Thursday, March 09, 2017

Treasures found while Night Hiking

We hadn't gone in a while so I texted my friend and asked if she were up to a night hike.

She replied that yes she was very ready for a night adventure, "Was the regular time good?"

We started out through the summer pasture and dove down off the point. I lost the trail a few time and had to back track a few times. It was easier in the snow at night for some reason.

When we got to the valley we crossed the creek and ended up at the crossing. We were amazed at how much damage had been done by the recent heavy downpours we'd had. The snowmobile culvert was nearly washed away again.

Lauren spotted something in the grass and we bent down. A golf ball! I laughed as she picked it up. It had been at least 10 years since the Peterson's had played 'Pasture Pool' in this area. Our first treasure of the night.

I thought we should head out to the ridge above the 'ice' cave, but at the last second I headed down into the creek and we forged our way across it and into the old camp ground. 

Lauren said she was happy that she'd worn her rubber chore boots.
I was trying out a pair of knee high chore boots and agreed. I hadn't planned on dragging her through the creek.

I thought we'd search for Skunk Cabbage alongside a certain section of the creek. That was a bust. I was hoping to see some.

We got to the big spring and I explained to her that I thought 'those little plants were water cress' and ... I pointed ... those little plants would be the first yellow flowers in the valley. Marsh Marigolds.

I searched around with my headlamp and lo and behold! We found skunk cabbage! I said that I'd take a night shot of it when we came back.

Little did I know, we wouldn't be coming back the same way.

I was able to find an old cow/deer trail that took us right down into the eastern 'Ravine' or the huge dry run that had a tiny spring up towards the middle. 

It was the magical place of blue, green, and pink ice a few years ago.

We started our upward climb over huge boulders and rocks.  We did find ice. Not much, but there must have been quite a bit to have survived all of this warm wet weather.

We climbed onward.

We found the first little pond.

"Hold on a second," I told Lauren, "this is a little pond of spring water. Look how clear it is!"

Lauren laughed and said that if I hadn't pointed it out she may have stepped into it.

If you look carefully at the picture you can see my headlamp causes the floating leaves to cast a shadow on the leaves at the bottom of the small pond.

I had Lauren sit on a rock above the pond. I wanted a photo of her boots.

What can I say, ... she can't sit still either! However, see the reflection of her boot in the water?

We were like little kids. We laughed.

I know any lurking night creatures had probably fled as we climbed the tumbled boulders and stones higher into the steep ravine. We made little jokes and comments. 

We stopped at the 'step rocks'. I told her I really had no idea what to call them but that. The rocks were in layers like little steps.

I took a photo of the green algae in that little pond.

I tried a shot of the mini water falls above it. It turned out awful with my headlamp.

We turned off our lights and listened to the forest around us and the water running beneath our feet.

I got a sense of well being and and internal feeling of awe. Once our eyes adjusted to the night, we wondered why we had been using lights.

The moonlight was bright.

So I wondered if I could take a moonlit shot without any other light with the camera.

I set up the tripod and set the timer to LiveBulb. I carefully pressed the shutter and...

Imagine our surprise to see this after a 2 minute exposure.

We were both floored.

Since we were blocked from climbing further up past this point by downed trees and steep rock walls, we turned around and headed back towards the valley.

We excitedly talked about how amazing it was to capture a photo in the moonlight.

I asked Lauren if she'd like to climb the hillside to the camp road and cross the ridge above us or head back down into the valley.

We stood for a moment Yes? No? Maybe? Okay!

And we began the steep climb with assistance from our headlamps once again.

Part of the way up the hill I heard Lauren call out excitedly. "Bones! Skull?"

That stopped me in my tracks. We love finding bones. Perhaps she'd found an antler shed.

She'd found what appeared to be the bones of a coyote. I picked up the lower jaws and admired the clean sharp teeth. We searched up and down and around the hillside but found no skull.

We found the backbone, which still had the tail bones attached, and the bones that make up paws still held together by old sinew and hair. It is amazing how complex the canine foot is.

After quite a while we gave up. Lauren tried to get a photo of me holding up the jaws with her cell phone, but it didn't work very well. So I set up my camera and told her how to take the shot.

She did well didn't she?

Just as we were about to step out on the old hill road I spotted the prize and let out a shout of glee. There it was, the gleaming white coyote skull. And it had all of its teeth and no damage.

I did a mini happy dance and we continued out towards the cropland and into the moon and star light.

We walked and talked. I looked up at the moon and the stars and decided to try a 'selfie' in the moonlight. I had no idea what it may look like.
I set things up and was frustrated with the fact that there is no delay on LiveBulb. I used my light to focus the camera on Lauren and then hit the switch.

I think the most difficult part of this photo was the fact that we had to actually sit still for 2 minutes.

Look at my hands. They couldn't stay still.

We kept muttering to each other wondering if we'd be able to hear the shutter close.
A long eared owl serenaded us from somewhere to our west deep in the woods.

And...we heard the shutter close!

Another surprise!
See the coyote skull and the golf ball?

We were tickled and thought we'd try another spot. We picked a deadfurrow and used a tree for our focal point.

Well we weren't very good at staying still this time. But you can see the homestead clear as day behind us. The old silo still stands and you can barely see the roof of the cabin between the tree and I at our hip.

The slight red in the sky are from the lights of Readstown. And you can see star trails above us from the long exposure.

We were like two kids in a candy store. Well, I was probably more tickled. I've always wanted to try night 'shooting' but it is a lot nicer to have a friend along. I've hesitated about doing it alone.

We walked moved closer to the woods to get out of the cold light winds. I back tracked and asked Lauren if she wanted to see PeeWee's Hole.

It is a hole in the ground that leads to an underground cave. At one time the fellas whose father settled the land had ladders and would climb down into the cave.
I showed Lauren and flashed my headlamp down into it. Sadly the fella that lived in the cabin had been using the 'cave' or hole to dump his trash. However there was still a trail up the steep side. It looked like raccoons were using the hole.

Here I was, walking with a great pal and friend in nearly the middle of the night listening to the owl calling...and my hound Dixie barking at the moon off in the distance.
And I couldn't think of when I'd had so much fun.

Well, except for the last time I went hiking with friends.

We came down our road and I just had to take a shot.
The clouds were moving in fast and we'd soon lose most of the moonlight.

So we set up one more shot.

While not a stellar shot, it does sum up our Night Hiking quite well.

Hmmm. I thought Lauren was taller than me!
We faced towards home and listened to the owl once more and listened for the soft click of the shutter.

And then our adventure was over.
I took the skull and set it on the porch with its jaws and the golf ball.

I hope the sky clears tonight.

1 comment:

Lauren Tracey said...

While I always have a blast on our hikes you really captured the feeling of that night. Absolutely awe-inspiring! I still can't believe it was nearly 11:00pm in those photos. Wow! I thought photography was neat before, but the long night exposures completely blew me away! As always, thanks again my friend! 🤗