Outdoors

Thursday, September 12, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Beauty on the Redwood Highway

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 at 4:19 PM

Late night cars paint their strokes of light onto the dark canvas along a redwood corridor on US 101, the Redwood Highway. Photographed from the Avenue of the Giants, Humboldt County, California. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Late night cars paint their strokes of light onto the dark canvas along a redwood corridor on US 101, the Redwood Highway. Photographed from the Avenue of the Giants, Humboldt County, California.
I hope my images stoke appreciation for the beauty and wonders around us here on the North Coast of California. Many people never experience so uniquely beautiful a countryside as ours, and too many who live within them forget the treasure they have. They are the unlucky ones. Perhaps my images and stories will help to enlighten those who have never seen the wonders all around us, and reacquaint those who might have forgotten and gotten absorbed in the race and lost their place in the mundane. To be grateful for where one lives is a blessing too easily lost.

I know what it is to drive for an hour through the snarl, crawling along too slowly, too crowded between too many terrible drivers, a smog-belched yellow haze in the air you breathe — you drive and you drive, and how far do you get? Not very. (“Damn, this traffic jam!”)*
Each of us is alone inside our own thoughts. We struggle mightily to express ourselves so that others will understand us, and many of us attempt to understand others, but we are always alone in our thoughts. Perhaps it is that innate aloneness that leads to us feeling separate from nature. Oh, but we are so far from being separate from nature; that is an illusion. We are not separate from nature, we are but a tiny part of nature. We are not large, we are small. Earth itself is not large, it is minute. It is a mote in a sea of Nature so large that we call it the universe. Hack and hew though we might, we will never tame the universe. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Each of us is alone inside our own thoughts. We struggle mightily to express ourselves so that others will understand us, and many of us attempt to understand others, but we are always alone in our thoughts. Perhaps it is that innate aloneness that leads to us feeling separate from nature. Oh, but we are so far from being separate from nature; that is an illusion. We are not separate from nature, we are but a tiny part of nature. We are not large, we are small. Earth itself is not large, it is minute. It is a mote in a sea of Nature so large that we call it the universe. Hack and hew though we might, we will never tame the universe.

Here on the North Coast one could spend that same hour driving through places like this stretch along the Redwood Corridor… and for an hour of beauty you’re transported 65 miles away (for some drivers a bit more!). All the while you are driving among the hills, along rivers, high above Pacific vistas, through parks and forests full of clean air. Drivers are so few and far between that the bad ones are mostly easily avoided.

I’m running the numbers on our little corner of the world here, people, and … let me see … ah, carry the 7 … yes — no matter how you add it up or slice, it’s coming up paradise. It’s not too many places in the world where a photograph of the local freeway is a thing of beauty. Think about it. It’s a blessing to be grateful for where one lives, and I very much am.

*From James Taylor’s song “Traffic Jam.”

To keep abreast of David Wilson’s most current photography or peer into its past, visit or contact him at his website mindscapefx.com or follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx .
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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Photos from Mad River Enduro

Posted By on Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 11:40 AM

On Saturday, Sept. 7, mountain bikers came from all over the West Coast for Mad River Enduro. The race is a rare chance for mountain bikers to ride a trail system normally closed to the public as the trails are on Green Diamond land and are maintained by the Redwood Mountain Biking Association.
A rider takes on a drop and prepares for another on the trail through Green Diamond property a day ahead of the Mad River Enduro race. - CONNOR RAY PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Connor Ray Photography
  • A rider takes on a drop and prepares for another on the trail through Green Diamond property a day ahead of the Mad River Enduro race.

This year's race was the second annual enduro and took place over the course of two days. The first day was devoted to practice runs, registration and setting up camp in the designated lot on Taylor way in Blue Lake. Shuttle service on the first day was provided by Revolution Cycles in Arcata. See photo highlights from the first day in the slideshow below.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Eel River Stargazer

Posted By on Wed, Sep 4, 2019 at 3:33 PM

DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
Not far from anywhere on the North Coast the dark skies and solitude of nature quietly await. People travel great distances to come here to camp and hike in it, enjoying the beauty of our forests, beaches, rivers, and amazing night skies. It’s a wonderland to them, and here we are living right in it. It’s almost too good to be true.

