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Ethan Winning / 2,164 items

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One of my "leftovers" from Yellowstone that I never got to until this morning. As I kept staring at this one Paintpot (in the Norris Geyser Basin) geyser, I kept thinking that Yellowstone can't just be seen; it has to be experienced.

Yellowstone is not just anything. Not wildlife, not scenics, not wildflowers, and not just Old Faithful. "Yellowstone National Park is an American national park located in the western United States, with parts in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world. The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser, one of its most popular.While it represents many types of biomes, the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion."

I've been fortunate to experience Yellowstone seven times since 1947. Well, I've visited the park for more than six days each visit, but haven't experienced the 3,468.4 square miles! I've "done" perhaps 50. My parents had to show me its wonders, and I had to show my wife, and then my kids. So we always stated with Old Faithful, but during the visit of 2014, we took in Coulter Bay*, and most of the geysers, and the Bison and Pronghorn herds during calving, and what was open on the Lamar Valley. We were there for the two weeks before the park was officially open for 2014.

The geothermal areas of Yellowstone include several geyser basins in Yellowstone National Park as well as other geothermal features such as hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles. The number of thermal features in Yellowstone is estimated at 10,000. We managed 20, and were fascinated by the colors. The bright, vivid colors in the spring are the result of microbial mats around the edges of the mineral-rich water. ... The deep blue color of the water in the center of the pool results from the intrinsic blue color of water. The effect is strongest in the center of the spring, because of its sterility and depth. We were lucky to see 20.

Footnote though a highlight: I added 11 species of birds in our first three days. *Coulter, technically part of the Grand Tetons.

Tags:   Yellowstone National Park Geysers hot springs mud pots and fumaroles Fountain Paint Pot Norris Geyser Region Bacteria Brings Color Canon SX50 Copyright Ethan A. Winning

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For the first few years, starting at Old Borges Ranch, I would head down to Bob Pond, and then start this climb. At the peak (behind me) I had a choice of three other trails, and I usually chose the one to Ginder Gap and the Acorn Woodpecker tree, but coming back, I'd take Sulphur Springs (yes, we actually have sulphur springs, and you can smell it at its strongest under St. John Vianney Church*) and Crest Trail overlooking Berkeley and San Francisco which I overlooked many, many times. It was on these trails that I found some of the most unique insects and lizards and wildflowers and one badger. *The smell from the sulphur is very strong from a mile away, but no problem: if you're overcome during Sunday mass, the John Muir Hospital is right across the street. Normally, this 554 bed hospital is one reason we moved to WC. They treat quite a few rattlesnake bites from fools who don't understand the warning signs, i.e, the rattle!

The crest of the trail where I found the lichen and rock wrens is an opening almost in the center of the image. The bigger opening to the left is the descent: I never met anyone hiking UP on that part of the trail. I never did it either. Don't know why, but I think being right handed plays a role in trail selection.

Mt. Diablo doesn't look like much, but it is 4,000 feet and, from the north peak, one can see 400 miles in every direction on clear days (like this one). The Sierras, Mt. Lassen, the Farralon Islands, and the Central Valley to Fresno. Whenever we have driven, upon return, we look for Mt. Diablo. Unfortunately it looks a hell of a lot closer than it is. We can see it clearly coming back from seeing the kids - talk about social distancing - at 75 miles. I don't know how many miles by crow.

I thought I'd introduce you to "my" mountain as James introduces you to the prairie.

Tags:   Ginder Gap Mt. Diablo Sulphur Springs Walnut Creek Ca A Literal Landmark from Hundreds of Miles Canon SX20 Warm Spring Day Copyright Ethan Winning

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[View Large to see the wild mustard.] Springtime on Mt. Diablo after a rain. Wild Mustard and at least three species of oak on "my" mountain. Quite a difference between the hot, dry months of summer and springtime. Perhaps as much as 70% of all the images of birds, insects, and reptiles on my Flickr pages were taken on Mt. Diablo.

