Mount Owen is located in the southwest part of Kahurangi National Park. The 6,152 ft. peak withholds some of the most surreal and amazing landscapes in all of New Zealand. It has everything from beech forests to alpine tussock meadows and absolutely incredible limestone formations that will have you questioning if you are hiking on rock, a glacier meadow, or the moon.
Taking the southern route from Murchison, you begin by meandering your way up a river, crossing back and forth for the first two or three miles.
After about the seventh river crossing you leave the river and start your hike up the steep vertical accent. This is the last place you will see water until you get over the summit. The trail follows a ridge line and doesn’t really switchback. At some points the trail disappears and you are left to bushwhack up through the beech forest. After about four grueling hours of this you will break out of the tree line into a steep alpine tussock field. Push on for another 45 minutes and you will be at the top of Sunrise Peak. It’s a bit rocky, but we managed to find a patch of grass to set up our tent and some hammocks and enjoy the sunset.
Come morning, the sunrise did not disappoint. We hiked out onto some rocks over the cloud inversion and watched the earth slowly roll into beautiful rays of sunshine.
It’s an easy hike to the top of Mount Owen from here. Navigating the limestone glaciers can be a little bit tricky but the landscape is so fascinating that any struggle will be forgotten and replaced with an unmistakable aw for nature and landscape around you. It was Christmas Eve when we made the push up and over the summit.
The next day was absolutely beautiful. We took our time hiking out and scrambled up some of the surrounding peaks. The hike down the north side is a little more gradual but still pretty steep and rocky. In order to do the trail as a through hike, you will probably need to run a shuttle or have someone pick you up on the other side. We hitchhiked to the trailhead and then hitched our way out and caught a ride to the next National Park.
Located just a few miles northwest of Wanaka is Mount Aspiring National Park. This trek is one of my favorites and in my opinion, a quintessential New Zealand hike. The trail begins in a flat valley following the West Matukituki River around windy bends, beneath massive peaks on all sides. You’ll see lots of sheep and cattle are grassing throughout the meadow.
The trail continues like this through flat open fields for about two and half hours till you get to Aspiring Hut. You’ll pass Rob Roy Peak and have views of Glengyle Peak, Mount Barff and Mount Joffre on your way up. We camped at Aspiring Hut for a night and left the bulk of our gear there while going up to French Ridge the following day.
The following morning we headed for French Ridge. The trail continues along the river weaving in and out of beech forests and open grassy fields. You’ll cross a couple of suspension bridges and then ford the river and finally start the vertical.
The next two kilometers consist of waist-high steps and dragging yourself up by roots. It’s a thigh-burning scramble but overall not too bad and goes by quick. As you get higher the trees get smaller until you break out of the tree line and into the alpine tundra. Snowcapped peaks can be seen in every direction.
Another couple hundred feet and your at the hut. From here you can go hike higher for some fun glissading or just hang out and enjoy the views. You will probably see the infamous alpine parrot, known as the Kea. These cheeky bastards are bound to reek some havoc on your gear or shoes if you leave it out!
A collection of images from my travel in New Zealand.
Highway 93, between Twizel and Christchurch.
Tongariro National Park.
Mount Aspiring National Park.
Mount Cook National Park.
Kea, Kahurangi National Park.
Pan cake rocks, Punakaiki, West Coast.
Lake Pukaki, Mount Cook National Park.
Kahurangi National Park.
Fennell area, Kahurangi National Park.
Kahurangi National Park.
Milford Sound, Fiordlads.
Kepler track, Fiordlands National Park.
Kepler track, Fiordlands National Park.
Ben Loman, Queenstown.
Nelson Lakes National Park.
This is a photo story on Fijian culture and way of life in the modern day. Fiji is country in the South Pacific composed of 322 islands, 106 of which are inhabited. It is most know for its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters that attract tourists from all over the globe. However, most tourists are unaware of the amount of culture and life that resides in these small Pacific islands.
Tourism is the largest market in Fiji, accounting for 70 percent of the countries foreign exchange. Above, hotel workers unload supplies to the Mantaray Bay Island Resort.
