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Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

During the summer of 2010, I embarked on a mission to find the best place in the valley to watch the beautiful sunsets we are so sweet-spoonful-of-sunoften blessed with in Cache Valley. Eventually, I raced atop Old Main Hill at Utah State University and saw one of the more epic sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. Since that day, I kind of gave up on trying to find other places to see the sunset from an unadulterated, unobstructed area. I guess, someday, I will have to pick up where I left off. I’m sure there are plenty places out there.

It seems that most times when a great sunset is in progress I’m driving, or at home — with or without my camera — and never in a good enough place to get a shot without trees, houses, or other buildings or objects in the way. Nowadays, with winter fast approaching, the sunset happens so fast that if you’re not ready for it, it’s come and gone before you know it.

This is the time of year when it gets dark by 5 p.m. We also experience that wonderful weather phenomenon referred to as the inversion; and while it may bring some slightly unhealthy air days, one of the advantages to having it is the higher frequency of brightly colored, attractive sunsets.

sunset-perfect-ending1For those of you who like a good sunset, look to the west any given evening just before the sun ducks behind the Wellsvilles, and you may get lucky enough to catch the brilliant pinks, reds and oranges glowing through the clouds. I’ve noticed there’s really only a 5- or 10-minute window of truly magnificent brilliance, and then the sun is gone and the sky looks just like any other fading memory of the day.

In Cache Valley, this time of year, I’ve noticed most people have already assumed to say it’s winter, even though we are actually supposed to have another month of autumn. Honestly, I can’t say I blame them. It has, after all, snowed half a dozen times and the temperatures are usually in the single digits at night.

I take comfort in saying, though, that I’m completely OK with this. Somewhere along the way, I’ve grown to appreciate the cold weather. Perhaps it was the few years I spent in southeastern Utah, living in the desert. Maybe it’s the beautiful, temperate Cache summers that wouldn’t be so appreciable without a few months of snow and bitter cold.

Either way, there’s nothing like walking outside on a sunny winter morning and seeing the sun glistening off of the snow-covered Wellsville mountains. For those who have only seen pictures of this, I invite you to visit us in the winter.

Many will tell you to stay far away from here this time of year. They’ll say it snows all the time and your car will freeze to its parking space overnight. I can’t say this is a lie, but I can say, with a warm chuckle, that it’s good cause to curl up with a warm mug of hot cocoa or chamomile and enjoy the cold winter sights from the warmth of a cozy living room.

In the wintertime, that’s the best place to see the beautiful Cache sunrises and sunsets — from the warmth of my home. Come by and I may just invite you in for a cup of herbal tea or hot chocolate. We can chat about capturing that elusive perfect sunset photo and all of the other reasons Cache Valley is a great place to be in the wintertime.

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As a journalism student at Utah State University, I was urged early on to apply for a job as a writer for the university newspaper The Utah Statesman. Shortly after I was hired, I had the honor of taking a job as the news senior writer, which afforded me countless opportunities to learn about topics I never would have otherwise been exposed to in my registered classes. I have had the opportunity to talk with professors, students and a wide range of faculty members and learn about so many interesting realms that make up the wide world of academia, not to mention our world in general. Early in the spring semester of this year (2011) I took interest in the fact that across the U.S., national parks and state parks have perpetually been the victims of deep budget cuts. Under the pressures to open up funds in other areas, or somehow try to balance budgets in lieu of the money that once used to pay for national and state parks, legislators have been forced to reduce funds time and again. My aim is not to point fingers, call names or say what is right or wrong regarding the issue of reduced funding for anything. This is, after all, a lighthearted blog about the great things Cache Valley has to offer its residents and visitors. I’m simply saying this because I was able to write a story about state parks and learned there are two of them right here in our back yard — Bear Lake and Hyrum state parks.

Another advantage to being a USU student is that I don’t have to own a bunch of expensive outdoor gear to be able to enjoy outdoor fun. The university’s Outdoor Recreation Program, located in the proximity of Romney Stadium — where all of USU’s home football games are played — is essentially an outdoors equipment outfitter and rental shop that makes it possible for students and non-students alike to access things like tents, sleeping bags, snowshoes, climbing harnesses and kayaks. The reason I say it’s advantageous to be a student is because we get a little bit of a discount on the rental fees. I recently decided to rent a kayak for the weekend and paddle around at Hyrum Lake State Park, to get a little sun, a little solitude and several great sunset pictures.

