Pretty Cold at Camp!

As I type, Emily is on her way back to college.  Yesterday, we had a chance for one last ski together at… where else?… Camp Timbercrest.


It was a pretty day, if cold.  Temperatures in the teens, “RealFeel” in the single digits…  It took me until we got all the way over to the Sunset shelter before my fingers were warm…

We decided to ski out to the leanto…

The Leanto

I would so love to winter camp here…  Though it would be nice if the shelter faced the fire circle, rather than the creek…  hmmm…  Maybe another location for winter camping would be better…

View from the Leanto

We rested only briefly.  The cold settled in quickly… We needed to keep moving to stay warm.

Keyser Lake appears to be completely frozen over…  But I would never try to cross it… I know how deep it is!  I’ll stick to the roads and trails, thank you very much.

Road to the Lodge from the Units

A delightful day…

(Cross posted at the Camp Timbercrest Blog.)

Dusk – SkyWatch Friday

I’ve been trying to get out on the trails as often as possible to get in shape for a cross-county ski weekend coming up.  Today, I went back to Akeley Swamp with skis instead of snowshoes.


I’ve been to this place 3 times in the last week.  The first time, the temperature was near zero.  The second… low 30s.  Today, near 40.  And do you see that front coming in?  Tomorrow they are saying:  back to the teens.

Gotta love winter!

Check out more images at the SkyWatch site.

Mozart’s Opossum

Terry ended up with the afternoon off and twisted my arm to join him for a snowshoe walk.  Mozart came, too, so we had to go down to Akeley Swamp, where dogs are allowed.  When I looked out the window, it was gray and dull… so I left the camera in my office…  Oh I would regret that a little later.

Mozart - a couple of years ago...After following the trail for a long while, we decided to go off the trail into a beautiful hemlock woods.  As we stood resting, sipping water, Mozart comes up proudly… with an opossum in his mouth.  He lay it gently on the snow… treating it sort of playfully – just like he treats his many, many stuffed toys.

The opossum lay there looking dead…  But they do that… as a defense.  I noticed that when Mozart pushed it with his nose, the skin crawled and the chest raised and lowered breifly.  That critter was playing ‘possum!

Why oh why do I EVER leave my camera behind when I go out in the woods?  I’m still chuckling…

Quiz Time

Do you know your conifers?

The bark is sort of gray and scaly.

The branches droop dramatically.

The cones are 4-6 inches long with very stiff scales.

Usually found in plantations or landscapes, as it is not native to North America, though it has naturalized in some areas.

Click for the answer:

Continue reading

Exposing Snow

It was a bright, sunny, cold winter day.  After lunch, I decided to take my camera for a walk around the 1/2 mile loop at Audubon and experiment with snow pictures.  Snow can be rather challenging to capture because your camera wants to overcompensate for all the bright light entering it.  Often snow pictures will come out gray, even on crisp beautiful days.

Some photographers will tell you the way to get good exposures is to set your exposure compensation up a step…  That’s right – over expose your pictures.  So, I set my ISO on 100, white balance on daylight, and the exposure compensation at +1.  I thought I had the camera on shutter-speed priority… but turns out I had it on aperture priority at f/4.  And off I went.

In post processing, I may have fiddled a bit with sharpness on some, but I didn’t touch anything else. 

The Center
1 – The Nature Center

Wind-swept Weeds
2 – Wind-swept Weeds

3 – Shadows

4 – The Overlook

5 – Wood

Please let me know what you think.  I’m still developing my eye for color and exposure… I know I don’t see things like photographers do yet…  So be critical, please!  (Thanks for helping me learn.)

Someone Has Been Here Before!

On the same day that I photographed the barn, I was struck by the number of animal tracks I saw…

These were coming up out of the woods on one side of the road, then crossing and disappearing into shrubs on the other side of the road:grouse
Ruffed Grouse

At the end of the day when I was walking back to my car, I scared the poor fellow out…  He flew up into some pines.

I tried to imagine exactly what happened here:Deer
White-tailed Deer

It looks like the deer was dragging its toes.  Then scratched for bit to get to the grass… And are those larger imprints from its nose?

Mouse and Squirrel prints were everywhere!
Mouse Highway and squirrel

Although I found myself wondering the difference between mouse and vole, red squirrel and grey…

 Now who do you suppose did this?
Curious Tracks
A shrew perhaps??