The Suva market is well know across Fiji for the immense amount of vendors, cheap produce, and colorful atmosphere. Above, a Fijian man adjusts his eggplants, Saturday, January 10, 2016.
Most Fijian homes are made of wood with tin roofs and woven mats for floors made out of Pandanas leaves. Homes do not contain much furniture and people typically sleep on the mats. Mary and her 6-month-old niece sit inside their home, Thursday, January 8, 2016.
The village of Navala is the last village in Fiji to have traditional houses that are still made of all materials from the land. The roofs are densely packed straw tied to bamboo support structures with twine. The sidewalls are made of woven bamboo and the floor is covered with woven mats laid on straw for insulation and comfort.
Stino makes his way to church on a stormy evening in Navala, Fiji. Naval only has one church, which is catholic. Most Fijians practice christianity.
John, 68 sits outside his home in Navala, Fiji.
Women take advantage of the sunny weather by bathing themselves and their clothes in the river outside of Navala, Tuesday, January 12, 2016.
Young men carry bamboo shoot up from the forest to Navala to work on the kindergarten, which is being renovated. In Navala all construction and farming is done as a community with no exchange of monetary funds.
Mary prepares eggplant curry for lunch in her kitchen, Tuesday, January 12, 2016. This is a traditional Fijian kitchen with a wood fire stove made on a 4x3ft bed of rocks with bamboo edges and a piece of tin to keep the curtains from burning.
A boy waits for his friends to catch up as they play in the jungle, Tuesday, January 12, 2016.
A young boy climbs a coconut tree in the Mauira Village.
The same young boy sheds the husk off a coconut with a machete to drink the juice inside.
Fijian men sit around drinking kava late into the night to celebrate the new year. Kava is the official drink of Fiji, which is made from the Yaquona root, traditionally only drunk by men but in recent years they have begun to include women as well.
Mauira Village, Fiji, January 12, 2016.
A Fijian man takes a boat work at the resort early in the morning, Friday, January 9, 2016.
School was out for Spring Break so I headed down the coast to a place that I had been wanting to explore since I moved up to the Northwest--the Hoh Rainforest. The drive in was beautiful. It had an ominous, almost mystical feeling as the low clouds rolled through valleys and over the trees.
This is a view from the Hoh River campground looking upstream.
Sammy and I brought a double kayak that we were only planning on using at Lake Crescent, but as we drove along the Hoh River it was decided that had to raft it. We ended up doing about an 8 mile section that delighted us with views of swooping Bald Eagles, fisherman, and lush forest views that we wouldn't have been able to get from just hiking.
That night, the rain settled and the clouds parted for a short glimpse of the stars. I was glad I got up and made a couple frames because this ended up being the only stars we saw all week.
The next stop was the Toleak Trail. Our plan was to start at Three Beaches Trail and hike 17 miles down to Oil City, where we had shuttled our car to. Our research lead us to believe that it would be a nice mellow beach hike--just what we wanted for a relaxing spring break. But there were some unforeseen factors ahead...
There were lots of creeks that we had to cross by fallen logs.
We hiked out onto a cliff to get a view out of the forest as the sun disappeared into the thick clouds. That night it began to rain and it didn't stop for 24 hours. We had to make it to our next camp spot, so we woke up early and started hiking. Packing up the wet tent and putting it in my pack was probably my least favorite part. I didn't take any pictures the next day because it was raining too hard. We ended up hiking right past Toleak Point, which was the next camp spot because of the poring rain. Nick had been hiking from Oil City
Exploring the bluffs off of Toleak Point at low tide.
There are camp sites both in the trees and on the beach. We pulled most of our stuff out to the beach to attempt to dry it off in the light.
The costumes were in full abundance as the spirit of Halloween flowed through the air, Friday, Oct. 24 at Vital Climbing Gymnasium. Moments after everyone arrived, the lights were extinguished and a glowing wall lit by black lights was illuminated for the dyno competition. For those who don't know, "to dyno" in climbing, means to jump or stretch, often with all four points of connection absent from the wall, to a different point or hold on the wall.
