Sunday, September 21, 2014

Staircase to Bat Camp Backpack

I took my daughter to what we like to call "bat camp".  It's not far up the trail past Staircase so I don't want to advertise it too much.   Staircase was a zoo, I guess it was less crowded than it would have been during the summer, but still it was a zoo.

 Our first stop was the ranger station to get our backcountry permit.  In Olympic National Park it costs a lot money to go backpacking.  In many other national parks you don't have to pay for your back-country permit.  But ONP is reserved for the well-to-do backpackers.  First there is the $15 entrance fee, then the $5.00 registration fee and then a $2.00 per night per person backpacking fee. The only way for a poor person to get into the park is to cheat or to qualify for and know about the elderly or disabled passes.  I have an annual park pass and an annual back country permit so this visit cost me nothing.

 The volunteer at the back country permit desk must have been very new, she had to ask for help for everything. Maybe she was tired too, she was not rude, but she certainly was not friendly.  She had never seen a annual back-country permit before so she showed it to a ranger, the ranger insisted that the other person in my party had to pay $2.00 per night.  I told him that the other person is a child, he then asked how old the child was.  Children over the age of 16 have to pay.  Well my child is ten, so she does not have to pay.  I think maybe the ranger did not expect a woman to be hiking alone with a young child, so he was surprised that my child did not have to pay.  sigh..

Next time I'll just self register and avoid all the hassle in the rangers office.


 Ranger Davis was in the back room, I saw  him before he saw me.  He looked startled to see me, but he  asked me how I was doing and he was friendly enough.  I guess he won't go out of his way to give me any more trouble after his infamous stomping mushrooms while invoking the name of congress scene a few years back.  It's good to feel like I can go to Staircase without being harassed.

A spider web

With the red tape sorted out, we  started our hike at about 1pm.  The loop trail was crowded with tourists.  So many tourist had such nice camera equipment and lenses.  What a shame that amateurs can afford all the good stuff while professional photographers have to settle for what they can afford.  It's such a waste for all that nice equipment to be in the wrong hands, that is, not my hands.

Staircase rapids bridge

For this hike my goal was to take some photographs of bats at night, so I brought my big camera and my external flash and a Walmart  tripod.  I could have used two external flash units and I could have used a much faster lens than my clunky old 3.5.

Western toads are out again but I failed to get a good picture of one.  Just before the bridge a woman had a tripod in the middle of the trail.  She was a foot away from her camera so it did not enter my mind that she was taking a picture as I walked around her tripod.  Then she complained that she had been doing a long exposure and I had walked in front of her camera.

 So many problems with this scenario.  You don't put your tripod in  the middle of a crowded popular trail and you don't do long exposures of a rock at 1 in the afternoon.  I still want to know why she was doing a long exposure in that much light, it makes no sense to me.

 If she had a polarizer and was trying to photograph a waterfall it might make sense.  But she was just photographing a big rock.  I asked her how many seconds her exposure was but she ignored me.  Then she tried to explain to me that I'd be surprised to know that with a long enough exposure a person walking in front of the camera does not show up and I had not ruined her photo after all.  I told her that I am a professional photographer so I was not surprised by that,  she ignored me and just walked away.  I still don't know why on earth she would be doing such a long exposure in that light.  I guess I'll never know since she ignored my questions.

Dinner by the river

We got to bat camp at about 2pm and we were happy to see that it was unoccupied.  My daughter was surprised that the distance had gone by so fast.  She's in good shape now after all the training we did together for the PCT.

We waited until dark and tried to get some bat pictures.  I got a couple of okay pictures.  I also tried to take some pictures of the stars since I had my tripod with me but those pictures did not come out well at all.  With the days getting so short I really should teach myself how to photograph stars so I will have something to do in camp at night.  For starters,  I know that I need a remote shutter release that actually works and I'll have to bring my super heavy tripod.

Could have used another flash maybe

Three bats with reflections

A bat

We cowboy camped and before we went to bet I set up a mouse trap.  Half of the trap was just my spoon propped up in a way that would cause a mouse to knock it down and be heard.  The other half of the trap was my external flash set up on a tripod.  A few times I woke up to the spoon flying and I reached for my head lamp and my camera and I could not find the mouse.  In the end I got a few shots simply by blindly firing off my camera and external flash when ever I heard a noise that woke me up.  When I got home I was happy to find that I had captured the mouse a couple of times.  There was no moon in the sky all night long.

Deer Mouse

Deer Mouse

We packed up and left at about noon and were on our way home by two pm.  We got home just in time to see soccer players changing their clothes in the middle of the street.

Poor shot

My camera trap

Morning coffee, still had my camera set to 3,200 ISO

tiny purple puff balls

The new bridge at Staircase

It really was this color

So many Leo's at Staircase, the one on the right has interesting hair

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