Taylor Park Camping

This last weekend I went camping up Texas Creek from Taylor Park Reservoir. It was a much longer drive than anywhere else I’ve camped this summer, but there were some pretty spectacular views along the way:
Cottonwood Pass

Lake

One of the big perks of camping in Taylor Park is that the sky is so dark that the stars are really visible. Or at least, that’s how it is once the moon finally goes down…

This weekend was the Perseid meteor shower. Even before the moon was down we saw a number of amazing shooting stars, but we still got up early in the morning to get the full effect. Unfortunately night shots are hard to do on my camera so I didn’t manage any pictures worth sharing.

Once the sky was too bright to see the stars we drove up the valley looking for moose. The sunrise was great
Sunrise
and our search was met with success, even if I didn’t manage to get a crisp shot:
Moose
In my defense, everything is white because of frost. I’d been up for three hours and I was a bit cold, so holding the camera steady enough for great zoomed pictures just wasn’t happening.

Before we went back to camp we walked over to a couple lakes. There was still mist rising from the lakes, and it was so still there was a great mirror effect:
Reflected Mountains

Reflected Trees

We were camped just above a bend in the creek, so of course I got lots of pictures of it:

I was helping catch it instead of taking pictures when the big tent tried to blow away (it pulled up stakes and tore off tie-downs), but I did at least get one of the other tents suffering:
Tent Collapse

I also took a hike up the ridge across the creek. There was a great view, but it was so blocked by trees I never tried taking a picture. Overall I had a wonderfully relaxing weekend; it was a trip well worth the drive.

Catamount Reservoirs

I started to write a post with pictures from the three weekends this month I spent camping, but today’s hike was interesting so I’m writing it up while it’s still fresh. Also, I’m playing with photo editing software, so some of the pictures in this post are cropped and/or have the color balance adjusted.

My first choice for a hike today fell through (I couldn’t find parking within half a mile of the trailhead…) so I ended up in Green Mountain Falls to hike up to the Catamount Reservoirs. I parked by the pond, which had ducks in it:
Ducks

From town it was a long hike up the side of the valley. I passed a few groups of people lower on the mountain (including one with a dog that just didn’t trust me, he had a hard time getting past me because the trail just wasn’t wide enough to stay back from me), but once I passed the waterfall (pictures of that later) I didn’t see anybody else out. There were a couple spots with gaps in the trees to look down and see the town:
Green Mountain Falls

Once I hit the top of the ridge the trail descended slightly to follow the creek through a remarkably green meadow (picture not taken by the creek, that section was too overgrown to have any sort of view):
Garden of Eden Meadow

As the trail exited the meadow I passed a national forest boundary sign, and shortly after that the trail dumped me out on a road. The Catamount reservoirs are dammed and used as part of the city water supply, so there are a number of utility buildings and maintenance roads downhill from the dams (which is where the trail from town is). Also, the reservoirs are also accessible to the public for fishing and boating (at least kayaks and such) so there were parking lots and restrooms nearby once I finally found my way to the water.

Last weekend we hiked the crags, which I believe ends up on top of the large diagonal piece of rock to the right of this picture:
Crags

Obligatory picture of Pike’s Peak, too bad the water wasn’t smooth enough for a reflection:
Pike's Peak

During the vast majority of the hike it was overcast, though thankfully there was very little rain. This was one of the few sunny moments
Sun on the water

Public access to the reservoirs stops at 7pm, which was unfortunate because I didn’t actually get there until about 6:30. I didn’t get sent off by the park ranger who was driving around making sure everyone was leaving, but I don’t think I made it back to the national forest until about 5 after.

I took most of my waterfall pictures on the way down. With the fading light the shutter speed was slower, so the falling water is a blur instead of a sharp snapshot:

Eventually I made my way back down to where I parked. That bit of water was still enough for a little reflection, though it would have been better had a duck not swam across right before I took the picture (or if I’d noticed at the time and waited to try again):
DSCN1099.v01

Florida Vacation

A couple weeks ago I was in Florida for family vacation. We had some days with good weather:
Arrival

Some bad weather:
Storm

And a great sunrise (the one morning I actually got up early enough to see it):
Dawn

Overall it was a great week, even if the water was too calm for boogie boarding most of the week but too murky for snorkeling (presumably due to the dredging they were doing for beach replenishment).

It turns out the birds were the most interesting part of the week (at least when I had my camera out), especially the heron that would perch on the boardwalk of our house or one nearby to preen itself after the rain. Before I get to that, here’s the one good picture I got of a Black Skimmer:
skimmer

And here are the best of the pictures I took of the neighborhood Great Blue Heron: