Monthly Archives: January 2013

Winter In Baxter State Park – Daicey Pond

On the weekend of January 13th and 14th Tammy and I hiked in to Daicey Pond from the winter access parking lot of Baxter State Park. You can find tons of info at this link (Baxter State Park Authority). The winter parking lot is located just across the road from the convenience store at Abol Bridge on the Golden Road. We stayed at the Katahdin Inn and Suites in Millinocket (formerly the Econolodge) the night before. I wasn’t expecting much, which was a good thing as it wasn’t much. A clean place to sleep so we could get an early start in the AM. We reached the parking lot at about 7:30. There were a couple of passenger vans and two cars from Mass. On a side note, don’t plan on driving to the location of the regular season access gate. It is a snowmobile trail in the winter.

The trail to Daicey begins on the Appalachian Trail. About 1/2 mile north there is a big kiosk and a trail breaks off to the right heading for Abol Pond and Kahtadin Stream campground. This was the only trail that had been broken since the last 2 or three inches of snow, but it was not our path. We continued on the AT for another 1/2 mile or so to an intersection on the right with the Foss Knowlton Pond trail. This trail skirts Foss Knowlton, Lost Pond, and finally Daicey. You can continue on the same trail to reach Kidney Pond if that is your final destination. We were able to ski in to Foss Knowlton, (about 3 miles) but at that point, it looked like hikers had been going straight across the pond and with the warm weather, I wasn’t too enthused about that. We switched into snow shoes and skirted the east edge of the pond. This trail had not been broken and was deep snow, so we decided to go onto the edge of the pond and skirt the shoreline. Once on the north end, I found the inlet (which was open water) and went back on shore. There is a trail upstream from the inlet, but it had not been broken and the blue trail blazes were faded. I figured there had to be a different trail so we skirted the shore clock wise and found a couple of boats on shore and picked up the original trail. We switched back into skis for about a mile, but it had gotten so warm and the snow was so sticky it was building up directly under our feet, sooooo back to snowshoes at the edge of Lost Pond for the last 2 miles to Daicey (a little over 6 miles total). We never saw Katahdin all the way in as it was cloudy and foggy all day.

It was chilly in the cabin when we arrived, but we started up the wood stove and the cabin warmed up quickly. Baxter State Park supplies wood for the cabins in the off season. There is a big wood shed here at Daicey and another at the cabins on Kidney.

  

A little gut warmer (Dr. McGillicuddy’s Apple Pie liquor) and some supper of dried broccoli and cheese soup with some rice thrown in and we were full and content. We were the only ones at the cabins all weekend. Peace and quiet! I got up before sunrise on Sunday morning and took some dawn photos of Katahdin. Once the atmosphere started to warm up, the fog in the dawn photo rose up and obscured the mountain for the rest of the morning.

We saw four healthy dear on the slow 6 miles out and saw the mountain many times. Warm sunny day! It was close to 35 degrees! Because of the unusual temperatures, we were forced to snowshoe the entire length out. Still a great hike and great weekend!

 

 

 


View Daicey Pond – Winter Access in a larger map

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Andover and Grafton Notch Snowshoe Hike

Yesterday, 1/19/2013, I had a chance to get out to some locations that I have photographed before in seasons other than winter. Snow changes everything!!

I began at the Cataracts just off the East B. Hill Road between Andover and Upton. In the more temperate seasons, there is a dirt road on the left side if you are heading north, which will permit easy access to the top of the falls area of the Cataracts. I have been here before early in the winter season and the dirt road hasn’t been plowed. Today, however, it was plowed giving easy access to the upper falls and gorge! I snowshoed down into the gorge with the intention of climbing up to the largest drop. The access to the largest falls is almost vertical from the bottom of the gorge. Luckily I brought one of my Christmas presents. A shiny new pair of Kahtoola micro spikes. They slip over boots using a rubbery web that keeps them attached to your boot. This was my first time using them and I found them easy to put on and they functioned great. Not as good as a full crampon, but much better than just my boots. Below are a couple of the pictures taken here.