The first to test their leaping skills were the youth. Kids from six to twelve lined up to try and complete each dyno problem. Crowds gathered around the wall to watch and cheer as each person attempted the different routes.
The winner of the youth boys division makes his final leap during the third round.
Each competitor was given two attempts on each route. If nobody was able to complete the route then the round would be repeated and each person would get another try. The routes were designed to get progressively more difficult. There were six routes total for each division.
A girl leaps from the wall to reach a hold in the second round of the Vital Halloween Climbing Competition, Friday, Oct. 24, 2014.
The first round of the mens started out strong with over 50 percent of the contestants progressing to the next round.
A man checks his holds before his leap in the first round of the mens dyno competition at Vital Climbing Gymnasium. Ian Koppe snaps a photo in the background.
Climbers swing about, during the different stages of the dyno competition, Friday, Oct. 24, 2014.
Spectators watch from beyond the pads as different contestants progress through the stages.
Captain Underpants prepares for take off.
The fifth stage of the competition required a two-part dino following the green treeline up to the highest point on the wall. Only three contestants completed this stage and moved on to the final round.
Western freshman Matt Lubar stretches out for the final dyno in the sixth sound. Lubar was the only one to complete the final dyno making him the 2014 Vital Dyno champion.
It is a little late from the date, but I thought it would be worth posting my one summer adventure to Yellow Aster Butte in the Mount Baker Wilderness.
It was about mid August and I finally found a couple days off of work that matched my girlfriend Sam's, so we loaded up the car and headed to the mountains.
It was just about sunset and we were driving up Twin Lakes road when we came around the corner and got this glimpse of Mount Baker. I had to stop and take a picture.
We car camped that night at Twin Lakes.
The following morning we awoke early and hit the trail. This was Sam's first backpacking trip and I think I might have overestimated her abilities a little bit. It was about a 5 mile hike in with over 2000 ft of elevation gain and we had gear for three nights... Needless to say, it took a little bit of encouraging to get her to the top. But she did it! And I think she enjoyed it once we got in and settled.
Above is the view of Yellow Aster Butte Meadow before entering the steep descending switchbacks.
We had a colorful camp set up on the upper side of the west ridge. It was a one of the record hot days of the summer, with temperatures getting into the 90's so we immediately took a polar plunge when we arrived.
As the sun went down the first night, I saw this picture but couldn't convince Sam to traverse the canyon and climb out on the cliffs edge. So instead, I lined up the up the picture and focus and had her snap the frame after I traversed to the distant cliff. I think it turned out pretty well.
Alpine lake reflections and snow melt with Yellow Aster Butte peak looming in distance on the right.
I think Sam got kind of tired of me giving my camera more attention than her, but she like this picture.
The view from the top of Yellow Aster Butte looking south down the ridge line.
The sky caught on fire our last night, greeting us with a beautiful pink and purple sunset, that later turned into a rumbling thunder storm of flashes and booms. So much for "pink skies at night, sailors delight." I guess that saying doesn't hold true in the mountains.
At about 3 a.m. when the rain seemed to settle down a little, I snuck out of the tent to try to capture the lightning. Unfortunately we were swallowed in the clouds and the flashes did not produce a bolt but more of a strobe. After a couple of 30 second exposures I got this one and called it a night.
This is a photo story that I did for my photojournalism class. The assignment was to find a story and illustrate it with six images. We were only allowed six images to teach us the importance of editing but for this blog I will include several images that I liked but was unable to keep for the story. I will put them at the end and you can see if maybe you think I should have made a different choice. Here is the story.
Russ Kendall, 56, places a pizza in his portable firebrick oven while his son Gus, 9, reads his book, The 39 Clues Unstoppable, in the trailer Sat., May 31, 2014. Kendall is a lifelong lover of Neapolitan-style pizza and built his first wood-fired oven nearly 15 years ago in the backyard of his house in Portland Oregon. Now, he drives a portable oven, built out of mortar and firebrick that is mounted on a custom fit trailer, to various catering events and the weekly farmers market. The business is called Gusto Wood Fired Pizza and is named after a nickname he had for his son, a pizza-loving boy himself, Kendall said.
