Outdoors

Monday, March 18, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Here at the Edge

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 10:57 AM

DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
The vastness of things often comes home to me while I’m photographing at the edge of the continent or beneath the stars. To the east is the grounding solidity of the great North American land mass, to the west the immense Pacific Ocean stretches far beyond the horizon, and above, the field of stars. And there I am, just a tiny thing standing unnoticed.

Right next to that thought is the realization that it’s all relative. How very small these things are, like landmasses. Or the planet itself. Think about it: If you stood far enough out from our globe that the Earth was about golf ball size in your view, how small would be that film of atmosphere clinging to its surface? Could you even see it? At that scale, it wouldn’t take much to wipe it right off …
Lights from shore illuminate this great chunk of rock here where the wild coastline intersects with humanity. Above, a satellite’s eye in the sky so high crawled slowly past Orion. Humboldt County, California. February 22, 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Lights from shore illuminate this great chunk of rock here where the wild coastline intersects with humanity. Above, a satellite’s eye in the sky so high crawled slowly past Orion. Humboldt County, California. February 22, 2019.
It’s easy to get lost in a feeling of tininess when I realize that everything we understand about the universe is, in fact, a ridiculously minuscule amount of information next to what’s out there not yet understood, most of which will never be known by us. We learn and grow in our understanding of the universe around us all the time as we observe and experiment, but we will never be able to fit into our heads, nor into all the computer banks our civilization will ever produce, a complete model that describes it all. There are a lot of variables.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Hey, People, Leave Those Pups Alone

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2019 at 2:03 PM

Seal pups are cute, but don't touch. They are just waiting for mom to return. - FILE
  • File
  • Seal pups are cute, but don't touch. They are just waiting for mom to return.
The Northcoast Marine Mammal Center is reminding the public that pupping season is here and that adorable little baby seal on beach is likely just waiting for its mom to return from a food-finding foray.

In other words, as the center emphasizes, “please do NOT touch it!”

“Most likely its mom is foraging offshore and knows exactly where she left her pup and she will not return if people and/or animals are near,” a Facebook post states.
The center has a stranding line at (707) 951-4722 or you can use the “call now” function on the nonprofit’s Facebook page.

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

North Coast Night Light: Freshwater Lagoon

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Sept. 2, 2018, at Freshwater Lagoon. - PHOTO BY DAVID WILSON
  • Photo by David Wilson
  • Sept. 2, 2018, at Freshwater Lagoon.
Sometimes a creative urge will drive me nutty unless I can find a way to make something. I’m an artist but I am only interested in one medium: photography, which of course includes working with photos after taking the picture, whether with current digital tools or in the darkrooms of old as I started out. At the moment I am driven to take nighttime photos. I don’t know why. I just go with it.

But it can conflict with my highly developed inclination toward self preservation when it comes to places I don’t feel safe to be alone at night. There are times when I want terribly to go photograph but can’t find anyone to accompany me. Family and friends are wonderful companions, and they have given me many of their nights to come out with me to make long exposures or paint with light in the dark of night. I am grateful for the time they’ve given me and for the times yet to come. Thank goodness for them.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

Remains Found by the Eel River in 2016 Identified

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2019 at 1:54 PM

George Preston Daniels - HCSO
  • HCSO
  • George Preston Daniels
When George Preston Daniels didn’t show up at the Humboldt County Courthouse on March 24, 2016, for charges stemming from what authorities said they believed was a marijuana rip-off, he became a wanted man. But, most likely, he was already dead.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office confirmed today that remains found along the Eel River in May of 2016 were identified last month as belonging to Daniels.

Over the spring and summer of 2016, bounty hunters from a local bail bonds office had scoured the area — even hiring a small plane at one point to search for Daniels’ vehicle — to no avail, in spite of a reward offered by his bail bondsman.

In fact, his body had been found in May of that year by a person canoeing the Eel River near Stafford. At the time, Chief Deputy Coroner Ernie Stewart said it appeared the body had been there "quite some time" and the case was being treated as a homicide.

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UPDATE: Coast Guard Closes Harbor Entrance Due to High Surf, Winter Weather Continues (Video)

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2019 at 10:38 AM

harbor_closeure.jpg
UPDATE:

The U.S. Coast Guard has closed the Humboldt Bay harbor entrance until futher notice due to the high surf.

