Outdoors

Thursday, July 11, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Eel River Overlook

Posted By on Thu, Jul 11, 2019 at 10:08 AM

DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
The magic of the night was all around, so very quiet with only the sound of the redwood forest around us sighing in a light breeze and merging with the soft susurrus of the Eel River far below. From a protected hollow high above the river my companions and I looked out over a world bathed in starlight, the galactic core of our galaxy reaching upward from the southern horizon and complementing the curve of the river below. At that moment, at that place, we felt between the heavens and Earth.

There is no forest more beautiful than the redwood forests of our part of the planet. They occur natively only in a few narrow bands along the coast of North America, and we are blessed to have some of those forests in our backyard here on the California north coast. To stand among them beneath the stars is a treat very few people in the world will experience firsthand. We who live with these wonders may sometimes forget what a blessing they are.
“A shooting star! Over near Jupiter!” I missed the meteor at the time, but not the magic of the night. Below us the Eel River glided between Redwood-covered hillsides under the night sky. I was with a former student and her friend and we played with our cameras while we stood in awe of the night. I found the meteor as I examined the photographs later. Humboldt County, California. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • “A shooting star! Over near Jupiter!” I missed the meteor at the time, but not the magic of the night. Below us the Eel River glided between Redwood-covered hillsides under the night sky. I was with a former student and her friend and we played with our cameras while we stood in awe of the night. I found the meteor as I examined the photographs later. Humboldt County, California.
It is easy to lose perspective in our busy world. As humanity we are perhaps overly concerned with ourselves. We forget that we’re actually quite small, a small species on a minute world that is a part of something much, much larger. We pretend to set ourselves outside of Nature when we look at it. But we are deep within it and riding for our lives on the tiniest of motes in space, a sea of Nature so large we can’t even grasp it.

On evenings like this, looking up into the incredible Milky Way galaxy of which we are a part, it’s interesting to imagine myself traveling out into space and looking back at the receding Earth. As Earth shrinks, I see how small we really are. At about the size of a little blue marble, our atmosphere looks a mere sheen on the surface. It gives some perspective relative to the Universe in which we live. So fragile are we out there.
From the immensity of space, the distant core of our galaxy rises over the Eel River. We will never understand it all, but I did mark a few points along the way. From the Avenue of the Giants, Humboldt County, Earth. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • From the immensity of space, the distant core of our galaxy rises over the Eel River. We will never understand it all, but I did mark a few points along the way. From the Avenue of the Giants, Humboldt County, Earth.


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Friday, July 5, 2019

Benbow Eaglet Faces Close Call With Fire

Posted By on Fri, Jul 5, 2019 at 10:05 PM

After the firefighters left, the eaglet began to move again. - PHOTO BY TALIA ROSE
  • Photo by Talia Rose
  • After the firefighters left, the eaglet began to move again.

Southern Humboldt County nature lovers were very concerned today as a wildfire burning in the Benbow area closed in on a nest holding a 12-week-old eaglet that has not yet taken to flight.

“It was really close, and the helicopter was buzzing right past the nest,” said nature photographer Talia Rose, who runs the popular nature photography Facebook page, County Line Wild. “[B]oth parents were absent from the valley … .”

Rose, who frequently photographs the eagle family, said during that the firefight, as the helicopter was buzzing nearby, the eaglet “was sitting up tall but tense and frozen in the nest … .”

Firefighters from Cal Fire, Garberville and Redway VFDs as well as an inmate crew managed to get to the difficult to access fire and stop its forward progress by about 6:30 p.m.

She said the eaglet barely moved “until about 20 minutes after the helicopter left the valley …. .” Then, she said, “it finally moved around the nest a bit. I think it will be fine and thank god this fire did not start in the middle of the night.”

