Posted tagged ‘storm’

THE ENCHANTMENTS IN AUGUST Part 2: Lower Enchantment Lakes

September 4, 2013

Enchantments_Little_AnnapurnaWildflower meadow with Little Annapurna towering above

After two nights in the Upper Enchantments, we descended along a stream that ducked in and out of a steep snowfield, eventually reaching Talisman Lake, and then descended further to Perfection Lake (aka Rune Lake). We passed the campsite where we had camped last fall, and the tent area was flooded to perhaps 4″ deep with recent snowmelt. From the placement of the rocks in the campsite, it looked like our camp last fall was the last time it had been occupied (we had used rocks to secure several of the tents).

The_Enchantments_Summer-936Taking a long drink of cool water

The_Enchantments_Summer-963A lone Alpine Larch with Little Annapurna in the distance

The_Enchantments_Summer-843Beautiful aquamarine Talisman Lake, ringed with granite outcrops and Alpine Larches, with Prusik Peak and The Temple in the distance

Then we hiked around the lake toward a campsite on Sprite Lakelet that we hoped would be vacant. Karen had noticed this site last year, and thought it would be a wonderful place to camp. It was indeed vacant, and we set up camp in this beautiful site among the Alpine Larches.

The_Enchantments_Summer-945Our campsite among the larches along Sprite Lakelet

The_Enchantments_Summer-1137As a precaution against possible raids by bears and other hungry creatures, we hung our food each night; on the first night, it took two of us to lift the bags, but they got progressively lighter every day.

The_Enchantments_Summer-859My Lapsang Souchong tea, which Karen says smells like dirty socks, and her Tazo Passion tea; together, they catch the low evening sun

The_Enchantments_Summer-878Phil enjoying a quiet moment along Sprite Lakelet 

The_Enchantments_Summer-1129Larches gracing a point in Perfection Lake

The_Enchantments_Summer-1109We birthed a snowman on the granite above Sprite Lakelet; the snowman was necessarily created with watermelon snow, since the algae-stained snow was all that was available

The_Enchantments_Summer-1126The snowman then proceeded to preach to the snowy choir

Heather_and_Stream-1Heather blooming near a small waterfall where Perfection Lake empties into Sprite Lakelet

The_Enchantments_Summer-1387

The_Enchantments_Summer-1005Small Cutthroat Trout thrived in the lakes of the Lower Enchantments; I wish I could have carried fishing gear along with all my camera gear

Sprite Lakelet sits just below an extensive snowfield, but we decided to go swimming, and it sure felt good, or at least really, really cold. It was a “one yelp” dive before I was ready to climb out and dry off.

The_Enchantments_Summer-1087Thinking about going for a swim in a snowy mountain lake … don’t do it!

The_Enchantments_Summer-1093Too late, as I whoop with the blast of cold. And, in case you are wondering: no, I wasn’t skinny-dipping!

That night I got up at 12:30 a.m., and climbed the granite hill behind our camp. I stayed up there in the dark for 2 1/2 hours, trying to get night pictures of the stars over iconic Prusik Peak. I succeeded, but there sure are a lot of techical steps to get just right in order for the night pictures to work out. It doesn’t help to be trying it in the middle of the night, after inadequate sleep.

Prusik_Peak_StarsGalaxies and stars looking down on Prusik Peak

The next morning, after breakfast, we took a hike to Crystal Lake, where we explored the lake shore and an ice cave above the lake. Sue, the geomorphologist, interpreted a delta at the head of the lake and how it was formed. I spent quite a bit of time photographing trout along the lake.

Little_Annapurna_Flowers-2Wildflower meadow with Little Annapurna Peak along the hike to Crystal Lake

The_Enchantments_Summer-947Little Annapurna reflecting in Perfection Lake

The_Enchantments_Summer-1072Arctic Fireweed thriving in an unusual place–a crack in a large granite boulder

The_Enchantments_Summer-1017Lunch break along Crystal Lake

The_Enchantments_Summer-1033Ice cave at the mouth of a snowfield covering the inlet stream to Crystal Lake. I climbed into the mouth of the cave, but just barely, since there is always the threat of a catastrophic roof collapse.

