Tahoe Light Photography » Corporate, outdoor and adventure photography by Reno and Lake Tahoe freelance photographer Scott Sady.

by Scott and Monique

Hi there, Monique here, adding a few of my notes to this post about the Big Island of Hawaii! We decided to celebrate our 10 year anniversary with a trip that included some relaxing, and, of course, lots of adventuring as well. Since we honeymooned on Kaua’i, but neither of us had ever been to the big island, we decided to spend our 2 weeks exploring the “off the beaten path” areas of Hawaii. One of the most essential things to have for this endeavor is the book “Hawaii The Big Island Revealed.”  We used the author’s other book for our Kaua’i trip way back when, so we knew we could count on some secluded beaches and adventurous hikes without hordes of people. I planned the 2 weeks with the strategy of seeing as much as we could in the very different parts of the island. So the key to this plan was to stay 3 or 4 nights each in different areas of the island.

We started on the Kona side of the island, but since neither of us like crowds and the city, nor do we like the fancy-pants resort life, we opted to stay in a modest, quaint hotel in the lovely ranch town of Waimea. This was our home base where we just popped down the hill to explore some of the lesser visited beaches. A big bonus of staying in Waimea: The Big Island Brewhaus, a micro brewery with a variety of excellent beer on tap and tasty fresh mex food in a brightly colored, eclectic setting. We happened to be there on open mic night and were totally entertained by the talented musicians that happened to play that night. By the way, any of these pictures and more can be licensed for use simply by typing in “Hawaii” into the keyword field of my online photo archive and browsing for the photos you want.

The Queen

The Queen’s Bath, a freshwater cave near Kiholo Bay on the big island of Hawaii near Kona

Crossing giant fields of lava on our cross-country trek to find Kiholo Bay and the sea turtles

Crossing giant fields of lava on our cross-country trek to find Kiholo Bay and the sea turtles

Kiholo Bay is a beautiful place that requires some walking to, so despite the fact that we say about 5-10 sea turtles per hour, we only saw two other people during our two days visiting this place located near Kona on the big island of Hawaii.

Kiholo Bay is a beautiful place that requires some walking to, so despite the fact that we saw about 5-10 sea turtles per hour, we only saw two other people during our two days visiting this place located near Kona on the big island of Hawaii. Turtles seem to like the confluence of fresh water into the sea. So look for places along the coast with springs or small rivers entering the ocean and that is where you are likely to find the turtles.

Kiholo Bay is a beautiful place that requires some walking to, so despite the fact that we say about 5-10 sea turtles per hour, we only saw two other people during our two days visiting this place located near Kona on the big island of Hawaii.

One of the things I really wanted to see when we went to Hawaii, was to see turtles up close. I thought it might be a little hard, but after one day here with no other people I had my sea turtle fill for the trip. Kiholo Bay is a beautiful place that requires some walking to, so despite the fact that we saw about 5-10 sea turtles per hour, we only saw two other people during our two days visiting this place located near Kona on the big island of Hawaii.

hawaii travel sea turtleshawaii travel sea turtlesWe then set out to Hilo, on the east side of the island. I really liked the town itself, it seemed much more laid back than the Kona side. We stayed at a bed and breakfast just north of town called the Hale Kai, I recommend it. We spent several days exploring waterfalls, fruit stands, farmers markets and parks. Make sure to check out the Hilo Palace Theater, built in 1925. Even if you don’t see a show there, try to pop your head in and take a peek at this historic building.  The highlight of this part of the trip was our hike in Emesine Cave. About half way up on Saddle Road towards the middle of the island we parked the car along the side of the road and followed the directions in our trusty guide book to a pristine lava tube. It is a 5 mile round trip hike just to get to the opening of the lava tube. We estimated we then probably walked about another mile or so inside it. I can not even begin to describe what an awesome experience it is to be in this environment. We even saw a few sets of animal bones perfectly resting in their original shape of where the animals died. If you decide to do this adventure, remember to bring several headlamps and flashlights with you. We geeked out a bit with our light painting photography. But we also enjoyed the hike, and we even shut off our headlamps a few different time and experienced the blackest of all dark in the world. Whoa, it was pure black!

The famous Waipi

The famous Waipi’o Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii. An uber steep, 4 wheel drive only (though it is paved and you could make it with a small car with a good transmission) road is the only way in or out. It boasts an awesome black sand beach and a scenic waterfall that was dry when we got there. A hiking trail switches back up the cliff on the far side of this beach into true wilderness.

The Hawaii tropical botanical Garden near Hilo. This giant Botanical garden was a real treat with some crazy looking plants, and this coming from someone who really would normally not be impressed by this sort of thing.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden near Hilo. This giant Botanical garden was a real treat with some crazy looking plants, and this coming from someone who really would normally not be impressed by this sort of thing.

The Hawaii tropical botanical Garden near Hilo. This giant Botanical garden was a real treat with some crazy looking plants, and this coming from someone who really would normally not be impressed by this sort of thing.

The Hawaii tropical botanical Garden near Hilo. This giant Botanical garden was a real treat with some crazy looking plants, and this coming from someone who really would normally not be impressed by this sort of thing.

Fruit stands dot the roads.

Fruit stands dot the roads.

Fresh Coconut it one of my wife

Fresh Coconut is one of my wife’s favorite foods, and there was plenty to go around.

Eucalyptus forests abound in Hawaii. These non-native trees were originally brought in from Australia and the Phillipines as a plantation crop, for wood pulp, but were not profitable on Hawaii, so the fast growing invasive species soon choked out native trees and plants on entire hillsides.

