Glacier Peak and Image Lake

Glacier Peak  and Image Lake:

Glacier Peak and Image LakeGlacier Peak and Images Lake #58235

Glacier Peak Image Lake Glacier Peak  and Image LakeGlacier Peak and Images Lake #58240

Recently I made a five-day backpacking trip to one of my all time favorite areas in the North Cascades, Glacier Peak and Image Lake. Located in the Glacier Peak Wilderness this is one of the classic views of lake mountain glacier in the Northwest. The view at Image Lake is rivaled only by a few other spots such as Picture Lake/Mount Shuksan, and Tipso Lake/Mount Rainier. The big difference here is that you’re not likely to run into crowds, or more than a couple other people for that matter. My last visit to this outstanding location was back in 2000 and I’ve been wanting to get back there ever since.

Glacier Peak and Image LakeGlacier Peak and Images Lake #58248

Due to a series of winter floods, subsequent lack of repair funding, and environmental studies, the Suiattle River access road has been closed for nearly 12 years. I’m not very optimistic that the road will remain open for long. The whole length of the river valley is made up of ancient volcanic debris from past eruptions of Glacier Peak. During the rainy fall and winter months the river routinely eats away at this easily eroded material. Despite extensive repairs there are still several areas where the road is still very vulnerable. It won’t take much, I’m afraid, to put it out of commission again.

Image Lake on Miner’s Ridge is a fairly long backpacking trip that requires at least several days to justify the effort. The total roundtrip mileage is about 32 miles with 4500′ of elevation gain, most of it in the last five miles. Of course there is much more to see than just plopping down at the lake so figure on adding several more miles and another thousand feet or so of elevation to that. On all three of my visits I encountered parties that did it in two days. However, I really don’t see the point of carrying a full load that far and high to take a quick look around and head back the next day. I consider three days a minimum.

Hiker on suspension Bridge North Cascades Glacier Peak and Image LakeBackpacker on Canyon Creek Bridge #58176

The first nine or ten miles travels along the Suiattle River through gorgeous old growth forest with massive trees. One of the highlights comes when crossing Canyon Creek on a very well built suspension bridge. Generally such a large and sturdy structure is rare in the wilderness but this trail is shared with horses so it needs to be able to stand up to heavy weights. At around ten miles the real work begins, non-stop switchbacks from the river valley to the top of the ridge. Fortunately the upward grind is in the shade of forest almost all the way up. On this trip it was fairly cool with heavy overcast and fog. However, the intense humidity had me sweating like a pig while just putting my packing on! By the time I got to camp everything I was wearing was soaked.

North Cascades Old Growth Forest Glacier Peak and Image LakeOld Growth Forest Glacier Peak Wilderness #58192

Image Lake itself is nothing to go out of your way to see. It’s a very shallow lake with soft sediment bottom, and usually covered with hatching insects in summer. Image Lake is not the best for swimming, but good to cool your toes off. The real reason that makes the lake so special is its situation on Miner’s Ridge. At about 6000′ high it has a perfectly placed front row seat view of the heavily glacier-cloaked NE face of Glacier Peak.  At 10,541′ Glacier Peak is the most isolated of the five volcanoes in Washington.  It is definitely one of those views you could just sit for hours or days and admire, and since it so far you’ll most likely have it to yourself! On this trip I had the whole ridge and lake basin to myself for two whole days.

Hiker Glacier Peak wilderness Glacier Peak and Image LakeUpper Suiattle River Valley from Miner’s Ridge #58279

If you are looking for a truly extraordinary wilderness experience then spend a day or two at the lake before heading east along Miner’s Ridge. This route traverses through high meadows to Suiattle Pass and beyond to Cloudy Pass and glacier fed Lyman Lake. Nearly the entire length is above treeline and takes you through some of the most astonishing mountain scenery in the North Cascades accessible by trail. Seven to ten days would be perfect to enjoy such a trip and you’ll have memories to last a lifetime.

To see more images from this trip check out my New Images Portfolio.

If you’d like to purchase prints or license any image for commercial use just click on any image or search by keyword.