Firefighters expect to be mopping up until 11 p.m.
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Coasties Rescue Stranded Hiker

Posted By on Fri, Jul 5, 2019 at 12:19 PM

A MH-65 Dolphin helicopter conducts a cliffside rescue after a hiker became stranded near the base of the sea cliff in Patricks Point State Park in Trinidad, California, July 4, 2019. The hiker was hoisted aboard the Dolphin and transported to local emergency medical services with no reported injuries. - U.S. COAST GUARD PHOTO COURTESY OF ARCATA MAD RIVER AMBULANCE SERVICES
  • U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Arcata Mad River Ambulance Services
  • A MH-65 Dolphin helicopter conducts a cliffside rescue after a hiker became stranded near the base of the sea cliff in Patricks Point State Park in Trinidad, California, July 4, 2019. The hiker was hoisted aboard the Dolphin and transported to local emergency medical services with no reported injuries.

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a 22-year-old man who fell off a cliff while hiking in Patrick’s Point State Park yesterday evening.

According to a press release, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay got a call reporting a hiker stranded at the base of a sea cliff around 6:45 p.m. and launched its Dolphin helicopter to attempt a rescue.

Once on scene, the helicopter located the hiker and lowered a rescue swimmer, who brought the man safely on board the helicopter. The man was evaluated by Arcata Mad River Ambulance Services and determined to be uninjured.

“This case was an excellent example of the interoperability among first response agencies here in Humboldt County,” said Cmdr. Brendan Hilleary, chief of response at Sector Humboldt Bay, in a press release. “I’m very thankful that we were able to support our state parks partners and bring this hiker safely back to his family."

Read the full Coast Guard press release copied below:

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: The Survivor

Posted By on Wed, Jul 3, 2019 at 5:45 PM

DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
The Survivor.

The gnarled old pear tree was struggling to survive, hanging onto the edge of a dried embankment above a little dirt road when my family moved there over 40 years ago. It was small, not much taller than my dad, but already old, a twisted thing eking out a life on its own in the hard earth of a hot, dry Southern Humboldt hillside. Something in its solitary and determined struggle to survive was compelling to me, and it has always resonated with me.

After years of weathering, the crumbled soil beneath it gave out and it slid down onto the road. I found it there one day, still standing amongst the rubble of its small slide and looking a little disheveled. But it was OK. I dug a new hole and planted it across the road from its old perch in a more secure spot with the same view. I carried water to it regularly through the summer until it was able to continue on its own. That was over 25 years ago.

The other night I stopped by to say hi to it out beneath the stars. It was good to see the old tree under the night sky and share with it the awesome splendor of the Milky Way. I thought of all the nights the pear tree has watched the stars and planets traverse the sky. Other than a few clouds along the horizon, the sky was a glittering star field. Jupiter shone above the tree as the brightest point. Across the Milky Way from Jupiter glowed Saturn. I watched them cross the sky for a couple hours before tiring, so different from the patience of the tree; from its perspective, I showed up, connected briefly, took some photographs and zipped away again.

What’s a couple hours when you’ve stood watch for decades?
Some of the visible galactic points of interest that are reasonably identifiable passing over the old pear tree as Earth spins beneath them. Humboldt County, California. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Some of the visible galactic points of interest that are reasonably identifiable passing over the old pear tree as Earth spins beneath them. Humboldt County, California.
It’s interesting to think how the life of this stunted old pear tree and mine have become entwined, and it feels good to think that replanting it all that time ago gave it so many more years of life. I suppose I was its little angel when I came along, and for its part it has always given me a good feeling.
An old, stunted pear tree abides in its nightly vigil beneath the Milky Way. The tree lives in Southern Humboldt County, California, but the far ridge line is in Mendocino County. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • An old, stunted pear tree abides in its nightly vigil beneath the Milky Way. The tree lives in Southern Humboldt County, California, but the far ridge line is in Mendocino County.
The tree is still small but it’s healthy. There must be a lot of rings packed in that dense little trunk. I’m glad our paths have crossed.


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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Monday, June 17, 2019

SLO Betta Blues

Posted By on Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 4:24 PM

The World Famous Crab Grass Band! - MATT FILAR
  • Matt Filar
  • The World Famous Crab Grass Band!
These are getting harder to write. We’re a baker’s dozen games into the season, still three games under .500 at 5-8, and looking poised to remain so. “This is the slowest start the Crabs have had since I can remember,” said Hugh Scanion, Crab Grass Band founder and unofficial team historian.