Eucalyptus forests abound in Hawaii. These non-native trees were originally brought in from Australia and the Philippines as a plantation crop, for wood pulp, but were not profitable on Hawaii, so the fast growing invasive species soon choked out native trees and plants on entire hillsides on the eastern side of the island.

Rainbow over the airport in Hilo as planes com in for landings.

Rainbow over the airport in Hilo as planes come in for landings.

Rainbow over the airport in Hilo as planes com in for landings.

Rainbow over the airport in Hilo as planes take off.

Rainbow over the Japanese gardens in Hilo, where a clock stands stopped at 1:04 am. After a second devastating Tsunami struck here with a 20 foot wave at 1:04 am in 1960, the state prohibited residential rebuilding in the twice affected areas, turning much of the land into public parks.

Rainbow over the Japanese gardens in Hilo, where a clock stands stopped at 1:04 am. After a second devastating Tsunami struck here with a 20 foot wave at 1:04 am in 1960, the state prohibited residential rebuilding in the twice affected areas, turning much of the land into public parks.

The Japanese gardens in Hilo, where a clock stands stopped at 1:04 am. After a second devastating Tsunami struck here with a 20 foot wave at 1:04 am in 1960, the state prohibited residential rebuilding in the twice affected areas, turning much of the land into public parks.

The Japanese gardens in Hilo, where a clock stands stopped at 1:04 am. After a second devastating Tsunami struck here with a 20 foot wave at 1:04 am in 1960, the state prohibited residential rebuilding in the twice affected areas, turning much of the land into public parks.

Big Banyan trees near the Japanese gardens in Hilo, where a clock stands stopped at 1:04 am. After a second devastating Tsunami struck here with a 20 foot wave at 1:04 am in 1960, the state prohibited residential rebuilding in the twice affected areas, turning much of the land into public parks.

Big Banyan trees near the Japanese gardens in Hilo, where a clock stands stopped at 1:04 am. After a second devastating Tsunami struck here with a 20 foot wave at 1:04 am in 1960, the state prohibited residential rebuilding in the twice affected areas, turning much of the land into public parks.

The farmers market in Hilo is the place for deals on good food. 6 papaya for a buck. Can

The farmers market in Hilo is the place for deals on good food. 6 papaya for a buck. Can’t beat that!

Entrance to the touristy Kaumana Cave near Hilo on the big island of Hawaii.

Entrance to the touristy Kaumana Cave near Hilo on the big island of Hawaii.

Entrance to the touristy Kaumana Cave near Hilo on the big island of Hawaii.

Entrance to the touristy Kaumana Cave near Hilo on the big island of Hawaii the lava drippings had crumbled and people defaced the entrance by carving into the stone. Jerks!

Swimming in Wai

Swimming in Wai’ale Falls on the big island of Hawaii near Hilo.

The highlight of our trip, the utterly pristine lava tubes of Emesine Cave, a remote 1 mile hike on the big island of Hawaii

The highlight of our trip, the utterly pristine lava tubes of Emesine Cave, a remote 1 mile hike inside the tube on the big island of Hawaii. Plan a full day adventure for this and don’t be stupid. This is a for real hike out and back, a hard search to find the opening, and parts of the roof could collapse on you at any moment. Lava tubes usually only survive a few hundred years and this one is utterly pristine, so keep it that way!

The highlight of our trip, the utterly pristine lava tubes of Emesine Cave, a remote 1 mile hike on the big island of Hawaii

The highlight of our trip, the utterly pristine lava tubes of Emesine Cave, a remote 1 mile hike inside the tube on the big island of Hawaii

The highlight of our trip, the utterly pristine lava tubes of Emesine Cave, a remote 1 mile hike on the big island of Hawaii

The highlight of our trip, the utterly pristine lava tubes of Emesine Cave, a remote 1 mile hike inside the tube on the big island of Hawaii

hawaii travel lava tube

 

The highlight of our trip, the utterly pristine lava tubes of Emesine Cave, a remote 1 mile hike on the big island of Hawaii

The highlight of our trip, the utterly pristine lava tubes of Emesine Cave, a remote 1 mile hike inside the tube on the big island of Hawaii.

After spending some time in the Hilo area, I dragged Scott to a “hippy-dippy” retreat center in the Puna area called Kalani. He actually liked it! The food is amazing, and we did a few yoga class, and even an aerial silks class. Making this our home base, we were able to visit some of the interesting warm spring ponds in the area. This would have also been the perfect home base for seeing/ photographing the lava flowing in to the ocean, but it stopped doing that several months before we arrived.

Sunset and waves crashing along the coast of lower Puna on the big island of Hawaii.

Sunset and waves crashing along the coast of lower Puna on the big island of Hawaii.

The cleanest air in the world is supposedly at Cape Kumaukahi Point on the big island of Hawaii. Apparently the air currents that travel over this point cross over 3000 miles of open sea and nothing else before reaching here. Scientific instruments are scattered here and there taking air quality readings, and there are some cool hot springs, called the Champagne Pond that go right into the ocean and where sea turtles like to hang out.

The cleanest air in the world is supposedly at Cape Kumaukahi Point on the big island of Hawaii. Apparently the air currents that travel over this point cross over 3000 miles of open sea and nothing else before reaching here. Scientific instruments are scattered here and there taking air quality readings, and there are some cool hot springs, called the Champagne Pond that go right into the ocean and where sea turtles like to hang out.

The cleanest air in the world, a natural hotspring flowing into an ocean bay, and some local brew. Oh, and no people, like ever! It

The cleanest air in the world, a natural hotspring flowing into an ocean bay, and some local brew. Oh, and no people, like ever! It’s no surprise adventurous folk like the Big Island so much.

