Monday, September 30, 2019

September Sketching

There's no shortage of sketching prompts available on the internet, often monthly lists to help you keep up with a daily sketching habit. Both Sketchbook Skool and Doodlewash (from my Sketchbook Revival course) send me these now. I scan the words and for the most part, don't see that many that I would want to spend my time drawing. Sometimes the list looks interesting and I print it out, only to let it get buried and go unused. For some reason, I decided not to let that happen with Doodlewash's September prompt list, deciding to use a sketchbook my cousin sent me because although I love the leather cover it is slipped into, I don't like the moleskin paper at all and so have not used it but twice. Very thin and even light pencil shows through to the backside and from the next page. But good enough for this.

I set up some rules for myself, kind of combining the Doodlewash practice (draw in pen then add color a little like making your own coloring book) with the Random Words doodling practice (doodle in pen on a post-it note for 10 to 15 minutes then stop). I'd work small and quickly in pencil, only adding colored pencil if so inspired, nothing fancy, and draw from memory.

That last one kept my sessions short - a few minutes to 15 at the most. Put a thing in front of me, even just a picture to draw from, and it turns into an hour long session of getting everything right and including all the details. I decided I'd been doing enough drawing the last few years that surely I could envision these things on the list clearly enough to do a simple sketch of them. Cups, shoes, I'd drawn 31 of each during Inktober months. I'd learned how to draw a dog in profile from one of the Sketchbook Revival teachers. Time to test the memory.

And test it I did. Sometimes the simple sketches came easily. Other times I was surprised at how difficult it was to remember enough about a thing to draw it recognizably. "Skin" and "buttons" on the page above were more challenging than I expected. Stairs too although I'd been playing with them in my water series sketchbook.

There were times when I couldn't quite get a part of a thing right like the railing on the one set of stairs. I knew it wasn't right but I didn't know how to change it to make it right. I might look at it later and see immediately how to fix it. But that wasn't part of the rules, going back and correcting. It was enough that my brain had worked on the problem without me and now knew what to do about it, stored away for next time.

I stayed really basic with drawing the prompt only, not building a story around it like some response to a quilt challenge theme (as I saw Mr. Doodlewash doing). But I did often sketch multiple ways to portray it, or different images when one word represented more than one thing. Pots like the ones used for cooking followed by a terracotta garden pot, multiple kinds of vegetables. Soap in different shaped bars, and then soap all bubbly. Human eyes, eye of a needle, eye-bolt. It can be fun to play with the English language.

Even these rules and tricks would have failed, though, if not for perhaps the most important thing I did, and quite by accident. I put the sketchbook on the futon couch in my office which made it the first thing I saw when I entered that room in the morning to check my mail on the computer. It stopped me up short, reminded me I had a sketch to do, and because I knew it would only take a few minutes, I sat right down and did my sketch before turning on the computer. Out of sight, out of mind; in your face, more difficult to ignore.

This is one daily habit I would continue if it were not for Inktober starting tomorrow. I have a whole different idea for daily sketching the Inktober way and it won't be quick. But I am looking forward to working with the theme I've chosen. Then I hope to remember this sketchbook and return to filling it with simple daily sketches.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Company and The Weather

Untitled original textile art by Judi Kane 21 x 23 framed
More good reasons to wrap up my outdoor explorations when I did: I was expecting overnight guests the following week, and if you saw my "sit and rotate" drawing of my office/guest room, you would know I had some digging out and cleaning to do before they arrived. My company was my late friend Judi's brother and his wife, and they came bearing a gift of one of Judi's art pieces. I was stunned and so appreciative as I only have one other piece of hers.

I thought I hadn't seen this work before but as I was going back through my blog posts to check, I found that it is one that was displayed at her memorial service. The background is one of her hand-dyed cottons, and I'm still studying how she did some of it. She used a lot of ultrasuede in her work and I see some of that here, but I have no idea what that white fuzzy stuff is.

And here she's used some kind of non-cotton shiny fabric, perhaps a brocade, which is texturized to create the flower blossom. She was always heading over to the prom and bridal departments of big fabric stores for unusual fabrics to create just the right effect on her art quilts. Ditto for embellishments and decorative threads and yarns.

Had my company planned their trip a week later, they might have been caught out by an early winter storm as they made their way out of Idaho and along the Rockies to Wyoming and parts further east. Snow at the end of October is not that unusual but at the end of September? That is very rare. The first emergency warnings I got was about high winds starting up about 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning and lasting all day. Later they added:

EARLY SEASON MOUNTAIN SNOW AND STRONG WINDS THIS WEEKEND... .A cold storm system will bring the potential for heavy snow in the mountains this weekend. The most significant accumulations will occur above 3000 feet, however snow levels will lower to valley floors by Saturday morning with accumulating valley snow expected overnight Saturday. Strong northeast winds will also impact the Idaho Panhandle and Northeast Mountains resulting in some tree damage and low wind chills. Backcountry recreationists and hunters should be prepared for cold and wet weather conditions and bring proper gear. Travel across backcountry roads may be difficult at times. ...