It isn’t that they’re bad per se, they just aren’t on the same page. We’ve got as many Crabs batting over .300 as are hitting under .200. Our pitching rotation and bullpen are evenly split above and below 3.00 ERA. The Crabs are suffering from intermittent bouts of what I call “Giants Syndrome.” When we’re hitting, we aren’t pitching, and when we’re pitching, we aren’t hitting.

Friday’s game was one I’d just as soon not talk about, but the extracurriculars necessitate it, so I’ll get through the game quick. The Crabs lost their first game of the weekend to the San Luis Obispo Blues 13-1. It was a shellacking, an unmitigated rout, a blow-out of 1980's prom proportions. They buried us in runs and laughed at our interring.
Pitcher Josh Mollerus deals on Friday evening - MATT FILAR
  • Matt Filar
  • Pitcher Josh Mollerus deals on Friday evening


A woman caught a foul ball to the head and had to leave the ballpark with an icepack the size of her head on her head. She was bleeding and everything. Gotta watch out for those errant flies, folks. They are no joke. I hope she’s all right.

And then there was perhaps the worst Crabs fan I’ve encountered at any game. He’s up there with the B52s guy from the last year who gave the whole stadium the finger as he cursed our names. I can’t be certain, but he appeared to spawn from the dried beer on the bleachers in the second inning. Drunk already, to be sure. He wasn’t so much heckling as he was just shouting at Blues players. Cussing them up and down despite the numerous reminders and boos he got from the crowd that that isn’t how we do things. During the middle of a Blues rally, he stood up, literally (and I mean that literally and not as a synonym for figuratively) tore his shirt off, threw it in the air, and played radio dials on his nipples. I wish I was joking. Thankfully, security did their job and escorted him out, but this Grendel would not be so easily deterred. He attempted to sneak back in a couple of times before ultimately soiling himself and crawling back to whatever dank cave he calls home. Good riddance. If you can’t hack public drinking and acting like an adult, or even a human being with a basic sense of decorum, don’t come to the game. Stay home and ruin your liver.

On the lighter side of things, a man built like a Bernini statue showed up with a perfectly groomed Bichon Frise and the SLO manager got kicked out in the 8th inning for arguing an admittedly terrible call and belly bumping one of the umps. It was a beautiful spectacle, a lone bright spot for the fans, and it was doubly funny to see him chatting with one of the Crab Grass Band members and drinking a Steelhead five minutes later. Now that’s a man who knows how to manage collegiate semi-pro wood-bat summer league.

Oh! And our right fielder, Dylan Johnson made a stunning grab in the second inning. A full body-length diving catch onto the warning track. It was a thing of beauty


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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Night Lights in the Fog

Posted By on Wed, Jun 12, 2019 at 2:17 PM

banner-2019-06-05_edge-o-world-fog-silhouettes_58_1500px.jpg
In which an expedition to photograph beneath the night skies encounters lemons in the form of a thick pea soup fog, so we make lemonade. We had hoped for a starry night and the Milky Way, but the lemonade turned out better than expected.

In online photo circles, one will bump into other photographers through the images they share, follow each other’s work and sometimes meet up to shoot together or collaborate. Mary Burns and I ran into each other through our images on Instagram and have followed each other’s work for a year or so. She does a lot of work with people, and I do a lot of work with night, so naturally our collaboration would involve photographing people at night beneath a starry sky.

Mary introduced me to her friend and fellow local photographer Gabriel Smith and her brother Liam before we caravanned to our destination.