Our next stop was Volcanoes National Park. We stayed at another Bed and Breakfast that I would also recommend called Hale Ohia Cottages. What a small, sleepy “town.” We spent the days hiking on incredible lava formations through craters, and Scott spent each night photographing the milky way rising out of the glowing Halema’uma’u Crater.

Since flowing lava is currently not visible, the next best thing, is to view Halema

Since flowing lava is currently not visible, the next best thing, is to view Halema’uma’u Crater by night at Volcanoes National Park from the observation deck at the Jaggar museum on the big island of Hawaii. One of my main goals was seeing lava moving down to the sea, unfortunately at present the lava flow on Hawaii is tiny and on inaccessible private property.

Night shot of Milky Way galaxy and Halema

Night shot of Milky Way galaxy and Halema’uma’u Crater on Hawaii. Out of three days here, we had one mostly clear night when all these pictures were taken.

Since flowing lava is currently not visible, the next best thing, and if you have never seen a living volcano before, a truly spectacular thing, is to view Halema

Since flowing lava is currently not visible, the next best thing, and if you have never seen a living volcano before, a truly spectacular thing, is to view Halema’uma’u Crater by night at Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii. One of my main goals was seeing lava moving down to the sea, unfortunately at present the lava flow on Hawaii is tiny and on inaccessible private property.

Desolation trail at Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii.  One of my main goals was seeing lava moving down to the sea, unfortunately at present the lava flow on Hawaii is tiny and on inaccessible private property.

Desolation trail at Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii. One of my main goals was seeing lava moving down to the sea, unfortunately at present the lava flow on Hawaii is tiny and on inaccessible private property.

Ki

Ki’lauea Iki trail through the old crater floor in Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii. It amazes me that in my lifetime, this was a frothing see of molten lava that people just drove up to and had a few beers while watching. One of my main goals was seeing lava moving down to the sea, unfortunately at present the lava flow on Hawaii is tiny and on inaccessible private property.

Ki

Ki’lauea Iki trail through the old crater floor in Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii. It amazes me that in my lifetime, this was a frothing see of molten lava that people just drove up to and had a few beers while watching. One of my main goals was seeing lava moving down to the sea, unfortunately at present the lava flow on Hawaii is tiny and on inaccessible private property.

Lava fields cover old roads in Volcanoes National Park. It amazes me that in my lifetime, this was a frothing see of molten lava that people just drove up to and had a few beers while watching. One of my main goals was seeing lava moving down to the sea, unfortunately at present the lava flow on Hawaii is tiny and on inaccessible private property.

Lava fields cover old roads in Volcanoes National Park. It amazes me that in my lifetime, this was a frothing see of molten lava that people just drove up to and had a few beers while watching. One of my main goals was seeing lava moving down to the sea, unfortunately at present the lava flow on Hawaii is tiny and on inaccessible private property.

There is a wonderful petroglyph field along chain of craters drive near the ocean in Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii. One of my main goals was seeing lava moving down to the sea, unfortunately at present the lava flow on Hawaii is tiny and on inaccessible private property.

There is a wonderful petroglyph field along Chain of Craters Drive near the ocean in Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii. One of my main goals was seeing lava moving down to the sea, unfortunately at present the lava flow on Hawaii is tiny and on inaccessible private property.

Friendly Ernest the Goat at the Volcano Garden Arts center near the entrance to Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii. Cafe Ono is also on the grounds and is hands down the best restaurant in the area. One of my main goals was seeing lava moving down to the sea, unfortunately at present the lava flow on Hawaii is tiny and on inaccessible private property.

Friendly Ernest the Goat at the Volcano Garden Arts center near the entrance to Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii. Cafe Ono is also on the grounds and is hands down the best restaurant in the area. One of my main goals was seeing lava moving down to the sea, unfortunately at present the lava flow on Hawaii is tiny and on inaccessible private property.

After leaving Volcanoes National Park, we took a day trip to the south part of the island to see the green sand beach among a few other things. We stayed our last several nights South of Kona near the Kealakekua Bay in a bed and breakfast that I will not name because it was a pretty whacky experience! I am all for alternative, organic and back to nature, but the owner was so over the top, it was actually comical. Scott got a free crystal reading too! Our main efforts in this area of the island focused on getting up at sunrise each day attempting to find the wild dolphins that frequent several of the bays in this area. We snorkeled a lot around here too, and even swam what we estimated to be an ironman length swim across the Kealekekua Bay and back. On our final full day, we found a dolphin pod with about 6 or 7 adults and 2 babies that kept flipping out of the water. We waded in slowly since it is a no-no to harass them, and they naturally swam right near us several times. This was also one of the highlights of our trip!

A turtle lounges in the sand of the Punalu

A turtle lounges in the sand of the Punalu’u black sand beach on the big island of Hawaii.

Famous green sand beach near south point on the big island of Hawaii. Before crossing over to dirt roads, there will often be locals offering a $5 "passage" fee to transport you in. If you do not have a high clearance 4x4, and even if you do, but are not an experienced off-roader, PAY THE FEE. I have been driving 4x4

Famous green sand beach near south point on the big island of Hawaii. Before crossing over to dirt roads, there will often be locals offering a $5 “passage” fee to transport you in. If you do not have a high clearance 4×4, and even if you do, but are not an experienced off-roader, PAY THE FEE. I have been driving 4×4’s since my dad taught me to drive on sand bars when I was 13 and this was touch and go in good weather. So many deeply rutted tracks constantly diverge and then occasional end in cliffs or holes or other impassible spots. As a general rule, if you drive yourself as we did, stay on the highest tracks.