The_Enchantments_Summer-1020The beautiful shore of Crystal Lake with its miniature forest of Alpine Larches

The_Enchantments_Summer-1145Alpine Larch needles up close

The_Enchantments_Summer-1101Crossing an outlet stream

The_Enchantments_Summer-1320Mountain Goat crossing the outlet stream near our camp; goats would often cross streams on stones and logs that people had laid down to create a safer and drier crossing

The_Enchantments_Summer-1302Youngster learning to cross a human bridge

The_Enchantments_Summer-912Goats don’t like to get their feet wet any more than we do

That night, after dinner, I noticed five goats bedding down around our campsite. We had previously noticed that there were goat beds around camp; these are places where Mountain Goats have pawed up the soil to loosen it, effectively making a soft bed. These beds are used repeatedly, and some of them were located just a few feet from Sue’s tent. Once the five goats settled in to chew their cuds, we thought they might be there all night, but then another group of goats came along and that led to a fascinating chain of events that I’ll describe in another blog. Suffice it to say that this was one of our best insights into animal behavior ever.

The_Enchantments_Summer-1172A big male goat using one of the goat beds we had seen before Sue set up her tent

For the first time, I was challenged by a big male as I was taking pictures from atop the tallest rock along that section of the stream. He was coming straight toward me with head a bit lowered and eyes intent on me, so I backed off. Quickly. Never occupy the high ground unless you are prepared to defend it with your life. I wasn’t.

That night, we had cloudy skies for the first time since the brief showers on the first night, meaning that I didn’t have to spend half the night working with my camera gear. That was probably a good thing, because I needed a good rest before the strenuous hike the next day, though Wenatchee Girl  (see previous weblog post) probably covered the distance in two hours and looked fresh as a spring breeze afterwards.

We packed up the next morning for our hike out of the heart of The Enchantments, and down to Snow Lakes. This was not an easy hike, as it led down over numerous steep descents on sloping granite, where we had to use our leg muscles continuously in order to step down safely.

The_Enchantments_Summer-1402Hiking down granite so steep that the trail builders put rebar staples into the rock to improve hikers’ chances of making it down when the weather is rainy or wet

The_Enchantments_Summer-1396Terry was feeling like a Mountain Goat on this narrow granite route

The_Enchantments_Summer-1406We had to lean in close to the granite to make it around this sheer cliff

The_Enchantments_Summer-852Descending a steep snow field; since I carry a tripod in my hands, I don’t use trekking poles and am at a disadvantage in descents like this–which is my excuse for falling more than everyone else. On one snow field descent, Karen fell twice and finally ended up sliding down gleefully on her butt!

The_Enchantments_Summer-1409Self portrait of my legs and feet on a rickety log bridge over a raging creek

The_Enchantments_Summer-1375A big waterfall drops over the glacier-sculpted granite as we descended toward Leprechaun Lake

The_Enchantments_Summer-1377One of our group wetting her hair in a waterfall on the way to Leprechaun Lake, on our sixth day in the wilderness

The_Enchantments_Summer-1398Phil crossing a stream with Prusik Peak towering above 

When we finally reached Upper Snow Lake late in the afternoon, we were tired, so I started looking for a campsite. All were occupied, but then I noticed a faint trail leading toward the water. I asked the group to stop while I investigated, and quickly found a wonderful place to set up all of our tents on a sandy beach.

We had a cool swim, which reinvigorated us, then we set up our tents. Phil was a bit apprehensive about whether it was safe to camp on sand, after his experiences in New Zealand. There, everyone avoids sandy beaches at all costs because of the sandflies or sand fleas.  In New Zealand, these irritating insects were first called sandflies by Captain James Cook, who said:

The most mischievous animal here is the small black sandfly which are exceeding numerous … wherever they light they cause a swelling and such intolerable itching that it is not possible to refrain from scratching and at last ends in ulcers like the small Pox.

Actually, in reading about the sandflies, I believe that they may be the same as what we in the USA call blackflies. Karen and I have encountered swarms of them in the Adirondacks and in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Or they could be more like the no-see-ums that are the scourge of the earth, but you don’t see or feel them when they bite. But several minutes after biting, the itch becomes intense.

Phil’s apprehensiveness here was appropriate. I used Deet on the beach, but I was bitten six times on the forehead–below the baseball cap bill and above my eyeglasses–where I didn’t apply the Deet because I don’t like it going into my eyes. Nearly two weeks later, these six big red bumps still itched like crazy, despite my daily treatments with Benadryl. I suspect that these were no-see-um bites; I’ve always had a really strong reaction to these creatures, and we did get a major rip in the no-see-um proof netting of our tent at Sprite Lakelet, so believe I got the bites overnight, when my face was the only part of my body exposed. Or maybe they’re smallpox.

