Sunday, September 17, 2017

After the Eclipse at Mosquito Lake in the Wind River Range, Part 2

(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email.  As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest blog posting at the top of the post, and not the title of the painting itself; this will open up the actual blog itself, and you may then enjoy the paintings at their best.)

Tuesday-Tuesday, August 22-29, 2017; to Mosquito Lake, west of Union Pass, Wind River Range, Wyoming.

C1635
“Afternoon at Pinnacle Buttes”
(Brooks Lake, Absaroka Range, Wyoming)
Oil Painting on Pannelli Telati fine Cotton Panel
5” x 7”


Saturday at Mosquito Lake saw the weather back to sunny with puffy cumulus clouds drifting lugubriously along.  Several vehicles wandered into my campsite, during the day, and as quickly left again when they saw it was occupied; it’s the weekend so I suppose there will be a repeat performance tomorrow.

Sunday: no, there really wasn’t a repeat performance … a couple of cyclists pedaled through my camp, and later one motorbike saw my camp was occupied, and I heard two cars out on the road all day, and that was it.  A very hazy but warm day all day, and the Absaroka Range, 50 miles to the northeast, was lost in the haze for most of the day, appearing slightly in the early evening.  The antelope family was out grazing all day.  I wonder if they were about the first couple of days I was here, but I think I would have noticed.  The coyotes were talking in or near the wood at the north end of the lake at dusk tonight, whereas they were down at the south end two nights ago, where the pronghorns are now.

Following shots are taken handheld from 600 yards away … magic camera.

Pronghorn guy …

… sees girl, who’s playing coy …

… as she has a couple young’uns.

Not sure, but think these are Cinnamon Teal.

Evening light after a bit of smoke haze day.

Monday: haze thickened during the day until by late afternoon, Union Peak had disappeared … I believe that it’s smoke coming down from Montana forest fires.   Hopefully the wind will shift during the night.  The Pronghorns were there at breakfast, but must have departed shortly thereafter, since I never spotted them for the rest of the day.  I was sitting on a log in the wood taking photographs of a plant with berries, when the resident squirrel, started a run along a log to my left, along another a few yards in front of me, then along a third to my right, ending up on my log stopping abruptly about three feet in front of me, looked at me as if to say, “shit! What are you doin’ on my highway?” then scampered off behind me.  The chipmunks here seem to be as enamored with the fire circle as the pair up above Aspen at Lincoln Portal, although I’ve not caught them gnawing any rocks … never got a shot of these ones … never stayed still to pose.

My patch of woodland.

Forest floor … I actually found two late strawberries.

Smoke haze from Montana.











Tuesday: heading out today and happy the pronghorn family is still in residence, but down the road two miles is a herd of their peers. 

Last Morning at Mosquito Lake.


Pronghorns … there were about 30 more.


Goin’ off.

Lake of the Woods …
detoured on a desperate road to get here.

Pool on the Great Divide.

Shower approaching across Union Pass
with the Gros Ventre Range to the west.

Warm Spring Creek & Canyon on the way down
from Union Pass … drops of rain began,
but held off really, until I got to Dubois
and the library.

I am beginning to really like  these Pannelli Telati fine cotton panels by Belle Arti, out of Italy; there seems to be a good amount of ‘grab’ of the paint, and not so ‘slidey’ as some panels … I guess I’m finding that to be a preference.  Having been primarily a Watercolourist my whole career, I’m finding the technical side of Oils quite fascinating.

The pigments used were:

Imprimatura: W&N Venetian Red

Drawing: W&N Ultramarine Deep

Painting: W&N Venetian Red, Cobalt & Ultramarine Deep Blues, also a touch of Cerulean, Cadmiums Orange & Yellow Pale.

Rublev Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Italian Burnt Sienna, Purple Ochre & Lead White #1.

M. Graham: Hansa Yellow.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

After the Eclipse at Mosquito Lake in the Wind River Range, Part 1

(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email.  As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest blog posting at the top of the post, and not the title of the painting itself; this will open up the actual blog itself, and you may then enjoy the paintings at their best.)

Tuesday-Tuesday, August 22-29, 2017; to Mosquito Lake, west of Union Pass, Wind River Range, Wyoming.