Famous green sand beach near south point on the big island of Hawaii. Before crossing over to dirt roads, there will often be locals offering a $5 "passage" fee to transport you in. If you do not have a high clearance 4x4, and even if you do, but are not an experienced off-roader, PAY THE FEE. I have been driving 4x4

Famous green sand beach near south point on the big island of Hawaii. Before crossing over to dirt roads, there will often be locals offering a $5 “passage” fee to transport you in. If you do not have a high clearance 4×4, and even if you do, but are not an experienced off-roader, PAY THE FEE. I have been driving 4×4’s since my dad taught me to drive on sand bars when I was 13 and this was touch and go in good weather. So many deeply rutted tracks constantly diverge and then occasional end in cliffs or holes or other impassible spots. As a general rule, if you drive yourself as we did, stay on the highest tracks.

Famous green sand beach near south point on the big island of Hawaii. Before crossing over to dirt roads, there will often be locals offering a $5 "passage" fee to transport you in. If you do not have a high clearance 4x4, and even if you do, but are not an experienced off-roader, PAY THE FEE. I have been driving 4x4

Famous green sand beach near south point on the big island of Hawaii. Before crossing over to dirt roads, there will often be locals offering a $5 “passage” fee to transport you in. If you do not have a high clearance 4×4, and even if you do, but are not an experienced off-roader, PAY THE FEE. I have been driving 4×4’s since my dad taught me to drive on sand bars when I was 13 and this was touch and go in good weather. So many deeply rutted tracks constantly diverge and then occasional end in cliffs or holes or other impassible spots. As a general rule, if you drive yourself as we did, stay on the highest tracks.

 

 

Heading away from South Point, the landscape is rolling fields and farms.

Heading away from South Point, the landscape is rolling fields and farms.

St. Benedict

St. Benedict’s Catholic Church near Honaunau, the more famous of Hawaii’s two painted churches. St. Benedict’s dates back to between 1899 and 1904. Father John Velge painted the myriad frescos on the walls and roof and local volunteers lovingly maintain it.

St. Benedict

St. Benedict’s Catholic Church near Honaunau, the more famous of Hawaii’s two painted churches. St. Benedict’s dates back to between 1899 an d1904. Father John Velge painted the myriad frescos on the walls and roof and local volunteers lovingly maintain it.

Dolphins playing in Honomalino Bay on the big island of Hawaii. Monique and I really wanted to swim (naturally) near dolphins. The big island of Hawaii is fairly famous for hosting pods of dolphins in its many secluded bays that "sleep" by circling the bay during the day in a sort of autopilot that passes for rest. It is important not to disturb these guys as that may make them tired and vulnerable to predators. We decided to tread water in what we guessed was their natural path and let them come by us. In an hour of treading water, the dolphin pod passed us 3 times, once only 5 feet away, without altering their behavior.

Dolphins playing in Honomalino Bay on the big island of Hawaii. Monique and I really wanted to swim (naturally) near dolphins. The big island of Hawaii is fairly famous for hosting pods of dolphins in its many secluded bays that “sleep” by circling the bay during the day in a sort of autopilot that passes for rest. It is important not to disturb these guys as that may make them tired and vulnerable to predators. We decided to tread water in what we guessed was their natural path and let them come by us. In an hour of treading water, the dolphin pod passed us 3 times, once only 5 feet away, without altering their behavior.

by Scott

Monique and I took a few weeks last fall after our wedding photography season started to wind down to head out and visit Southern Nevada. Despite living in Reno for the last 15 years or so, I have never actually explored any of the desert southwest part of my own state. We headed down 95, passing through some funky old towns and even ghost towns (to come on another blog post,) spent a few days at the Valley of Fire State Park, which was one of the highlights and a must visit for anyone passing through southern Nevada, then up the eastern portion of the state to Cathedral Gorge and back home. This blog post focuses on the Valley of Fire state park a few hours outside of Las Vegas.

First, try to go in the off-season. The weather is great here pretty much all the time, but folks still insist on packing in here in the middle of the summer when temperatures can hover above 100 degrees. I believe the campsites here are first-come, first-serve, which is refreshing, so if you have a big RV or a generator, aim for Atlatl rock campground. More space and more noise, so your generator noise won’t stand out so much. Arch rock campground is smaller, you couldn’t fit a big RV in most of it, and may be generator free. But it is awesome! Pass the main area and pick a spot on the back loop, preferably on the west side of the road. The cool rock formations of these campgrounds make them nearly private and seem bigger than they are. If you can’t get a campground, don’t worry. The place is surrounded by BLM land, and if you head out the east entrance and down toward Lake Mead, the lake is so low that you can pretty much pull a camper out onto your own private peninsula in spots. As for what to visit, the park isn’t huge and there aren’t a lot of hiking trails. I found the campgrounds to be at their emptiest around 10am. Check out the fire wave, but try to use a map and your noggin to figure out a shortcut other than the designated park trail. Not only is it shorter, it is way more scenic. But since there is only room to park about 3 cars there, if you figure it out, don’t tell. The main paved road that heads back toward the wave offers some great cross-country hiking on the sandstone formations (literally, petrified sand dunes with amazing color variations.) I favor the west side of the road for exploration, but cool things can be found on either side. This really is the highlight of the park, wandering around through mini canyons and colorful rock formations, but it can be hot and without trails, you won’t be taking granny on this one. There are some cool petroglyphs at Atlatl rock, but some jackasses have written their names around them. There are much more along the trail to the mouse tanks, but they are harder to get close to. Probably why they don’t have peoples names written all over them. Be sure to check this blog again in a few weeks to find some beta and a super-secret, amazingly cool, middle-of-nowhere spot to visit close by Valley of Fire. Check out my online archive of Nevada State Park images as well my full archive of images available for license or reproduction.

