Wildwood 2000.12.05

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Even though I missed getting pictures of all the fall foliage at Wildwood owing to the blisters I got on my feet from my scouting trip, I still wanted to get back there to shoot some more photos. Learning photography on my own is an interesting experience, and for a total and complete novice with a Kodak Max disposable camera I don’t think I do too badly for myself. And the better I get, the more tempting it is to sink some buckage into a real camera.

The blisters on my feet from my last trip to Wildwood hadn’t fully healed when I’d gone on this shoot, but my boots were a lot more wore in and I didn’t have any problems with my feet on the trip. Of course, I just bought a new pair of sneakers that I’ll have to wear in here sooner or later. Sigh.

Anyway, there were scarcely any leaves left on trees when I took this shoot, but there was even less snow on the ground, and I wanted to snap off a roll before the white blankets descended from the dreary December skies. Of course, it will still cold as all get-out; for those of you who have never experienced the phenomenon known as wind chill, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. A tolerably cold day all of a sudden becomes submersion in an ice bath with just a mild breeze, it truly is amazing. Not to mention infuriating. Mind you, I used to have a lot of "natural" insulation against the cold, but now that that’s no longer the case I think I need to invest in a good down jacket.

This was my first trip to Wildwood as a licensed driver, and pulling into the parking lot at Wildwood for the first time was a fun experience. I think I still prefer walking over from my house, but especially on a cold day like this one it was nice to know that I had a nice, heated minivan waiting for me just as soon as I left the trails. And hey, I was even able to drop of the photos myself on the way to Sufficient Grounds, and pick them up as well.

With the exception of the first shot, all the photos in this series are from the Upland Woods (Red) Trail. Counting the trip to and from my car, this was a 2.5 mile trip, and given how long it had been since I’d been hiking, not to mention the frigid weather, I didn’t want to try anything more than that. For convenience of loading, I’ve still cut the shots into three separate pages for easy loading.

Yes, I actually got all 27 shots from the camera back this time, and there wasn’t my stupid dangling index finger in any of them! Yay! Hopefully my photography skills have improved since my first attempt; I’m still learning some concepts, but given my experience and equipment I think I’m doing okay for myself. But you let me know what you think.

I’ll hopefully be getting back to Wildwood once we get a nice cover of snow, to show you what that’s like. What I’m really hoping is we get a nice, wet snow, because that clumps up on all the tree branches and looks absolutely pristine. But it’s not like I really need an excuse to go over to Wildwood, you know.

Click on images for larger view.

01. The Stables
As I mentioned in my last Wildwood set, the Trailhead is actually in back of the former stables of the Stranahan estate. I figured on the way to Trailhead, I might as well give you a shot of the front of the stables, which now house the Metz Visitor Centre, the Window on Wildlife, other attractions and amazingly well-kept bathrooms.

02. Where Did All the Leaves Go?
Here’s the difference three months makes in Toledo. All the pretty green that used to be above is now strewn in small brown sheets underneath. And with the leaves go most of the visitors to Wildwood, at least until the snow piles up and we get the (ugh) cross-country skiiers in.

03. Which Way Do I Go?
I wanted a better close-up of a trail marker for you all to see. I dig the colours, what can I say? I just wish they still let bikers use the main trail and didn’t force them to use the "All-Purpose Trail" they constructed. There’s a reason the All-Purpose Trail is nicknamed the "Brown Trail," for reasons I’d rather not get into right now in case you’re about to eat.

04. It’s the Sun
I warned you all, I like these kinds of shots, so expect a lot of them. Especially with the sun brighter and not rising as high as it does in the warmer months, I have the ability to get off a great many of these, so get used to them because I like them, even if there is a lens flare.

05. Further Down the Trail
Around here the Blue and Green Trails have branched off, and this is just a Red/Orange joint section of trail. I really liked the two trees framing the trail in the distance here, which is why I took this shot. One good thing about being at Wildwood on a cold, snowless day: not too many other visitors to walk into your shots.

06. Ottawa River, Redux
This shot looks out from over the main overpass of the Ottawa River in Wildwood, a nice little decline which unfortunately has to be paved becuase the litter picker-uppers and tree-trimmers still like to go down these trails by car. But it’s not too bad, and actually it’s easy to circumvent the fences and go down to the riverbank if you want.

07. Separation
So this is where the Orange (Meadow) and Red Trails finally part to do their own thing. Actually, as you can see here, the two trails follow parallel to each other, but just for a bit. In case you can’t tell (because I didn’t get that good a shot of the marker), the Orange Trail goes to the left, the Red Trail to the right.

08. Have a Seat
Since I talked about the benches in Wildwood in my last photo, I thought I’d give you a better look at one in this shoot. Helped that I could capture the sun in the same shot. And no, I am not the "Fatso" listed on the bench. I’m not 88 and three years in the grave, I’m alive and kicking, thank you very much, at the tender young age of twenty-*cough cough* – must have caught a cold at Wildwood, sorry.

09. Ummm …
The trail marker’s been pulled off this marker, so which way do you go to stay on the Red Trail? Answer: you turn right. If you go left, you walk right into the backyard of Stranahan Elementary School, and while that’s a favourite way for me to exit and enter the park, school was in session as I did this shoot so I didn’t want to raise suspicion by photographing over there.

