We made a trip across the Cascades in October to see what sort of colors there were in the trees. Choosing when to go is tricky because the timing of the color in the mountains isn’t the same as it is near us. Things were very pretty as we headed across Steven’s Pass. One the run down to Leavenworth, the road is tucked up against the banks of the Wenatchee River. There are a few places on the otherwise narrow road where you can pull off. The colors were pretty intense in parts providing a focus for the eye of the viewer of the photos.
Wherever we live, we tend to end up at the arboretum and Seattle is no exception. The Washington Park Arboretum is near the university (and I think the university has something to do with managing it) and close to Lake Washington. We paid it a visit at the beginning of Fall with some hope of seeing a bit of color in the trees. The layout of the arboretum is rather long and thin so, while you have a choice of paths, you tend to make an out and back trip as you walk around.
We chose a good day to be there with the sun out and the colors shown at their best but we were either a little early for the full fall colors or the types of trees there were not the sort to turn too dramatically. This wasn’t a hindrance for us, though. Walking through the trees was really great and surprisingly peaceful given how many people were there. When we turned back, we took a larger path and that had a lot more people on it so maybe our choice of outbound trail was a good one for avoiding the crowds.
One end of the arboretum comes up to the lake. It is rather close to the SR520 bridge across the lake so not normally the most peaceful of spots. On this weekend, they were carrying out part of the rebuilding program on the bridge so it was closed one way and things were a bit quieter. Any other day, though, and I suspect that the noise would be rather obvious.
We visited Bothell to look at the trees as I mentioned in this previous post. We weren’t the only ones though. As we came around the corner, a row of the trees was very intense in their red colors and plenty of other people had come out to check this too. Families were all over the place taking pictures. The best place seemed to be in the middle of the road. Consequently, groups of people were standing there taking their shots and, hopefully, avoiding getting run down!
The area around where I work has a lot of trees and they have turned out to be the sort of trees that get very colorful in the fall. It is really nice to be able to look out of my window and see such vibrant colors when the sun pops out (which it does do in the Pacific Northwest sometimes). I had driven down the road in the opposite direction to normal one evening and saw even more color so, when the sun was out one weekend evening, we diverted to the area so I could get some shots.
The richness of the colors is sometimes hard to represent with photos. They don’t always have the impact that being there had but hopefully some of these shots will give you an idea of how pretty the street was.
We took a day trip up to Davis to check out the arboretum. Running alongside the old Putah Creek, it has a range of different plants and trees along its length. With the university buildings stretching alongside the creek, the paths provide access to the students and staff of the university as they get where they need to be. Being, at least most of the time, away from the roads makes for a quiet and pleasant place to stroll. At the time we visited, it was a turning point for some of the plants. Fall had already done it work on some trees while others were still showing signs of color.
We weren’t the only ones appreciating the view. We passed a number of painters (whether they were part of a class or just like minded individuals I don’t know) who were capturing the scenes around them. I didn’t get to see whether any of them were particularly good but I hope they had a good time anyway. There was plenty of wildlife along the creek. Ducks were abundant, the occasional turtle showed itself, squirrels were everywhere gathering food for winter and some of the visitors had their dogs with them so no shortage of life.
Work was underway to reconfigure the flow of water through the creek. This is intended to freshen up the water, deal with some of the weed growth on the surface and promote some other wildlife activity. In some areas it was already showing results but the work was due to run into 2017 so it will be a while before the full effect is seen.
It seems like a long time ago that we were in the transition from summer to winter. Fall in California is a little later than in some other places but, even so, it was still a while ago. We spent a day up in the wine country back then and the colors in the trees and the vines were very nice. I think we had missed the peak of the color for the vines but, as I was walking around Yountville, the sun was bringing out some great color in the trees.
Driving in to town we had passed a great variety of colors so I decided to walk back down through the town to take a closer look. Everywhere I looked there was another tree with the leaves glowing in the light. It was great. Whether looking along the road or up through the foliage, you couldn’t help but stare at the vibrancy of everything. It is cool to get good sun when the colors in the trees are nice too. Sometimes in the past I have struggled with getting the best of fall colors when the light became flat while the trees were at their best. Not so this time!