I have been caught in thunderstorms, hail storms, and just plain downpours while hiking the hills. It can be beautiful at those times, but in the winter at 30 degrees F, getting soaked is not a good idea. Well, it was never in the plan when I woke up, but when hiking Diablo, I usually didn't have a plan.

By the way, to have any clouds is almost unusual in this part of California. Either that, or I wasn't paying attention before the drought when I had very few opportunities to capture clouds like this. This image is really one of a kind: bright blue skies behind billowy clouds with wild mustard fields and the lush green that one only sees after a rain. In 20 years of hiking the hills, this was a scene that ... I actually stopped walking and sat for a half hour to take in.

To see even more dramatic images of this part of northern California (actually, northwest central!), see John Fox's Flickr site (www.flickr.com/photos/omnitrigger/). John's images have often gotten me out of bed, and spurred me to get up on this side of the hills.

Tags:   Wild Mustard Sugarloaf Trail Springtime Mt. Diablo Valley Oak Live Oak Blue Oak Scrub Oak Dramatic Beautiful Unusual Clouds Mt. Diablo - Walnut Creek, CA Canon SX 50 Copyright Ethan Winning

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As you come into the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone, look to the right and you'll see one of the most dramatic vistas in the west. It's scenes like this that set off all the land west of the Rockies.

One regret that I have is not spending more time photographing landscapes. I certainly had the opportunities, but I was always distracted by wildlife of the winged or footed variety. Oh, plus wildflowers.

This trip to Yellowstone was our last true vacation, driving from home to the park in a little less than two days: always make reservations at motels along the way. Twice, once when going to Yellowstone, and once while returning from Mt. Rainier, we couldn't find a vacancy anywhere for 900 and 1,000 miles, and I was forced to drive some of the worst roads in the middle of the night. We got to Winnemucca, Nevada and there was a cheerleading contest that filled every room before us. And, in coming south from Rainier, not a room from Newport, Oregon to home because of a Hot Air Balloon Festival on the coast south of Crescent City.

I'm hoping to get one more two week trip in before I have to call it quits. All the plans we've made since 2014 have fallen through for one reason or another. I certainly can't drive 800 miles in a day anymore. But, once IN one of our western national parks (including Canada), I get a little lost within the park and myself, and I can still trek four or five miles if my mind can take control of the very real aches and pains. As I've said, when I'm taking pictures of a Hoary Marmot or a Clark's Nutcracker or, even better, a Canada Jay with real personality, it truly becomes mind over matter ... until even a pebble in my shoe becomes what's going to trump my wayfaring mind.

Tags:   Absoroka Range Yellowstone National Park Wyoming Montana Lamar Valley May 2014 New Canon SX 50 Copyright Ethan Winning

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For eight years, in the last week of January, my wife and I would go to Monterey, Elkhorn Slough, the northern end of Big Sur, and always Point Lobos. I had always loved this part of the west coast more than any other I'd ever been to, and when I realized the bird life in this area, it became an annual pilgrimage.

You don't know what you've lost until you no longer have it. We haven't been able to get down there for four years. It's very disappointing, but I'm so very happy that I took thousands of photos of the coast. I've been glad to share the coast and its wildlife with you, but it's been disconcerting how many more people have been showing up. All of a sudden, they not only charge for parking at the tiny lot at Point Lobos, but you have to make reservations! Now, cut that out! (As though I was responsible... Maybe not alone, but all of us who have been touting and posting, has to have had something to do about it. The least you could do is name any new sea slug found in a tidal pool after me.)

This is just one more view from the area around Point Lobos. Below is an image that took over an hour (and 500+ changes in position on the trail) and was the first I posted on Flickr. So, if you go, take your time, and don't run down the trail: savor the views and mosey.

Tags:   Point Lobos Monterey Coast Monterey Carmel Elkhorn Slough Big Sur A True Sea Blue Canon SX40 Copyright Ethan Winning


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