Note: you have seen the two paintings I did at Mosquito Lake in the last two postings, North to Wyoming, Parts 1 & 2.


C1636
“Morning at Pinnacle Buttes”
(Brooks Lake, Absaroka Range, Wyoming)
Oil Sketch on Pannelli Telati fine Cotton Panel
5” x 7”


After the Eclipse I remained in my forest meadow all Tuesday, to give time for all those other eclipse watchers to head out from their camps and clear the forest roads.  I crept out on the Wednesday from my forest road joining the next forest road 5 miles to forest road 600, the Union Pass Road, much as a creek joins a larger creek to a river.  The various campsites that had occupants, when I came in on Saturday, were all gone.  The best thing about my meadow, deep in the mountains, was that only once during my time in residence did anyone come down there … a lone ATV with a couple exploring the forest roads.

My eclipse campsite.

Road to my eclipse campsite.

Further down the road from
where I observed the eclipse;
this is the Gros Ventres Range
 to the southwest.

One of the many forest pools I passed by.

Ducks at Park Meadow.

At the junction with Union Pass Road I paused for a time studying my map, and decided to go west a few miles to check out Buffalo Meadow and then a few more miles to Mosquito Lake.  At the latter I found a campsite overlooking the south end of this shallow lake and the Wind River Range extending to the south.  I have a 180° view, including Union Pass 15 miles away, Union Peak (over which the Sun rises of a morning), the valley of the Roaring Fork (a tributary of the Green River), and the mountains enclosing Green Lake, beyond which arises the Green River itself; the Lake is out of site from my vantage point.

My first evening view from my
Mosquito Lake campsite.

Flotilla.

I've seen these rays at dusk and dawn several times ;
I think it has something to do with mountain shadows.

Here I have chipmunks, squirrels, coyotes yowling occasionally, various small birds (including Lark Buntings, first identified at the end of June at the Pawnee National Grassland), an occasional family of four pronghorn antelopes (two young), a pair of hawks of some kind, and the lake has several rafts of wildfowl and a pair of Trumpeter Swans, the first couple of days. Of the wildfowl, I have identified Cinnamon Teal, and Blue-winged Teal. Whereas the weather was absolutely perfect up to Wednesday, it has been mixed since then, generally sunny, but with cloud increasing during the days, and very interesting storms passing by, occasionally over me, but mostly off in the distance.

Residents.

Storm over the Roaring Fork
of the Green River.

And after the storm passeth away ...

... The flowers seem happier.

And another storm passes over Union Pass.

 The storms move off into the distance at day's end.


For you tech-heads the pigments used were:

Imprimatura: W&N Venetian Red

Drawing: W&N Ultramarine Deep

Painting: W&N Venetian Red, Cobalt & Ultramarine Deep Blues, also a touch of Cerulean, Cadmiums Orange & Yellow Pale.

Rublev Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Italian Burnt Sienna, Purple Ochre & Lead White #1.

M. Graham: Hansa Yellow.

Friday, September 15, 2017

North to Wyoming: Part 2

(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email.  As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest blog posting at the top of the post, and not the title of the painting itself; this will open up the actual blog itself, and you may then enjoy the paintings at their best.)

Monday, August 14 - August 21, 2017; Dinosaur National Monument, northwest Colorado & northeast Utah, and on to west of Union Pass, Wind River Range, Wyoming.

I had no time between leaving Aspen, CO until after the Eclipse to paint, so this is another painting done after that event, but this blog post is of part of the journey to arrive there.

C1633
“Wildfowl Flotillas on Mosquito Lake”
(West of Union Pass, Wyoming)
Oil Sketch on Centurian Oil Primed Linen Panel
5” x 7”


I ended part 1 of Heading north to Wyoming with; “And that was Thursday, day two of the Dinosaur National Monument, where I thought I would spend only part of one day to breeze through!”