Muir Woods in Marin County is a place we have visited on a few occasions. While staying in Healdsburg, we decided to try somewhere that is supposed to be quite similar. This was Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. It was a bit off the beaten path but not terribly difficult to get to (unless you trust your GPS that decides the main road is far too simple and a single width road is somehow more appropriate).
I would say it surpasses Muir Woods. Not only is it a lovely area with some impressive woodlands but it felt like it was deserted. It wasn’t, of course, although the time we were there is probably not the busiest. However, everyone seemed to get lost in the place and you felt surprised when you met someone. Compare this to Muir Woods where the place seems to always be crowded with no feeling of tranquility.
I guess the climate for growing these trees is cool and damp since any of these woods seems to be that way. Armstrong was no different. Additionally, we were there in the early stages of winter so the sun wasn’t getting too high in the sky and the flow of the valley felt very shaded. Of course, you dress warmer for a place like this so, if well prepared, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the trees without feeling uncomfortable (although you do tend to be a bit damp by the end).
I do wonder whether the park is very busy at some times of year. I suspect we shall find out when we next go back. It was later in the day when we left with darkness not too far away so our experience may not prepare us for next time. However, there will be a next time!
Walking back from the Imperial Palace towards the hotel to check out, we passed through an area with many trees planted. Not only were their locations carefully planned, they also seemed to be beautifully manicured. The whole effect was very impressive. All of the trees in the grounds looked great. There was one particular tree that was leaning right over alongside the moat that looked like a lot of effort had gone into getting it just right.
Having visitors is always a good excuse to go to places that you haven’ been to for a while. Muir Woods National Monument was one such destination. If only we had known just how many other people had the same idea, we might have aimed to get there a lot earlier in the day. As it was, we got there a bit alter in the afternoon. A short while later and it might have been a lot easier to park. Of course, late in the day in winter means fading light and being in a heavily wooded area means even less light!
Muir Woods is a great place to wander. Having a lot of other visitors means it is a little less tranquil. My previous visits have obviously been off peak and usually involved colder and damper weather. This time it was dry and warm(ish). The trees are majestic and often interestingly shaped. However, being so close to such large trees as coastal redwoods does make it hard to get the images that you have in your mind.
The light is tricky and the angles wide. Some playing with HDR and panoramas certainly helped out. Sometimes it was just fun to look straight up. The shapes there are exactly as you imagine them. The dynamic range is so large that even HDR doesn’t always cover it (at least the way I was bracketing the shots) but it still worked out okay.
While eating lots of good food is a fun part of a trip away, it does provide you with some encouragement to have a bit of exercise too to try and offset what you have consumed. Combine that with some scenery and a plan starts to emerge. Nancy had found out about a trail at Russian Gulch State Park that led to some waterfalls. This seemed like a worthwhile venture so off we set.
Sadly, our planning did not prove to be quite as good as we had hoped. The access route to the park was closed off at a certain point which we assumed to be the normal starting point. Instead, I think we were a bit further out that the distances in our guide suggested. Also, the distances they gave, even assuming the change in start point, were a bit optimistic. Consequently, as we headed further in and the clock ticked by, we realized that we were not going to get all the way to the falls and get back out again before it started getting a bit dark.
The valley is very sheltered, particularly at this time of year, so the lack of direct sunlight means it is a bit darker in there and, as the sun drops, it will get a lot darker than the surrounding area. It also gets a bit cold since the area is very moist. We wisely turned back to ensure we weren’t going to get uncomfortable. Besides, judging by the flow of water in the river along the valley floor, the falls were probably not at their most productive.
The valley itself was really pretty. Combinations of all sorts of plants that like damp environments and tall trees reaching up to gather sunlight at their highest reaches made you feel like you were in a scene from the Hobbit. I was particularly impressed by some young trees that had chosen the stump of a chopped down tree to use as their base. The little trunk rising out of roots that were drooping down the sides of the stump looked very cool.
When we had finished the walk, we headed around to a sinkhole in another part of the park. This is apparently quite impressive at high tide and when the waves are strong since the hole makes all sorts of sounds as the air is compressed by the water. Sadly, it was low tide while we were there so it was just a big hole. However, the walk there did give us a great view of one of the bridges along the Pacific Coast Highway.