Outdoors

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Redwood National and State Parks Close Parking Lots, Recommend Virtual Tours

Posted By on Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 4:22 PM

If you've been scanning the list of Redwood State and National Parks to see which ones still have open parking lots, you can stop now. They're all closed, effective immediately. Hikers, walkers and cyclists are still welcome, just not their cars. Also, campgrounds, visitors centers and bathrooms remain closed.

According to a press release, the closure of parking lots is an effort "to support federal, state and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)." Even in the great outdoors, it turns out, the parks, their lots and trails were getting crowded, making it difficult or impossible for visitors to maintain the necessary 6 feet of physical separation recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
Still from a virtual old growth tour. - YOUTUBE
  • YouTube
  • Still from a virtual old growth tour.
Instead, the release states, "The National Park Service and California State Parks encourage people to take advantage of the many digital tools already available to explore Redwood National and State Parks on our webpage." This includes links to YouTube for virtual tours of old growth groves and more that you can scan your way around as a friendly guide tells you all about the environs. We looked at them and the tours provide effective virtual forest bathing for stress relief but may not fool your fitness tracker.

Read the full press release below:

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Newsom Announces 'Soft Closure' of Parks, Beaches

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2020 at 10:15 AM

FILE
  • FILE

Following a sunny weekend when Californians flocked to beaches and hiking trails despite a government order to stay home, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday a “soft closure” of state parks to curb the spread of coronavirus.

While not completely blocking access to natural open spaces, the governor’s action immediately closes parking lots at many state parks and beaches, in an effort to drastically reduce the number of visitors.

“We can’t see what we saw over the weekend happen again,” he said, adding that rangers will step up enforcement to keep people six feet away from each other. A list of park closures is available here.

Newsom also delivered more sober news about how the pandemic is affecting Californians: He said unemployment claims in the state have skyrocketed over the last week — to a new daily average of 106,000, from what had been an average of 2,500.

And he said the state is anticipating a need for far more hospital beds than originally forecast to care for Californians who become sick with COVID-19. California needs 50,000 hospital beds to cope with the epidemic, Newsom said Monday — up from the 20,000 hospital beds he projected last week.


Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Friday, March 13, 2020

North Coast Night Lights: Raptors at Chapman’s Gem and Mineral

Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2020 at 11:52 AM

A marauding pack of velociraptors outside of Chapman’s Gem and Mineral Shop south of Fortuna, Humboldt County, California. Photo from March 6, 2020. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • A marauding pack of velociraptors outside of Chapman’s Gem and Mineral Shop south of Fortuna, Humboldt County, California. Photo from March 6, 2020.
Since childhood, dinosaurs have held a fascination for me. If dinosaurs roamed the earth today, my photo stories would probably be about them or, perhaps more likely, about dinosaurs at night.

Alas, they are an exceedingly rare breed and the opportunities to photograph them, or even to see them at all, are few and far between. As a matter of fact, until recently I had never had any luck catching a dinosaur on film or digital, though I have tried; I’ve had more luck photographing meteors.

It turned out I needed to rethink my approach. I am no wildlife stalker and, for all my efforts to track down a dinosaur, I had come up empty every time. I hadn’t failed, I’d simply discovered a number of ways how not to do it, and it was time to regroup. I would try a passive approach next and toward that end I purchased a couple of high quality trail cams. If I could determine where dinosaurs roamed, I reasoned, I might be able to catch some candid photographs up close of the creatures in their native habitats.

For months I set my dinosaur trail cams out in those most likely of habitats for these prehistoric beasts: primordial old growth redwood groves. But I got nothing.

Of course, I captured the usual bears, mountain lions, bobcats and the like, but nothing out of the ordinary. The real quarry eluded me. I tried setting my cameras up by streams, near rivers, in prairies, meadows, beaches and sloughs. Nothing. No dinosaurs. Not even in Fern Canyon. I began wondering whether anyone ever sees these creatures.

But I finally caught a break, and naturally at a time when I was least expecting it and not at all trying for it. On my way home one afternoon from collecting my trail cams from an unsuccessful trail watch down near the Avenue of the Giants, I stopped in at Chapman’s Gem and Mineral Shop.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Monday, March 9, 2020

NCJ Preview with Access Humboldt

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2020 at 9:00 PM

This week: We're talking about the Elk River Watershed, Humboldt County elections and how we camp out in the NCJ office to cover them, as well as how a pair of local campers became outdoor cooking YouTubers. Hit subscribe for weekly updates via YouTube.

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Up in the Sky: A 'Super' Moon with Something to Crow About

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2020 at 7:27 PM

There’s a celestial show going on up in the sky through this week as a full moon with a bunch of fancy names makes an appearance.

