Peshastin Pinnacles, and Goldendale Observatory
May 24, 2015 by Megan
As we reached double-digits with Day 10, we got to celebrate with friends Craig and Kirsten Andersen with a 5:00am climb at Peshastin Pinnacles. Though we weren’t rewarded for our sacrifice of sleep with the sunrise we dreamed of, the light was still lovely, and reasons for gratitude were plentiful: just the day before, the weather channel warned of rain; the park manager allowed us to camp in the parking lot overnight (usually forbidden); and our dear friends warmed the Winnie Warrior with us, even bringing fresh and strong coffee for brewing in the morning. Amazing! More than anything, grateful Craig and Kirsten were willing to drive down to meet us for this whirlwind project and climb on camera. Great way to start the day!
The hike up to the rock was made more challenging by the slippery sandstone, mutinously tired eyes, and weighty packs. Once the route was picked (and Dane tested Craig’s helmet for soundness), our model climbers made it look easy.
In saying goodbye to Craig and Kirsten so they could return to their Memorial Day weekend plans, we headed off to the excitement of the local Laundromat. One of the fun realities of working on the road, and we were lucky to find one with WiFi to catch up on photo upload deliverables for State Parks.
Our plans for the night took us to the other extreme of the day, for a shoot at Goldendale Observatory. Once again, we were graciously allowed to park the Winnie Warrior overnight at the park to allow us to shoot in hours the park would normally be closed, so at least we knew we had immediate sleep to look forward to when we were finally done filming.
Ranger Troy, who led the educational demonstrations, was incredibly knowledgeable and matter-of-fact, with a glimmering hint of Mad Scientist about him as he showcased the excitable gases in various light bulb housings to demonstrate the various colors… neon, mercury, oxygen, nitrogen, etc. So cool. I learned a lot from his science lesson, and left feeling awed by the wonders of the universe, and wishing there was time to learn more from this place.
As for the stargazing, everyone is able to use the telescopes, including the largest… I and everyone interested at the night presentation (8:30-11:30) was able to snag a quick peek at Saturn with Ranger Troy’s help! It was amazing to see it there, all small and fuzzy with its rings and coloring visible. Can’t share a picture of that, you’ll just have to visit and see for yourself. Below is a little of what we did capture, from both the daylight and nighttime experiences.
You can see in the day sky, they rest the big telescope on the windmills across the way. On the smaller telescope, they had a special filter that allowed them to aim at the sun and project the feed into the classroom, where we learned about stars, solar flares, sun spots, etc. Truly amazing.
By the time we had the chance to shoot the night’s stargazing, quite the crowd had assembled, and I was impressed how many kids were excitedly participating despite the late hour. Visitors got to spy on Venus, Earth’s moon, Saturn, and Jupiter, among other moons and things. We also learned about fusion and electromagnetism, dwarf planets, failed stars, and so much more. Can you believe all you need is a Discover Pass for your family to experience all this? Best part is, Goldendale is poised to get some equipment upgrades including a new telescope capable of allowing them to contribute to timely research in addition to offering these experiences to visitors. Hopefully that means we’ll get to update their photos at some point in the future.