 

 

The Elephant Arch at Valley of Fire state park is one of the easiest to reach, being right along the road at the east entrance.

The Elephant Arch at Valley of Fire state park is one of the easiest to reach, being right along the road at the east entrance.

Monique hiking along some of the strikingly colorful rock formations at Nevada

Monique hiking along some of the strikingly colorful rock formations at Nevada’s Valley of Fire state park.

Monique atop The Wave, which is one of the signature formations in the park. Not quite as impressive as the wave in Utah, but at least you don

Monique atop The Fire Wave, which is one of the signature formations in the park. Not quite as impressive as the wave in Utah, but at least you don’t need a permit to go there.

Sunset at The Wave at Valley of Fire state park in southern Nevada. This particular spot seems to really draw in the photographers, though I thought there were way more interesting formations if you just went exploring.

Sunset at The Fire Wave at Valley of Fire state park in southern Nevada. This particular spot seems to really draw in the photographers, though I thought there were way more interesting formations if you just went exploring.

The Wave at sunset. We had pretty boring skies while we were here most of the time. But if you want my opinion, don

The Fire Wave at sunset. We had pretty boring skies while we were here most of the time. But if you want my opinion, don’t even bother photographing here during daylight. The light is almost always harsh, plunging one side of the wave or the other into shadow. Hope for a glorious sunset or sunrise and you should have a great picture.

I had to do this shot because as I was way back shooting the sun setting over this formation (3 pictures ago) a group of photographers rushed in, out of breath and obviously angry that they missed the light. They stomped right into my composition, though to be fair, they probably didn

I had to do this shot because as I was way back shooting the sun setting over this formation (2 pictures ago) a group of photographers rushed in, out of breath and obviously angry that they missed the light. They stomped right into my composition, though to be fair, they probably didn’t notice me one ridge back. Anyhow, one guy finally wedges himself in the little bowl and starts exclaiming, “This is it! This is the shot, blah blah…” So after I left I went down there to see what all the fuss is about. This is shot at 14mm and was the closest thing I could come up with from that angle that was remotely interesting to me. How do you think it compares to the other photos.

This picture I liked way better than any of the wave shots. The best thing, is it is part of a shortcut to the wave. You will never find this if you follow the "designated" trail, so get out your topos and happy hunting.

This picture I liked way better than any of the wave shots. The best thing is, it is part of a shortcut to the wave. You will never find this if you follow the “designated” trail, so get out your topo’s and happy hunting.

This is part of that same shortcut.

This is part of that same shortcut.

This is one of my favorite rock formations mostly because of all the color. you have to hike about 20 minutes from the road to come across it, but all the hiking here is relatively easy.

This is one of my favorite rock formations mostly because of all the color. you have to hike about 20 minutes from the road to come across it, but all the hiking here is relatively easy.

Another vantage point.

Another vantage point.

This is a small, but colorful arch near the campground. There are hundreds of these micro-formations throughout the park

This is a small, but colorful arch near the campground. There are hundreds of these micro-formations throughout the park

Mr. Tarantula. We wanted to see desert tortoise, but had to settle for this

Mr. Tarantula. We wanted to see desert tortoise, but had to settle for this

Sunrise at Valley of fire. This was almost a great day.

Sunrise at Valley of fire. This was almost a great day.

Another shot from the same sunrise. It was grey, and raining, but since I only had a couple of days I stuck it out with my jacket over my camera and waited. About 1/2 hour after what should have been sunrise, the clouds started breaking giving me some nice light on the rocks. The light rain kept up and a rainbow began to form. I started salivating thinking I really had a great picture coming on, then all of a sudden it went dead grey again. This was as strong as the rainbow ever got.

Another shot from the same sunrise. It was grey, and raining, but since I only had a couple of days I stuck it out with my jacket over my camera and waited. About 1/2 hour after what should have been sunrise, the clouds started breaking giving me some nice light on the rocks. The light rain kept up and a rainbow began to form. I started salivating thinking I really had a great picture coming on, then all of a sudden it went dead grey again. This was as strong as the rainbow ever got.

Balancing rock is one of the formations right next to the visitors center. There is a trail up to it from the bottom, and the road winds right by it with no place to stop except below it, where the backgrounds were boring. I wouldn

Balancing rock is one of the formations right next to the visitors center. There is a trail up to it from the bottom, and the road winds right by it with no place to stop except below it, where the backgrounds were boring. I wouldn’t have taken a picture of this rock, except while coming down from my sunrise shooting, there were beams of light passing behind it.

Some cool stone cabins built by the CCC in the early 1900

Some cool stone cabins built by the CCC in the early 1900’s.

Some of the more interesting rocks and colors can by found by hiking cross-country, mostly to the west of the main road.

Some of the more interesting rocks and colors can by found by hiking cross-country, mostly to the west of the main road.

More of the colorful rock formations west of the main road.

More of the colorful rock formations west of the main road.

valley_of_fire_18southern nevada tourism

Monique really tunes in to details on the rock, like this lovely lady.

Monique really tunes in to details on the rock, like this lovely lady.

And these geometric patterns.

And these geometric patterns.

Me lounging in the rocks above our campsite.

Me lounging in the rocks above our campsite.

The view from our campsite. Didn

The view from our campsite. Didn’t expect a sunset on our last night, then the clouds popped up out of nowhere. Not enough time to get back to the wave, plus I was already into a few beers at camp.

The back way into the Arch rock campground. If you have a big RV and a noisy generator, go to Atlatl rock campground to be with your brethren. If you are tent or car camping or in a can or small RV, Arch rock campground is amazing!