According to NASA, this is a “Supermoon” — a full moon that occurs when the moon is closest to the Earth. As the first one in March and the last of winter, this full moon is called “the Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sap Moon, Sugar Moon or Worm Moon."
Supermoon over the launchpad. - NASA
  • NASA
  • Supermoon over the launchpad.

The NASA website states that this moon will appear full for three days, with the countdown starting yesterday. This year boasts four full moons — including this one and another last month — that meet the Supermoon designation threshold based on the orb’s position in its orbit around the Earth.
  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Friday, March 6, 2020

North Coast Night Lights: Lone Oak and Country Road

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2020 at 1:17 PM

A moonlit oak tree watches the passage of the stars on their nightly journey across the sky near a country road in Humboldt County, California. March 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • A moonlit oak tree watches the passage of the stars on their nightly journey across the sky near a country road in Humboldt County, California. March 2019.

In the still of the night, on a ridge top beside a quiet country road, an old oak tree enjoys a long view of valleys and sky. What changes it must have seen as the years turned and the seasons slipped by, day by day and night by night.

Most of us will see the sun cross the sky throughout nearly every day. We know that the stars will also cross at night, but not many of us note their passage through the dark from dusk to dawn. How many nights has the old oak watched as the stars made their slow traverse across the sky? It has seen all the patterns made as the sun, moon, planets and stars rise and set.

Do the stars rise in the east and set in the west as the sun and moon do? The short answer is not exactly, almost oddly enough. As Earth revolves, most of the stars rise and set, but the stars to the north and south arc around the northern and southern axes of our rotation. If we looked out into space perpendicularly to our axis of rotation, the stars we would see would rise in the east and set in the west. The further north or south one looks, the tighter is the arc of the stars.

A moonlit oak tree watches the passage of the stars on their nightly journey across the sky near a country road in Humboldt County, California. March 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • A moonlit oak tree watches the passage of the stars on their nightly journey across the sky near a country road in Humboldt County, California. March 2019.


Where we are in the northern hemisphere, we have a view of the northern polar axis, which conveniently sits on a bright star we’ve named Polaris, the North Star. The stars nearest Polaris will travel in a tight circle around it as Earth rotates, never rising or setting at a horizon. The farther out from Polaris the stars are, the wider their circles. Far enough from Polaris the stars’ larger paths take them from one horizon to the other; these stars rise and set. If we were on the equator, the stars due east would rise vertically, and set due west. From our latitude as one’s gaze moves south the apparent motion of the stars follows an arc above the southern horizon; the center of that arc is the southern axis, which we can’t see because it is above the south pole beyond the horizon.

DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
The photograph of the oak tree I’m sharing here covers a lot of sky in its wide field of view. The stars near the bottom of the image are in the south, arcing across the sky as they travel around the southern axis below the horizon. The stars at the top of the photograph are traveling in a wide circle around the northern axis, which is out of view above and to the left. The area between the southern arcs and the northern arcs is the celestial equator. Because we are north of Earth’s equator, the celestial equator is in the southern half of the sky; were we on the equator, it would extend from east to west directly overhead.

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

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, March 2, 2020

Got Geese? (or Otters?)

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2020 at 3:12 PM

Migrating geese take to the sky early Sunday morning from the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Migrating geese take to the sky early Sunday morning from the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge.


Those who braved the pre-dawn cold Sunday to venture down to the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Loleta were treated to the sight of thousands of geese taking flight as a part of the Aleutian Cackling Goose Fly-Off.

The annual event, also dubbed "Sunrise at the Refuge," allows people to enter the refuge before sunrise in order to see the migratory geese take flight from their nighttime roosts. This year, the refuge will expand its hours to open half an hour before sunrise every Saturday and Sunday in March to give more visitors the chance to see the birds take flight.

Local photographer Mark McKenna was there Sunday and shares the following slideshow. (Spoiler alert: He also found a trio of snuggling otters.)

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Monday, February 24, 2020

North Coast Night Lights: Comet Hyakutake

Posted By on Mon, Feb 24, 2020 at 2:07 PM

DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
Gradually, particle by particle, it grew in size. Through the eons its body filled out, increasing mass infinitesimally with each random mote and flake that settled onto its surface.

In its youth it had prowled the blackness of space on the shadowy fringes of a huge vortex. With others of its kind, it had drifted lazily at a safe distance from the swirling chaos of the maelstrom, observing aloofly the orbits and eddies of ices, metals, rocks and gases in their mad circuits about the new, bright little star at the center.

Masses moving in the unceasing night caressed it with soft tendrils of gravity, tugging and pulling at it gently, continually altering its wanderings until at last it was coaxed into a lazy path downward toward the star at the center of the busy swirl. Eventually, the sun’s own gravitational influence embraced it tenderly and drew it in.

