Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jasper Expands His Friendships

A few weeks ago, I blogged about how Jasper has a deep relationship with the local llamas. Today we went to the Home Depot using a different route, so we got to visit a different group of Park City's menagrie.

Jasper's best friend was the zebra.  He came running over to see Jasper and followed him along the fence line.
The donkey liked Jasper, but was a little more tentative.
And a sheep. So many animals in one place.
The only downers were the bison, who simply couldn't care less about us, and the two goats who thought Jasper was a bit too bouncy for them. They watched him for about 10 minutes but would never come near the fence.
Same zebra, just a more interesting photo.
Jasper just loves the other animals and they seem quite interested in him.  Not sure where we will go next.  I know they won't let him into the zoo in Salt Lake.

Building a House

They are digging in a lot down the street, getting ready to pour the foundation.
As you can see with my size reference (60 pound dog Jasper), they have removed a large amount of soil and rock.  Of course in Park City, this is really just rock.  Quite the little quarry they have going on.

Hiking to Big Cottonwood

We got an invitation from Ron and Carol Lee to join them on their 10th annual fall hike from Park City over the mountains and down into Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Taking different routes, it was a 13 mile hike there and a 9 mile hike back.We got really lucky on the timing.  The weather was perfect and a lot of the trees were at their peak color.

It was nice that we could hike lightly loaded.  We had one person who couldn't hike over drive a car with our bags for the evening. A different person took them back for us.  Of course I loaded my backpack with a ton of camera equipment anyway..

Julie, pausing for a photo.
We had 9 people on the way over and 8 on the way back. Some of the people had done lots of these annual hikes and one other couple were newbies like us.
One of the first things we saw was a bulldozer pulling a huge mower up and down the ski runs at Park City Mountain Resort.  We all agreed that driving up these steep slopes was a job none of us wanted.  This is one of the Intermediate slopes off the King Con chair.  They also mow the steeper Expert runs.
Some of the aspens were just starting to go from green to yellow.  Others were brilliantly colored and looked like they had been painted every time the sun hit them.
As pretty as the trees were, some of my favorite pictures came from photographing the trail we were walking on.
Just a nice reminder to keep looking all around you.
As we crossed over into Big Cottonwood Canyon, we got some more wide open views.
We were a bit nervous when all 100% of the 0% rain forecast started to look ominous. Some mountain biker passing us said that it was sleeting and raining ahead.  We got lucky and never got more than a few drops.
I wish I had taken pictures at the Silver Fork Lodge.  It's mostly restaurant and a bit motel.  When we got there around 4:30, there were already a lot of people eating. This place is hopping.  There are about eight simple, rustic rooms for rent. Just perfect when all you need is a good meal and a place to sleep.  The bulk of their business is people from Salt Lake coming up during the summer and fall to escape the heat and enjoy the scenery.

The most exciting point in the trip came when one of our hikers collapsed by the hot tub, resulting in a 9-1-1 call.  It turns out that hiking 13 miles, drinking very little water, and then drinking beer in the hot tub can really mess with your blood pressure.  He and his wife had to head to the hospital, but got to go home without an overnight stay.  All is well now, but it was quite a scare.

The next morning the skies were as blue as they get.  Normally I only capture skies like this when I use a polarizer on my camera lens.  In this case, I didn't even have one with me.  The skies were just this blue.
These are the remnants of the Comstock Mine.  In addition to the obvious history, this is the area at PCMR where a locals' snow Martini bar is held every Christmas Day.
It was a nice hike with nice people.  It's a wonderful mix of a fairly long hike with the benefits of not having to sleep on the ground or carry all your belongings.  Julie and I both hope to join this group again.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fall in a Big Way

The aspens are in full color at the top of the mountains. Today's challenge was dealing with lots of clouds and catching things as the sun would peak through and light up one thing or another.

Climbing Grand Teton

Just north of Jackson, Wyoming you  drive into Grand Teton National Park. Wandering around the bulk of the park is fairly flat and easy.  If you want a challenge, you go climb in the mountains.  If you really want a challenge, you climb Grand Teton itself.

Most people do it in two days, but those people are sissies.  The one day alternative is to get up at 1:30 am and start climbing by 3:00.  It is a 7 mile start, up 5,000 feet of vertical.  This is roughly like hiking straight up a blue or black ski run for 7 miles.  Then you do a few hours of roped-in technical climbing to reach the summit.  Then come back down it all, which for most of us is worse than going up.  You start in the dark and finish in the dark.
This isn't anything I have done. It was my seven year old next door neighbor Hannah and her parents.  If you read this blog, you know Hannah is a soon-to-be Olympian in something.  She is already running 5k races in under 8:00 miles.
Much to my dismay, this incredible little girl was able to make to all the way up to the West Summit in a one day push.  She is simply astounding.
At the end of the day, when I would be laying collapsed in a heap, she was showing people that she could do cartwheels. I wonder how much more we could all do if we didn't place so many mental restrictions on ourselves.