The back way into the Arch rock campground. If you have a big RV and a noisy generator, go to Atlatl rock campground to be with your brethren. If you are tent or car camping or in a van or small RV, Arch rock campground is amazing!

Looking down at our campground from high on the rocks above. We are hidden in our little Aliner on the bottom right. Because of the rocks, most of the campgrounds on the outside of the road have a very private feel.

Looking down at our campground from high on the rocks above. We are hidden in our little Aliner on the bottom right. Because of the rocks, most of the campgrounds on the outside of the road have a very private feel.

If you can

If you can’t find a spot at one of the two campgrounds in Valley of Fire state park, don’t despair. Head out the East entrance, make a right and head south about 5-10 miles. There will be a paved road on your left heading to Lake Mead and passing through a very small settlement along the way before turning to dirt at what used to be a boat ramp. I think it’s Five Cove Rd, but it could be the road to Stewart’s Point. Anyhow, once you pass the boat-ramp (now about a mile or so from the water,) pick a dirt road and carefully follow it. If your really lucky, it will take you to a spot like these guys.

Lone Bighorn Ram walking across some of the more interesting rock formations at Valley of Fire state park in southern Nevada.

Lone Bighorn Ram walking across some of the more interesting rock formations at Valley of Fire state park in southern Nevada.

Bighorn sheep peek-a-boo! My sunrise shot didn

Bighorn sheep peek-a-boo! My sunrise shot didn’t really pan out, but as I walked back to the car all soaking wet, I saw this herd.

It

It’s good to be the king. Nevada bighorn ram and his herd at Valley of Fire. Get up early if you want to see these guys. They seem to vanish in the middle of the day.

nevada bighorn sheep ram

The herd in the first light ready to get out of the open and away from the coming tourist throng. Glad I was up at dawn, by myself of I never would have seen them.

The herd in the first light ready to get out of the open and away from the coming tourist throng. Glad I was up at dawn, by myself of I never would have seen them.

Finally, Star Trek nerd scavanger hunt. Find the bridge where Capt. Kirk died. Movie productions used to leave a lot of crap out in the desert after their shoots, until tougher environmental laws forced no-impact production methods.

Finally, Star Trek nerd scavenger hunt. Find the bridge where Capt. Kirk died. Movie productions used to leave a lot of crap out in the desert after their shoots, until tougher environmental laws forced no-impact production methods.

by Scott

Monique and I recently finished the frantic brunt of our wedding season and found we had a couple of weeks free. Naturally, we decided to head out and take more pictures. We had never explored Southern Nevada and while we only had a couple of weeks, we managed to hit some great locations and escape the cold for a bit, mostly. This post contains images shot at one of Nevada’s first state parks, Cathedral Gorge. Cathedral Gorge, originally home to the Fremont and Southern Paiute Indians became a state park in 1935. Cathedral Gorge is located in far Eastern Nevada, near a bunch of small, historic towns you have never heard of. It is about 2 hours south-east of Ely and about two hours northeast of the much more popular Vally of Fire state park.

Cathedral Gorge encompasses 2000 acres of unique landscape. Really, it looks like a real life equivalent of the Sea Monkeys home, or as my wife put it, the worlds largest and coolest sand castles. There are slot canyons hidden inside some of these giant fins of earth, many of which can be explored, and the small campground is fairly new in appearance with warm showers at no extra charge. If you are out this way, make a point of staying at least one night here, you won’t be disappointed. All images are shot with the latest Nikon D810 camera, with a couple coming from our sony mirrorless A6000 mated to a Carl Zeiss 24mm f1.8 lens. All images are of superb quality and available to purchase for reproduction, or like many local companies here in Reno have done, for use as large-scale wall art. Simply click the “search” tab at top, then enter some search terms into the “keywords” box, such as ‘Nevada State Park’ or ‘Tahoe Landscape’ and click search.

Sunrise over Rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Sunrise over Rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Sunrise over Rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Sunrise over Rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Some of the more interesting formations of Cathedral Gorge.

Some of the more interesting formations of Cathedral Gorge.

Some of the more interesting formations of Cathedral Gorge.

Some of the more interesting formations of Cathedral Gorge.

Some of the more interesting formations of Cathedral Gorge.

Some of the more interesting formations of Cathedral Gorge.

Looking out at the walls of Cathedral Gorge from inside one of the many small slot-canyons.

Looking out at the walls of Cathedral Gorge from inside one of the many small slot-canyons.

Looking up 80 feet or so to the top of one of the many small slot-canyons in Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Looking up 80 feet or so to the top of one of the many small slot-canyons in Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Looking up 80 feet or so to the top of one of the many small slot-canyons in Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Looking up 80 feet or so to the top of one of the many small slot-canyons in Cathedral Gorge State Park.

One of the many small slot-canyons in Cathedral Gorge State Park.

One of the many small slot-canyons in Cathedral Gorge State Park.

One of the many small slot-canyons in Cathedral Gorge State Park.

One of the many small slot-canyons in Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Cathedral GorgeCathedral Gorge

Moonrise over rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Moonrise over rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Hiking trail  in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Hiking trail in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Sunset on rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Sunset on rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Sunset on rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Sunset on rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Sunset over one of the many delicate walls at Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Sunset over one of the many delicate walls at Cathedral Gorge State Park.

7 image Ultra High-resolution panorama from a Nikon D810

7 image Ultra High-resolution panorama from a Nikon D810

Sunset on rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

Moonrise on rock formations in Cathedral Gorge state park in South Eastern Nevada, USA.

  • November 13, 2014 - 4:13 pm

    Dotty molt - Beautiful photography ! You inspire me to get back out there and shoot some more ! Thanks Scott and Monique !