Perhaps never again would it know the relative peace of its birthplace. It had begun a new orbit, a new cycle that would plunge it inward through the busy minefield of giant planets and debris, toward the sun, around it, and back outward again. Over and over again it would repeat this cyclical, 17,000-year-long trek down to the star and back out. During this endless journey, it would be subjected not only to the tortures of the sun’s searing radiation at its closest approach, but to the immense gravitational pulls of the moving planets and the star about which they orbited. Its path would be influenced by the gravity of every body it passed.
Comet Hyakutake glowing with its distinctive greenish hue, as photographed from Fickle Hill Road above Arcata, California. Shot on Ektar 1000 color negative film, this is an in-camera double-exposure: first I photographed Comet Hyakutake. Then, on the same piece of film, I took another photo of my friend’s face in the dark, painting blue light only onto his profile with a tiny flashlight. Can you see his profile looking down toward the left? That is no “Horseshoe Nebula;” it’s his nostril! Above his nostril is the ridge of his eyebrow, and below the nostril are his lips, and at the bottom, his chin. Or maybe you had to be there. Anyway, it was all very cosmic. Humboldt County, California. March, 1996. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Comet Hyakutake glowing with its distinctive greenish hue, as photographed from Fickle Hill Road above Arcata, California. Shot on Ektar 1000 color negative film, this is an in-camera double-exposure: first I photographed Comet Hyakutake. Then, on the same piece of film, I took another photo of my friend’s face in the dark, painting blue light only onto his profile with a tiny flashlight. Can you see his profile looking down toward the left? That is no “Horseshoe Nebula;” it’s his nostril! Above his nostril is the ridge of his eyebrow, and below the nostril are his lips, and at the bottom, his chin. Or maybe you had to be there. Anyway, it was all very cosmic. Humboldt County, California. March, 1996.
Now the comet plunged toward the sun again, the star’s radiation bombarding its crust and boiling away the softer areas across its revolving surface. Pockets of volatile gases burst forth continually under the bombardment, sending streamers and jets outward until the comet’s nucleus was immersed in a fuzzy cloud of its own sloughed materials. Its course was altered ever so slightly with each jet erupting from its surface, with each chunk blasted free. Its long tail took shape as it swung down closer to the sun, the solar wind pushing dust and gas particles away from it and outward from the sun in a long glowing trail.

It passed close to the third planet, closer than it ever had before. It was no stranger to this part of the neighborhood, for the comet had passed that big blue marble many times since it was first dislodged from its old home outside the solar system. The last time it had swung by Earth some 17,000 years before, humanity had comprised a scant few millions of souls. The peopling of the Americas had only recently begun with early migrations from Asia. People had set down their stone tools and gazed in wonder with their naked eyes, or perhaps hid in fear.
This Hyakutake fan art I made from my photo of the comet combined with other photographs of various places and objects I found on California’s North Coast. While I shot the original comet on 35mm film, I photographed the rest of the parts digitally some years later. Created September, 2008. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • This Hyakutake fan art I made from my photo of the comet combined with other photographs of various places and objects I found on California’s North Coast. While I shot the original comet on 35mm film, I photographed the rest of the parts digitally some years later. Created September, 2008.
Now, as Comet Hyakutake approached our planet again, Earth’s billions of inhabitants trained on it the latest technological instruments and lenses that the science of the late 20th century had to offer. Yet, advanced as we thought ourselves to be, this spectacular comet had come out of nowhere. We had failed to even notice it until it was fewer than three months from its peak visibility; it was discovered in January of 1996, and peaked by late March. And none of us will ever see that comet again.

I’m ready for another good comet.

Note: I’m not a scientist, and where informed scientific theory failed me — or rather where I failed science — I substituted with good old-fashioned creative license. We can call it science fiction. I hope you enjoyed the ride.

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 .
  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Caution Urged After Mountain Lion Spotted at CR

Posted By on Mon, Feb 24, 2020 at 10:59 AM

College of the Redwoods is alerting staff and students about a mountain lion sighting. - CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE/FILE
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife/File
  • College of the Redwoods is alerting staff and students about a mountain lion sighting.
College of the Redwoods is cautioning students and staff to “take care” near the Creative Arts Building and Botanical Gardens after a “large mountain lion” was spotted around 9:10 a.m. today, according to a Facebook post.

In an alert sent out, those on campus were asked to be “observant and cautious while in the area” and to report any further sightings to the CR Police Department at (707) 476-4111.