Two more pictures I just got.  This is the 3:00am departure photo.  Time to start the climb.
 And Hannah and her mom Sally at the West Summit.  How cute are they!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The First Snow of the Year

Today was full of dramatic weather.  Lots of low clouds and most importantly, the first snow of the year.  We didn't get any at the house but up around 10,000 feet they got a few inches.
I went out to get a tool for my irrigation system and just couldn't resist all the interesting pictures.  Jasper and I spent the next two hours or so poking around.  The cloud deck was just above Park City's famous white barn.
Heading up into Guardsman Pass, the trees are changing and the clouds were swirling.
And snow!  Jasper was romping around and chasing snowballs.  I don't know why he likes snow as much as he does.  I think he was meant to be a husky.
Even without any real sunlight, the aspens were quite pretty.  I hope to get some nicer shots of these tomorrow morning.
Looking back towards Park City, you can see all the different types of clouds.
For about 5 minutes, the sun poked through a hole in the clouds and lit up little sections. It was gorgeous!
I was trying to figure out how to get the lighting right for the clouds and the trees.  I finally decided the only way was an HDR composite.
Then I went over the top (artsy) and tried a very dramatic look.  I know it isn't realistic, but it actually does a better job of capturing the mood.
Lots of photography opportunities in the next few days!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Better pictures with little effort

Yesterday I went to a fair amount of work and didn't get much in the way of good shots.  Today was much better.  We started with a 5 minute break in the heavy clouds to let some early morning sun hit the ski hills.
Then Julie looked out the kitchen window and saw these two moose in our driveway. It's mom and a fairly small calf.
Then I spent five minutes shooting the little Chickadees that come to my bird feeders.
And one more.  It probably gets lost when I shrink the picture for the blog, but if you double-click on the photo and then look at his eye, you can actually see a reflection of the sky and mountain behind me.
And not to be left out, one of the four million chipmunks that live around the house.
I like it when I can just stumble across some decent photos!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall colors, but not

I went out on a hike with Julie this morning and the trees were very pretty.  I took some pictures but the filter I had on my camera had a dulling impact that I didn't expect.  I went back out after lunch, but the storm was rolling in. The good news is that the aspens still have a ways to go and by Tuesday or Wednesday they should be gorgeous.

This is the Montage hotel, surrounded by some nice color.  If you look at the little brown dot on the ski run, that's a moose.
Julie said she couldn't see the moose in the picture, so here is a serious zoom.
 On my drive up the mountain, I caught this little weasel running around.
For about 10 seconds, the sun poked through the heavy clouds. It pays to always be ready.
I still think the most unfortunate part of the fall colors here in Utah is that the red trees go first and then just as they are dropping all their leaves, the aspens start bursting out with their yellow.  It would be spectacular if they could all agree to go at once.

This is the very end of the maples.
Hoping to have a lot more interesting photos later this week.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Jasper the Llama Whisperer

Some dogs are great sheep herders, and Jasper has a bit of Border Collie in him.  While we have seen him in the classic crouch, we have never seen him try to herd anything.  But herding is a lot of work and hard on the dog, its owner and the sheep.

My dog Jasper is a telepathic Llama herder.  He does it without chasing them or having to run at all. 

On today's Home Depot run, we stopped to visit with the llamas.  I figured Jasper was screwed because all the llamas were somewhere between a quarter and a half mile away.  If you double click on this picture and look at the tiny dots at the edge of the field, that's them.  They are closer to those hills than to me.
Jasper was not deterred. He started bouncing around and running back and forth along the fence line.  One by one they noticed him and sure enough, started walking over.
It took about five minutes.  They weren't in a big hurry and it was a very long way to walk.  As you can see in the picture, he has stopped bouncing and is now in pure telepathic mode.
Sure enough, they come straight to him.
And as best I can tell, now they are simply waiting for his instructions.
It is certainly one of the most bizarre things I have seen.  I have no idea what the atraction is and why the llamas would come from so far away. I pondered that they might think I was a farmer there to feed them so I wandered about 100 yards down the fence.  They ignored me and stayed at the fence with Jasper.