Kendall walks a finished pizza to the front of his booth at the Bellingham Farmers Market Sat., May 31, 2014. Gusto pizza is best known for its Neapolitan-style pizza that is made with a thin crust and cooked at extremely high temperatures. Community members flock to the Gusto Pizza stand not only to taste the pizza, but also to have a look at the dome-like oven that stands out in the back from other vendors.
Abby Schroff, 19, slowly drips tomato sauce onto a pizza crust during her first day of work Sat., May 31, 2014. Gusto pizza uses an uncooked bright tomato sauce that is composed of pear tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to achieve its rich and authentic flavor, Kendall said. Kendall and his wife make the sauce as well as the dough together, in Ferndale, the Friday before the market at Memorable Events and Catering Kitchen.
Schroff, hustles to keep up with the busy pizza orders as she quickly learns the ways of the business. The pizza making process requires four main stations; the dough roller, the pizza maker, the pizza cutter and server, and the cashier. And of course the pizza cook, but Kendall is the only one who deals with the 800-degree oven that can cook a pizza in 90 seconds. When all stations are working efficiently, pizzas can be made in fewer than 5 minutes from when they were ordered. And when they are really on their game, they can cook and serve 100 pizzas per hour to keep up with the rush, Kendall said.
Dan Wilson, 75, is one of Gusto Pizzas regular weekly customers. Wilson has traveled to many places in Italy and around the world tasting pizza and says that Gusto is the closest thing to authentic Italian pizza around. “It’s the flour in the dough that really makes the difference,” Wilson said. Kendall uses an all organic, high gluten, high flour mix from the Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill because this allows the dough to be rolled very thin without tearing. “The dough should be as thin as a credit card,” Kendall said. Wilson also mentioned that the thin crust and minimal ingredients really bring out the flavors. “It’s the only pizza of its type around,” Wilson said.
Kendall counts out the register at the end of the day to pay the market's 7 percent tax on the property provided. His wife and son begin the long process of packing up the knives, cutting-boards, tables, signs, and other cooking supplies that are needed for the portable kitchen. Once everything is loaded into their car and trailer, they head home until the next weekend.
These photos did not make the story so I didn't caption them, but I think if I were allowed more photos then then I would have included these.
It was a beautiful day and we arrived at Baker just as the sun was lowering over the mountains. We hike in to a cliff side in the south gully of the mountain. Kevin Curran built a lip and seshed it into the night. We ended up staying there until 11 p.m. when the sun was long gone and the moon began to rise over Mt. Shuksan. It was a beautiful and magical way to end the day.
Friday, May 2, I journeyed down to Mount Erie with a couple friends to shoot some climbing pictures. It was my first time visiting the beautiful climbing area and I was pleasantly surprised with what I came out with.
Casey Franklin strategically flicks the rope from an overhanging rock as Django Holt belays him on the north wall at Mount Erie. Franklin has been climbing sport for close to nine years and this was his first day climbing the routes at Mount Erie.
Lauren Tee struggles to make it up a 5.10 route on Orange Wall Friday afternoon.
Casey Franklin sprawls out to take in the sun after completing the difficult 5.10 route on Orange Wall.
Nick Mishkin aggressively reaches for a hold beside my hip as he makes his first assent up north wall at Mount Erie.
I went out to shoot some pan shots of Nick Mishkin on his longboard last night, but I think we caught it a little too late in the day... I was having to shoot at about 1/20 of a sec with my ISO cranked up at 5000 and it was still pretty dark and blurry.
For some reason I still kind of liked this shot though. It was a beautiful sunset on the boardwalk and I was stoked to at least catch his shoulder in focus haha.
This was another one of him goofing around. A little better pan but still kind of dark and blurry. Hopefully we will have better luck next time.