It is easy to get used to the beauty when one lives in it and can see it any day. But how often do you visit your favorite nature getaway at night? It’s an entirely different world out there at night. We have nighttime skies here that blow the minds of the city folks I share them with. Yet we’re mostly content to stay indoors ourselves or scoot from one building or light bubble to the next, and never get away from the light. We aren’t nocturnal creatures, but I guarantee that if you can set aside a night to go stargazing away from the lights of human habitations it will be rewarding.

Throughout summer and fall the night sky is dominated by the great belt of the Milky Way. The milky band of lightness stretching across the heavens led to us calling the galaxy in which we live the Milky Way. During this time of the year earth’s night side faces toward the center of the galaxy, showing us a view through the dense plane of our more-or-less-flattened-pinwheel of a galaxy and toward its core. The core stands out in the Milky Way as the most detailed portion of it that we see. When our planet is on the opposite side of the sun, Earth’s night side doesn’t face the middle of the galaxy anymore and the detailed core is hidden to us. This seasonality to the view is what people mean if you hear them speak of “Milky Way” season.
Small beneath the stars, a friend photographs the nightscape on the banks of the South Fork Eel River. Popular in the daytime, we had the site to ourselves. Part of the Milky Way’s core is visible above the horizon, roughly that area with the greater detail and more reds and yellows. Humboldt County, California. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Small beneath the stars, a friend photographs the nightscape on the banks of the South Fork Eel River. Popular in the daytime, we had the site to ourselves. Part of the Milky Way’s core is visible above the horizon, roughly that area with the greater detail and more reds and yellows. Humboldt County, California.
At night you have to yourself places that are otherwise popular in the daytime. I was stargazing on the South Fork Eel River with a couple friends when I took the accompanying photograph of one of them making his own nighttime photograph. This place was completely empty but for us, though during the day it’s a popular spot.

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Friday, August 30, 2019

Warning: Dam Releases Mean Swift, Cool Waters on the Trinity

Posted By on Fri, Aug 30, 2019 at 10:05 AM

With Labor Day weekend marking the official end of the summer season, the National Weather Service is asking those headed for one last hurrah at the Trinity River to use extra caution.
The Trinity River in Hoopa. - FILE
  • File
  • The Trinity River in Hoopa.

Flows will be running higher and colder than usual this time of year, starting Sunday, due to scheduled releases from the Lewiston Dam.

With that said, the NWS also reminds those heading for some water fun to wear a life vest, keep an eye on the kiddos no matter where they go for a swim and to avoid alcohol.

Read the NWS Facebook post below:


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Thursday, August 29, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Tule Fog on Humboldt Bay

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2019 at 2:15 PM

DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
Apparently, the term “tule fog” is specific to a particular seasonal low fog in the Central Valley, but we sometimes see a similar blanket of ground fog around the lowlands and bottoms of coastal northern Humboldt County. Low and mysterious, the veil of mist hugs the contours, it pools in pockets and reduces visibility to nil as wispy strands slide silk-like across the landscape. It’s the kind of fog that makes you throw a backward glance over the shoulder for the Baskerville hound.

Our version of tule fog always brings to mind the sharp features and long nose of Basil Rathbone’s 1939 Sherlock Holmes stalking his foe across the grey, misty moor. The night that I made this photograph I had set out to capture an image that might evoke a similar feeling of foreboding mystery.
Low fog hugging the ground along the Bayside Cutoff on Humboldt Bay. U.S. 101 passes from left to right in the distance. The insanely bright light on the right is a bright yellow LED road sign warning of two-way traffic on the highway at the end of the cutoff. The planet Mars is the brightest point in the sky. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Low fog hugging the ground along the Bayside Cutoff on Humboldt Bay. U.S. 101 passes from left to right in the distance. The insanely bright light on the right is a bright yellow LED road sign warning of two-way traffic on the highway at the end of the cutoff. The planet Mars is the brightest point in the sky.