Something came up from Subnivea, ran around in a sloppy figure eight, and jumped back down under the snow.  Curious…

These prints were just outside one of the barn windows:

These were very tiny, too:
More Shrew Tracks, perhaps?

I suppose this could be anyone:

But I’m going to guess it was a mole.

It sure would be fun to see all the critters that left these tracks… But alas, I saw only the grouse.

Old Barn – New Lens

I belong to the Jamestown Audubon Photo Club.  Each month our president gives us an assignment to go out and shoot.  The assignment due at our February meeting is “Barns.”

Old Barn

One of my favorite barns is the one out at Camp Timbercrest… now used for storage of miscellaneous items.  When I camped at Timbercrest as a girl (don’t ask how many years ago), I never saw this barn as it did not belong to the Girl Scouts.  It belonged to the Jackman family – the same family for whom Jackman Bay is named.

Old Barn Equipment

We were always afraid of Mr. Jackman.  There were stories told about how if you got too close to Mr. Jackman’s property, he would use his shotgun to discourage your exploration.

Old Barn Window

I never met Mr. Jackman.  I imagine he wasn’t as scary as the stories made him out, though.

Old Barn Inside Roof

By the time I was a counselor at Timbercrest, we were storing costumes and props in Old Barn and we would bring the girls up to play make-believe or to put on skits.

Old Barn Inside Door

The first time I came up to use the barn as a counselor with kids in tow, I was still a little afraid.  Maybe the ghost of Mr. Jackman didn’t want us messing around in his barn…

I’ve never met Mr. Jackman’s ghost.  I imagine he’d be a kind fellow, though…

Question to my readers:  I’m only allowed to print one barn photo to bring to our club meeting for critique.  Which one should it be?

Oh, and the new lens?  I finally decided on the Canon 24-100 IS.  I haven’t had time or opportunity to give it much of a workout yet…  These barn photos were my first attempts.

Eastern Hemlock

Big Old HemlocksI walk into the hemlock woods and breathe deeply.  Everything is different here…  everything from the smell and temperature of the air I breathe to the feel of the earth beneath my feet.  And it’s dark here, dark and quiet, peaceful and holy.  I cannot help but slow my pace.  I cannot help but slow my mind.

There is a sense of family in a hemlock forest.  Older trees tower over and protect young saplings.  And because hemlocks can grow to be so very old, there is a sense that great wisdom is stored up here… if only we knew how to tap it.  Some of the lessons we can glean just by observing the tree…

Hemlock Cones
Lesson #1:  Great things come in small packages.

Hemlock cones are among the smallest for conifers, only 1/2 to 1 inch long.  Yet give one of the tiny seeds the right conditions and you could have a tree that grows over 170 feet tall and lives for hundreds of years.

Looking Up   Hemlock on the Rocks
Lesson #2:  Even without the perfect living conditions, we can thrive.

Seeds will only germinate under certain conditions:  there must be shade, moisture, and temperatures between 44° and 64° F.  Despite these very exacting requirements, I have seen hemlocks growing in the most unusual places, clinging to the sides of steep cliffs, sitting atop boulders.

Lesson #3:  Be helpful to others at all times.

Campers know that that the “litter” produced by hemlocks will serve as tinder even if it is wet.  Hemlocks have made me the One-Match Queen of the Campfire on many occasions.  Thank you Hemlocks!

Enormous Hemlock
Lesson #4:  Create a more hospitable world.

Turkey Tail DragA maturing hemlock forest creates a microclimate all its own.  It is cooler and moister beneath the canopy.  Not only are young hemlocks protected under the shelterwood, so are deer, turkey, grouse and other animals whose tracks and signs I regularly find there.

Hemlock Macro
Lesson #5:  Be patient.

In a hemlock forest, under the canopy of the large trees, you will find small trees, maybe only 3-5 inches in diameter.  Don’t be deceived by their small size… these trees could be older than you.  In the deep shade, the saplings grow slowly and steadily, patiently waiting for their big chance…  a windstorm, perhaps, that topples one of the giants, whose roots don’t go as deep as you would think.  The sudden availability of light will send Little Tree into a much faster growth season… and it won’t be long (in hemlock years) before he is the Giant.

When I walk into a hemlock woods, I feel as if I have entered a special place.  When I die, spread my ashes in a hemlock forest.

Learn more:


Eastern Hemlock

Featured in Festival of the Trees #32.