Return to the wheat fields

Beyond the wheat fields is one of my very first WordPress blogs.  I didn’t do much with it but after sitting inactive for two years I got around to checking up on it and noticed I had a pin-back from the Washington State Parks blog.  Need less to say, but if I am getting attention from such a large site I should probably actually do something with this blog.

I’m still living in the Palouse and am still actively taking pictures.  So what does this year have in store for me?  Well I hiked up to the ridge at Kamiak Butte with the family today but unfortunately the wild flowers are not up yet.  I was late to the session last spring and I’m determine to get some great pictures of the flowers this year.  I bought a field book for the wild flowers of the inland northwest so I can actually identify them.

Places I plan to go and hike this year are:

  • Kamiak (since its so close)
  • Elk Creek Falls, ID
  • Hobo Cedar Grove, ID
  • Sky Line Drive, WA
  • John Wayne Trail, Eastern WA side
  • Steptoe Butte, WA
  • Palouse Falls, WA
  • White Pine, ID
  • Klemgaurd, WA
  • Moscow Mountain, ID
  • and more…

I’m going to try to make it to all the little parks around the Palouse area and hike/camp/wander.

Here are just some random panoramas of the Palouse from last year.  I have hundreds more regular images from last year but I think I’ll start fresh for the new-found passion to actually do more with this blog:)

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Camping up on Kamiak Butte, May 15-17, 2012

Just got back from spending 3 days camping up on Kamiak Butte; an oasis of forest surrounded by wheat fields.

View from my camp chair

American Robin

 Shrooms 🙂

My camp buddy

 The Palouse

Paint Brush

I set up camp at 7:30 am on Tuesday, wanting to get a good camp site, to fide out no one was camping but me.  A friend and his new born daughter came up to visit and he threw her in a harness on his chest and put on her little sun hat and we went for a hike.  We hiked up the back way of the loop in the shade and made it to the ridge, caught a good view of Pullman and Moscow past the rolling wheat fields.  It was pretty hot out so we decided to hike back down the way we came, by the time we made it back to my camp the little one was ready for her afternoon nap, so they went back home.

Later in the evening the park ranger came by to visit.  We chatted until the sun set, then I decided to start a camp fire, and as soon as I got the fire going a lady appeared out of the bushes with her two dogs and said she was lost.  It took us by surprise, he gave her a ride in the gadder back down to her car and went a locked the gate.  I had the whole camp area to myself for the night, so I got drunk and danced around the fire.

The next day I hung around camp and wandered around occasionally.  In the afternoon a girlfriend stopped by and we went for a hike on the loop.  When we got up I was amazed by all the different kinds of wild flowers everywhere up on the ridge.  A lot of flowers were already beginning to wilt though; I think I should have hiked Kamiak earlier in the season.  She didn’t stay long because she had online school work to do, but later in the day her sister and her sister’s boyfriend stopped by to visit for a bit.

Another camper showed up but just set up a tent and left, they were trying to reserve a spot for the weekend I guess.  The park ranger stopped by again and he had brought some steaks to grill up.  After he left in his gadder to go lock the gate, I had the whole camp area to myself again, to get drunk and dance around the camp fire again.

Thursday I got up and went for one more hike and then packed up to head home.  The weather was nice and it was a very peaceful couple of days.

Lunar Eclipse December 10, 2011

I thought I would post my photos of the lunar eclipse from last year, since next Sunday (May 20, 2012) is the solar eclipse.

Back in December I stayed up all night because I knew if I went to sleep, I probably wouldn’t get up that early.  I got to the back of Kamiak Butte around 4:30 AM that cold winter night, and parked by the access gate to the towers on top. I set up my camera and unrolled the sleeping bag in the bed of my pickup. The full moon was bright enough to see without using my headlamp and the sky was clear. You could see a few of the brightest constellations, like the big dipper and Orion.  I took pictures of the moon about every 15 min.

As the earth’s shadow began to stretch across the moon, it started to get darker out.  The moon turned a blood red and as I lay in the bed of my pickup, and all the stars began to appear in the night sky.

04:30 AM

04:45 AM

05:00 AM

05:15  AM

05:30 AM

05:37 AM

05:45 AM

06:00 AM

06:15 AM

Unfortunately the sun began to rise before the eclipse was over, but I was frozen to the bone and tired.  When I got back home I got a beer out of the fridge and drank it while taking a hot shower.

Full Moon

Last night the moon was the closest to Earth for the year.  I didn’t get a chance to watch the full moon rise, but luckily enough there were no clouds in the sky when I took these pictures from the front yard around 2300.  I’ll be looking forward to the solar eclipse on May 20; hopefully I can get some good photos 🙂

Return to Steptoe Butte

 

Last night a wicked lightning storm rolled through the Palouse, and I didn’t get out in time to test my long exposure feature on my camera.  I decided to drive up to Steptoe Butte State Park to see if I could catch tonight’s storm, unfortunately the storm was not coming in until around 0200.  It was nice up on top though, usually it is pretty windy up that high, but this evening there was no wind and beautiful blue skies.  On the drive up to the top I saw a marmot on the side of the road; those guys are everywhere I go.  I parked up on top and ate a sandwich, while looking out over the wheat fields.  Tonight’s sunset was beautiful and peaceful.

Steptoe Butte State Park

 

 

I drove up to Steptoe Butte State Park today.  It is about an hour and half north from the Pullman/Moscow area.  Once you make the spiraling drive to the very top, you get a 360 degree view of The Palouse.  The sky was filled with scattered clouds, and to the south I could see the rain falling out of the clouds.  The sun was behind the clouds most of the time, but I managed to get a few good photos.  A nasty storm rolled in while I was up there.  The wind came gusting in and the rain began to pour.  I decided to get off the top before I start to see lightning.  It didn’t look like I was going to be able to catch a good sunset, so I left.  Big mistake, by the time I got back to Pullman, the storm let up and all the clouds were orange and purple from the sun setting and there was a double rainbow off to the east.  I will defiantly have to make it back up there this summer.

Palouse Falls State Park

I started off the season of “Beyond the Wheat Fields” with a trip to Palouse Falls State Park, in Washington State.  It’s about a 2 hour drive west of the Pullman/Moscow area.  The Palouse Falls was a sight to see with all the runoff from around the area.  We have had downpours of rain and snow melt in the mountains over the past few weeks.  The water gushed off an almost 200 foot cliff and it was a muddy brown from all the soil from the  fields further up stream.  I took pictures from some of the good vantage points in the park.