I was in Zurich for a day of meetings and decided it would be a great opportunity to go hiking in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland. So, despite earlier stops in Dallas (for ACM CCS) and Delft (for ACM SenSys) I brought along my backpack, boots, and full winter hiking gear. On Wednesday morning, after lots of helpful advice from my ETH colleagues, I boarded an eastbound train from Zurich. Read on for the full story, and check out the photos. Continue reading Alpine hike in Switzerland
I enjoyed a couple of quick days in the historic district of Delft, The Netherlands, while attending the SafeThings workshop in advance of SenSys 2017. Although it rained on and off, the picturesque streets and canals were a delight to explore. I also ducked into the Old Church and New Church (both hundreds of years old), for a peek at their excellent exhibits. I stayed in Hotel Johannes Vermeer, named after the famous painter, so I was especially interested in those exhibits. Beautiful town! See the photos; the one below is from my hotel room (which was a 4th-floor attic!).
I had the good fortune to be out in Utah to attend the MobiCom conference, held this year at the Snowbird ski resort. Although late October is the shoulder season, I was nonetheless eager to get out hiking in the mountains above Snowbird. Wow, was I ever lucky with the weather! It snowed on the final day of the conference, leaving me to hike through a snowy wonderland on the day after. See the photo gallery, and read on to hear more about the hike. Continue reading Alta-Snowbird traverse
We traveled to northwestern South Carolina to visit family and view the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse – and were totally impressed! We launched a boat onto Lake Keowee so we could view the partial eclipse and, if needed, relocate to avoid any late-arriving clouds that might obscure our view of the total eclipse. Darkness arrived suddenly as the moon crept into place, lasting a bit longer than two minutes. At this point we experienced a 360-degree sunset.
Although I made no specific plans to do serious photography, I found my Nikon D500 with 300mm telephoto was capable of capturing decent shots of the eclipse, hand-held. Looking forward to the 2024 eclipse in New Hampshire!
The ACM Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services gave me an opportunity to spend a lovely week in Niagara Falls. I had only visited there briefly, 32 years before, so it was wonderful to have time to explore the Falls from various angles and various times of day. It’s a bit touristy, to be sure, but it’s tastefully done – and the falls are so stunningly spectacular that it is worth visiting again and again.
My photo gallery includes shots of each of the three waterfalls, from both the American and Canadian side, and in both early morning, late afternoon, and at night during the fireworks display. And, even from the Maid of the Mist tourboat that snuggles right up into the misty spray of Horseshoe Falls.
The conference also hosted a banquet dinner at Old Fort Niagara, about 30 minutes north of the falls on the shore of Lake Ontario. The weather was perfect, the sunset beautiful, and the historical re-enactments fascinating. Snapped some fun photos and videos. Worth a visit if you have a chance!
We’re just back from ten lovely days in South Carolina on the shores of Kiawah Island near Charleston. With lots of family nearby and abundant greenspace around the island, I had plenty of interesting opportunities for photography.
- A general photo collection, including wildlife, family, and the launch of Chinese lanterns on New Year’s Eve: [smugmug].
- A surprise encounter with bottlenose dolphins in the straights next to Kiawah Island, while they were strand feeding: [smugmug].
- An attempt at dark-sky photography of the new crescent moon, Orion, and the Milky Way: [smugmug].
I was in Seattle for a visit to the University of Washington, and decided to extend the trip for a day so I could take advantage of the wonderful hiking opportunities nearby. Overwhelmed by the number and variety of hikes in range of Seattle, I settled on a classic choice: Mount Si. According to the statistics on that site, I was probably the 99,999th person to hike the trail this year. Still, on a drizzly Friday in the off season, I figured it couldn’t be too crowded.
I left Seattle before sunrise, drove through a light drizzle (which, I gather, is the norm for Seattle) and reached the trailhead around 8am. With 3,100′ of gain in four miles, this is no little walk in the woods – but it’s actually comparable to my benchmark, the Glencliff trail on Mount Moosilauke. In fact, Mount Si barely tops 4,000′, shorter than Moosilauke.
In the mist and drizzle, the low-elevation forest was was verdant. Moss and epiphytes covered every branch, and trapped the mist so it could drip on me as I made my way up the trail. The trail is well-built and well-maintained, generally steady going. Numerous switchbacks meant the trail was never very steep.
The air cooled as I climbed and I finally started seeing patches of fresh (though wet) snow at around 3,800′. I popped out into a clearing, where a large black Raven awaited me. Clearly he had been there earlier, when today’s three early hikers paused to snack and turn around, and he was hopeful that I brought more goodies.
Four or five Gray Jays quickly detected my presence and snuggled together on snow-covered branches, ready at a moment’s notice for a dropped raisin or bagel crumb.
Here there was consistent snow cover, just an inch or two, and rather slushy. In the clouds now, the viewpoint offered me nothing – but at least the precipitation stopped. I pressed on, up and over a rocky outcrop, toward the true summit – a sheer cap called the “haystack” (shown above). Remarkably, though I climbed only another hundred feet, the snow became deeper and more firm, as much as 6-18″ deep in the sheltered spots. The snow line from recent weather must have been close to this elevation.
I followed old tracks, covered in this morning’s snow, around the base of the Haystack. The footsteps disappeared at the base of a steep gully, where tiny avalanches caused golf-balls of snow to roll down toward me. Gosh, this gully is steep, and extremely exposed. I picked a line and tentatively began to climb, but thought better of it after a dozen yards. I retreated and picked another line. Going upward was easy, kicking steps in the wet snowpack. About halfway up, though, I reconsidered the exposure. A slip here would mean a long slide down the gully, ricocheting off the boulders. Hiking solo, and with few other hikers visiting the Haystack today, I decided it’d be best left for another day.
The trip down was a cruise, back and forth on the switchbacks. I quickly left winter behind, and emerged again into a verdant rain forest, pausing often to attempt to capture this magical place in photographs. I can see why this mountain is so popular, and really need to return when the sky is clear.
Check out the full photo album.