Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Antiquities Act: A Monumental Success

Coldwater Lake, Mt. St. Helens NVM -
 one of the many wonders protected
by the Antiquities Act 
Of all the various designations of public land, National Monuments are most close to my heart. This is likely due to the fact that my entire life up to this point has taken place on the doorstep of one of the finest: Mt. St. Helens. Some of my earliest memories are from days spent hiking through the beautiful desolation of the blast zone. The influence of this place upon me has been profound, and were it not for the Antiquities Act the region may never have been protected.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Euphoria at White Pass - spring skiing at its finest!

Tumac Mountain, a young volcano North of White Pass
It’s spring, but it can be hard to tell when you’re skiing in the Pacific Northwest right now! Powder in the morning and conditions that remain great throughout the day - crazy when you think back to this time last year when it felt like the middle of summer! White Pass still wears it’s lush coat of deep snow, so deep that the protective padding on the lift poles is entirely submerged! It is a good to see such a robust snowpack after the last few years fraught with drought and fires. It is immensely reassuring to know that the mountains are well stocked and that the retreat of the glaciers might be slowed, if only briefly.


Be sure and watch my White Pass skiing adventure video - I finally got up the courage to film with my DJI Osmo gimbal camera while skiing, which made things a lot more exciting than previous skiing videos that I've made!

Monday, April 10, 2017

UST Hex Tarp Review

I have a habit of going camping in the very worst weather possible, and last week, backpacking on the Olympic coast was no exception. Normally, foul weather camping means the utter misery of cooking and eating dinner in the pouring rain. This time, though, I brought along the Hex Tarp by Ultimate Survival Technologies, hoping to be able to eat a bagel without it getting soaked in a sudden downpour.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Timberline Ski Adventure

 



Early spring is, for me, the prime time to hit the slopes here in the Pacific Northwest. It seems to be the time of year when such trips jive best with my life, and when the various ski areas are at their least crowded. However, the weather can be just as wintry in spring as it is in the deepest depths of winter, as we found out this past Tuesday at Timberline on Mt. Hood.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rinsten Spring - Kickstarter Spotlight

Anyone who has ridden a bike down a rugged gravel road, or even a decent gravel road, will know that it can be an uncomfortable experience, to say the least. The Rinsten Spring aims to solve this issue and make your cycling experience more pleasant and comfortable. Rinsten is hoping to get this bicycle shock absorber onto the market via its new Kickstarter campaign.

Monday, March 20, 2017

UST ParaKnife FS 2.0 Review

The problem with a lot of knives I’ve used is their weight - a good pocket knife can have a real impact on the weight of your pack. The Paraknife FS 2.0 from Ultimate Survival Technologies changes all that with its barebones ultra-light design that also manages to fit in a wide array of useful tools such as might more often be found on a heavy, bulky multi-tool. It’s a marvelous device for anyone looking to shave a few ounces off their pack.

Dewdrops on Flowers - First day of Spring!


Spring is officially here! It was a chilly way for this green season to dawn, but the frosty dew only added to the splendor of the morning. I got as close as I could to capture the beauty of the jewel-like drops that adorned every verdant leaf and vivid blossom.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Trump's budget would gut funding for the environment, science, and public lands




For decades America has supported a plethora of vibrant programs and services that have benefited us all in uncountable ways. Through our tax dollars, we fund the scientific research that has vastly improved our quality of life and reduced our impact on our planet. We fund environmental protection that keeps our air and water clean, the ecosystems that sustain us healthy, and help fight the climate change that threatens our very existence. We fund our public lands - places everyone, regardless of personal wealth or social standing, has a stake in. They are a source of joy for hundreds of millions of Americans, and support a multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation economy.

 Today we're in danger of losing all this because of what Trump's budget would do to programs related to the environment. The budget cuts Trump has proposed would do so much damage to programs that improve every aspect of our society that it's difficult even to grasp the potential ramifications. Millions would suffer, many would die, and many decades of hard won progress would be lost. Not only the environment would suffer, but there would also be more funding for the arts, no more aid for the poor...... the list goes on. We must resist. We must stop Trump from implementing his devastating plans..

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spring is almost here!



You can almost hear the sound of the flora of the world readying themselves for the sunshine. As the rain pounds down bulbs are bursting out of the earth, buds are swelling on the branches, and the air is filled with birdsong. These photos show that even before they have revealed their final forms, there is beauty to be found in green and growing things even before they wake from their long winters naps.