By Scott Sady

 

We just finished the second annual July 4th backpacking trip in the High Sierra. For me, I prefer to celebrate America by spending time out in her wilds as opposed to watching things blow up. Monique and I and various friends have made it a point to hit the trail for 5-7 days at least once each year, but recently we have settled into the July 4 week with the same group and have had a great time. This year’s trip took us up and over Bishop Pass, with the first night at Saddlerock lake just below Bishop Pass. Mosquitoes were worse this year than I have ever seen them and were really the only downside to an otherwise awesome trip. Our second day was a little longer and took us up over 11,900 foot Bishop Pass, across Dusy Basin and over 11,600 ft Knapsack pass and down to the middle of the Barrett lakes in Palisade Basin. We liked this spot so well we stayed two days. Big rocks for jumping off, an awesome lakeside campsite and no people pretty much epitomized what we look for in the backcountry. Most of this area is off trail now, with the main trail heading down from Bishop Pass to join the John Muir Trail in Le Conte Canyon. From here we did a day hike up and over Thunderbolt Pass and looked at some of the routes up Thunderbolt and North Palisade peaks. The route up Thunderbolt pass is straight up the drainage from the large lake directly below it. There is a decent use trail from there right up the middle. A difficult scramble down a scree field awaits on the other side, but it’s fairly short. Ultimately the group decided to head back over Knapsack pass to lake 11,393 in Dusy Basin where we stayed our final night and got caught in a light thunderstorm before hiking back over Bishop Pass in a drizzle and down to the car on day 5. This area is comparable to Humphrey’s Basin, but a bit more scenic in my opinion. Our trip report from the Sawtooth Range is here.

For this trip, my main goal was to do some night photography. The moon was going from just past 1/4 to nearly 1/2 full, waxing, during our trip. A waxing moon is key because it is still in the sky and setting just after dark while the Milky Way is low in the sky. The Milky Way in summer starts out low, hugging the mountains in a southerly aspect as soon as it gets dark. It progresses to rise full overhead and is pretty much directly overhead, and mostly useless for photos, by about 2 am. So I would set my alarm each night to get up in time to catch the moon set, which looks just like a sunset on the mountain peaks, only with stars, and stay up until after the moon had set and the sky was full of stars as only the light-less high sierras can provide.

I used a Nikon D800e for all of these shots, except the obvious iphone ones. I lugged the fantastic, and fantastically heavy nikon 14-24 f2.8 lens up specifically because I was focusing on night photography this trip and wanted that wide angel to really capture the expansive sky. Almost all night exposures are at 30 seconds at f2.8 and ISO 3200. These photos and many more are available for purchase or license from my online archive.

 

Backpacking into the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Backpacking into the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Milky Way galaxy rising through the forest at Saddlerock Lake just below Bishop Pass in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Milky Way galaxy rising through the forest at Saddlerock Lake just below Bishop Pass in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Backpacking into the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Stream crossing below Bishop Pass in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Backpacking into the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Heading up Bishop Pass to the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Going over Bishop Pass

Going over Bishop Pass

Milky way rising over a moonlit Thunderbolt Peak and North Palisade peak from the middle Barrett Lake in the Palisade Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Milky way rising over a moonlit Thunderbolt Peak and North Palisade peak from the middle Barrett Lake in the Palisade Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Milky way rising over a moonlit Thunderbolt Peak and North Palisade peak from the middle Barrett Lake in the Palisade Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Milky way rising over a moonlit Thunderbolt Peak and North Palisade peak from the middle Barrett Lake in the Palisade Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Star trails focused on the North Star above Isoscelese peak. 30 - 30 second exposures blended via lightness.

Star trails focused on the North Star above Isosceles peak. 30 – 30 second exposures blended via lightness.

Monique in camp at one of the Barlett lakes in Palisade Basin.

Monique in camp at one of the Barrett lakes in Palisade Basin.

Monique swims for home at our awesome camp at one of the Barlett lakes in Palisade Basin.

Monique swims for home at our awesome camp at one of the Barrett lakes in Palisade Basin.

Hiking up from Barlett Lakes back toward Knapsack pass.

Setting off on a day hike from Barrett Lakes to Thunderbolt Pass and the upper lakes.

Monique hiking through a field of what we think is Monkey

Monique hiking through a field of what we think is Monkey’s Paw flowers on the way out of Palisade Basin.

Me looking out over Knapsack pass taken on Monique

Me looking out over Knapsack pass taken on Monique’s phone.

A few iphone panoramas of Dusy Basin

A few iphone panoramas of Dusy Basin. Monique doing her yoga up top, Isosceles Peak in middle, and playing games in camp at bottom.

Backpacking into the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Sunset over Mt. Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak and North Palisade Peak in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Chipmonk highway.

Chipmonk highway.

Taking in the view.

Taking in the view of Isosceles peak.

Stormy sunset over Isoscolese peak, Mt. Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak, and North Palisade peak from a lake in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Stormy sunset over Isosceles peak, Mt. Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak, and North Palisade peak from a lake in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Lakeside camp and stormy sunset over Isoscolese peak, Mt. Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak, and North Palisade peak from a lake in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Lakeside camp and stormy sunset over Isosceles peak, Mt. Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak, and North Palisade peak from a lake in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Our tent and Nathan

Our tent and Nathan’s tent in the background at lake 11393 in Dusy Basin.

Milky way over tent from a lake in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

Milky way over tent from a lake in the Dusy Basin in the High Sierra mountain range in California.

The gang for this years trip from left to right: Me, Monique, Nathan, Emily,Yvette and Greg.