And yet, I was not yet finished with the Monument, for how can you pass up a name such as ‘the Gates of Lodore?’  Sounds like something from ‘the Lord of the Rings.’  To get there, in the morning I continued on the county roads for thirteen miles to Us Hwy 40 at Elk Springs (a couple houses and a rest area), and on to Maybell and a petrol station.  From here State Hwy 318 is followed west forty miles or so (now north of the Yampa River), and then leaving the pavement, a gravel road is taken a few miles to the Gates of Lodore where the Green River enters the mountains.  It’s funny to think that just a few miles by river will take one to the meeting of the Yampa River with the Green at Echo Park, where I was yesterday, so many desperate road miles ago; there were two groups of rafters preparing to do just that.  The views of the Gates from the sand bank on the Green at the campground are good, but for the classic views of the river into the canyon itself, a mile stroll along a nature trail is well worth the hike.  Sadly the box containing the guides to the numbered points of interest was empty.  You know … I never spotted one Dinosaur the whole time I was in Dinosaur National Monument!  I, of course, expected them lurking on every horizon.  What a swizz (that is a ’jip,’ to the Yanks out there!!  Har! Har!

The Gates of Lodore from the Campground.

The Gates from the Nature Walk.

The Gates of Lodore from Trail’s End.

Into the Gates.

Floaters on the Green.
Now wasn't that really Lord of the Rings-ish?  Photos taken and lunch eaten, and I continued west on Hwy 318.  A few miles along from the Gates of Lodore, I attempted to cross the Green, to drive the few miles to one of the hideouts of Butch Cassidy, but the bridge has been closed to vehicle traffic, and an eight mile walk was not in my timetable.  From the highway one could see the canyon, and imagine the seclusion of the place, especially back then.

A few miles along from the Gates of Lodore,
one comes to Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge.

Near Browns Park Butch Cassidy had one of his hideouts across the Green River.

Up that valley, is one of Butch’s hideouts;
The Green is in the fold of land between here and there.


A few miles along the road enters Utah, and the pavement ends and becomes gravel and intermittent with pavement for the forty or so miles to its junction with US Hwy 191, which I took north through Rock Springs, Wyoming, topping up with petrol and ice, to Farson.  Turning northeast here onto State Hwy 28, forty miles brought me to the famous South Pass.  Here this broad pass, at the south end of the Wind River Range, saw thousands of emigrants pass through on the Oregon Trail, including the Mormons on their 1847 trek to the future Salt Lake City.  One can still see the wagon ruts in places.  A few miles on I left the pavement for the forest roads, and five miles in, camped for the night, on forest road 309.

Just to the west of South Pass is the “Parting of the Ways.”

At South Pass.

South Pass is at the top of the ridge to the left of Pacific Butte.

Of course I had to show you Oregon Buttes, which lie to the south of Pacific Butte.

To the north of South Pass is the Wind River Range,
and at their north end is where I watched the Eclipse,
three days after I passed through South Pass
 and up the east side of the mountains,
through the town of Dubois, and then over Union Pass.

More historical info at South Pass.
The next day, Saturday, I passed through Lander, on US287, stopped into the ranger station there, picked up some free eclipse info and eclipse glasses, topped up with petrol, and continued on to Dubois, seventy miles further.  Here I strolled around this decidedly western town (with hitching posts in places), topped up with petrol again, and a bit of dry ice to make my normal ice keep longer, and headed into the Wind River Range over Union Pass, and the eclipse in two days time, and that you already have read about in my last posting.

Red Canyon overlook, on the east side of South Pass.

Wildlife info.



Friday, September 8, 2017

North to Wyoming: Part 1

(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email.  As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest blog posting at the top of the post, and not the title of the painting itself; this will open up the actual blog itself, and you may then enjoy the paintings at their best.)

Monday, August 14 - August 21, 2017; Dinosaur National Monument, northwest Colorado & northeast Utah.

I had no time between leaving Aspen, CO until after the Eclipse to paint, so this is a painting done after that event, but this blog post is of part of the journey to arrive there.

C1634
“Dawn over Union Peak”
(Mosquito Lake, Wyoming)
Oil Sketch on Pannelli Telati fine Cotton Panel
5” x 7”


By the time I published my blog posting from Aspen, Colorado (the one before the Eclipse), it was 5 PM, and so I decided against going back up to the Lincoln Portal road and camping along the river, as I had thought of doing, and instead headed north down the valley, on my first leg towards the Wind River Range in Wyoming and the Eclipse.  North from Aspen the landscape is lower in altitude and so I rapidly found myself back in the sagebrush, pinion pine & juniper country.  Fifty-something miles down the road at The junction with I70 the road ceases to be 4-lane divided highway, as it narrows to negotiate through Glenwood Springs, and so I found myself in a traffic jam … did not expect that. 