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fairy Lights and Winter Nights


As the season comes to a close we have the fourth and final installment in my winter photo series. As
I type, my cameras are busily snapping away, capturing the first surging signs of spring. Let us dive, one last time, before the dawning of the brighter months of the year, into the depths of the long nights filled with mysterious lights and the snow muffled rumble of distant rivers.

Monday, March 13, 2017

FeatherLite Survival Kit Review



I have a confession to make - I don’t always carry the ten essentials. Worse still, I often don’t even carry a large percentage of those essentials. I don’t carry a knife, I leave the compass at home, I forget the fire starting materials, I leave the flashlight on the kitchen counter, and the emergency shelter gathers dust in the closet. The fact is that I’ll sacrifice safety if it means fitting in an extra camera lens. However, the Featherlite Survival Kit 3.0 by Ultimate Survival Technologies might change that for me.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

I won the UST Freeze Frame photo contest!


The winning shot!




A few months back I entered the UST Freeze Frame photo contest, and won! I'd like to thank the folks at Ultimate Survival Technologies for picking my photo out of all the awesome entries they received.

This week the prize arrived - four boxes full of gear! Check out my unboxing video to see all of it, and be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel. I plan on making individual review videos for all this cool gear soon - stay tuned!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Never Ending Rain


























This week has most definitely been a Western Washington week - constant pouring rain has drenched the landscape of the Pacific Northwest for days at a time, barely slowing for twenty minutes at a stretch.  If only the sky were  any more interesting than a leaden and uniform blanket blocking out the sun, but as it is there is no discernible dawn or sunrise or appreciable alteration in the clouds.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Comments on Marbled Murrelet plan due tomorrow at 5 PM!


 Tommorow 3/9/2017 at 5 PM is the deadline for comments on the Washington Department of Natural Resourses Draft Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet. It has its good points, but unfortunately all the alternatives would allow logging in Marbled Murrelet nesting habitat! Everyone needs to comment ASAP and let DNR know that they need to analyze and adopt a new conservation option.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Oshiro 60mm Super Macro Lens Review



We’ve all seen that interesting bug, that beautiful flower, that fascinating ice formation, and have likely tried to capture it through the lens our cameras. However, we quickly find that the closest we can get still leaves our subject as little more than a boring speck lost in the image. There are many ways to get a macro shot - reverse mounting your lens, using extension tubes, or a bellows for example.  All these options come with significant downsides. To get the best macro shooting experience you need a dedicated macro lens, but those don’t usually come cheap. They are a niche product and thus typically command a high price. However, the Oshiro 60mm F2.8 Super Macro lens is the exception to this rule.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Evening on the Farm



I made this video for an r/unknownvideos subreddit contest, go vote here: www.reddit.com/r/unknownvideos and help me win!

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Economic Power of Outdoor Recreation



It’s an unfortunate truth that outdoor recreation is a widely undervalued part of our economy. It is an industry worth 21.6 billion dollars in Washington alone, yet it is so often given only a grudging back seat in the estimation of politicians. Parks go unfunded, extractive industries are allowed to dominate vast swaths of public land, and in general we give little thought to an economic force as significant as the aerospace or tech industries. Think what could be accomplished if public lands and recreation were given the consideration that they deserve.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Into the crystal world


When snow falls, hoar frost grows, and icicles flow from the rafters we see the glittering beauty of it all, but that's only the surface. Look closer, closer than the naked eye can see, and you will find a world of crystals stretching off into eternity. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The assault on public lands has begun - we must fight back!

Our public lands now face the greatest threat to their very existence since the founding of their various designations and the agencies created to oversee them. They are often and aptly termed “America’s Best Idea”, but unfortunately even our sacred wild places are not off limits to those who have been consumed by greed and who now squat in our nation's capitol. House Bill 621 would sell off 3.3 million acres of public land that its instigator, Jason Chaffetz of Utah claims  “serve no purpose for taxpayers”. This is a blatant lie - all public land has enormous value to taxpayers! Even if it goes entirely unused by anyone it has immense value to taxpayers in that it supports ecosystems that benefit us indirectly. The real reason they want to sell our land is so that their buddies in extractive industries can profit from it. Fortunately, this bill  was dropped on Wednesday, but there is other devious legislation waiting in the wings.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Under the Ice


Only a few feet deep and a couple yards wide, this pond is normally not much to look at, but when the cold weather crystallizes its frog haunted depths it takes on the characteristics of a frozen alien landscape. It is mesmerizing to stare through layers of ice and try to decipher what strange formations lie beneath. Flying saucers, UFO's and amorphous tentacle monsters lurk within the gloom. Diamonds float in a sea of glass. Gaze into my crystal pond!