After dinner on the insect-infested beach, a green-clad Forest Service Ranger suddenly appeared through the brush next to camp. We were apprehensive about whether this was an okay campsite, but he assured us that it was. He checked our permit and I asked him a few questions.

Me: Why are you carrying a shovel?

Ranger: It’s for poop; I don’t like picking it up with my hands. It is also for fighting forest fires.

Me: What’s the weather forecast?

Ranger: There is a 20% chance of thunderstorms tonight, with a greater chance after 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Me: Has there been any major news from the outside that we don’t know about after a week out here?

Ranger: It has all gone to hell. If I were you, I would ration whatever food you have left and head straight back into The Enchantments!

With that, he vanished up the lake to warn others of impending doom.

The_Enchantments_Summer-1422Cooking a meal along Upper Snow Lake

After our tough day, I suggested that everyone take their little blue pills. One of the female members of our party said that little blue pills come in several prescriptions, and asked if I was thinking of Wenatchee Girl. I said “I don’t need THAT kind of little blue pill” and Phil said “No guy would ever admit to needing THAT kind of little blue pill.” Okay, so I forgot that Viagra is a little blue pill. I was thinking of Naproxin Sodium, the generic pain pill that is also little and blue with effects that can last all day. I certainly don’t need the other kind of little blue pill. Really.

We went to bed, confident that we could get up early and head out before the thunderstorms hit. Little did we know …

At 10:15 p.m., the first flash of lightning was visible over the High Enchantments. Soon after, the first rain splattered the tent, and I got up and went out to my pack to retrieve delicate photo gear and bring it inside the tent. Karen saw me go outside, then saw the strobing of the lightning and thought that someone had gone outside and had their headlamp on “strobe.” Though why they would do that is beyond me.

A bit later, torrential rains hit our tents, and we endured five long hours of lighting, thunder, and deluge. This was the biggest thunderstorm we’ve endured in the mountains in 20 years. I would try to drift back to sleep, but soon Karen would be up and finding new places in the tent where water had gotten in. It was a REALLY long night.

The next morning, we assessed how our equipment had done. Our tent had let water in at the base and along some of the edges, probably because when nylon gets wet it stretches out and needs to be restaked. But during a torrential rain with lightning crashing doesn’t seem like the best time to go outside and play with tent stakes. So we got a bit wet. Our comrades in their one person tents ranged from completely dry to somewhat wet. We all set out our sodden stuff to dry a bit, but most of the drying would have to be done at home.

The_Enchantments_Summer-1427The morning after the thunderstorm

The_Enchantments_Summer-1424The torrential rain splashed sand up onto our tent

The_Enchantments_Summer-1429I used one of my underpants to clean sand from the tent; it certainly wasn’t comfortable to wear afterward!

The_Enchantments_Summer-1426Drying all our wet stuff

Karen reassessed our hike out, and realized that it was longer and required a steeper drop than we had first thought. It was going to be seven miles with a 4,100′ vertical drop. Doable, but tiring. We left camp by 9:00 a.m. and made good time at first, but then there were a lot of rocky stretches of trail where we necessarily slowed to maintain safe footholds.

When we got down near Nada Lake, Sue and I walked over to see the immense jet of water spraying out of an 18″ pipe, coming out of Snow Lakes and destined for a fish hatchery and irrigation downstream. Near the pipe, I glanced up and saw a Pine Marten staring at us from the sharp granite of a big boulder field. I raised my camera by instinct, and managed one grab shot before the creature vanished. Pine Martens are relatives of weasels, but are much larger. This was only my second or third confirmed sighting of one of these animals, and my first in the Cascades.

The_Enchantments_Summer-1438A quick grab shot of a Pine Marten hunting a boulder field between Snow Lakes and Nada Lake

The_Enchantments_Summer-1436A butterfly drying its wings and warming up in a shaft of sunlight on this wet and chilly morning after the storm

The_Enchantments_Summer-1444Beautiful and peaceful Nada Lake on a still morning

The_Enchantments_Summer-1451We’re just about at the trail head when we cross Icicle Creek on this long wooden bridge

The rest of the hike out was uneventful until I tripped and fell off the trail, injuring my pride but not my camera or my body. Fortunately, we all got safely down to the car, and then went out for a wonderful milkshake and meal at ’59er Diner, where every waitress is named Flo and every waiter named Joe, and the men’s room is a shrine to Marilyn Monroe.

Driving back to Seattle took us through the heaviest rain I’ve seen in Washington State, and cars were pulling off the road because visibility was so reduced. I didn’t pull off because I didn’t think I needed to: after all, I had taken my little blue pill.

