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Cherry tree blossoms

A photographer friend invited me to take pictures of the blossoming cherry trees at the University of Washington, and I am so glad that I went! There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the light was fantastic!

I arrived well before sunrise, so that I could capture the early morning light on the blossoms. However, I had to stop and get predawn pictures of a few of the buildings in Red Square. Wow!

After that, I went over to the quad, where the cherry trees are. The hour before sunset is known to photographers as the blue hour, because of the bluish tint everything has. I saw some of that, but I loved the orange tint that the streetlights gave to the white blossoms.

As sunrise approached, the buildings got the first light, which gave them a warm, golden color. Later, the trees were touched by the sunlight. I especially liked the contrast between the lit up parts and not lit up parts (they weren’t dark, just lacking sunlight on them).

After two hours, I got my fill, and headed home. What a great morning that was!

The only light in this picture was from lamps shining down from the ceiling. Lovely!

The only light in this picture was from lamps shining down from the ceiling. Lovely!

I love the shapes here.

I love the shapes here.

Suzallo Library

Suzallo Library

I love the colors here. The flowers are white, but the streetlight gives them the orange tint.

I love the colors here. The flowers are white, but the streetlight gives them the orange tint.

Music hall tower during the predawn blue hour

Music hall tower during the predawn blue hour

Looking south down the quad. It's obviously still the blue hour.

Looking south down the quad. It’s obviously still the blue hour.

Savery hall and trees

Savery hall and trees

I love this abstract shot. The light was so low, that I accidentally got motion blur, but the image is so pretty that I kept it.

I love this abstract shot. The light was so low, that I accidentally got motion blur, but the image is so pretty that I kept it.

The moon framed by flowers. Sunrise won't be long now.

The moon framed by flowers. Sunrise won’t be long now.

The branches make a lovely abstract image.

The branches make a lovely abstract image.

The moon and blossoms.

The moon and blossoms.

More branches and blossoms. The first hint of dawn is visible.

More branches and blossoms. The first hint of dawn is visible.

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See the bird?

See the bird?

Music hall tower seen through the blossoms

Music hall tower seen through the blossoms

The cherry blossoms are not limited to the branches.

The cherry blossoms are not limited to the branches.

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The moon again. The sun has definitely risen.

The moon again. The sun has definitely risen.

There were a lot of photographer at the quad.

There were a lot of photographers at the quad.

Sunrise coloring some steam.

Sunrise coloring some steam.

The sun is lighting up the building. Gorgeous!

The sun is lighting up the building. Gorgeous!

Two birds and a moon

Two birds and a moon

A line of blossoming trees

A line of blossoming trees

Wow!

Wow!

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A bird surveying his domain.

A bird surveying his domain.

I love these colors!

I love these colors!

Blossoms on a bench

Blossoms on a bench

A couple exercising.

A couple exercising.

The sun finally touches the top of a tree.

The sun finally touches the top of a tree.

Looking up at the sunlit blossoms

Looking up at the sunlit blossoms

The blossoms appear just about everywhere on the trees

The blossoms appear just about everywhere on the trees

A Spring morning on the UW quad

A Spring morning on the UW quad

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New Jeep!

I traded in the Land Rover for a Jeep, mostly because it was so expensive to maintain. Also, I got tired of being the odd man out in my Jeep club.

Anyway, the Jeep club does some volunteer work at the Walker Valley Off-Road Vehicle park once a month. After the work is done, everybody hits the trail. Finally, I was able to join them (the Land Rover was just to big to go on the trails).

The volunteer work covers the gamut from planting trees to picking up trash. This time, an old bridge on the trail was replaced, and we were asked to drag the old timbers to a road so that a truck could haul them away. Afterwards, we went to see what another club was doing (they were doing some trail maintenance). Then we went to play.

Walker Valley trails are at best intermediate difficulty, and most of them are quite difficult. This was the first time I’d taken the Jeep for any serious off-roading, and I was a little nervous. Fortunately, I have done some four-wheeling in the Land Rover, so I am not a total novice. Nonetheless, I am grateful that the trail boss was merciful, and did not lead the group through anything too difficult.

Here’s a few pictures:

My new Jeep.

My new Jeep.

This time, we were asked to haul some old wood to a road.

This time, we were asked to haul some old wood to a road.

Nice view of Mt. Vernon

Nice view of Mt. Vernon

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A Jeep trail was being worked on, and a different club rented some machinery for it.