I pulled off to check the map and look up free campsites as I now had 4G internet.  In the end I decided to head 24 miles west to Rifle, Colorado, and spend the night in the Walmart Carpark, and resupplying in the morning.  This I did and then headed north from Rifle on State Hwy 13, towards Meeker, and west from there on State Hwy 64 towards Dinosaur National Monument.  Above Rifle is an interesting set of bluffs, but I really had no chance to get the right angle for a good shot of them.  Crossing the Colorado River at Rifle, one sees why it is named thus … full of earth red silt.  And west of Meeker the road followed the White River which had a definite milky cast to it. 

Eventually I turned north onto a dirt road, County 73, and followed it about 6 miles onto Coal Ridge.   I had left Rifle late, and what with all the stopping to take photographs, decided to have an early camp here on the crest of the ridge.  I took a walk through the junipers and pinion pines, and upon my returning to my camp just off the county road, found a Winnebago parked on the road.  I heard voices down the road, and when their owners returned, it turned out they were a Dutch family in a rented Winnebago.  They asked me about the road conditions ahead (they had come from the north and I from the south), so I told them that the worst, was just down the hill.  Since they had just walked down that far, and weren’t worried about that, then I told them they should be fine; just to make sure that they turned left at the junction a mile down the road, and follow that to the highway four or five miles further.  They gave me two ice cold beers, and went on their way.  I could see the junction from the crest, a few yards from my camp, and saw that they made the turning OK.  Coyotes yipped and howled a bit later, and I couldn’t help but think they should have made themselves known, for the Dutch family; especially after they had come across me in the middle of nowhere, with my bear spray, sheath knife and revolver loaded with snake-shot on my belt.  I marveled that they had got on that road in the rig they were driving, but the road was marked on their map … it just didn’t indicate what kind of a road it actually was.  They will have stories.

Evening shower over Skull Creek Rim.

Dawn light on Skull Creek Rim from Coal Ridge.
That evening and the next morning I had been looking northwest across the valley below to Skull Creek Rim, twelve or more miles away, and once I broke camp I headed down to US Hwy 40, the way the Dutch had come, a few miles west along that, and then north on the Skull Creek Rim Road.  The dirt county road winds through the Skull Creek Basin, and climbs up towards the rim through the pinyon/juniper forest, eventually rising through a canyon until you find yourself on the plateau behind the rim itself, and a T-junction with County Road 16, which I took west.  Here is a broad expanse of rolling grassland, extending for miles, where I would normally expect to find Ponderosa Pines at that altitude.  Evidently the conditions are right for grassland more than Ponderosas.

By midafternoon I had met the paved road from the entry point of central portion of Dinosaur National Monument to Harpers Corner overlook, where the Green River flows 2500 feet below.  I saved that for the next day, went down to the Canyon Visitor Center of the Monument for information, and then two miles west to Dinosaur, Colorado, for petrol … and yes, Virginia, there is a small town called Dinosaur.  Retracing my route back up past the visitor center, I stopped at Plug Hat Butte for the views and a nature walk.  From here I could look across the intervening few miles toward Cliff Ridge, where was the primitive campground (no water, no toilets), that the ranger in the visitor center had told me about. 

And that’s where I now headed … a distance of 3 or 4 miles as the Raven flies, but more than 25 by road, 10 or so on the usual dirt surface.  The campground recommended, was at a hang glider launch point (none in evidence), but I rejected it for lack of good trees, and headed three miles west on a 4-wheel drive road to Point of Pines, where I was in amongst a grove of Ponderosas an Aspens, and from where I had a good view from my clifftop campsite, well worth the 4-wheel drive.  To get to there I crossed into Utah, back into Colorado, and back into Utah, as the road wound its way across the plateau. There were Clarks Nutcrackers here, a quiet member of the Jay family.