Any vessel requesting to enter the safety zone is required to contact the Coast Guard VHF-FM channel 16 between 6:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. or to call the Humboldt Bay Sector at 839-6113 between 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

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Another winter storm warning is in effect for the region, with elevations above 2,500 feet slated to see another 10 to 20 inches of snow, according to the Eureka office of the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, rain, hail and possible thunderstorms are forecast for the coast along with large swells expected to reach up to 25 feet by this evening, with increased “run-ups on beaches” and waves “topping and washing over large rocks and jetties.”

The weather service has issued a high surf advisory and urged mariners
“to exercise extreme caution or stay in port until the threat subsides” and to “contact the U.S. Coast Guard for information regarding harbor and bar closures.”

“These large waves will be capable of sweeping people into the frigid and turbulent ocean waters,” according to NWS. “Beachgoers need to stay farther back from the surf and off of jetties or rocks, and mariners should use extreme caution when operating near the surf zone.”

(If that's getting you down, enjoy a moment of Zen with reader Nick Jones' video capturing Humboldt's natural beauty amid the region's deep plunge into winter this week.)

For the latest weather information about specific locations, visit www.weather.gov/eureka.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Grandmother Rock

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 3:07 PM

Beneath the stars and the Milky Way, Grandmother Rock gazed out across the Pacific in her endless contemplation, while the stars wheeled about Polaris above. The crescent moon, invisible past the left edge of the photograph, provided some of the landscape illumination as it set into the mists, while from inside College Cove some kind of light emanated, throwing light on Pewetole Island. The bright light on the horizon was one of five or six fishing boats out at sea that evening. Occasionally they would train their powerful beams toward shore, bright enough to cast shadows. - Trinidad, Humboldt County, California. February 6, 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Beneath the stars and the Milky Way, Grandmother Rock gazed out across the Pacific in her endless contemplation, while the stars wheeled about Polaris above. The crescent moon, invisible past the left edge of the photograph, provided some of the landscape illumination as it set into the mists, while from inside College Cove some kind of light emanated, throwing light on Pewetole Island. The bright light on the horizon was one of five or six fishing boats out at sea that evening. Occasionally they would train their powerful beams toward shore, bright enough to cast shadows. Trinidad, Humboldt County, California. February 6, 2019.
It was nearly dark when I arrived at the Trinidad Head parking area. Sunset gazers had seen the sun set some 45 minutes earlier and were heading for their cars when I struck north up the beach. Night was descending and in the waning light I could see the footprints of the evening’s activity in the sand. Low tide would be in a little over half an hour. My destination was Grandmother Rock, a huge rock in the apparent profile of a figure forever staring out to sea.

Only a faint glow remained over the western horizon, and stars were beginning to show all over the sky. The crescent moon hanging over the Pacific would set in about an hour and helped cast a delicate glow on the world. The retreating tide’s fresh sand was a faint lightness stretching out before me, and I was making the only marks in the new smoothness. Rocks and driftwood slipped by as shadows beside my soft tread. It was dark enough to tempt my flashlight but to do so would have set back my night. I continued without it.

I think about mountain lions when I’m out there at night, particularly if I’m alone. It freaks me out. But for some reason I reasoned they wouldn’t be looking for me at the beach. I’m not sure there was any reason in that at all, really, but I did note that the wind was coming from the shore, so I knew they wouldn’t smell me. I didn’t read all those Tarzan books for nothing.

I heard water ahead. I’d forgotten about the creek. I could make out its shape as I approached. Close across the stream loomed the towering form of Grandmother Rock, but I needed to cross to get the angle I wanted. Mill Creek isn’t especially large but in early February it was certainly in healthy condition and was too wide to jump across. I looked around. Maybe I could find a way over there.

Splash!

My heart slammed into my chest and I froze. The splash was close. A fish? It seemed too large. I had been walking without my light, and I saw little more than shadows as I peered toward the sound.

Splash!

It didn’t sound like a critter’s splash this time. I turned on my light, already figuring what it was: the sandy sides of the creek caving in as the stream eroded them. You know the miniature cliffs that are fun to help cave in when you’re a kid. I might still be one.

With the light on I saw that I wouldn’t be able to cross without getting wet, and there was no way to line up the shot that I wanted from this side of the creek. There were some rocks I could have used to hop across but not all by myself in the dark, carrying a camera bag, a large tripod and wearing a pack. That seemed like a bad idea easily avoided, the kind of thing one might read about in the news blogs the next day.

So I would ford the stream. I took off my shoes and socks, rolled my pants up over my knees, and waded across. This had not been in the plan. It was about 40 degrees out, and don’t tell the Midwest folks, but it felt cold. And now my feet were going to be wet and my socks were going to have sand in them and I would have to do it all again on the way back, too. Ah, photography!

I set up just on the other side of the creek.. Grandmother Rock sits atop a pile of huge rocks, the chunks of stone that Mother Nature had chiseled away from what once had been a gigantic boulder as she sculpted Grandmother’s contemplative figure.

I had one idea for a photograph in my mind for this trip: a long exposure with the north star Polaris above Grandmother’s head. In a long exposure from that angle, the trails made by the stars would create rings around her that could represent different things to different people. I also wanted Pewetole Island in the image if possible. I found a single spot that would give me that angle: it was on the steep side of a sloping boulder but from there it would all fall into line. I climbed up, wedged my tripod in and perched there next to it.
The Grandmother abides. In this much shorter exposure, the stars and other celestial objects have been stopped. Sister Galaxy Andromeda is the bright, smeared “star” near the top to the left of the Milky Way. Trinidad, Humboldt County, California. February 6, 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • The Grandmother abides. In this much shorter exposure, the stars and other celestial objects have been stopped. Sister Galaxy Andromeda is the bright, smeared “star” near the top to the left of the Milky Way. Trinidad, Humboldt County, California. February 6, 2019.
I stayed in that spot for almost an hour and tried different exposures and slightly different angles, some zoomed in, some zoomed out. The lights of half a dozen fishing boats shone across the horizon, sometimes themselves directing beams of light toward me bright enough to throw shadows. The fading moonlight and the final vestiges of dusk’s glow on the horizon cast the softest of light onto the shore.

The star trail image I’m sharing here was a 699-second exposure. The star trails you see show how far the stars moved across the sky as Earth’s globe rotated beneath me. Watching the stars turn I could feel I was on the surface of the Earth, the light of their myriad billions falling upon my face as the planet revolved beneath me.

I would have stayed longer to make more images but for a couple of considerations. One was that by then the tide had been coming in for half an hour and was beginning to send waves up the beach to the rock I was using, and the other was that I’d told my mom I’d come watch the second half of Warriors game with her. I packed up, climbed down, removed my shoes and socks, rolled up my pants, forded the creek again and headed back down the beach.

(And the Warriors won.)
This animation alternates between two frames, one long exposure in which the stars became streaks, and one shorter exposure from moments later in which they are still points. The smudgy “star” at the top to the left of the Milky Way is our sister galaxy Andromeda. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • This animation alternates between two frames, one long exposure in which the stars became streaks, and one shorter exposure from moments later in which they are still points. The smudgy “star” at the top to the left of the Milky Way is our sister galaxy Andromeda.

To keep abreast of David Wilson’s most current photography or peer into its past, follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx or his website mindscapefx.com, where you can also contact him, but which Wilson says he updates less frequently.
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UPDATE: Wind Gusts Could Reach 50 MPH This Afternoon, Slide Closes 36

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 9:51 AM

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UPDATE:
Caltrans has updated that State Route 36 is open to one-way controlled traffic.

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Humboldt County will continue to see rain, wind and mountain snow for the next week, according to the Eureka office of the National Weather service, which reports a forecast of “multiple rounds” of an “active and wet pattern.”

A wind advisory remains in effect for the coast today until 3 p.m. with gusts as high as 50 mph possible and the Eel River is under a flood watch from Thursday afternoon to Friday afternoon.

While unclear if it’s weather related, more than 1,200 PG&E customers in Eureka lost power this morning, according to the company’s outage page, joining hundreds of other Humboldt County residents who were also left in the dark. No cause or estimate for restoration was available as of 8:30 a.m.

To find out about outages in specific areas, visit https://m.pge.com/#outages.

Meanwhile, a rock slide has closed down State Route 36 west of Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, according to the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

UPDATE: Winter Weather to Continue with Rivers Expected to See Rapid Rises

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2019 at 10:59 AM

Redwoods dusted with snow. - @FORMICAPHOTO VIA INSTAGRAM
  • @formicaphoto via Instagram
  • Redwoods dusted with snow.
UPDATE:

The Eureka office of the National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for the Humboldt and Mendocino coasts from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 3 p.m. Wednesday as another storm system rolls through the region bringing "heavy rain, gusty winds, and mountain snow."