A Jeep trail was being worked on, and a different club rented some machinery for it.

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Ice.

Ice.

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I like the view of the mountains.

I like the view of the mountains.

One Jeep doesn't have paint. Instead, it has a chalkboard-like surface!

One Jeep doesn’t have paint. Instead, it has a chalkboard-like surface!

Play time!

Play time!

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The dog was reluctant to get out of the Jeep.

The dog was reluctant to get out of the Jeep.

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Really cool remote control truck

Really cool remote control truck

We found this poor soul stuck on the trail.

We found this poor soul stuck on the trail.

Winching him out.

Winching him out.

Snowshoe to MTTA’s High Hut

Near Mt. Rainier, there’s a delightful place to snowshoe or cross country ski. There are lots of trails, and there are four huts that you can stay in. The huts have propane heat (and a stove). They even have solar collectors so that you can have some light at night. They have pads to sleep on. There are dishes, glasses, silverware, cooking knives, and pots and pans. All you have to supply is a sleeping bag and food. All this for $15 per night! That charge is only if you want to stay the night. It’s free if all you want to do is warm up for a bit and cook lunch. This was the first time I’d ever been here, and I loved it! I’ll make a return visit. If you want to learn more, see http://www.skimtta.com/

I went with a meetup group to the High Hut. As the name implies, it’s the hut that’s at the highest altitude (almost 5,000 feet). It’s also supposed to have the best view of Mt. Rainier. I can’t confirm that, because it was very cloudy when I was up there (that gives me an excuse to return!). That didn’t matter, because everything was coated with ice. It really was a winter wonderland! All the trees at the summit had icicles on them, which made them look like Christmas trees. Beautiful!

The High Hut sleeps 8 people, so that was our group size. Unusually, everybody was an experienced hiker. I could tell, because everyone had the appropriate gear (gaiters, snowshoes, layers, etc.). After we got to the hut, we shared snacks. I brought homemade hummus. Other snacks included cheese and crackers (5 kinds of cheese!), various dried fruits, and chocolate. Yum! Oh yeah. I forgot to mention that the hut had playing cards and various games. We had fun playing Uno.

On to the pictures!

We started at about 2500 feet elevation, and it was slushy.

We started at about 2500 feet elevation, and it was slushy.

I like the way that the background trees just fade into the mist.

I like the way that the background trees just fade into the mist.

Texture

Texture

Color

Color

Color contrast

Color contrast

After we gained some altitude, things became coated in ice.

After we gained some altitude, things became coated in ice.

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This is a blade of grass coated in ice.

This is a blade of grass coated in ice.

This reminds me of lace.

This reminds me of lace.

Now it's getting pretty.

Now it’s getting pretty.

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The High Hut. Those stairs aren't necessary until there is more than 6 feet of snow.

The High Hut. Those stairs aren’t necessary until there is more than 6 feet of snow.

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The front of the High Hut.

The front of the High Hut.

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The ice coating is beautiful

The ice coating is beautiful

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This looks like an alien lifeform.

This looks like an alien lifeform.

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Ice on wood

Ice on wood

The hut's kitchen.

The hut’s kitchen.

The dining room table. The propane fireplace is barely visible on the right.

The dining room table. The propane fireplace is barely visible on the right.

Looking away from the kitchen. There is a bunk bed and a futon, but most of the sleeping space is reached by the ladder on the left.

Looking away from the kitchen. There is a bunk bed and a futon, but most of the sleeping space is reached by the ladder on the left.

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Hurricane Ridge Snowshoe

I snowshoed Hurricane Ridge in the Olympics a few weeks ago. It was cold (about 20 degrees Fahrenheit), but it was worth it. We were originally going to hike to Hurricane Hill, but we turned around about halfway to it. Clouds started rolling in. Not only did that spoil the view, but snow started falling, and we didn’t want to get caught in it.

Enjoy the images!

I love snow-covered trees.

I love snow-covered trees.

Blue sky!

Blue sky!

Mt. Angeles

Mt. Angeles

Looking at the Olympics

Looking at the Olympics

The clouds have some awesome texture here.

The clouds have some awesome texture here.

A lonely picnic table

A lonely picnic table

Icicle

Icicle

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Looking north in the direction of Port Angeles

Looking north in the direction of Port Angeles

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This was a side trail that I couldn't resist going up.

This was a side trail that I couldn’t resist going up.