Plug Hat Butte was visible, and down on the flats, fifteen miles or so away, the lights of Dinosaur winked on in the dusk, as well as those of Rangley, another fifteen miles or so beyond and slightly to the left of Dinosaur, from my vantage point.  As night deepened I could see the odd vehicle headlights coming north out of Dinosaur, and I wondered what road they were on.  In my introduction to my blog-site, I extoll the virtues of extensive landscapes without a yard light to be seen in the dark of the night, but just occasionally there is a magic about distant lights in the night … this was one of those times.  While I did begrudged the single yard light at the ranch three miles away (luckily it was mostly hidden behind a nearby young Ponderosa), the distant lights of the two small towns lent an ethereal quality to the night … perhaps because I was 2500 feet above it all, as a god in Valhalla might look to Midgard below.

Studying my maps in the light of morning, I saw that those vehicular lights were not coming north out of Dinosaur on some backroad, but northwest on US Hwy 40; made sense, considering the several per hour there had been.  That highway also bisects an interesting feature well scene from Valhalla Point of Pines; a sinuous thin sharp ridgeline a few miles long rising a couple hundred feet out from a flat plain, called Snake Jim Ridge.  This reef-like feature appears to bare no relation to the surrounding geology, but then I am no geologist … more’s the pity!

Campsite at Point of Pines, with Snake Jim Ridge 2000’ below.

Even though there are no dinosaur exhibits in this eastern section of the Monument, the landscape is highly interesting and varied, from grassland plateaus, pinyon and juniper woodlands, deep red rock canyons with cottonwoods in their depths, and the Green and Yampa Rivers flowing and meeting up 2500 feet below the canyon rims.  So I stopped at the various viewpoints on the paved road out to the Harpers Corner Overlook, spotting Steamboat Rock far below at Echo Park, behind which lurks the junction of the Green and Yampa Rivers.  I declined the two mile long nature walk at Harpers Corner, since I wished to descend the desperate dugway off the high plateau through Sand Canyon, and on to Echo Park and the Green River while the light was good.  On the way down I stopped at some petroglyphs pecked into the canyon wall 1200 years ago, when the surface of the canyon floor was 35 feet higher than it is today … thus the petroglyphs are now high up on the wall.  Luckily the raking light was just right to make them out.  Down at Echo Park I pottered about, taking many photos, noted the campground for future reference should I pass this way again (water & WC), and noted the junction of the Yampa River with the Green, in the distance.  Like the Colorado is red, and the White has a milky quality to it, as noted previously, the Green is, well … green.

Steamboat Rock at Echo Park.

Steamboat Rock on the left & looking towards the junction of the Yampa with the Green River.

Another view with the Green River & the base of Steamboat Rock.

Some of the petroglyphs on the way down to Echo Park.

Leaving Echo Park I stopped at Whispering Cave, a shallow split in the cliff-face which once you stoop to gain entry you find extends both right and left deep into the rock, parralelling the cliff, and also rises through crevasses high above you, down through which there is a cooling breeze.  I expect that this breeze would not have been conducive to permanent habitation in days of old. A few miles back up the canyon, I stopped at the old Chew Ranch, sold to the Monument in 1966 by the third generation Chew after 56 years of homesteading.  This was still inhabited when I was a youth … food for thought.

Whispering Cave.

Elk in velvet at Whispering Cave.
The Chew Ranch; sold to the Monument in 1966.

Old cabin near the old Chew Ranch.
A mile or two beyond I turned left onto the Yampa Bench Road, before entering Sand Canyon through which I had descended earlier.  This road I had thought about taking yesterday, but realized I would not be able to do it before nightfall, and so camped at Point of Pines instead … smart move.  It’s a desperate road, and while I needed 4-wheel drive only occasionally, it is not for your ordinary passenger car, but well worth taking if you have the ability to do so … many photo-ops, including views down into the canyon of the Yampa River.  I camped on BLM land a few miles outside the Monument boundary, amongst the Junipers and Pinions, where a curious little grey Plain Titmouse (Parus inornatus), hovered about in the branches of the Pinion above me, checking me out from all angles; I thought once he was going to alight on my shoulder to get a closer look at my supper preparing activities.  My first sighting of one of these, and very pleasant it was. And that was Thursday, day two of the Dinosaur National Monument, where I thought I would spend only part of one day to breeze through!

On the Yampa Bench Road.

The Yampa River in the Canyon below the Yampa Bench.

Yampa River ...
just picture Butch Cassidy hiding out in a place like this.

My Camp just outside the Monument
amongst the Junipers & Pinyon Pines.