues of ours had done the previous week in the Adirondacks. This was disappointing as it just wasn’t dark enough to have the Milky Way jump out at us. But…good practice. I do have a shot of the Big Dipper should anyone have forgotten what it looks like. We returned to the inn where the innkeeper had arranged to provide us with a fine late supper.
The next morning the rest of the group felt it absolutely necessary to get to the Glen early. First, I enjoyed the innkeeper’s delicious breakfast and then headed off to join them which I did when they were about one-third down into the Glen. But, here’s where not staying with the group almost added to my work for the day. They had told me there was a “left” trail and a “right” trail, and the left was the easier and even had steps along it. So, I marched out of the parking lot and took the trail on the left, marked Highland Trail. On the trail I stopped and chatted with a ranger who was working on signs. He advised me that there were no waterfalls on the Highland Trail, but shortly after that there was a marked shortcut to the Glen Leigh trail along the falls where I caught up with the group. Here is typical of what we encountered over the rest of the hike.
This video will give you a better perspective on the falls at almost each level.
The trail? Hmmm, THE TRAIL! The “left” or groomed or easier trail was a 4.4 mile hike. I never did that even when I was a boy scout. It was steep, narrow, rutted with rocks and roots, and slippery from damp mud and wet leaves. As promised there were a few steps here and there: steep, high risers, narrow, no railings, and also slippery. I kept hoping that the next turn would lead to the down escalator. I would frequently see my colleagues far below and wonder when we would get to the bottom, hopefully not having slid to there. In many narrow sections I wound up holding on to branches or even to tree roots exposed along the side of the narrow ledges. My tripod served as a vital walking stick. One place was so narrow that they had even installed a 2×10 edging plank. I don’t know what it would have stopped. Here’s another example. The log wasn’t part of the trail but the trail, right next to this flow, wasn’t much better.
This went on for much of the 953′ of elevation down which we climbed, with “flat” trails only up at the entrance and down at the end. Here and there among the vegetation was something to compete visually with the falls, thriving on the constant moisture and dappled light.
Difficult, slippery, scary, dangerous but lots of dramatic beauty.
Still the engineer at heart I calculated that I had lost some 185,000 foot-pounds of energy in climbing down through the Glen. Conversely, I would have had to expend that much energy to hike back up. I deferred to the waiting automobiles.
As usual, glad I did it; glad it’s over.