Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunset progression

Here is a nine image series from a sunset last week.  I took an image every 5-7 minutes until the sun was gone.  The clouds and everything were spectacular!  

La Chapelle

It's been a busy couple of weeks here on the island, so I have been behind on my posts!  So, I'll begin my catchup with a hike I did a couple of weeks ago in the Cirque de Cilaos.  The destination was La Chapelle, a giant cave carved out of black rock about 3 miles from the town of Cilaos.  A large majority of hikes on this island are backwards from what I'm used to; the hikes start at the top of the mountain instead of at the bottom.  This one was no exception, however, it was easier than the Grand Bassin hike I had done a couple weeks prior.  The trail splits about halfway to La Chapelle, with the left fork heading up to a village and the right fork leading to La Chapelle.  The cave is huge!  Giant rocks dominate the entrance.  The air is slightly more humid, yet cooler, and the river running through the middle of the cave is a perfect place to splash around in.  Birds nest in the cave, and the rocks on the inside are covered in bird droppings.  I didn't bring my tripod (it's very heavy, I will have to invest in a true carbon fiber one later), so I set up my camera on a rock to take a long exposure of some of the colors in the cave.  Something began tickling my hand as I was positioning my camera.  I brushed it off as being moss and continued with the long exposure.  Moments later, I glanced down and noticed that my hand and arm, as well as my camera, were covered in thousands of tiny spiders.  Needless to say, the long exposure wasn't successful.  I splashed into the river to kill the creatures that were making their way up my arm.  I had to clean off my camera and dip my camera strap in the river to get rid of them all.  Needless to say, La Chapelle was a great adventure, and I look forward to a soon to be canyoning trip through the cave.

Amanda being strong

Amanda in front of La Chapelle

Rocks at the entrance

Tiny frog

La Chapelle from above

Me in front of La Chapelle

My trusty photo pack

Yellow house in Cilaos at the top of the hike

Friday, December 7, 2012

Grand Bassin

Last week, I ventured out to the mountains of RĂ©union with one of my new friends, Anne-Marie.  The hike started 5 kilometers from the town of Plains des Cafres, with an overlook to the village and pool that was our destination below.  Most of the hikes on this island are backwards from what I'm used to.  The destination is often at the BOTTOM of the mountain rather than at the top.
Grand Bassin

Mountains surrounding the village


Mountains towering above the the village 


The hike turned out to be pretty intense.  It was very steep and rocky, yet the views were phenomenal.  The journey was partly what made this destination.  There was a way-station halfway down the hike that had a spigot for fresh mountain water.  It was the perfect spot to catch a little bit of shade and refill our water bottles before continuing on our hike.  The village down below also relies on this building and others up at the top of the mountain for supplies and electricity.  On our way down, we actually got to see a shipment of fresh produce on its way down to the people below.
The shipment

View of Grand Bassin from the halfway point

Part of the building halfway

Misty mountains

My F-Stop camera pack at the water spigot

Part of the hike

Part of the hike

cable lines heading down to the village

We got lost once we made it to the village and ended up asking directions from a banana farmer who let us cut across his land.  I ended up being chased by a goose type bird creature who kept hissing as I walked by.  Once we got out of the village, we were back on the trail, trying to find a way down to the crystal clear pool so we could have a swim and cool off a bit.  We had to cross a river (which I fell in) before we managed our destination, the Grand Bassin.  The water was freezing cold, but invigorating.  Anne-Marie and I swam under the waterfall and enjoyed the fresh pool before climbing onto a warm rock to enjoy our lunch.  After some time at the pool, we made our way back through the river and began the long hike back to the top of the mountain.

On the way down to Grand Bassin

Farm in village

Farm in Village

At the Grand Bassin

at the Grand Bassin

Village overview

Walking into the Village

Anne-Marie in Grand Bassin