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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Metal Beast and Stardust Skies

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 12:07 PM

DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
Late one night along a dirt road in the hills in the middle of nowhere in southern Humboldt County, California, a couple of guys rendezvoused to photograph an old metal beast crouching in the dirt beneath the stardust skies of the cosmic realm through which we float, as a species almost completely unaware of the larger significance of our tiny insignificance. I was one of them, and my friend Kris was the other.

The opaque blue sky ceiling of daytime shutters our eyes to the space in which Earth floats, and insulates us against thoughts of our minute scale in the vast scheme of things. But at night our vision punches through the blue dome and we see the magnificence of the greater cosmos in which our little dustball drifts. Most of our waking lives we don’t even see the stars, let alone consider our place among them.

Growing up under the dark skies of a rural area allowed me to enjoy the heavens whenever it was clear. If ever I forget how precious that gift is, when I take folks who are coming from the city out to enjoy our relatively dark skies, their oohs and ahhs remind me how awe inspiring the sight of a sky full of glittering stars truly is. If your mind can grasp it, you will see how tiny we are and how large the rest of the Universe is — whereby “we” I mean all of humanity on Earth, not just you and a few pals. “We” are all together on this little ball drifting through the cosmos. Compared to the rest of it, Earth is smaller than a bit of dust from a crushed grain of sand out there, and all of us scurrying around on it are as the smallest of sub-sub-microscopic organisms. We are a serious lot for being so tiny.
My friend Kris photographed the old Grader sitting beside a dirt road in the hills of rural Southern Humboldt County, California. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • My friend Kris photographed the old Grader sitting beside a dirt road in the hills of rural Southern Humboldt County, California.
Rural life also gave me respect for private property and a skepticism for the rural roads shown on maps. Long before my family’s time there, a stagecoach used to run right though our property, even using the old house that was there as a stop, and continue to either Piercy on the South Fork Eel River or west toward the coast. Traveling in a westerly direction from what would become our place, the road followed Indian Creek up past the old logging ghost town of Moody to the Whitethorn Road and Usal Road, and from there one could go down to Bear Harbor, or north to Shelter Cove. The Usal Road even connected with U.S. Highway 1 to the south. Long after the stages had ceased to run automobiles continued to use the road.

That was a lot of access out the little road, but the through access had closed down by some time in the mid-20th century, before my time. We landed on the property in the 1970s, and all of the connections through it to Piercy and the coast had long since been obliterated, lost to private property and timberland crisscrossed with logging and skid roads. But from town out to our place the road remained intact. It was still the same dirt road that used to run north-south through there so many years before our arrival, only now we were at the end of the line. Beyond us was logging and ranching land with different lines of access.
A meteor streaked over the old Grader as I photographed. The bright star next to the meteor’s tail is the planet Saturn. Jupiter is the largest, brightest point in the sky just above the grader’s roof. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • A meteor streaked over the old Grader as I photographed. The bright star next to the meteor’s tail is the planet Saturn. Jupiter is the largest, brightest point in the sky just above the grader’s roof.


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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Reflections at Richardson Grove

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 3:29 PM

Watch for falling rocks and stars in the Upside-Down. (We loved the reflection). - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Watch for falling rocks and stars in the Upside-Down. (We loved the reflection).
As you read on your computer or mobile device, remember that you, too, can unplug, go outside not too far from where you are now and experience a night something like the one in this image. I took a break from plugged-in things for a week and camped for part of it in Southern Humboldt’s Richardson Grove State Park with family. It’s not a wilderness area, but it is in a beautiful natural setting among hills covered in redwood and mixed forests along the South Fork Eel River.