For more information about hiking in The Enchantments, go to Washington Trails Association and Recreation.gov. To read my other blogs about The Enchantments, go to The Long Ascent,  Mountain Goats, Forests of Gold, and Aasgard Pass and the Upper Enchantments.  There is also a good web site that is based upon the autumn experiences of the Starks and another couple called 50 Years in the Enchantments.

To see my web site, which includes photographic prints for sale, please go to LeeRentz.com (just ask to email you a small version of a particular photograph you like if you can’t find it on the site; my website is not up to date) 

To see thousands of my photographs in large file sizes for use in magazines or other printed materials or electronic media, go to my PhotoShelter Website

LAKE CRESCENT: Reflecting Olympic Storms

March 8, 2010

A rainbow illuminates cottages along the northwest end of Lake Crescent

Winter storms batter the Olympic Peninsula, lashing the mountains and lowlands with high winds, snow, and heavy rains.  Aside from the Pacific Coastal strip of Olympic National Park, my favorite place to view these storms is Lake Crescent, a deep body of water located on the north side of the Olympic Peninsula, and contained within the national park.  Lake Crescent is really deep.  Though the maximum depth has never been accurately measured, when cables were being laid across it, the depth appeared to be over 1,000 feet.

The days I most enjoy visiting Lake Crescent are when it is still, with clearing clouds from the last storm and waiting for the next storm.  Late in the day, when the atmosphere takes on a twilight blue color, the place possesses magic.

These photographs are from two winter trips to Lake Crescent, separated by 18 years.

Still waters, a photograph I took at the Lake Crescent Lodge circa 1992

A rainbow behind Red Alder branches and catkins along Lake Crescent

Dramatic and intense rainbow

Tattered clouds at twilight hang over the mountains around Lake Crescent

Rainbow’s End

The flanks of Mount Storm King with some namesake clouds

The same area where, earlier in the day, I photographed the rainbow

Looking down the lake to the end of the rainbow

Red Alder branches and raindrops, with rainbow behind

For more information about Olympic National Park, go to:  http://www.nps.gov/Olym/index.htm

To see my web site, which includes photographic prints for sale, please go to LeeRentz.com

To see thousands of my photographs in large file sizes for use in magazines or other printed materials or electronic media, go to my PhotoShelter Website

OREGON OUTBACK: Malheur in April

May 12, 2009

 

 

Buena Vista Ponds and Overlook in Malheur National Wildlife RefuBuena Vista Ponds and Overlook in beautiful light

 

 

When the Olympic Peninsula’s spring rains get the better of me, my mind wanders to the high desert of eastern Oregon, where the wide open spaces and vast blue sky provide a particularly American salve for the soul.  In that land of sagebrush, my favorite place is Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which is located south of Burns, about 550 miles from my home.  This year Karen and I spent a day on each end driving, plus three days, April 24 to 26, in and around the refuge.

 

I like Malheur in any season, but July can be a bit sleepy and hot.  Late March is great for seeing thousands of Ross’s and Snow Geese near Burns; the sight of ten thousand white geese suddenly lifting off a marsh is enough to inspire my love of nature for years.  This year our window of opportunity was late April; to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld’s crude comment:  you go to bird with the time you have, not the time you might want.

 

Just over 100 years ago, Malheur was a hotspot for plume hunters.  In the early 1900s, ladies loved to wear egret plumes on their hats with the same fashionGreat Egret, Ardea alba, in flight at Malheur Refuge, OR intensity that twenty-somethings now feel for their eyebrow piercings.  Bird populations at Malheur and the Everglades and other bird hotspots were mined for feathers by hunters who were as plume crazy as the ladies that lunch.  To stop the slaughter in its bloody tracks, President Theodore Roosevelt created Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 1908.

 

It took another crisis and another Roosevelt to develop the refuge’s infrastructure.  During the Great Depression of the 1930s, young men working in two CCC camps on the refuge built the beautiful stone headquarters complex, as well as two fire towers and the Center Patrol Road that so many of us now like to explore.  You can thank Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency for this birding opportunity.  Some say the 1930s social programs suchBuilding built by CCC at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as the CCC were makework jobs programs:  don’t believe it for an instant.  Everywhere across America our state and national parks and refuges owe much of their long-term success to this early, sensitive development by hard-working young men and the designers and foremen who led them.  This program was the very model for success, and I would like to see a new version implemented today.

 

Birders know the key birding locations at Malheur, and there are plenty of guidebooks that tell the best places to see various birds.  I’m not going to reiterate

Center Patrol Road in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon The Center Patrol Road runs north and south through the heart of Malheur

these, but I’ll give a few impressions of our experiences at the hotspots.  I’m also not going to list the species we saw, because I didn’t keep a list and I’m not much of a birder anyway; I’m more interested in photographing and observing intensely rather than seeing how many species I can see.  I’ve never quite gotten the gestalt of bird identification that the best birders have.

 

Double-O Ranch is a favorite place.  With water levels low in Harney Lake and elsewhere, the areas west of Double-O are blindingly white with salt crystals that

 

Fence through alkali flat in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Alkali flats west of Double-O Ranch in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

 

look as if snow has blanketed the desert.  It is truly an alien environment, but one Killdeer didn’t seem to mind.  She laid her eggs in a shallow scrape in the salty soil; when we got too close, she tried to lead us away from the nest with herKilldeer faking broken wing in salt flats at Malheur Refuge trademarked broken wing ruse.  Which reminds me:  about ten years ago we were on the Center Patrol Road and found a Killdeer nest on the shoulder of the gravel road.  In this instance the Killdeer did not run away; instead, it attacked me and my lens with a ferocity that reminded me of insanity.  I was able to get so close to this bird that I got full-frame pictures with a 24mm lens.  It is possible that the bird was attacking its own reflection in the lens, but who knows what’s in a bird brain?

 

Double-O was also good for Willets and American Avocets and a variety of ducks this year.  The small ponds are good for photographing these wading birds, using

 

American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana, feeding at Malheur, OR

American Avocet feeding near Double-O Ranch

 

the vehicle as a blind.  In the past we have seen Short-eared Owls and Black-tailed Jackrabbits here, but not this year.

 

One late afternoon a windstorm arose.  In most places a windstorm is unsettling and unpleasant for birding, but here the high winds reduce visibility dramatically.  As the wind races across the abnormally dry expanses of Harney Lake and Malheur Lake, it picks up the salty dust from the lake surface.  Dust devils twirl in

 

Dust storm in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

A dust storm created when wind whipped across a dry lakebed

 

happy abandon during the lighter winds, but in a heavy blow the dust rises in thick clouds from the dry lakes, reminding us of the dust bowl photos from the dry 1930s in Oklahoma.  It is grim.  The normally calm surface of Benson Pond turned into a severe chop that tested the seaworthiness of the Trumpeter Swans.  Most of the Common Egrets in the area gathered together in the willows to ride out the storm on bucking branches.  Fishermen out for opening day on Krumbo Reservoir had to give up the quest.  Birders’ Subarus driving down the paved road sent up plumes of white dust.  Fortunately, the wind settled down that evening.

 

Refuge headquarters is a good place for birders to stop.  We always check out the visitor center whiteboard with recent bird sightings;  in addition, the tall cottonwoods and nearby water attract all sorts of rarities each year.  My favorite sight this year was seeing Yellow-headed Blackbirds and California Quail feeding at the seed feeder in front of the visitor center.  A Red-tailed Hawk screeched obscenities at us from its high nest over the museum building.  Belding’s Ground Squirrels appeared and disappeared like the groundhog star of Caddyshack.

 

Down the road at Buena Vista Overlook we watched lichens, which is much easier than watching birds but not quite as exciting. Though they may be even harder to identify.  One chartreuse lichen, in particular, grew vividly on the north sides of volcanic boulders; the other sides must get sunlight too intense for this species.

Ruddy Duck breeding male in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

A Ruddy Duck with a bill to match the clear desert sky

 

Down on the Buena Vista Ponds, Ruddy Ducks with their intense blue bills stole the show, though the Marsh Wrens and Cinnamon Teal competed for our attention.  This year the light was wonderful on these ponds; sometimes when I’ve been here the ponds were dry, so this was beautiful.

 

One last favorite stop is at P Ranch.  If we were here a month later we could see Bobolinks establishing territories in grassy meadows just to the north.  This time, we saw dozens of Turkey Vultures coming in at sunset to roost in their traditionalTurkey Vultures, Cathartes aura, roost on CCC fire tower at Malh location:  up and down the tall fire tower.  P Ranch is a good place to watch for Great-horned Owls roosting in the cottonwood grove.  One year we saw five porcupines feeding at sunset in the meadows near here.  Each porcupine, backlit by the setting sun, had a quill halo that reminded me of a particular late ’60s Bob Dylan album cover.  Kind of a prickly memory and an indicator of my age.  Another year here I saw a Mule Deer with a fawn so fresh that the doe was still bloody from the birth.

 

I could ramble on about our Malheur nature experiences for hours, but my dear readers might abandon me wholesale.  I will, however, mention that we also saw a weasel (my highlight for the trip!) along the Center Patrol Road that I attracted with my crude rendition of bird spishing.  We also observed several pairs of Coyotes that ran away as if we were some rifle-toting ranchers; plus some Sandhill Cranes lifting off in their achingly graceful dances; and Wild Horses and Pronghorns gracing the sagebrush hills bordering the refuge.

 

If you’ve never been to Malheur in the Spring, you are depriving yourself of one of the great birding experiences in the West.  Get in your car, do the un-green thing and drive hundreds of miles to the refuge, and have one of the finest birding experiences of your life.  Malheur’s aura will stay with you for years.

 

 

Willows, Salix sp., near Frenchglen in Malheur Refuge, Oregon Willows intense with spring color near Frenchglen and P Ranch

 

Benson Pond area at Malheur National Wildlife RefugeSagebrush and willows along the edge of Benson Pond

 

To see my web site, which includes photographic prints for sale, please go to LeeRentz.com

To see thousands of my photographs in large file sizes for use in magazines or other printed materials or electronic media, go to my PhotoShelter Website

Click on the photographs below to see them in a larger size, with captions.

June 27, 2008 Straight-line Winds Rip Omaha Artists

June 28, 2008

For the past decade I have traveled extensively across America, selling my photography at art shows and photographing details of the landscape between shows.  During this time it has been the Great Plains that have made me the most nervous because the weather can be so intense.  During one show in Fort Worth, Texas, I remember seeing a skyscraper that had all of its windows blown out by a tornado, leaving small shards of glass in every garden downtown.  That storm didn’t occur on an art show weekend, but the cars around Texas deeply dented by grapefruit-sized hail were a reminder of what could happen.  So it was with some trepidation that I came to Omaha for the Omaha Summer Arts Festival in the stormy early summer of 2008, and set up my booth with about 130 other artists.

The first day of the show started nicely, with warm temperatures and mild gusts, but there were just a few clouds in the sky.  Then, in late afternoon when the weather was still pleasant, a tornado siren started blaring continuously nearby.  Soon a staff member came to each booth and said that 70 mph winds were about 25 miles out and were headed our way–and to get ready for the storm.  I didn’t hesitate; I hauled all my boxes and other gear inside the tent and “battened down the hatches” (I had been hit by straight line winds in Omaha several years ago, and knew what they could do).  Then the staff person said to take refuge in the Landmark Building immediately, so I headed that way, snapping a few cell phone pictures of the oncoming storm.  The dark clouds were ominous.

Inside, we were herded (or as much as artists can be herded!) down into the basement of the building, where we waited, and waited, for the storm to pass overhead.  We heard reports of 90 mph winds and golf ball-sized hail nearby, then someone said the huge beer tent outside had toppled.  One artist said he had gone up and looked out and his booth had been destroyed.  I called my wife on my iPhone and told her the situation, and virtually everyone else was chatting with family and friends on their cell phones.  

Finally, after about an hour, and rumors of another storm approaching, we trooped outside to assess the damage.  It was extensive in some areas of the show, with a great many artists losing weeks or months of work.  Tent poles were twisted and display panels collapsed and tents torn up and artwork soggy and broken.  It was so sad.  Most of the artists have insurance that will cover the broken display structures, but generally it only covers the cost of art materials rather than the retail price of the works of art, so the cost of labor is not compensated.  For those artists who lost nearly everything at the show, it means a major loss of income.  Those of us in this profession live on the edge, often unable to afford some of the benefits that most workers are accustomed to, so a storm like this can be devastating.

By the way, I was lucky; my booth survived, mostly because the location was perhaps a bit less windy.  The straight-line winds from the thunderstorm were clocked at 80 mph.

The staff and administration and volunteers at this art show did an excellent job of warning people of the incoming storm.  They had plans in place for bad weather and executed those plans well.  After the storm they had a meeting with the artists and laid out the plan for the night and the next day.  They handled it well, and I thank them.  Nobody at the show was hurt, thank God.

This is part of a weblog documenting my travels and photography. I am primarily a nature photographer and you can see more of my work at http://www.leerentz.com

Click on the photographs below to see a larger version with captions.