Now, I wasn't going into the backcountry per se on my trips to waterfalls but some of the trailheads WERE above 3000 feet so yeah, good thing my hiking is done for the year. I did wake up Saturday to this view out my upstairs window and a short spate of flurries that with the gusty winds didn't really reach the ground. Where the snow stops on the mountain across from me is indeed at about 3000 feet elevation. My thermometer on the back deck registered about 38 degrees and pretty much stayed there all day.

Hidden by the clouds in this photo is Schweitzer Ski Resort, who I am sure was happy to get the early snow. Besides the winds which continued into today, nothing much to write home about here as my "valley floor" did not get any accumulations last night, but less than an hour south of here I've seen pictures of places that got up to 10 inches of snow today, and they are not up in the mountains. Even the nearby Washington city of Spokane registered nearly 2 inches at the airport yesterday. I'm more and more switching mental gears to match this wintry weather! Hot chocolate anyone?

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Bonus Waterfall From the Grouse Creek Falls Week

Photo from Facebook Page North Idaho Waterfalls - The Complete Guide. Looks inviting, doesn't it?
When I planned my road trip to Grouse Creek Falls, I decided to include a quick detour to Rapid Lightning Creek Falls on my way home since my information said it was a mere 3.4 miles up a paved road I'd be passing by, and I thought everything else about this day was going to be quick. Even though that did not turn out to be the case, I still decided to turn up that road and see what I could see. Because although sketchy, everything I could find about Rapid Lightning Creek Falls indicated that it was "easily accessible" by following "one of the short, well-worn trails" at the unmarked turnout. I studied a google earth map which confirmed that the creek ran close to the paved road so those trails indeed had to be short and, I envisioned, probably fairly flat. So make no mistake about it, this was not going to be a long drive on dirt roads into an area where no one lived (a surprising number of people live up this road), nor was it going to be a hike. I'd just be walking in a short ways to view some falls.

The short road by the turnout, where the trails drop down from, sans car.

I drove and drove and lost track of my mileage as I took in the scenery and finally decided I must have driven past the turnout so pulled into the next one I saw so I could head back down the road. I could now see a narrow road hidden from the main road but with a car parked down it and decided someone must have a house down there so this isn't the place. I traversed the road back to where I'd turned onto it, seeing nothing that looked right, and being stubborn, I turned around and headed back up it, keeping a better watch on my mileage. It led me right back to that place where I had given up and turned back. Ok, get out of the car and see what you can see.

What I could see was the creek far below, several very steep trails heading down the steep hillside, and two guys belonging to the car sitting on these foundations, enjoying the view of the creek below. This foundation for some kind of small building long gone sat at the top of yet another steep trail leading closer to the creek, and I could better see the water. 

Hard to see how steep this trail is, or to see the water in the shadows

"So this is it," I said to one of the men. "Yeah, it's really a nice stretch of the creek," he replied. "And this is the trail down," I commented. "That's really steep, but it looks like it would be worth it." He agreed. We shared what we'd been up to that day, that this was the end of it, and his "old man knees" and my "primitive trail hiked-out legs" weren't really up to scrambling down and then back up it. I kept staring down that incline, wondering if I could really do it, and finally said, "I'll give it a go, but not today." After all, it's about 15 minutes from home. I can come back another day.

But I'd been keeping an eagle eye on the upcoming weather which promised another weekend of rain and another drop in temperature. I didn't want to try those steep trails, no matter how short, when wet and muddy. I was running out of time, and although my thighs and the back of my upper arms were so sore the next day, I knew it was now or never (or at least next year). I made the short drive after lunch and slid my way down that trail by the foundation. As you can see from the above photo, it WAS a short trail but included a tipped smooth slab of rock that gave no traction before a sharp turn that completed the trail in a near vertical drop spilling onto a wide flat area above the creek. I practically slid on my backside to get down it, turned around and decided not to worry just yet about how I was getting back up.

Instead, I started taking in this stretch of the creek from the bottom up. Honestly, I'd be hard-pressed to call this a waterfall, but more a series of cascades that drop a total of 20 - 30 feet as they tumble over and through rock formations that form several pools suitable for dangling feet in or even swimming in this time of year. After its excursion and tumble over the last thing that could qualify as a waterfall, this is what the creek looks like before it continues around the bend. It's really not very big or deep.