 

From here I headed north to where the Appalachian Trail crosses the East B. Hill Road and headed south on the trail toward Dun Notch. If following the AT, the notch is just over a mile. Once there, upstream are a couple of impressive falls when the water is running. They can be reached on a blue blazed trail running approximately North. Today with everything frozen and not much flow, it was less than spectacular. The big attraction here is the lower drop (Dun Falls) which are 78 feet high. There is a blue blazed trail heading South, just across the brook. It’s a steep snowshoe and once at the bottom you have to walk back up into the gorge. I was able to take some photos directly below the falls, which are mostly ice right now, but still impressive. 180 degrees behind my shooting position, I fell through the ice at the bottom of the notch. Luckily only one leg went through and I was able to hang onto the unbroken ice. I have no idea how deep it is right now, but I didn’t hit bottom. The water was much warmer than the air and my foot didn’t get cold, but all the water sure added some extra weight! If you keep following the blue blazed trail, it circles around and heads back uphill on a side stream with at least 6 beautiful drops. Here are a couple of shots from the notch.

 

Last stop on my trip today was Screw Auger Falls in Grafton Notch. Since route 26 in Upton is not far along the East B. Hill Road, and Grafton Notch is on route 26, it made sense for me to make the loop and head back home through Grafton Notch. I’ve taken many photos of Screw Auger Falls, and there are a couple on this site, but it’s always an interesting spot and it’s right beside the road. The best shot of this location today is below.

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Snow Falls Luminance HDR Tutorial

Since I have been playing around with a little HDR lately, I thought I would take this opportunity to give an overview of my current workflow for HDR using Luminance HDR v.2.2.1 (note: 2.3.0 is the latest version). Luminance HDR is an open source visual HDR workflow application that can be downloaded here. They take donations so please help support their effort if you find the software useful. So… on with the show….

The first requirement is a few bracketed photos of your chosen subject. I usually take at least three and as many as seven photos bracketed between .7 and one full stop between each photo. My decision depends on the subject and the available lighting. For best results, keep the ISO and aperture the same on all photos. Just change the shutter speed. I have also found that I prefer to manually focus on the subject as I have had instances where auto focus actually changes the perspective of the bracketed images slightly, making a less than desirable end result. If possible always use a tripod. Below are the three photos I chose for this project:

                                 

2 sec @ f8.0, ISO 400, 55mm     3.2 sec @ f8.0, ISO 400, 55mm    5 sec @ f8.0, ISO 400, 55mm

 

Next, using Luminance HDR I choose ‘New HDR Image’ from the toolbar which opens the HDR creation wizard. Hit ‘next’ and add the chosen images. Luminance will load and analyze the images (this may take a few seconds to a couple of minutes). After Luminance is finished analyzing, I usually check the box next to ‘Autoalign images’ to make sure the images are aligned correctly in case of a little tripod shake.

Hit ‘next’ and wait a few more minutes while the images are aligned. When complete, I use the default profile ‘Profile 1’ and ‘Finish’. Below is the result of blending/merging the selected photos:

From here you can save the file and import into your photo editor of choice or select a tone map operator. I like a couple of the built in operators, but my favorite is Manituk ’06. I typically use the following settings, but play around with them as your preference may not be the same as mine:

My next step is to select the ‘Tonemap’ button using a low ‘Result Size’ just until I get the look I want. Using a low result size will speed up the image processing. Once I get the look I want, I increase the result size to 4096 X 2726. I have found that in this version of Luminance HDR, any higher result size will crash the program. Select the ‘Tonemap’ button and wait again. Below is the resulting image:

I save the result as a 16 bit TIFF and import into Adobe Lightroom. I develop to my liking and the result is at the top of this page. Hope you like and feel free to e-mail me if you’d like more information.

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