From an extremely fun trip to Hokkaido for some skiing at Niseko and a little exploring in Sapporo, this being on top of Grand Hirafu resort after a small hike from their highest chairlift, classy little single seater.

It was a cold March night in Sapporo and the foggy storm told me it would be interesting to get out and take some shots despite it being late in the middle of the night, so I rolled out of bed with my camera and ended up with a few shots like this.

I was a little tipsy one night after eating out and ended up with a bunch of crooked, off kilter shots, but this decent one was found in that series.


Timpanooke Trail

Last week we took what I thought would be a grand paragliding odyssey to Utah, Wyoming, and maybe Colorado. We first went to the Point of the Mountain and quickly became demoralized due to our lack of skills in high wind and having to learn around a huge amount of people while trying not to cause collisions between others. So failing that, we thought it would be nice to go up American Fork Canyon and hike Timp from the Timpanooke Trail. I’ve hiked from the Aspen Grove side more times than I can remember, but only once from the Timpanooke side, which is also the prettier, but longer trail.

Timpanooke Panorama

Anyways, we were only able to make it just under 3/4’s of the way from the peak due to thin snow bridges with no alternate way around them. I’ve never been stopped by snow before on the Aspen Grove side, but I guess there are very limited spots to ascend on the Timpanooke side. I don’t even care about the peak, but I was super bummed as I really wanted to show Amber Emerald Lake and get some pictures from there; one of the prettiest spots on the planet if you ask me. Here is a shot near the end of the trail for us looking back towards the backside of Alta and Snowbird. Yeah, I grew up just a few minutes drive from here near Aspen Grove. This makes me miss it!

Timpanooke Corn Panorama

The full sized panorama’s can be found by clicking on the pictures and going to the larger sizes in flickr, these small sized shots really blow..

Bradley Lake

Our first stop on our road trip from Idaho to Georgia was Teton National Park. We quick pitched our tent to secure a camping spot then took off down the road for a hike to Bradley Lake. We didn’t know it at the time, but this blue sky during the hike was the last we would see until we were almost in Georgia. The rain began a couple of minutes before we reached the car and then it turned into what felt like a full on monsoon. Breaking the tent down in the morning was fun using the break-down-the-tent-while-still-inside-of-it-leaving-the-rain-fly-for-last technique. This place is definitely needing further attention from me in the future.

Eight Shot Pano. Full size can be found HERE in all of its glory.

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Taking It All In

When we landed in the States earlier this year, we went straight from the airport to an auto dealership and purchased a vehicle. From there we visited families in Utah and Idaho, the road tripped through the Tetons, Yellowstone, Wyoming, South Dakota, all the way down to Georgia. There was still a lot of snow in the Yellowstone area and a pass we wanted to use was closed about a mile and a half from the top. We ended up taking an impromptu trip on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. It is like a different world in this area after living in Japan. Completely desolate and vast, wide open spaces. Here is a 4-shot pano I snapped from a pull out.

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Today we headed up to Okutama to explore the many side roads and we ended up on this extremely steep road and followed it for miles until became a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, and then we followed that until it was very much in the far end of nowhere. As we were backtracking on the dirt road, I commented on how I preferred off roading in our newer super-compact car as opposed to my wifeys old super-compact car that has been part of many off road adventures in austere parts of Turkey. I would call it a beater, but I don’t want to jinx myself again.

As soon as we hit pavement, we parked the car so I could take the photograph below. Not the most interesting photograph, but it has an interesting story. See, as soon as I went back to the car and tried to start it up, I heard a of-all-the-places-we-could-suddenly-have-mechanical-problems type of sound aka the starter sounded like it was dead and we have an automatic with power brakes. No jump starting or coasting down to the main road, plus we don’t speak Japanese, on top of all that.. the road was so steep in places that a tow truck would probably never attempt going out there.

I decided rolling the car off the hillside wasn’t a good long-term solution and we packed up our camera gear and started the trek to the town of Okutama for some help. Luckily we quickly stumbled on 3 locals foraging for leaves to be used in their favorite tempura recipe and we were able to play charades to see if we could get some help. We went back to the car and when they heard the starter, they immediately knew that only the battery was dead and it could be jumped. They were right and that was the biggest relief I have had in a long time!

Thank you 3 guys foraging for leaves to use for a tasty tempura meal! I dedicate this picture–that would have been a lot better had I tried to piece together a vertorama to capture the beautiful overlook–to you guys!

Okutama Overlook