We arrived to find a world socked in with a coastal fog dense enough to do proud the moors in The Hound of the Baskervilles. The mists thickened and thinned with the varying wind but never gave us a glimpse of the sky. It condensed on the trees and dripped from the leaves like rain from not far away; it dampened the stars from our sight and gave us a wet and gray night.
“You shall not pass!” We encountered The Fire Lord, who required a password. But we had too many passwords already and forgot it.  —Gabriel Smith models as the Fire Lord in this re-creation. Humboldt County, California. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • “You shall not pass!” We encountered The Fire Lord, who required a password. But we had too many passwords already and forgot it. —Gabriel Smith models as the Fire Lord in this re-creation. Humboldt County, California.
Thwarted in photographing scenic landscapes, we tripped down the mindscapes of our imagination. We had lights, sparklers, people, fog and cameras. The sparklers cast dramatic glows in the fog and swirling smoke and our lights threw stark shadows and brilliant shafts piercing through the mists and over the ground.

We played, bouncing light and ideas off of each other. Gabriel and I alternated turns modeling and photographing while Liam held a light on us from behind. Mary photographed and I kept the sparklers going for us. It felt strange being on other side of the camera. Striking a pose and holding the flaming sparkler aloft before me, I felt like the wizard Gandalf challenging the great Balrog of Morgoth.


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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Eureka Slough Railroad Bridge

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 12:23 PM

DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
I remember when the rails in Humboldt County rumbled to the passage of great trains rolling regularly through the county. Looking back, I took far too little advantage of the photographic opportunities they afforded while their time and mine here overlapped. Now we have them in memory only, and photographing the remnants of their steel carriages and rusting rails evokes ghosts of a bygone day.

With thoughts of capturing some of that once mighty line’s remains in the stark light of the modern night I found myself on the old railroad bridge over the Eureka Slough at the north end of Eureka, Humboldt County, California. Here the Old meets New, as this section of the former track is slated to become part of the Humboldt Bay Trail, connecting Eureka with Arcata for non-motorized traffic
(https://humboldtgov.org/humboldtbaytrail).

In photography’s early days images were monochromatic, reproducing all the vibrant colors of a scene as a range of gray values from white to black. Film was an ideal medium for capturing history, and the early history it recorded lives on today as black and white images. For over a hundred years photography recorded a world without color for posterity.
A night on the old Railroad bridge over the Eureka Slough at the north end of Eureka, Humboldt County, California. Trains thundered down these tracks regularly back in the day. Photographed June 7, 2018. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • A night on the old Railroad bridge over the Eureka Slough at the north end of Eureka, Humboldt County, California. Trains thundered down these tracks regularly back in the day. Photographed June 7, 2018.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Otters are Coming! The Otters are Coming!

Posted By on Wed, May 29, 2019 at 10:53 AM

The otter sculptures ready to be shipped. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • The otter sculptures ready to be shipped.

A shipment of 100 otter sculptures is heading toward the North Coast, according to Jeff Black, who created the North Coast Otter Public Arts Initiative. All the way from Jolly Roger Sculptures in the Philippines, the arrival of the 3-foot-tall sculptures standing ready for an artist's touch will kick off a public art initiative scheduled for next summer.


The initiative will combine art and citizen science to “promote clean water and healthy habitats where we live and play,” using a fun scavenger hunt across five counties in the North Coast, a junior ranger program and an Eo Day/Otter collaboration to support the River Otter Citizen Science Project. The initiative is a celebration of otters, Black said.


Black is still continuing his search for sponsors and hosts, as the scavenger hunt will incorporate business across Humboldt, Del Norte, Siskiyou, Mendocino and Trinity counties. To learn more about hosting or sponsoring an otter click here.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Perception of Time

Posted By on Wed, May 15, 2019 at 11:03 AM

The rugged northern California coast is battered by a constant barrage of waves, their motion smoothed out in this 25-second exposure. Puffy clouds blowing by overhead were changed to streaks in the camera by their motion. Only the stars and rocks appeared to be still. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • The rugged northern California coast is battered by a constant barrage of waves, their motion smoothed out in this 25-second exposure. Puffy clouds blowing by overhead were changed to streaks in the camera by their motion. Only the stars and rocks appeared to be still.
Considering how the world is versus our perception of it is interesting. Take this photograph. What do you see in it? Perhaps give yourself a moment and label all the things you find in it. You could describe the image with all of the thousand words a picture is due, but yet miss entirely some of the action that was taking place during the photograph, either because it wasn’t recorded at all or it was recorded in such a way that it isn’t recognizable. Did you note the crashing waves pounding the rocks below, or describe the cottony-puffy shape of the clouds as they drifted across the sky? What about the motion of the Earth beneath the stars, or the perpetual crumbling of the coastline into the waves occurring before our very eyes? It’s all there, but did you see it?