Friday, January 27, 2017

A timely message from OK GO

“There’s some bad people on the rise” - that’s the chorus line of Morrissey's song “Interesting Drug” - an appropriate sentiment for the current condition of the human race. This was not lost on the band OK GO when their music video cover of the tune was uploaded to Youtube just days before the inauguration of the illegitimate dictator of the United States.


“They’re saving their own skin by ruining people's lives” - the song continues, practically a textbook description of kleptocracy. Trump, the GOP, and Russia’s corrupt politicians all have come to power with the express purpose of exploiting their positions for personal gain. That gain is had at the considerable detriment to the people they supposedly represent.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Frozen Landscapes

It’s rare for the lowlands of Southwest Washington to see more than a few days in a row with snow on the ground - let alone the better part of a month! It hasn’t been much, but since 2017 rolled around the weather has been as cold and snowy as any I can remember! Dealing with freezing water pipes, hauling water from the house for thirsty animals, and other cold weather chores may have made things more difficult, but it’s been worth it to finally experience a real winter in these parts! With the sound of rain on my window, washing the snow away, I find myself sifting through the eleven hundred photos I captured of these snowy conditions! This will be the first in a four part series of photo galleries. Enjoy!


Part 1: Frozen Landscapes

Winter without snow is a bland affair - gray trees, grey sky, grey grass. Maybe an appealing setting for a gloomy music video, but not an inspirational scene for much else. Add a few flakes of snow and the monotony ends. Even the ugliest scenery is made pleasing to the eye when covered with a powdery blanket of frozen water. The terminally drab architecture, the redneck car graveyards, butchered commercial forests - all these detriments to the aesthetics of Western Washington are put temporarily out of sight. A few flurries of snow transform a boring landscaping into a winter wonderland.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Thank you President Obama!



I would like to take a moment today to thank President Barack Obama for his extraordinary service as one of the greatest leaders America has ever had. He is one of the few politicians I consider to be truly honest, and who sincerely cares about his country and the people he represents. Even when confronted by the coarse rudeness of his opponents he behaved with politeness and a manner befitting a world leader.

Under his leadership great strides were made in conservation and sustainability, in healthcare, education, and government. He strove for reform and progress towards a better future. What he has accomplished is remarkable, even more so when one considers the hateful individuals who fought him at every turn. One wonders what he might have been able to achieve had not the forces of greed and corruption opposed him so bitterly.

Our country and our planet are a better place for the past 8 years of his leadership, and I sincerely wish that the 22nd amendment had not been made so that we might have elected him for another 4, and then another 4 after that. Thank you, President Obama, for all the monuments, the Paris agreement, and the strengthening of environmental protections - may they weather the storms that gather on the horizon. Once again, thank you for your service.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Hoffstadt Visitor Center Fiasco

Photo: Mt. St. Helens and the Toutle River Valley as seen from Hoffstadt Visitor Center.
The history of the  spectacular region surrounding Mt. St. Helens is a litany of poor management decisions. From crooked land deals that lost us millions of acres of public land, to the stripping of the ancient forests that once blanketed that land, to the inadequate size of Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, to the haphazard development of said monument, and countless other gaffs and disasters, this corner of the Cascades has not been treated well. The hocking of the Hoffstadt Visitor Center is the latest in this long line of poor decisions.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Barrier Falls




Deep in the woodland hills of the Northern Oregon Coast range can be found many hidden valleys with tumbling streams - the quiet of this forest realm broken only by the roar of many falls and the song of forest wrens. However, the unfortunate truth is that much of this country lacks protected status, let alone trails. One of the few exceptions to this rule is the verdant canyon of Gnat Creek, along which several miles worth of trails may be traveled - the star attraction of which is the small, yet impressive cascade of Barrier Falls. In season it is a cauldron of boiling white froth that dwindles to a trickle of crystal in the dry months of summer.

Gnat Creek/Clatsop Crest State Park Proposal

Puget Island in the Columbia River from the Clatsop Crest
Over the years I have driven over the hills that lie between Astoria and Clatskanie many times, and every time I am struck by the region's beauty, and also by its sad neglect. Once upon a time the Southern shore of the Lower Columbia River was a tourism destination, but for some time now it has been unfortunately forgotten. Casual travelers seldom guess at the hidden beauty that can be found here - at the waterfalls that tumble through hidden glens, the quiet valleys, or the rugged ridges ripe for exploration. At the moment this obscurity is for the best - most of the falls lie on private property, and public access is tolerated only due to their lack of use & the respect shown by visitors. Where public land is found, few trails allow for easy or pleasant walking due to the intense logging that dominates both state and private land here.