The school also provided a link to the California Department Fish and Wildlife website about mountain lions and living in the animal’s territory, which notes that attacks on humans are rare. 
  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, February 8, 2020

North Coast Night Lights: Portrait of 'Himslef,' the Mysterious Stranger

Posted By on Sat, Feb 8, 2020 at 1:32 PM

You know that not everything you believe can be true, and not everything that’s true can be believed. And whether or not something written is true may well depend on your point of view. Where this story falls, as I relate it to you, is somewhere on the continuum. Were you to file it under tall tales in your own thinking, I would not be offended. It was an evening I’ll never forget; the night I began re-thinking my thinking on Bigfoot.
“Shadow of Himslef.” The eerie shadow of the creature spread across one of Fernbridge’s giant supports. Fernbridge, Humboldt County, California. 1997. - PHOTO BY DAVID WILSON
  • Photo by David Wilson
  • “Shadow of Himslef.” The eerie shadow of the creature spread across one of Fernbridge’s giant supports. Fernbridge, Humboldt County, California. 1997.
It was before the turn of the century that we encountered him, on a night back in, oh, ’97, I think it was, when photography was about film and regular folks didn’t have digital cameras. Even then I was into night photography, though it was harder to do with film than it is today with digital equipment.

That night I felt my creative self pulling me to photograph beneath historic Fernbridge on the Eel River. I called my buddy and persuaded him to accompany me for a little photographic painting with light in the dark of the night. By “painting with light” I mean I would mount my camera on the tripod and compose a scene, then, with the shutter open for many seconds, I’d paint light with a flashlight to illuminate select areas in my composition. Only upon developing the film sometime later would I see whether I’d painted successfully.

For lighting this time, I placed a small tripod off to the left, maybe 15 or 20 yards away, and taped a couple of flashlights to it to illuminate part of the old bridge. I affixed a green filter to one light and a red filter to the other to produce a bold orange-yellow glow where they overlapped. With the flashlights set up, I walked back to my camera.

No sooner had I composed my photograph than great splashing sounds from the river alerted us to something large in the water out beyond the mounted lights. We strained in vain to see into the blackness but could discern nothing past the flashlights’ glare. Whatever it was, its giant size was beyond doubt, for not only was its splashing prodigious but it grunted and growled with fearsome intensity. It splashed and moaned so for perhaps a minute, then all was silence again.

Hearts pounding, half wanting to run and half frozen in place, we stared into the blackness. Finally its huge form took shape in the gloom. It stood in the dimness at the edge of the light circle, transfixed by the light, frozen as a statue. Its figure was far larger than a man, standing, I estimate, fully 8 feet tall. Sleek brown fur clung in its wetness to a muscular body that seemed of equal parts ape and man. The face was distinctly ape-like — except for the eyes, for looking out from the face of that giant creature I could not help but recognize the eyes of a human being.

Without acknowledging us in any way, it strode with the easy grace of a wild animal across the large river rocks and directly into the twin beams of red and green light. As it moved inside the two primary colors, it became a glistening silhouette rimmed with burning yellows and oranges, reds and greens as the colors mixed together with his motions and bounced off of its glistening hide. It paused there, facing into the lights. And then, very slowly, it raised its arms and face to stare in silence into the heavens. The creature stood thus for several moments.

I glanced at my friend and saw in his face the same incredulity I felt. Beyond him I noticed the fantastic shadow the creature was casting onto the bridge, lying perfectly within my camera’s composition. I clicked the shutter open. It was startlingly loud in the quiet of the night.

But the creature paid no attention.

It remained silent and motionless in the lights. For perhaps 10 or 15 seconds we held our breaths. Then the shutter closed suddenly with a loud click-zzhhht. Instantly, the creature wheeled toward us, piercing our own stares with his human-like eyes. He bellowed once, a terrific blast of sound that might have been a word, though one I had never heard. Its earlier vocalizations had been distinctly animal-sounding but this sound was something human-like, an unknown word belted out as he cried, “Himslef!” Instantly the giant frame wheeled and, with a bound and a splash, he was gone.

I only came away with the one shot. It was enough for one night. And, yes, we could then see he was male.

Spoilers:
File this under Myths and Tall Tales. An image will tell its own story when the author’s words aren’t present to describe it or warp a viewer’s perceptions around it. I’m afraid I might have supplied my own narrative here for this image, and I wonder, do you still have your own story for it, or does this one then become yours? Maybe your version tells where the creature went; I’d be interested to know.

Years ago I had this photograph hanging in a show. My title for it was “Shadow of Himself,” but someone kindly pointed out that the title I’d printed for it beneath the photograph read, “Shadow of Himslef.” Dang, I thought. But the word quickly grew on me, and since then I’ve thought of it as its title. Though it began as a typo, the new name also brought with it a new story for me, the one I’ve just shared.

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.
  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , ,

Recent Comments

socialize

Facebook | Twitter

© 2020 North Coast Journal

Website powered by Foundation