Sitting in the shade in our camp in Oak Flat campground, we counted eight different tree species and a myriad of plants and shrubs without leaving our seats. Not that we sat around all day, although while sitting and tuning in to the surroundings there was plenty going on around the campground to keep me entirely fascinated, whether it was the activities other campers or things happening in the surrounding forest.

It has been a while since I last backpacked in the wilderness, but I used to a lot and I know what it is like to really get away from everything people-related. This wasn’t that. It is a campground. One hears and sees other campers. Even U.S. Highway 101 goes by not far away, though as a two-lane road weaving through giant redwoods. No it isn’t the wilderness, but you are in the forest, with nature all around. Sitting in it and soaking it in absolutely recharged me. Even listening to the wind while unplugged was recharging. We humans are part of nature, not part of the internet. Nature recharges us.
My brother Seth and I watch the world go by one summer night on the banks of the South Fork Eel River in Richardson Grove, Humboldt County, California - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • My brother Seth and I watch the world go by one summer night on the banks of the South Fork Eel River in Richardson Grove, Humboldt County, California
I hadn’t seen the South Fork Eel River looking so good at this time of year in many summers, and it had been longer since I last enjoyed a good dip in it. The Eel was clear and comfortably cool, with far more water in it than I had expected. It’s shallow near the bank where you see my brother and me standing beneath the night sky, easy to wade in. It gets gradually deeper until near the far shore my brother couldn’t reach the surface with his outstretched arm while standing on the bottom. It’s a tranquil stretch with a very slow current. It would be nice for the entire family.

Humanity disappointed me when we came upon the jarring sight of plastic trash left on the bank of the river by swimmers the previous day. I want to express how unutterably lame that is, but I find my vocabulary temporarily reduced to four-letter words. Some … let’s call them jerks, had brought their candy and plastic-wrapped crap to the riverside — and then left the trash there. I wonder what level of care they had, if any. Did they leave it for someone else to pick up? Thanks, that’s really crappy. Or did they not even care that much? Either way we were disgusted with them (“Houston, we’ve found lower life forms!”). We decided we would come back later with trash bags to clean up after them.

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Eureka Hit a Record High on Tuesday

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 11:25 AM

If you were wondering, the coast did set a record temperature for the day yesterday at 71. That bested the 2003 high of 70, according the Eureka office of the National Weather Service.

Of course that’s nothing in comparison to the what-the-heck highs of early June, when the 11th saw Eureka hit a scorching 85 degrees, a tie for the month’s record, followed by another record the next day when Woodley Island hit 71 by 9 a.m.
augweather.jpg

The normal temperature for the day was 64 and last year the high was 59.

If another record is to be set or hit today on the coast, temps will need to reach 74 on the coast. The forecast for Eureka is a high of 72 but inland the mercury is expected to soar, with Garberville looking at 95 degrees and Hoopa at 97.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Rollback of Endangered Species' Protections Raising Fears

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 2:53 PM

A wild-hatched condor. - COURTESY OF REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK
  • Courtesy of Redwood National Park
  • A wild-hatched condor.
The Trump administration’s move to weaken what many see as key aspects of the Endangered Species Act is garnering outrage and pushback, with critics fearing a greater deterioration of the natural world amid the planet’s growing biodiversity crisis.

Credited with saving the bald eagle — among many iconic species, including several on the North Coast — and giving others —  like the condor — a fighting chance, the ESA was enacted in 1973 by then-President Richard Nixon.

That year, fewer than 500 pairs of the United States’ national symbol were left in the wild while today some 10,000 sets of the stealth raptors with a distinctive snowy white head are found just in the lower 48 states alone.

While the ESA has seen many successes over the years, the rollbacks expected to be enacted soon come on the heels of a United Nation’s report released in May that found “the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world.”

According to an Aug. 12 joint announcement from U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ESA regulatory changes are “designed to increase transparency and effectiveness and bring the administration of the Act into the 21st century.”

“The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal —recovery of our rarest species. The Act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation,” U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, an attorney and former oil industry lobbyist, said in the release. “An effectively administered Act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation.”