When I wrote my state parks story for The Statesman, I knew about Bear Lake, never even heard of Hyrum State Park and had never been to either place before in my life. This is when being a blogger for the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau is great — as if I didn’t already love being outdoors, now I have even more motivation to go  do what I like. I drove south on Highway 165, which is what Main Street in Logan turns into after you leave Logan. Eventually, I passed the McDonald’s in Hyrum, which was a sign I was about pass Mountain Crest High School and come to 300 South. This is the road I turned right (west) on that eventually led directly to the park. It’s pretty awesome to be driving through a semi-rural, agrarian suburb and out of nowhere see a fairly large reservoir and adjacent parking lot full of boat trailers pop out. This is roughly the point at which I said to myself, again, “Man, I love this place.” I honestly do say that.

I stopped at the tiny building with a stop sign in front of it, to be greeted by a cheery park ranger who saw the hard-shell sit-on-top kayak — that I rented for $15 for the weekend — strapped to the roof of my Jeep and asked, “Are you just here for an evening paddle?” I nodded and obliged him with my hardly noticeable entrance fee of $6.

I parked the Jeep — and I’m happy to report the parking lot was not over-packed with vehicles — and pulled the boat off the roof and the rest is history — a boy and a boat. What more can I say? I love to paddle. I love the solitude, the scenery and the fact that I now know about Hyrum Lake State Park. From here, I’ll let the photo slideshow tell the rest of the story. There should be a few more weeks, at least, of  good enough weather to go boating in. For those of you who follow my lead and check out Hyrum Lake State Park, look for the guy with the new camera who’s trying not to drop it in the water while taking pictures. That’ll be me.

I am planning on going to Bear Lake  State Park in two weeks to do some more paddling, so check back to see how the two parks compare. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you out there.

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A lot of times when I tell people I am from Pennsylvania, I hear how beautiful they think the trees look there during the onset of the fall season. It is true, the trees in Pennsylvania are plentiful, and this time of year they take on a vast array of vibrant colors. I have to say though, Pennsylvania’s mountains have nothing on Utah!

This past weekend, my hiking buddy and I decided to take an adventure through the canyon. This time we chose the Wind Caves trail, a popular, easy hike, yet wonderfully scenic.  The most prominent feature throughout the hike is the China Wall, which is opposite the Wind Caves trail, on the eastern side of Logan Canyon road.

As we hiked the switchbacks, I was in complete amazement with the autumnal display of color that adorned the trees. In every direction that I cast my eyes, I could see reds, oranges, yellows and greens of every kind. In fact, I now understand why there are more than seven colors in a good box of crayons. Some leaves had already completed their earthward descent, laying to winter’s rest early; but most of the leaves still clung to their branches, waiting to have their picture taken. What a glorious time of year for a hike!

We were greeted on the trail by not only a copious spectrum of colorful foliage, but also by families, dogs and all sorts of people enjoying their weekend in the mountains. The air was still warm but it whispered faintly of the crisp, cool autumn breezes soon to come. The sun warmed us as we walked, which made the shade a refreshing place to take brief breaks.

Among the various rock formations that we saw –which are composed of limestone and quartzite, and carved by the wind– were the Wind Caves. At one point, the trail reaches a pinnacle, which is a great spot to take in a breathtaking view of the China Wall. This scenic viewpoint is actually the roof of the alcove called the Wind Caves. After we walked a few feet across a limestone arch, we scrambled down to the alcove where we found a large area to sit in the shade and absorb our surroundings.

The Wind Caves trail is great for all amateur aspiring photographers, such as myself. Utah, in general, is a camera carrier’s dream. All you have to do is point and shoot, and you’re almost guaranteed a great picture.

The trail is also rated  “easy” in the Cache Trails handbook, by Jim Sinclair. This makes it a great family hike. Some parts of the trail are a little narrow, so opposing traffic will sometimes need to yield. Besides that, pack a lunch, fill up your water bottle, and get the kids and dogs in the car and go. The next hike on my list might be the Crimson Trail, which runs along the China Wall. If you have a good pair of binoculars, you may be able to look to the east from the Wind Caves trail and see me over there. Happy hiking!

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