Friday, February 10, 2012

Hike No. 1 - Balboa Island - The First of 100 Hikes

About 100 Hikes - Recently I was inspired by a hiker and photographer, Kolby Kirk. An imaginative video of his, in which he condensed a through hike of the Pacific Crest Trail into 3 minutes, got me to delve deeper into his web site. I found a guy that shared many of my interests. Besides photography, and obviously an appreciation for the outdoors, he also keeps a wonderful hand-written journal and likes to draw. Through his inspiration I decided to commit to 100 hikes during 2012. Notes and photos describing the hikes began as a separate blog. But by the time I'd gotten to the fifth hike, I realized the posts were as much about photography as they were about hiking. Since most of my photography is outdoors, it seemed like they belonged best here. So here goes.

Hike No. 1 - Balboa Island Circumamble

January 14, 2012
3.5 Miles

Seeking a bit of warmth during a California winter, we have parked our trailer at the Newport Dunes RV Park and Resort in Newport Beach for three weeks. Normally "dry" campers, we are living it up in this elegant oasis in the heart of this seaside town. My kayak sits on the beach a few steps from the trailer, ready for floating photo outings among the variety of migratory birds that stopover on Upper Newport Bay in winter. Short drives take us to beaches, restaurants, and shopping. This afternoon I've decided to amble over to Balboa Island.

In the late 1860's, Newport Beach was a small town with a shallow harbor, and Balboa Island was not much more than a sandbar, often swallowed up during high tides. A pier build off of Newport Peninsula was used as a landing to load hides, tallow, hay and other goods for export. By 1900 developers saw the potential of the area, land was subdivided into the present small blocks and narrow streets, and the harbor was dredged. The sand and silt was deposited on the tidelands that would become Balboa Island. Today the island is a cluster of exclusive homes, recreation rentals, and a main street of restaurants and tourist shops. Despite the small and crowded lots, the real estate market here is said to challenge Lower Manhattan as North America's priciest. Approximately 3,000 people live here on two-tenths of a square mile.

My Canon G12 and go-everywhere SnapR bag. Besides the camera, wallet, and phone, this little bag also carries some business cards and a notebook
My photography gear for this outing is simple - my Canon G12 carried in my little SnapR bag, which is just large enough to hold the camera, with my wallet and phone in zippered side pockets. A short leash, fastened to the camera's tripod socket, slides up and down the SnapR strap.

My walk took me through a small park on the slope behind the RV park, and across the intersection of Jamboree Drive (interestingly named for a Boy Scout encampment on the empty dunes here in the 1950's) and Highway 1, then down the hill and across the bridge to Balboa Island.  There are nice views both ways from the bridge of moored yachts and recreational boating activity, including kayakers and rowers.

A right turn took me onto the popular pedestrian pathway that circles the island. Dodging other amblers, dog walkers, and occasional joggers, I photographed boats moored or pulled up on the sandy shore, possibly to use for sketches later. Rounding the west end of the island I passed a gated bridge leading to an adjacent island covered with jam-packed mansions and associated large and shiny watercraft.

Homes on the south side of Balboa Island

A small ferry connects from the southwest side of the island to the Balboa Peninsula. The ferry began to carry cars back and forth in 1919. Three 4-car ferryboats operate today. Earlier in the day of my walk, a van with a family of four plunged from the ferry into the bay. Apparently it was rear-ended while parked on one end of the ferry as it continued to load. A driver of a Mercedes apparently mistook the accelerator for the brake. The family was rescued before the van sank by a man who had been hanging around in his wooden skiff enjoying a morning coffee.

There is a small collection of shops at the ferry landing catering to tourists, and more on the island's main thoroughfare, Marine Street, that leads back to the bridge to the mainland. From the bridge I enjoyed a great sunset view of the channel between Balboa Island and the mainland.

Sunset view from the bridge between Balboa Island and the mainland at Newport Beach. I continue to be impressed with the sharpness and resolution of the G12. The fine detail in this image holds up fine in a 16 X 20 print. 
1/320 sec f4.5

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