West Fork Trail, Sedona

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We went to Oak Creek to see Fall Colors, but we decided that during our visit and goal to see Fall Colors we should include West Fork Trail.

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We have never done West Fork Trail.  The crowds and lines to get in have always been just terrible.  It seems to be like so many over-touristed places that become overcrowded taking away from the entire experience.

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So we got a hotel, went out to a nice dinner, and got up early to hit the trail before anyone got there.

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I can tell you now from experience … that is absolutely the way to go.  We were the very first one’s there.  We arrived at 7am, and took one of maybe 5 parking spaces outside the gates that don’t open until 8am.

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We had the trail to ourselves.  We had 2 people pass us going up, (after they caught up to us).  It was great to not to have bob through people – which is what we did on the way back down.

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We felt like salmon swimming upstream as we had to side step the hoards of people once the gate opened… and we were headed back down the trail.

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We thought it would be difficult to get out of our parking spot way up front… but cars were more than happy to make way for us to get out as we pulled out into traffic, and passed an impressive line of cars waiting for a parking space to get in.

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Proper planning yielded a great day and a beautiful hike.

Oak Creek Fall

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It’s Fall, so we are on our mission to collect Fall Colors pix.  When we think of Fall Colors in AZ one of the first places we think of is Oak Creek in Sedona.

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Anytime you can mix fall colors with water it always makes for magical scenery.  The reflections, glow, and leaves littering the ground are all tell tale signs of winter coming.

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Of course, all I have to do is look at my thermometer to know that winter is coming, as it was 3F this am.waterwash_IR.jpg

Check out more pix here … https://kritterspaw.com/2019/10/31/sunshine-gorgeous-scenery/

Blue Ridge Shine

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If you’ve been following my blog you’ve noticed I’ve been on a somewhat futile quest to build a collection of photos of obscure lakes around Arizona.  It was Blue Ridge Reservoir that started the whole mission.

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We did an overnight trip to Blue Ridge and got some cool shots which got me to thinking about those awesome sunset / sunrise reflections in the water.

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So we visited a lot of dry water holes… and encountered a bit of smoke from prescribed burns along the way.  So why not combine the smoke and the lake photos by a re-visit to Blue Ridge Reservoir.

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I love it when a plan comes together!

Thanks to my friend Sue for sharing in this amazing experience.  It was a lot of fun!

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Mood lighting

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As I continue to improve my photography, I think about what that means.  It’s all about the light – dawn & dusk, we are so often told.

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It’s complicated though.  Light is bright and shadows are dark, how does one even them out and still add emotion, mood, and interest?

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Light is the master of depth.  We need light to make our ‘hero’ shine, or our supporting cast fade into the background.  In this way we can isolate our subject so we know what (or who) it is.

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Fog and smoke provide a fantastic mood factor, allowing us to separate the foreground from the background.  While our controlled burns up north can be dreary to look at… they can also make for some very moody exciting pix.

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Light rays illuminate and become visible through the smoke or fog in the air, distinguishing different elements of the life in the forest.

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The fog creates a diffusion through the harsh light, from which comes clarity.

Twin Fawns

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I  wrote about the ‘Late Arrival’ of a small fawn with spots, our first we have seen of the year, back here… https://kritterspaw.com/2019/09/12/late-arrival/

That was month ago.  Fast forward to this past week, first week of October, and we were entertained by these fantastic little cuties.

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At first, I was delighted to see just one little spotted gem… then, came another; the spots along their back almost identical.

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This precious couple laid down beside each other and cuddled and ‘fawned’ over one another like baby new borns.

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They rested as their momma grazed, and relished in their environment and their natural surrounds.

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It was such a tremendous joy and gift to see this special sight.

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What a treat!

Hawley Lake

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Further to my ‘Lake’ collection, we visited a number of blue smears on the map.

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Admittedly they had some verbiage that indicated that there was water there… like Mexican Hay Lake and Lee Valley Reservoir, I was quickly reminded that this is Arizona.

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The ‘Lakes’ that we made our way to for photos were in fact, nothing by dry holes!  So much for that idea!  Maybe Spring after snowfall is a better time to do the Lake trek.

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The good news was we found water in abundance at Hawley Lake outside of Pinetop-Lakeside.   Even better news was that on our loop around looking for actual water in those fictitious lakes was that we did manage to encounter a variety of willing animals to photograph.

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Like this blue heron that seemed like he wanted to say something to me.  Or the chipmunk that posed for me.

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I caught these antelope running through the fields of yellow flowers along the road outside of Greer.

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One thing the trip made clear… winter is coming.  The overnight lows were chilly.  I’m not sure how many more lakes we will be about to get in, as snow will be soon following, along with closed roads.

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Hard to imagine.. but Christmas is just around the corner.  Get your winter woolies out!

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Squirrel and its Nuts

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This time a year, when you walk through the forest, the squirrel will ‘hawk’ at you… squawking incessantly.  You are in their territory after all.  This is their busy time.  They are scurrying around ‘squirreling’ away nuts for the winter, filling crevices and holes throughout the forest – stuffed full of pinecones.

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It seems every one in the forest is fattening up for the winter, readying themselves for those long cold winter months where food is scarce for these forest animals.

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Including these hawks who were looking for those squirrels!

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Everybody’s gotta eat!