Happy 2016!

travel, photos, Instagram, Nepal, Chile, Patagonia, Argentina, Lukla, Nepal, Ama Dublam, waterfall, Portland, Tampa, sea, sky, Fitz Roy

Just wanted to do a quick post in the last few hours of the year here to share my top Instagram pictures.  Some are very recent but it was cool to see some of the ones from earlier in the year – it seems so far away, like longer than a year.  Sometimes, that’s how things go, isn’t it?

In any case, here is my top 9 photos from 2015.  A good year in many, many ways; and a tough year in others.

May 2016 bring you many good things wherever you are!

travel, photos, Instagram, Nepal, Chile, Patagonia, Argentina, Lukla, Nepal, Ama Dublam, waterfall, Portland, Tampa, sea, sky, Fitz Roy

Argentina, Chile, Portland, Tampa, and Nepal all represented!

Goðafoss: The Waterfalls of the Gods and Water Art

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Goðafoss, (“Godafoss” for ease of my typing!), or “Waterfall of the Gods“, is one of the must-see waterfalls in Iceland.  The Godafoss waterfalls are about 36 ft high (12 m) and are located at the Skjálfandafljót River.  It is located somewhere between the northern towns of Akureyri and Husavik.  More precisely, it is on the ring road going east from Akureryi, right after the road to Husavik branches off (route 85).  The story goes that a key Icelandic chieftain in the year 1,000 AD was trying to decide whether Icelanders would adopt Christianity.  After deciding in the affirmative, he returned home and threw his images of the pre-Christianity pagan gods into the waterfall and, hence, the name for the waterfalls.

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

The waterfall from the highway

The water was gushing generously, as one would expect a proper waterfall would do.  Perhaps this time in June was still a time of heavy melt?

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Fast-flowing!

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Yours truly

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Looking from the waterfall back towards the road along one of the trails

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Majestic!

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

The main part of the waterfall

Not only was the waterfall impressive but the flow over the one closest to me drew my eye as the following pictures attest… I need to figure out how to turn some of these into neat art pieces for my home!Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, waterGodafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, waterGodafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

 

Panther Creek: A Challenging and Rewarding Hike in North Georgia

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

I was looking for a hike that I could do within 4 hours that was not right on the outskirts of Atlanta.  A friend and I were looking for a more challenging hike than the usual so after selecting a few finalists, we settled on Panther Creek, about an hour and a half north of Atlanta.  We decided to hike 3.5 hrs in to the larger waterfalls and then back.  The entrance to the trail on Panther Creek is on Old Historic 441 in north Georgia, northwest of the town of Ellijay.

Soon after entering the trail, you go under the new 441. After that, you leave hearing highway noise and slowly, but surely, start hearing water running sounds…  The trail is more natural (read, not groomed) and that makes it quite a neat trail to hike.

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Towards the start of the Panther Creek trail – love the woods

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Lots of rock outcrops where one can imagine people ages ago taking shelter under them

You go down a narrow path and slowly go downhill. Eventually you are closer to creek level and closer to the creek itself.

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Beautiful colors at the time of the year I visited

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

More beauty

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Still waters

There are several low wooden bridges to cross and then one arrives to a first set of cascades with a space that is perfect for camping overnight.

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

One of the bridges crossing the creek

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Love these cascades

A couple of times the markers for the path were not visible and we proceeded trusting that the wild we saw in front of us was just an overgrown trail (and, mercifully, we were right!).

Continuing on from that spot, another 30-45 minutes or so depending on pace, one arrives at the upper waterfalls with a sort-of sandy beach to camp overnight or just recover from the hike in. Right before arriving at this waterfall, the terrain becomes a little more challenging and fun. One has to hug the big rocks holding on to the steel-cable handrails. These handrails are anchored on posts, some of which are sturdy and some of which have come loose and are floating, being kept alive by the two neighboring posts! One does need to proceed with care as falling from this rock outcrop would not be fun.

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

The steel cable handrail itself is precarious!

Panther Creek was both rewarding and challenging. The raw feel of the trails was a welcome change from some of the other trails I hike in north Atlanta (which are quite nice but well groomed). I highly recommend doing this trail – I sure hope to do it again!

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

A nice break after 3.5 miles!

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Read about these other great hikes in Georgia:

Sope Creek

Sweetwater Creek

Island Ford

Tallulah Gorge

… and more to come!

Sights of Pucón, Chile

Villarica volcano, Chile, snow, ski

Many moons ago, I spent a few days in a beautiful corner of ChilePucón.  Pucón, about 480 mi (775 km) south of Santiago, sits on the eastern shorelines of Lake Villarica in the region called Araucanía, looked over by the Villarica volcano.  The town by now has gained reknown for its beautiful setting and the opportunity for great outdoor activities (skiing, hiking, white river rafting, hot springs, etc.).  Maybe it is now a little too popular but its setting is definitely gifted and well worth going down the beaten path to it.  Warning:  The photos are “vintage”, meaning pre-digital and by a dozen years or so!  They may not do justice to this part of Chile – but I hope you can imagine…

map, Santiago, Pucon

“A” Marks the Spot

Nine of us drove down in a minivan, leaving Santiago in the early evening and arriving early the next morning after I-don’t-know-how-many-hours of driving down the Panamerican Highway which was one lane in each direction most of the way (back then).  Thankfully, I didn’t have driving duties so I could try to sleep some.  It was a fun group and a fun ride!

In Pucón

Once in Pucón, we stayed at a hotel on the shores of Lake Villarica, not far from the town itself but not in it.  It was an idyllic spot with a peaceful view of the lake, home-cooked meals, and easy access to the places we wanted to go.

Pucón, Chile, nature, outdoors, volcano

Welcome to Pucón

Villarica, Pucon, hotel, Chile

The lake-facing side of the hotel

The Villarica volcano

One of our first outings was to go up the Villarica volcano, to the top of the ski slopes that sit on it.  Ski season had just ended so I was bummed as I would have loved to ski down a volcano!

Villarica volcano, Chile, snow, ski

The Villarica volcano on nice day

Villarica volcano, ski, Chile, Pucón

The top of the Villarica volcano once we drove up as far as we could. Shame ski season was over!

Chile, Villarica, volcano, tourists

Our group (minus 3) at the volcano

Salto del León

We were lucky that one in our group knew the area as his sister had a house in Pucón.  That got us to see some places perhaps less visited by, er, visitors.  El Salto del León was one of these places.  Beautiful waterfalls in a gorgeous setting.

Salto del León, Pucón, Chile, Trancura, nature, outdoors

Salto del León

The Trancura Valley

The Trancura River is born in the Andes near Pucón and runs its course to the Pacific Ocean.  Snow melt contributes to its waters and the rapid fall in altitude makes its waters fast.  Perfect for white water rafting.  I had never white water rafted before and was not sure about it but it was lots of fun though the water was FRIGID and we were ill-prepared for that!Trancura, white water rafting, Chile, Pucon

That area, sort of east-southeast of Pucón, was simply beautiful.  Lush greens and other vegetation, old bridges, and little development made me feel I was enjoying a unique place.

Trancura, Pucon, Chile, river, nature, outdoors

Scenes from the Trancura Valley

old bridge, Pucón, Chile, Villarica, Trancura

We were not certain our minivan could cross this bridge. We all got out & left only the one driving stay in it!

Trancura, river, Chile, tourism

The fearless group (minus the photographer!)

When I returned to Chile in 2010, I wanted to return to Pucón but there was so much of Chile I had not seen yet that those places (the Atacama desert, Patagonia, etc.) took precedence and my time there ended without returning to Pucón.  But, oh, I shall return!

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