Meanwhile, conservation organizations like Center Biological Diversity are sounding the alarm bells about what these changes could spell for already at-risk species like the polar bear and are mounting a campaign to reverse the alterations.

“We can stop this disaster, but it's going to require pulling out every stop,” a post on the center’s website states. “Tell your member of Congress to do everything in their power to defend wildlife and uphold the Endangered Species Act in this time of extinction crisis.

Read the USFW and NOAA release below:


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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Unexpected Magic: Rabbit Stargazer

Posted By on Wed, Aug 7, 2019 at 10:46 AM

d-featurephoto-banner_1200px.jpg
What makes a photograph special isn’t always what was planned but what happens instead. Of course, sometimes what happens instead can make a mess of things. One has no choice in the matter, but it seems to me that if I’m open to the possibility that something unexpected can make the photo better then delightful surprises will occasionally find me and enter my images.

It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes an outing ends with nothing good. And that is OK. I’ve awakened before dawn and gone out numerous times without bringing home an exciting image. But I don’t feel disappointed at those times because they are only the flip side; I feel the balance that exists and I know that the times when I bring nothing back get me that much closer to the next time that magic will enter the image and give me something special. Is it magic when it happens? Luck? Or just plain probability? I don’t know but it works for me, and I am grateful for it and like working with it.
Taking pictures at regular intervals, my camera caught a curious rabbit that had come out to see what was so interesting. I wonder what it saw. This animation comprises 11 separate still images, each 30 seconds long. That means the rabbit stayed there watching for over 5 minutes. The changing light is moonlight passing behind trees during the exposure. This view is cropped close to the rabbit. August 2016. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Taking pictures at regular intervals, my camera caught a curious rabbit that had come out to see what was so interesting. I wonder what it saw. This animation comprises 11 separate still images, each 30 seconds long. That means the rabbit stayed there watching for over 5 minutes. The changing light is moonlight passing behind trees during the exposure. This view is cropped close to the rabbit. August 2016.
A bit of the magic hopped into the frame one August night in 2016 while photographing the Perseid meteor shower. When I discovered it later, it instantly became the star of my evening’s photos for me. I was photographing from a friend’s house who lived far from city lights. In a darker area over a little hill away from the house lights I’d set up my camera and programmed its intervalometer to take long exposure photographs one after another.

While the camera photographed, we watched the skies from a location nearer the house and the conveniences of deck chairs and refreshments. I had no idea that a curious furry little critter had come out to watch the stars near my camera until I looked through the images the next day. If I hadn’t been away from my camera s/he wouldn’t have come.
An uncropped view, this is also a composite of two photographs. The camera was set to take photos at regular intervals and made over 500 exposures from here. The large meteor above crossed the sky where you see it, but after the rabbit had left. The smaller meteor flashed in the sky as the rabbit watched. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • An uncropped view, this is also a composite of two photographs. The camera was set to take photos at regular intervals and made over 500 exposures from here. The large meteor above crossed the sky where you see it, but after the rabbit had left. The smaller meteor flashed in the sky as the rabbit watched.
The rabbit sat by my camera for almost six minutes while the camera took pictures. Each photograph was a 30-second exposure, and the rabbit appeared in eleven of them, mostly sitting and looking this way and that in the starry night. It sat fairly still in some of the images, but in others it moved while the shutter was open, becoming streaks or leaving ghost images of its silhouette. Was s/he watching the shooting stars, drawn out by the magic of a meteor shower as I was? I fancy s/he was sharing the wonder of the night sky so full of stars and meteors, airplanes and satellites. Or was it perhaps watching the camera, wondering what that contraption was which sat upon metal legs and clicked every 30 seconds?

The Perseid meteor shower will peak the night of Aug. 12-13, 2019, but with fewer meteors per hour than usual as a bright moon will wash out the dimmer streaks.


To keep abreast of David Wilson’s most current photography or peer into its past, visit and contact him at his website mindscapefx.com or follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx .
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