The view from the top of the side trail. If you look carefully, you can see Vancouver Island in Canada.

The view from the top of the side trail. If you look carefully, you can see Vancouver Island in Canada.

I love the way the that the trees are shrouded by the clouds

I love the way the that the trees are shrouded by the clouds

I'm a sucker for gleaming snow. :)

I’m a sucker for gleaming snow. :)

Ice Axe training

Recently, I got some training for self arrest, just in case I might find myself sliding down a steep snow-covered slope. You start by learning the easy stuff, namely sliding face-down. That’s pretty straightforward. You simply jab into the snow, and put your weight on it.

The scariest part of the training is sliding on your back with your head downhill. At first, you feel pretty vulnerable, but that disappears once you master the technique. Basically, you twist so that you can jab the ice axe’s pick into the snow with all your might. That only slows you down, though. The next thing is to climb up the ice axe and place all your weight on it. That brings you to a complete stop.

I took about a bazillion pictures of the other participants practicing, but I won’t bore you with all of them. I’ll just show one set of pictures that demonstrates the technique. I’ll throw in a couple of “pretty” pictures along with a couple with me in them.

Enjoy!

Hiking up to the training site

Hiking up to the training site

Lance, our teacher

Lance, our teacher

The easy part of the training. All you have to do is drive the pick into the snow.

The easy part of the training. All you have to do is drive the pick into the snow.

A bit of posing. :)

A bit of posing. :)

Snow is thrown into the air as you slow down.

Snow is thrown into the air as you slow down.

About to start the "scary" part of the training.

About to start the “scary” part of the training.

First, drive the ice axe's pick as deep into the snow as you can.

First, drive the ice axe’s pick as deep into the snow as you can.

Since the axe is planted firmly in the snow, let your momentum turn you around so that you are off your back and your head is pointing uphill.

Since the axe is planted firmly in the snow, let your momentum turn you around so that you are off your back and your head is pointing uphill.

Next, pull yourself up, so that your weight is bearing down on the ice axe.

Next, pull yourself up, so that your weight is bearing down on the ice axe.

You've stopped sliding!

You’ve stopped sliding!

A picture of me.

A picture of me.

This isn't a very good picture of me, but here it is, since I don't have too many of them. :)

This isn’t a very good picture of me, but here it is, since I don’t have too many of them. :)

Tipsoo Lake-Naches Peak Loop Snowshoe

I went on somebody else’s hike again, this time to Chinook Pass on Mt. Rainier Nat. Park’s eastern boundary. I was glad that I had four-wheel drive, because there was a lot of compact snow and ice on the road.

I almost had to sit this one out, because I forgot to bring my fleece (I assumed that I had put it in my backpack). Fortunately, the hike leader had brought an extra long underwear top, and that was enough to keep me warm, since I had everything else (hat, gloves, long underwear, rain gear, etc.). The rain gear was handy, not because it was snowing most of the time (even though it was), The rain gear was a good wind breaker, because the wind was pretty brisk at times.

The hike itself is pretty short (a little over three miles). You cross the footbridge over highway 410, which also marks the park entrance. You then walk along the Pacific Crest Trail for about 1.5 miles, then turn off to an overlook of Dewey Lake. You then return by another trail. Very lovely.

It was very cloudy (and snowing) that day, so we didn’t see Mt. Rainier. That was okay, though. The snow and ice had its own beauty. See for yourself; here are the pictures:

Meta picture

Meta picture

Group photo, albeit a little different.

Group photo, albeit a little different.

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Tipsoo Lake

Tipsoo Lake

Footbridge over highway 410. This marks the eastern entrance to the park.

Footbridge over highway 410. This marks the eastern entrance to the park.

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Some icicles

Some icicles

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Dewey Lake

Dewey Lake

Snow in the needles

Snow in the needles

Snow in the moss hanging from a tree.

Snow in the moss hanging from a tree.

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Paradise Snowshoe

I got invited to go snowshoeing at Paradise. How could I say no? :)

The day was cloudy, so I didn’t take very many pictures. That’s okay, though. I still had a good time.

Paradise Inn through the trees.

Paradise Inn through the trees.

This was about the clearest view of Mt. Rainier

This was about the clearest view of Mt. Rainier

Group photo

Group photo

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A maintenance shed buried in a drift

A maintenance shed buried in a drift

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Myrtle Falls

Myrtle Falls

A moody picture

A moody picture

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