Here's the first thing that might qualify as a falls as I worked my way up the creek. That drop can't be more than a few feet. (Clicking on any photo will give you a larger one to explore.) This is emptying out of the pool in the first photo at the top.

As you pivot to look upstream, this is what you see. Those "cascades" and huge slabs of tilted rock. The creek begins to drop down through this gorge in the upper left, about half way up the tree can be used as a guide.

Here's a slightly different angle on the middle cascade of the previous photo as it empties into the pool in the photo at the top. I suppose during high water this might read as a waterfall.

Same cascade looking straight across it. You can really see the geology of tilted rock slabs here.

As I made my way over a couple of the tilts of rock, I discovered they were hiding another pool, swirling and foamy.

As I walked closer to the edge, I could see where the water during higher times had created a deep hole in the rock, bottom of the photo.

I could also see how the water had shaped smooth curves as it swirled.

Looking farther up the creek, more little cascades.

And big mossy boulders I've come to expect.

These two shots I got once I climbed out and followed a bit of trail where I could see the creek as it nears the gorge . . .

. . . and where it begins to drop through it. Apparently, whitewater runners put in somewhere along here and run this bit of rapids when there's more water, and it is rated class 3 - 4. The site makes mention of "a nasty slot in the middle of it" and I could see exactly where that was.

Here's a pan from top to bottom of as much as I could get of the so-called Rapid Lightning Creek Falls. I have to say this reminds me a lot of the falls on the Yaak River in Montana, though the tilted rocks and amount of water in the river are much larger (you can see I few pictures about midway in this post.). I spent a lot of time around those falls on fishing trips with my parents when I lived at home. No wonder this small version was so appealing and held my interest.

Back to the creek side, I couldn't help getting a shot of this rock cliff across from me and those tilted slabs below it - again, typical scenery for this part of Idaho.

And a last look at the slabs on my side of the creek, wondering where I was going to find an alternate trail up. Way up in the left hand corner of the photo, where that tree root slithers out looked promising.

Look at how that root reaches over and beside that rock (near vertical) for purchase.

If I could just get up this first straight up and down part, there was actually some trail up there that while steep, looked to have good traction. No seriously, there's a trail there, up the middle, then veering to the left, not far at all. It's just getting to it.

I studied it for awhile and decided that if I could get my foot in that curve at the base of the tree where exposed root was, I could hoist myself up. I did, but my thigh muscles weren't happy about it. Definitely need to start doing more Warrior Poses!

And once up it, it was a very short walk back to the car.

I took over 75 photos and more than one video on this little stretch of creek This is probably my favorite shot, one I think of as "the beauty shot". This is probably my last road trip adventure this year as I've visited pretty much all the waterfalls I know of except those that are farther away than I want to drive at this point. The weather has definitely turned and the bears have come down out of the mountains for some last minute foraging before hibernating. Hunting seasons will open soon (some already have) and my experience in Wisconsin showed me that it was prudent to stay out of the woods until the hunters packed up and went home. And I'm tired, frankly. I've put my body to the test, have a better understanding of my limits, and have refreshed my mind and spirit. As John Burroughs says:

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."

Yup, done and done. I'm feeling ready to switch focus. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Last Week's Waterfall

When I headed out last Wednesday for another hike, it had rained over the weekend and the temperature had gone from the mid-80's of the previous week's hike, to a cooler but still comfortable mid-70's. Time to pack a sweatshirt cardigan just in case, because I was headed to Grouse Creek Falls and had been warned that except at high noon, most everything would be in shade. I anticipated a short day since the trail head was closer than my previous road trips, less than 20 miles of mostly paved road that I was quite familiar with. It was only those last 5 miles that I hadn't been on before that slowed me way down as the road went from paved to gravel to washboardy and narrowed to dirt with huge potholes which meant it took nearly as long to get there as to the trailheads farther away. My directions were a bit sketchy - take a right and follow Grouse Creek Road for about 4 miles and take a right down an unmarked road - but another later site indicated that there might be a marker now. All of a sudden, there was a narrow one-lane road dropping off to the right and I spotted the marker partly obscured by bushes, just a square stick with "Grouse Falls" printed vertically on it - see the red arrow. Did I really want to drive down there for who knows how far? I got out of the car to inspect and decided to make my way down to the parking lot that supposedly awaited.

I did not have to go far for the road to open up into a very large parking area where sat a big motorhome. Ok then, I was being a bit wussy about the road in I guess. I chatted with a woman coming off the trail who assured me it was beautiful but a lot of up and down. My information said it was about half a mile to the falls so it shouldn't be too bad. As I headed out of the parking lot, I spotted hoofy prints - surely people aren't riding horses to the falls, but perhaps this trail hooked up to the one I'd seen that did accommodate horses?

