Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bowman Fork Avalanche

The thunderous roar of a jet sounded in the distance, a pause and continued then eerily silent . An unknown direction played even more so upon the falling snow. It caught my undivided attention. The sound reverberated across the trees I stood under.

I readjusted my bindings again. Kicked down once or twice to ensure the tails were secure. Behind me my prints being covered. The tracks in front of me were quickly disappearing under the maze of falling snow. My attention crept into excitement. AVALANCHE!!!

I looked up into the sky. I couldn't. Snow fell into my eyes. I looked around again. I know this path. I know this track. Summer, winter, night. Now, storm. Visibility, less then a foot ball field wide. May be these tracks aren't yesterdays.

I punched my jacket, shaking the snow off my beanie. My camel pack line began to freeze. I pushed out into the storm again from the safety of the fir.

Marching into the bend. I could see the other side of the side canyon I was in. I could see my turn around point ahead. Just beyond the grove of aspens I saw the slide. Fresh, fresh like the snow I kicked down the slope I traversed. Except this zone is of no mans land of scoured hillside and up churned brush floating frozen in peril. A riptide caught locked in time.

I hollered out. I cried out another greeting. Three times I yelled. Three times I waited. I encroached slowly. Always cautious of the slope I was on. Wooded no long meant holding.

In the ravine a head 5 yards wide by hundreds of yards long, the slide I heard. I honestly dared not approach fearing I'd set a slide off where I stood. This slope isn't the most stable either. I grabbed a few clicks with film. The visibility improved slightly. Where I stood 3 feet above the ground - the trees told me so.

The tracks I noticed went up. Up. I know that up. It goes to a knoll may be a quarter mile away. Tracks? Now covered with snow. I ponder and still ponder were these from last night or were they fresh. Did this person go around on the trail on up to the summit or kick left & go to the knoll.

I would not venture further. I'll let my conscious play on. The safety of one. The safety of ME. The zone into the slide, steep, barren, near empty. The zone of thunder a few hundred yards away. The zone between me an there a gap in eternity. It can stay that way 'til summer or until I venture out this way again.

I sucked on my camel pack - nothing. I felt the crunch of ice in the bite valve. I remembered the pack temp minus eight Celsius aka minus butt crack cold. No wonder I didn't have any clear juice. I kicked steeped around. I retraced my approach for the pictures.

I felt the snow upon my face. My tracks covered already. Will my conscious play? The tracks of skis go up not across. They go up, I repeated. No one goes across during winter alone. Alone that is me.

I continued on. Around the bend, the down hill began. I paused to shake of the tails. The clouds began to break. The snow now just coming off the trees. I was alone. I alone witness this avalanche. Wow.

What can I say? This I can say, had I not paused under a big tree to ponder the storm, to ponder the trek a head, to put on the tails. I can say - this journal would not be written.

No, it would be.

My turn around in winter for Bowman Fork is just before the slide zone. I see the evidence there all the time of a path of scour and rage, of mountain & vegetation fighting gravity & snow. I know better. Better to call short then to not call in.

What I heard didn't sound like a freight train like many say an avalanche sound like. It's more like a big turbine. This local slides & slides often though not often reported. If you hike Bowman Fork be careful as you approach the upper sections. You know the area. You've seen the debris in the summer. Cut high to the knoll or traverse one at a time.


If you are reading & wondering what I mean by tails on the snowshoes. MSR brand of snowshoes are designed to accommodate extensions known as tails. These tails come in 4,6, & 8 inches. They attach to the back of the snowshoe to provided additional float in deep snow. Float is the ability to stay on top of the snow.

Photos to be added later

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Time in the City

K10D_9022_122008_rdc, originally uploaded by preyingjaws.

It's Christmas time in the city. The lights are all strung out. Neighborhoods share their cheer. Neighbors don't know who their neighbors are. Everyone seems to be going some place & yet no one is going any where.

After shooting this scene from a great vantage point that's easy to get to, I drove through this neighborhood. I like this shot better. It captures the feeling of disjunction in which see in the American way of life these days.

Once upon a time 'I love lucy' & 'Leave it to beaver' were the norms where it was 'a wonderful life.' Today, 'I m home alone.'

Saturday, December 06, 2008

RednGreen with a Pipin Santa

RednGreen with a Pipin Santa, originally uploaded by preyingjaws.

A few Holiday Tips

(I'm also posting this here in case he doesn't email me for the image)

1) Charge your batteries & clean your lens.
Long exposures show dirt.
Batteries fade in the cold.
Carry the extra set inside your front trouser pocket to keep them warm.
2) Get a pocket full of $1's & $5'rs - tip the street's well.
No less then a buck if you stand around for a few.
No less then a 5'r if you take a few pixs.
I'm guilty. I didn't know I was heading downtown until the last minute. I didn't have green backs with me.
3) Use your tripod.
There is no excuse for a blurry picture if you leave your's in the car or at home...
4) Know thy camera settings with out looking for them.
Use the short timer setting to clear camera shake of the shutter before the exposure begins.
Use rear curtain flash. That's why you see sparkles in this guy's pocket. He step'd into the frame during the exposure just before my flash fired. The picture works.
Use aperture priority settings for the dSLR or nite if you have a P&S
5) Limit your gear.
No one likes a gear head when everyone's out enjoying the evening. This is true if you're solo or with a group, esp'ly if you're with a group.
I had all my gear in my pockets. What didn't fit was in the sack which I used to haul to & from location.
6) Practice hospitality
aka Be Nice.
Don't be a space hog, step out of the way and don't extend you're tripod legs out to their max triangular distances.
Finally, offer to take someone else's picture for them. A family man was out trying to get a picture of his family in front of the temple. I shot Pentax. His camera is Pentax. I lent him my flash for his family pix. In the chimp, the temple was perfectly exposed & so is his family.

More images coming.
More images being posted at


Friday, December 05, 2008

Lone Peak UT

Lone Peak UT, originally uploaded by preyingjaws.

Please surf over to flickr to read the description on this image.

Years ago a Scouting buddy & I headed towards Lone Peak. We never made it. Heck, we didn't even find the right trail. After an hour or so of punching brush we turned around & came back.

It's been 20 years. The trail head changed. It's now marked. The trail is marked too!

A new friend called me up & said I want to do this hike. I replied let's. So we did. We made it to the base of the summit trail, well almost before we turned back. The last hour or so for us on the trail were in the dark.

It's the most brutal hike I've done in the Wasatch. It's the hike with the greatest rewards. If you want to venture into mountaineering & want to test yourself first. Hit Lone Peak UT.

Now that I've tasted the trail & I've seen it. I'm goin' back in the spring when the trial is open & the wild flowers are in bloom. I've got summit lust for this peak & it's mine, all mine. But I'll wait until spring to get there.

The Moon & Moroni

K10D_8862_crop_122008_rdc, originally uploaded by preyingjaws.

I was out & about yesterday afternoon with nothing to do so I grabbed my kit and went downtown for the evening to scout. I want to get down there when there's lots of people so I can get some ghost images. This one I saw. It took a few moments to figure out just the right angles.

I am not LDS. Please don't send a missionary my way. I like the downtown area & the way the organization sets up the lights during the holiday.