Our hike on the Iron Goat Trail was more than just exercise. It proved to be quite an educational experience. There were many relics of the old railroad and a lot of signs telling the tale of how the railroad was built and why it was abandoned later. The Cascades get a lot of snow and in the early 20th century, the snow depths in winter were a lot more than they are now. It was not uncommon to get 15-20 feet of snow along this part of the alignment in those days.
This snow caused trouble with avalanches as a result of the amount of trees that had been cut for timber when building the railway. Landslides were also a problem in other seasons. To protect from the snow, sheds were built over the track at places most vulnerable to avalanche. This practice is continued to this day in the mountainous areas of US railroads.
These snow sheds had a reinforced concrete wall on the uphill side. A timber structure was then built out over the track to provide cover with concrete bases for the supporting timbers on the downhill side of the structure. Most of the timbers have either been removed for reuse or have decayed after a century up on the mountainside. The concrete walls are still in reasonable shape. Some spalling of the concrete has occurred but otherwise they look solid. A lot of plant life has grown over them and they do have water cascading over the top in many places. The bases for the timber supports are still visible in many places.
There are many of these sections along the trail. The first one you come across is quite a surprise but, after you have seen a few of them, they start to be normal when you get to another section. They are pretty large structures though.
I put together a selection of shots from the RIAT show of 2006 in this post. It was another four years before I was back for my next visit. This time I made a visit to the Park and View East rather than the west. This was the end at which everything was landing, and it also provided a good view of some of the arrivals as they taxied to the ramp.
The weather started out okay, but it got steadily worse resulting ion a torrential downpour. Some movements were in such low light that it was almost like shooting at night. The stormy weather passed and then the flying could resume. Given the variety of things that were showing up, I will focus this post on the arrival traffic, and we can add some of the displays in a different post.
Plenty of helicopters as well as the fast jets. I had not shot at this location before and I was not prepared for how crowded it could be and the way you needed to be at the front. That limited some of my shots unfortunately. Also, there was a lot of heat haze in the air so some of the nicer angles on the approach produced shots that are not sharp enough. Still, a fun day out. Drying out took a while that night though!
Our days living in Chicago included a lot of bridge raising experiences. The bascule bridges along the Chicago River were a constant source of interest to me and, despite seeing them raise regularly during the spring and fall boat runs, I never got bored of it. There are a bunch of bascule bridges in the Seattle area too. One of the older ones is the bridge across the Montlake Cut near the University of Washington.
I took a bike ride that cross Lake Washington on the 520 bridge and that then turned up to the university and across the Cut. Just as I started across the bridge, the warning tones started. I was already heading across so didn’t stop but, once on the other side, I did pause to watch the bridge open. It took me right back to my Chicago days. I didn’t wait for it to lower again because I wanted to keep going on my ride but a fun thing to see again. I imagine the traffic backups make the bridge openings a little less popular with motorists and I suspect I would have been a bit miffed if I had been a few seconds later! I hope they turn the power off for the wires!
Anyone that has vacationed in the Hawaiian Islands knows that there are loads of helicopters around. The sightseeing flight operations are extensive and there are a variety of types that are used. The Astar was a big feature of these flights but the EC130 was developed to provide something best suited to these flights and it is now very widespread. There are other types in use too. I used a Robinson R44 for one of my flights for example.
There are the occasional MD500s around too which is what you expect to see if you ever watched the original Magnum PI TV series. The helicopter area at Lihue was a busy place to be with a steady stream of operators moving from the different pads. I wasn’t on vacation to spend time watching helicopters but of course I managed to slip a little time in with them!
With the weather nice and a holiday weekend upon us, we wanted to get out and get some exercise while staying away from the crowds that seemed to have forgotten about a pesky virus. We took a trip up into the Cascades to check out the Iron Goat Trail. I shared a picture of the caboose at the trailhead a couple of years ago in this post. This time we decided to stretch our legs a bit more. The trail is a pretty straightforward one for a lot of it because it is an old railroad right of way. Consequently, the grade is gentle. However, the connection sections are a different story.
The lower grade section is a lot more clear and wide so makes for a very easy stroll. The upper section was more heavily overgrown when we were there and the trail was a bit of a test of faith at times. The path was probably down there! It also went across some of the old railway infrastructure so a couple of narrow concrete sections were negotiated. However, the upper grade did provide some lovely views of the surrounding mountains.
The railway needed some significant infrastructure elements to make it functional. These will be the source of some follow up posts because they are interesting enough on their own. In the mean time, I shall share some shots here of the run through the wooded areas and the views across the Cascades that we had on a lovely July day. I think a return trip is in order. However, I suspect we won’t do the same route as this time because we ended up covering nearly nine miles and some very steep ascents and descents so were a bit bushed by the end of it. I will pick the route sections a bit more selectively next time!
The Air France A380s have gone away. Their retirement had already been identified prior to the COVID-19 outbreak but it accelerated their departure. I had shot them on a few occasions with SFO and LAX being regular destinations. Since I won’t be seeing them again, here is a farewell tribute to the Air France A380. Hope one or two of the airframes find a second life.
Shortly before the shelter in place restrictions came into effect, we took a stroll along Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle. It is a popular place for people to walk but also for people out on their bikes and also to drive along. As we wander up the shore, a couple of Minis came the other way. These aren’t modern Minis as built by BMW. These were the originals like the one I learned to drive in. One was a regular mini and the other was configured with a flatbed. I only got a quick shot as they went by. I loved driving the Mini when I was young. It was such a fun car. Of course, if anything went badly wrong, you weren’t exactly well protected so I’m not sure I would be so keen now I am an old git!
My Renton visit also produced a P-8A Poseidon. I have seen plenty of them over the years but this one caught my eye because it is the fourth airframe for the UK’s Royal Air Force. Sitting on the ramp on a sunny day with heat haze is not ideal but it was still worth a shot since, once it gets delivered, I am unlikely to get much of a chance to see it again.
We have plenty of hummingbirds visiting our back yard. They may look different depending on the angle the light hits their feathers but up until recently I had thought that they were all the same species – the Anna’s hummingbird. Then we got a visitor that seemed different. First, instead of having a grey look to the feathers, it was a lot more brown. The other difference was the sound of the wingbeats. Instead of the whirring noise we were used to, this one had a higher pitched sound almost like a click as the wings were hitting each other. It sounded quite distinctive. I trip to my big book of birds suggests that these may be Rufous hummingbirds. For the birders amongst you, I hope you will advise if I am mistaken.
The Amazon Prime fleet of 767s has grown to be pretty huge. Initially, I was excited to see one out and about but now they are like Southwest 737s! However, the new addition to the fleet is the 737-800. A bunch of them have been showing up and, prior to delivery to Sun Country that will be operating them, they have been coming through Everett, presumably for some final work at ATS. Sadly, I haven’t been able to get up there to see them.
I did get one of them head past the house, though. It was departing for Minneapolis and its routing took it close to us. Not as close as I would have liked but enough for a heavy crop with a long lens. Not ideal conditions for sure. In the same way the 767s are now ubiquitous, these will no doubt be before to long. However, this was my first encounter. Maybe next time I will be a bit closer – even if it does mean moving away from my driveway!