My friend Joe planned an epic trip from Southern California, to Oregon, Washington, Idaho then to Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada, and the parks along the way. He sent links to everyone to print their own itineries. I figured out early on since Joe was driving and I was riding with him, he would have a book printed out. Thank goodness – just thinking about all the stuff to print, getting it to open on my very bad wifi and where to print it made me anxious. There would eventually be eight people and four rigs (two Class A’s, one trailer and one camper). We would camp at Yosemite on the way, see Crater Lake, Oregon, lots of waterfalls, on to the Columbia River Gorge, then Waterton National Park in Alberta, travel north to Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper in Alberta, Canada with all the sites in between. Being very careful about his plans, this included the exact route, and reserved campsites along the way. This was the third really big trip I’ve taken since being in California – the first was the trip to Yosemite! (which netted my WordPress “Freshly Pressed” badge – meaning I was chosen to reside on their blog roll, bringing more followers my way ), the second being the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (also Arizona and UtahValley of the GodsHouse on Fire and Hovenweep) in the fall of 2015 when it was hot, hot, hot… but that was a different series. Now those areas are threatened because of Bear’s Ears National Monument having been downsized by our current president.

During Joe’s planning process, California and Oregon and Washington had the wettest winter in recent memory, therefore growing lots of beautiful wildflowers, waving grasses, wonderful smelling sage, chaparral and tumbleweeds that then turned dry and brittle over the rainless summer. This created a ‘perfect storm’ of trouble for the natural fire season of the Western United States.

We started seeing smoky skies on the way to Crater Lake, Oregon and the smoke never stopped, eventually getting worse, causing runny eyes and noses, and nosebleeds! And worse yet, masking the beautiful scenery with haze and smoky skies. Fortunately, through the technology of Lightroom, I was able to remove most of the haze and smoke in the photos.

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Our first camp September 5, 2017 at the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. Just parking for the night and onward in morning.

Burney Falls, California. This falls is known internationally by birders as a well-known Swift nesting site. Swifts never land except on their nests! They had already flown south for the upcoming winter.

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The falls in this photo gave the feeling of hanging gardens sprouting out of the layers of rock (one layer most likely from Crater Lake!)


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Fire helicopter gathering area just east of Crater Lake.


Onward to Crater Lake. When on the southern approach to Crater Lake, if you look through the trees on the right side of the entrance road, you’ll see an open canyon where lava flowed out of the crater, probably contributing to the collapse of the former 12,000′ mountain into the now 4000′ crater. The lake is the deepest in the United States.

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South Entrance to Crater Lake was open, north and west entrances were closed due to fires.
LavaFlow (1 of 1)
This is a lahar: a slurry of pyroclastic material from the volcano, rocks and water draining out of the crater continued to flow like a river out of the volcano.  It’s a pretty wide canyon – though hard to see from this angle.

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Standing on the edge of the crater looking down into the water. Because it receives only rain and snowmelt, the water is very clear with visibility down to 100′.

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Snow in the far distance is on the south side of the lake, but the sides of the crater are so steep it is almost a north face and the snow never melts.

CraterLakeb-w (1 of 1)B-WsmokyCraterLake (1 of 1)

Smoke does contribute to the drama of photos and is about it’s only redeeming feature.




3 Replies to “The Pacific Northwest, Part 1”

  1. What a bummer that your trip was in such an awful smoke year. I’ve never seen it so bad in Seattle before. A couple nights it felt like an elephant on my chest just trying to breath. The smoke did make for some dramatic sun and full moon rises and sets, but otherwise generally made photography a sucky endeavor. It would have made me want to cry if I were on a big trip with my camera!


    1. Thanks for your comment. The smoke was a constant as was the (what I thought) was unseasonable snow that plagued us in Canada. Even the trip home was fraught with peril as we passed through to Grass Valley (to get the heat fixed in Joe’s rig) the day the fires started there. It has taken quite a while to recover – just now beginning to get the pics posted! Barb


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