Flood watches are also in effect for Southern Humboldt and Mendocino County starting late tonight and continuing through Thursday afternoon and for the Eel River at Fernbridge. Read more here.

For the latest weather information about specific locations, visit www.weather.gov/eureka.

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Another round of severe weather is headed our way for the next few days.

The heaviest rain is forecast for tonight into Wednesday with moderate levels continuing into Thursday, which is expected to cause “rapid rises” on area rivers with some expected to reach monitor or flood stage, according to the Eureka office of the National Weather Service.

“Periods of moderate to heavy rainfall may also cause small streams and low-lying urban areas to flood,” the NWS hydrologic outlook states. “The heaviest rain is likely to fall across primarily Mendocino and southern Humboldt counties, and the melting of recent low elevation snow may also contribute to river rises.”

Snow is also in the forecast but is not expected to bring the coastal dusting that set Humboldt a flutter over the weekend, instead staying at or above 2,500 feet. (See photo of the big snow here).

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Saturday, February 9, 2019

UPDATED: Winter Storm Could Bring Snow Down to 500 Feet This Weekend

Posted By on Sat, Feb 9, 2019 at 3:17 PM

Snow on State Route 36 Saturday a.m. - CALTRANS
  • Caltrans
  • Snow on State Route 36 Saturday a.m.
UPDATE:

The winter storm is hitting the region today, with the Eureka office of the National Weather Service describing deteriorating conditions over Berry Summit. Caltrans is reporting that chains are required.

For the most up-to-date conditions, visit Caltrans’ QuickMap website.
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Mother Nature is about to unleash another cold snap on the region this weekend with the Eureka office of the National Weather Service forecasting a storm that could leave a dusting of snow down to 500 feet.

A winter storm warning will be in effect for the Southern Humboldt interior from 4 a.m. Saturday to 4 p.m. Sunday. State routes 299, 36 and 3 are expected to be impacted along with summits on U.S. Highway 101.

The white stuff is expected to start coming down on Saturday and continue overnight into Sunday. Elevations above 2,500 feet could see 5 to 15 inches while about 1 inch is possible between 500 and 1,500 feet.

weatherstory1_4_.png
The weather service warns of “hazardous driving conditions” from the snow in the mountains and the hail that may accumulate on roads on the coast.

Post from the National Weather Service:
A cold storm system will produce heavy snow across the mountains this weekend, with light accumulations possible near 500 to 1000 feet along the coast. In addition, small hail may accumulate on coastal roadways Saturday night through Sunday, resulting in hazardous driving conditions. Please evaluate weekend travel plans and continue to monitor the forecast for updates in the coming days!
Winter Storm Warning Details from NWS:
* WHAT: Heavy snow expected. Plan on difficult travel conditions.
Total snow accumulations of 5 to 10 inches above 2500 feet, with
localized amounts up to 20 inches across remote higher
elevations. Lighter snow amounts are expected to as low as 1000
feet.

* WHERE: Southern Humboldt Interior, Northern Trinity, Southern Trinity and Northeastern Mendocino County Interior. Highways impacted include 299, 36, 3, and even a few summits along Highway 101.

* WHEN: 4 AM Saturday to 4 PM Sunday.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS: Slow down, allow extra time and be prepared for changing conditions. Check the latest forecasts and call 1-800-427-7623 for current road conditions and chain
requirements before traveling. Be alert for rock slides in
mountainous terrain.

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Steps Made to Protect the Klamath Spring Run Chinook

Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 3:35 PM

A spring run Chinook in the Salmon River. - PHOTO BY NATHANIEL PENNINGTON
  • Photo by Nathaniel Pennington
  • A spring run Chinook in the Salmon River.
A first step in protecting Klamath–Trinity spring run Chinook as a separate species took place this week with the California Fish and Game Commission making the fish a candidate for an endangered species listing in the state.

According to a release from the Karuk Tribe and the Salmon River Restoration Council, a final decision will be made within one year but, in the meantime, the so-called springers will “be afforded all the protections of a listed species.”

That includes fishing restrictions but the release notes that the tribe and the council want to work with fishermen and the agency for “common sense” regulations.

"There is a population of hatchery born spring Chinook on the Trinity River that can and should be fished," Karuk Tribe Executive Director Joshua Saxon said in the release.

With spring run teetering on the brink of extinction, the tribe and SRRC have pushed for a state and federal listing, finally backed with DNA evidence that shows the fall and spring Chinook runs are genetically different.

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