Reykjavik, Iceland is a charming city. Comprising about two-thirds of the population of Iceland as a whole, the city serves as the island’s activity hub. It also provides stunning juxtapositions of history and modern culture, such as depicted in this mural known as D*Face.

The mural is part of a modern art installation known as Wall Poetry, which was a 2015 collaboration between Urban Nation Berlin and the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival. D*Face and other street art installations throughout the city tell Icelandic stories through the medium of very meticulously-created graffiti art.

As a footnote, I’m still going through all the photos I shot throughout my Europe travels. Look for more from places such as London, Berlin and Lutherstadt Wittenberg soon!…

Iceland’s Famous Gullfoss Waterfall

One of the highlights from an eleven-day trip I took to Europe in November was a last-minute decision to take the Golden Circle Tour provided by Gray Line of Iceland. This trip afforded the opportunity to visit several historic and scenic sites in Iceland, such as Gullfoss, which is pictured here.

It was a cold and rainy day on the occasion of the visit, and the spray from the raging falls kicked up and hit us all in the face hundreds of feet upwind from the base of the falls. As you can tell in this photo, some enterprising and adventurous tourists decided to get down as close as they could to the waterfall even though the area was closed.

If you ever get the chance to visit Gullfoss, try the soup at the visitor center. It’s fantastic.…

Seaquest’s Haunted Forest

Continuing the theme of Seaquest State Park that I started on Monday, this shot makes it easy to see both why some stands of timber in the park were thinned and why I thought those stands of forest looked fantastic at the same time.

Hiking the trails in the park near Castle Rock as a kid, we would pass through these seemingly vast stretches of trees whose branches started to grow and suddenly stopped because of their proximity to other trees. As moss grew on those branches, the entire feel of the forest became otherworldly over time — especially on a rainy day when some mist had set in further back.

I’m glad some of those stands of trees still exist, because they create fond memories of days spent hiking with my dad and brother, and also visiting my great-grandparents who used to live a quarter-mile from a side entrance to the park.…

Rainy Day at Seaquest

Seaquest State Park near Toutle, Washington is often overlooked by travelers wanting to get to the Mount St. Helens area about an hour to the east, but it’s one of my favorite places.

Today I took a trip to Longview and decided to visit Seaquest on the way home. There has been some extensive forest thinning in areas that officials said needed it due to overgrowth, and as a result the trails were in pretty bad shape. Rain didn’t help, and recent storms have taken down other trees too.

One of the trails leading out from Paine Road now carries a rerouted creek that has cut a small waterway through what was formerly a path. It made for an interesting scene in a forest that continues to change by the year. I really hope the logging operation helps the forest, but I’m kind of sad that scenes like this with the moss on the trees and the really dense ferns along the sides of the trail are fewer and further between.

I’ll post some more photos from Seaquest this week, with some more stories to accompany them.…

Willapa Hills Trail in Autumn

We are blessed here in the Centralia-Chehalis area with a gem of a trail that extends for miles and allows for excursions among scenery that groves of trees, a rushing river and farm fields can provide. Having once served as a railroad, the Willapa Hills Trail serves an entirely recreational purpose as a rails-to-trails project.

I shot this photo in autumn 2015 as two projects to bridge gaps in the trail over the Chehalis River were underway. One of those gaps about three miles west of the community in Adna was largely untouched, and the autumn leaves had covered the trail and rested there, seemingly frozen in time and turning the path a golden brown.

Now, the trail is used by dozens of people per day thanks to those gaps having been bridged. The Willapa Hills Trail is a rural treasure that I enjoy visiting simply to reconnect with nature, and I highly recommend you make your way down here at some point and experience it too.

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Travelogue: Hiking the Boundary Trail to Johnston Ridge Observatory

Mount St. Helens is seen from the Johnston Ridge Observatory on Saturday, April 12, 2014.
Mount St. Helens is seen from the Johnston Ridge Observatory on Saturday, April 12, 2014.

The weather here in the Pacific Northwest was absolutely gorgeous yesterday, so I traveled to the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and took full advantage of it.

I drove from my home in Lewis County to the Hummocks Trail parking area, a trip of roughly an hour and 15 minutes covering 60 or so miles. I set out on the Hummocks Trail before taking an eastward turn on the Boundary Trail to reach my end goal, the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Bear in mind the Observatory is closed until mid-May each year, but hikers are welcome to come on through and utilize the trail system.

I spoke with a friendly staffer from the U.S. Forest Service when I reached the observatory’s parking lot, who noted the extreme lack of snow at a place that normally has a few feet well into May. He and I chatted for a bit and he told me some good routes to take if I ever wanted to hike beyond the observatory. I will within a couple months and will post photos of it when I do.

All in all, the hike was a 12-mile round trip that climbed about 1,800 feet. I took the closed State Route 504 back, with the Forest Service staffer’s permission, which added 2 miles on the return trip. My feet were sore when it was over, but it was well worth it, as you’re about to see.

Here’s the activity summary from Strava:

Photos after the jump!…