What’s real time? Let’s say real time is how we perceive time passing via our personal biological senses of sight, sound, smell, etc. Our eyes are made to bring us a view of our surroundings in an instant, with moment-by-moment updates. When I shot this image, I was out photographing with my friend and former student Jake Langston. In real time we saw each of the individual waves arriving in a continuous procession. One by one they rolled in to the shore, crashing and splashing around the gigantic buffer rocks in the shallows before finally pounding against the cliffs and beaches amid the familiar roar of the surf’s white noise. Above us a cluster of small clouds slid slowly across the sky, each a discrete little puff. Stars twinkled behind them, hanging apparently motionless across the magnificent night.
Jake takes a starry night photo overlooking the Pacific Ocean along Scenic Drive, Humboldt County, California. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Jake takes a starry night photo overlooking the Pacific Ocean along Scenic Drive, Humboldt County, California.


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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Humboldt Moonset

Posted By on Wed, May 8, 2019 at 1:39 PM

A Humboldt Moonset - High Saturation. What passes between friends as the crescent moon sets over the Pacific at the end of the Milky Way? Humboldt County, California. November 10, 2018. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • A Humboldt Moonset - High Saturation. What passes between friends as the crescent moon sets over the Pacific at the end of the Milky Way? Humboldt County, California. November 10, 2018.
When friends or family visit from afar my first wish is to share the natural beauty of our area with them, especially if they come from city lives insulated from nature. From the legendary forests of our towering redwoods to the beautiful beaches and rugged coastlines, the natural beauty of our area is its greatest treasure.

It’s all still there at night, too, remember. And night offers something else city folk never see at home: a sky full of stars. It’s all too easy to take things for granted when one is accustomed to seeing them, and we live in a wonderland here. But conversely, to those unaccustomed to the sights, our area offers some amazing eye-openers, not the least of which is our night sky. Visitors from less rural areas are often amazed at the number of stars we still have in our skies. If you take your visitors out, or even go yourself, allow fifteen to twenty minutes to let your eyes grow used to the dark so see the most stars.

There is really no better way to feel small in the Universe than to stare into the night sky full of stars and realize that each one is itself a sun, and all are impossibly distant from each other. Some of those points in the sky are themselves entire galaxies full of stars. And everything we see is but a small part of the whole Universe … so it makes me feel small. Living amongst and beneath all this beauty we have on California’s North Coast goes remarkably well with my current passion: sharing these wonders of the nightscape via my photography.

Even visiting friends who themselves are not strangers to the outdoors will appreciate our unique scenery. Take the new moon’s crescent setting over the Pacific at the very foot of the Milky Way … I ask you. How many folks get to see that? Not too many, probably, for it happens only once each year. The Milky Way moves across the horizon from left to right month by month, and the previous month saw the Milky Way setting to the left of the crescent moon, while the following month it was to the right of the moon.

The moon was the brightest object in the sky at the time of the accompanying photograph, and in allowing the camera to gather enough light for the surrounding area the moon itself nearly became a featureless brightness in the sky. But its crescent shape is preserved in the original image, and can be seen when printed large. If you’re unable to see the crescent shape here, it’s because it is too small as presented.

In editing the photograph I noticed that the sky above the horizon had two distinct color casts between the left and right sides. In the spirit of fun, I bumped up the saturation to bring out the color differences. In part because of that, I halfway think of the image title as “High Saturation” but officially I have titled it “Humboldt Moonset.”

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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