The gang for this years trip from left to right: Me, Monique, Nathan, Emily,Yvette and Greg.

 

 

  • July 8, 2014 - 12:36 pm

    lors spicher - Hi Scot
    LOVE your photos of these areas and the skies!!!
    My husband and I have been on this same route into Bartlett Lakes
    over Knapsack pass.
    Your photos bring back wonderful memories.

    See you in the winter.

    Lors

This year was a mixed bag for Reno’s annual whitewater kayaking and river celebration. The third year of drought made for low flows, and as a result not all of the top name competitors came in to compete. This festival is always a favorite of mine. It is what got me started kayaking years-ago, and I always love to compete in it and see old friends roll into town. The weather was a mixed bag also, producing freezing temperatures, rain, hail and snow during the freestyle competition on the Truckee River in downtown Reno, Nevada on Saturday, then turning warm and sunny for the boatercross on Sunday.  Being a competitor in this event, I don’t shoot it too seriously. There are tons of people on shore with cameras. What I decided to do this year was focus on the shape and feeling of the water. A lot of times for me, that meant shooting a high-speed event with a very slow shutter speed. Always a risky proposition. Many of the images I kept border on the abstract this year, with a few story-telling shots thrown in for good measure. With the slow shutter speed photos, I was really looking for a sense of motion and energy with the water, but something in the face, the eye, had to be sharp to hold it all together. Others shot at a higher shutter speed I was looking more for the energy of the flying water over the kayaker in the picture. Many more photos can by found by searching my online photography archive.

Local kayaking phenom Sage Donnelly behind a curtain of water during her freestyle kayaking competition

Local kayaking phenom Sage Donnelly behind a curtain of water during her freestyle kayaking competition

Ruth Ebens, former women

Ruth Ebens, former women’s world freestyle kayaking champion in a wall of white during her ride at the Reno River Festival freestyle kayaking competition.

I just liked the way the water comes off the bows of the boats at certain times during the ride.

I just liked the way the water comes off the bows of the boats at certain times during the ride.

Former women

Former women’s world champion Emily Jackson’s intense concentration shows through the water clinging to her helmet brim.

Sage and her dad Matt testing Sage

Sage and her dad Matt testing Sage’s blood sugar. Sage has juvenile diabetes and must constantly monitor and control her blood sugar, especially around competition time. Sage, despite being only 13 years old, has gone on to best nearly the entire adult women’s field in freestyle kayaking and steep creek racing.

Sage is reflected in the glasses of her dad Matt as she gets some advice between runs. Look for Sage to paddle slalom in the coming olympics.

Sage is reflected in the glasses of her dad Matt as she gets some advice between runs. Look for Sage to paddle slalom in the coming olympics.

We have a local cormorant that hangs out at hole 5 on the Truckee River and is known to all the local paddlers, so we had to get him in the picture with Emily.

We have a local cormorant that hangs out at hole 5 on the Truckee River and is known to all the local paddlers, so we had to get him in the picture with Emily.

This shot of Emily Jackson competing during the women

This shot of Emily Jackson competing during the women’s freestyle competition embodies everything that I was going for in shooting this unpredictable and fast-moving sport at 1/60th shutter speed.

Current women

Current women’s world champion and Reno River Festival winner Clair O’Hara came over from England to whup some butt.

The face of Demshitz and Pyrahna kayaks Dave Fusilli knows how to paddle in the cold.

The face of Demshitz and Pyrahna kayaks Dave Fusilli knows how to paddle in the cold.

Reno local and this year

Reno local and this year’s defending champion Jason Craig, right, talks with Stephen Wright before the men’s competition.

Stephen Wright, aka the Hobbit, giving it all he

Stephen Wright, aka the Hobbit, giving it all he’s got.

Stephen Wright goes huge.

Stephen Wright goes huge.

Stephen happy with his ride despite being hampered on one side by a crippling tendonitis.

Stephen happy with his ride despite being hampered on one side by a crippling tendonitis.

Reno local Jason Craig would easily go on to defend his title again this year.

Reno local Jason Craig would easily go on to defend his title again this year.

Happy, Happy, Zen, Zen.

Happy, Happy, Zen, Zen.

Sage on her way to destroying the women

Sage on her way to destroying the women’s boatercross competition, most of whom are twice her age.

Dave Fusilli takes the inside line, crushing Alec Vorhees in the process during the Reno River Festival boatercross competition. I should mention that all these boater cross pictures were shot by my wife as I was competing myself and made it through a few rounds before being destroyed by Colin Kemp.

Dave Fusilli takes the inside line, crushing Alec Vorhees in the process during the Reno River Festival boatercross competition. I should mention that all these boater cross pictures were shot by my wife as I was competing myself and made it through a few rounds before being destroyed by Colin Kemp.

Colin Kemp on his way to destroying Dave Fusilli and taking the win in this year

Colin Kemp on his way to destroying Dave Fusilli and taking the win in this year’s boatercross.

In conjunction with the River Festival, the world Mystery squirt boating championships were held on the Truckee River farther upstream the following weekend. Squirtboating involves sinking your boat underwater and basically seeing how long you can stay down. The longest downtime wins. Problem is, spectators can

In conjunction with the River Festival, the world Mystery squirt boating championships were held on the Truckee River farther upstream the following weekend. Squirtboating involves sinking your boat underwater and basically seeing how long you can stay down. The longest downtime wins. Problem is, spectators can’t see anything once a boat goes underwater. So we decided to attach glowsticks to the boats of some of the top paddlers in order to show the graceful spinning that they do while under-water.

Clair O

Clair O’Hara won the women’s world Mystery competition and set a new women’s record in the process.