10. Down Down Down
You couldn’t see it too well earlier, but at the trailhead there’s a sign that warns that the Upland Woods and Ridge (Green) Trails aren’t recommended for cross-country skiiers. And here’s the reason; lots and lots of hills. I only tried cross-country skiing a few times in my life, and I had enough problems going straight, going uphill was not an option for me.

11. Cut Off
I just liked this cut-off tree in the middle of the shot. Well, that and there were a couple of people gaining on me from behind, and I wanted to give them time to pass me and get out of camerashot, so I decided to stop and take a shot, and this was the most interesting thing I could find.

12. Come Back Sun!
The sun was disappearing in the top of the highest cloud you see here, so I wanted to get a shot of it. Oh, and you remember how last time I kept getting too-dark shadows because I had such limited concepts of light control? Guess what, I couldn’t turn my flash off in this shot, which is why that tree on the left looks so much lighter than the others.

13. Honk Honk
Avoiding the flash you see on that tree on the left again, if you look in the middle of the photo you will see … a speeding 18-wheeler. The Upland Woods trail is wonderful, but there is one problem with it: it borders I-475 real close in some places. In fact, there’s an "unofficial" trail that leads to beneath an I-475 overpass, where punk kids like to do punk things.

14. Up the Path
Another hill here, and though you can’t really make it out in this shot, the upper part of the path is braced with wooden slats to help people keep their footing. Back when you could take bikes through the main trails, this hill always gave me a lot of trouble when I’d try to ride up it.

15. Do You Think That’s Gonna Stop Me?
Unfortunately Wildwood’s also trying to crack down on all the "unofficial trails" people have stomped for themselves in the park, and so have erected signs like this in various places. Mind you, I don’t know who’d want to go down to the river from here, but all the same I don’t like signs like this, and they can only lead me to do one thing …

16. Breakin’ the Law
Okay, so I took, like, five steps behind the sign to get a nice shot of the Ottawa River as it started to freeze over. I actually think I was higher up on the hill than I was on the trail itself, and I made sure to have plenty of space in front of me should I trip and flal on my face. No, it wouldn’t be the first time I did that, thanks for asking.

17. Return of the Sun
The sun was moving faster than I’d planned, so I wanted to get a good shot of it. Mind you, I was still clueless enough about light settings to know I’d need more light in front of me for shots like this, which should become clear later in this shoot. But I still like the shot of the sun, what can I say.

18. More Sun
As I was saying, I need to remember to accomodate for light. I thought I was fine because the rest of the sky was still eggshell blue, but obviously I was wrong. But I’m still learning, and hey, at least things are more discernable than some of those Ridge Trail shots from the last set.

19. Stop and Rest
Since the Upland Woods trail is so scenic, Wildwood was nice to construct a couple of overlooks to help people get further out over the riverbank, with benches so people can sit and relax should they wish. These are nice places to write, at least when they’re not crowded.

20. On the Overlook
Since I was coming up to the overlook, I thought I’d try to get you a couple of shots up there. This one looks up to the northern part of the Ottawa River, which was nicely freezing over as you can see. The middle part of the river was still liquid in a lot of places, though that was solely due to motion; it was freaking co-o-o-ooooold out there.

21. Other Side
This is the southern part of the Ottawa River, although there were plenty more trees to obscure the shot (not to mention steal focus) on this side. I didn’t want to stay in one place for too long, though, since I needed to keep walking to keep my body heat up, so from here I went back to the trail.

22. Good Lighting
See, the sky really was still blue on the other side, and because the sun was behind me it really helped me light the scene well, even though I still couldn’t turn my flash off. You can barely see a frozen part of the Ottawa River in the middle of this shot.

23. Chasing the Sun
Now that the sun was really setting, I wanted to get some shots of it. I was a little less than a mile away from the end of my trip at this point, and given how fast the sun had gone down on me at this point, I kind of sped through the rest of the roll when I didn’t need to, missing a shot of the moon in the light blue sky at the end of my trip.

24. Overlook Number Two
This overlook isn’t as big as the first overlook, it only has the one bench and it doesn’t even have the guardrail all the way around. But it’s still a nice spot, although it’s only a quarter mile or two between the two overlooks; I’d have thought Wildwood would try to space them out some more.

25. From That Overlook
Well, that seam down the middle of this shot is the Ottawa River, really it is. I guess it was running kind of low at this point, because I couldn’t find even the slightest hint of the top of it freezing. Neither could I find a sign on the other side, so I just took this shot and went on.

26. Back
You can barely make out the trail marker in the middle of the shot, but it serves to tell you that you’ve finished the loop of the Red Trail, and you can go back to the Trailhead now. It’d be nice if they let you know to turn left, otherwise you’d just take the loop all over again.

27. Sunset
I chose this for my last shot for two reasons: one, I figured it was the best shot of the setting sun I would get for the rest of the trip (I was right), and two, this is where the Upland Woods and Meadow (Orange) Trails run parallel to each other, and that thin white line in the bottom-middle of the shot is the fog starting to develop on the meadow.

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