I didn't go far until I noticed several horses, saddled and tied up back in the trees, no humans around. A puzzle . . .

This may be one of my favorite hikes. Unlike other trails I've been on, this one stays right along the creek which is seldom out of sight and never out of hearing. There may not be much water in the creek at this time of year, but you can see how big it must get with spring runoff, filling the creek bed all the way to the far treeline.

I've gotten use to wide and well maintained trails and this one started out that way. Soon it narrowed and led through a section nearly overgrown with grass, as if few people had been through.

Then this section which left me peering past a boulder field to see if the trail really did take up again on the other side. This was the place where I really appreciated my walking stick for balance as I worked my way across, remembering how my dad had taught me to traverse rock-strewn areas and reminding myself to be extra careful so as not to twist or break an ankle.

And there were several sections where springs crossed the trail, making for muddy going unless you could step from rock to rock. No boardwalks here. Click on the picture for a large view to see all the way down the wet trail.

As I was picking my way through I suddenly realized why those logs were there. Oh yeah, one can walk along those instead of down in the mud. Thankful for that walking stick again - don't do this kind of balancing walk anymore.

Making my way through another muddy section I was surprised to see these stairs in the steep hillside. They were deceiving though. To climb them was not unlike climbing a ladder and they were wet and slick. Still, a tiny bit better than climbing the bare hill itself.

So after all that primitive stretch of trail, it was a surprise and a bit of a relief to see the trail widen out into a sort of path I'd become used to. A little farther up, some trails looked to split off and lead down toward the creek, but not decisively so. I thought of my directions "when the trail starts to climb, take a right towards the water", but I wasn't sure I was there. I followed the main trail up a bit farther, far enough to see it was heading closer to the edge of the hillside than I wanted to go and maybe stopped altogether. I turned around and tried one of the trails heading down . . . 

The indistinct trails eventually merged to one leading up the creek and I was soon ready to cross over these boulders down into a lovely beach area. Well, almost, because I could hear voices, not just a couple but many, and somewhat raucous ones. I spotted a cowboy hat just poking up behind the rock before I saw the group and realized these were the people who had left those horses tied up at the beginning of the trail. I'd seen signs for a "guest ranch" and "Adventure Pony Rides" on my way up and these must be "dudes" from the dude ranch.

I beat a hasty retreat before any of them saw me and made my way to a spot by the creek, hidden by one of those big rocks. I am such an introvert! But viewing the creek and the falls was not an experience I had planned to share with distracting strangers, so I savored the stretch of creek before me while eavesdropping on their conversation and waiting for them to leave, which they soon did. You'll recognize familiar features: large boulders and cliff faces, trees hanging onto them for dear life, mosses, clear clear water.

I'm glad I waited them out. This is such a lovely spot and I'm sure this whole hike culminating in this cathedral of sorts was tapping into a lot of childhood memories. This looks to be a well-used area, with signs of a campfire and rocks rearranged in the creek to create pools for cooling your beverages or your feet.

But where are the falls, you may well ask? Well, I'd been warned that one could not see them because they were hidden around that big boulder. Bring your water shoes, it said. You'll have to get in the water to see around it to catch a glimpse of the falls. I'd not brought my water shoes, decided to gamble that maybe the creek would be low enough to expose some dry beach to stand on. I was wrong. So I had a little debate with myself. Are you brave enough to take off your shoes and socks and wade in? How cold is that water? A quick check proved it was not that cold.

So yeah, I'm gonna do it! Using the boulder for balance and ouch ouching my way along the pebbly creek bed, I didn't have to wade too deep and the water felt great!

And here's the prize! Click on the picture for a larger view because there's not much water and the falls actually comes in at an angle from the right, you can just see some water splashing up there before it turns and comes down towards you. All the same, I was thrilled.

And here's a video that zooms in so you can see better and hear that lovely racing water.

And as long as I was standing there in the creek, I continued a pan down it.

Still mesmerized by the crystal clear water and the sound. It conjured up a memory of camping trips, with my mother and I heading down to the creekside to sit, look, listen, sometimes break into song, as if we could be heard over the sometimes roar.

And fascinated by these rosy boulders and their cracks.

I suspect that if I'd followed that rising trail, it might have led to a place where one could look down on the falls, see it in its entirety. No doubt if one were nimble and willing to scramble up this steep face from the beach (and it looked like some had), you'd get a similar view. 

Not me, at least not today. I still had to pull myself up over these rocks and navigate that primitive trail back to the car. More of a challenge and took longer than I expected to snag this particular waterfall, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and this glorious day. This is one that would be worth coming back to . . . with water shoes!