North Cascades backcountry camp Glacier Peak and Image LakeMiner’s Ridge camp, Dome Peak in distance #58268

Glacier Peak backcountry camp Glacier Peak and Image LakeMiner’s Ridge camp, Glacier Peak in distance #58317

Image Lake Glacier Peak Wilderness Glacier Peak and Image LakeMiner’s Ridge and Image Lake #58322

Glacier Peak  and Image Lake:

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North Cascades Washington

North Cascades Washington

As I’ve mentioned in many posts, North Cascades Washington is one of my favorite places to get out and enjoy a rugged wilderness setting, and since I live in Bellingham Washington it is also practically in my backyard. Over the past several weeks I’ve made a few leisurely hikes and backpacks to some of my regular spots. Below are some photos from these trips that help illustrate the wild and rugged nature of this magnificent range. Enjoy!

Nooksack Tower is, in my opinion, one of the coolest and most dramatic looking peaks in the North Cascades. Topping out at a modest 8268′ / 2520m it is an outlier of the Mount Shuksan massif. Nooksack Tower has also been famously  labeled by legendary climber Fred Beckey as one of the most difficult climb in the North Cascades, equaled possibly only by nearby Slesse Mountain (the “Fang”) in British Columbia. In this view from above Hannegan Pass a layer of fresh spring snow adds to the formidable appearance of the tower.

Nooksack Tower North Cascades WashingtonNooksack Tower #58069

Ruth Creek Valley and Nooksack Ridge. Also one of my favorite areas in the North Cascades, Ruth Creek Valley via the Hannegan Pass Trail has some of the greatest views of any low to mid elevation trail in the Northwest. Most other trails at this elevation are deep in dense old growth forest, however, the slopes in this valley are regularly swept clean by avalanches fueled by massive winter snows. This heavily traveled route is also one of the few trails that provide access to the heart of North Cascades National Park. Aside from the great views, Ruth Creek Valley is also notorious for plagues of black flies that swarm around hikers in the heat of summer, be prepared with lots of Deet if you hike here in July or August!

North Cascades WashingtonRuth Creek Valley, North Cascades #58068

Backcountry Camping in the Mount Baker Wilderness. This photo was made on the same trip as the two photos above. While it has the looks of a winter setting the amount of snow seen here is typical for late spring in the North Cascades. Most of the higher elevations are not snow free until mid-July, with wildflowers blooming in sub-alpine meadows soon after that. In the distance you can see Nooksack Tower and its relation to the rest of Mount Shuksan

North Cascades Washington Backcountry campNorth Cascades Backcountry Camp#58078

North Cascades waterfall. This is a typical view just about anywhere in the lower elevations in spring. Lots of snow melt streams and creeks rushing down the slopes into lush green forests. This nameless, as far as I know, waterfall is midway up the trail to Excelsior Peak.

Waterfall North Cascades WashingtonNorth Cascades Waterfall #58066

Fine Art Prints & Commercial Licensing are available by clicking on the image!

North Cascades Washington

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Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography Trip

Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography Trip

I’m very excited to announce tentative plans for a major photography expedition to some of the wildest and most dramatic scenery in all of North America. This incredible photography adventure will begin in mid-July in the heart of the wild Coast Range of British Columbia, proceeding up to Alaska, and finishing in the Yukon Territory just before the autumn snows begin to fall. Anyone interested in joining in on the fun at any of these locations feel free to contact me, I’m always looking for extra company/models!

Photo Editors and Buyers: If any of these or nearby locations can be used in your future projects or articles please contact me to discuss your needs!

Here are the locations on the itinerary so far:
British Columbia:
Ape Lake Monarch Icefield

Alaska:
Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park / Skolai Pass; Ross Green Lake
Denali National Park (locations to be determined)

Yukon Territory:
Kluane National Park
Tombstone Territorial Park
Dempster Highway / Arctic Circle, Richardson Mountains

To give you an idea of what some of these locations look like check out the photos below. Some of the photos are not from the exact locations listed above but are very close approximations of the scenery.

Coast Range British Columbia:

Coast Range British Columbia, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripCoast Range British Columbia #18242

Coast Range British Columbia, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripCoast range British Columbia #18259

Alaska:

Mount Sanford Alaska, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripMount Sanford Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park  #14340

Wrangell Range Alaska, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripWrangell-Saint Elias National Park  #14340

Denali, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripDenali #144788

Yukon Territory:

Tombstone Territorial Park Yukon, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripTombstone Territorial Park Yukon #15502

Ogilvie Mountains Yukon, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripOgilvie Mountains Yukon Territory #15437

Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography Trip

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Bisti Badlands New Mexico

Bisti Badlands New Mexico

Bisti Badlands New MexicoThe Egg Factory, Bisti Badlands New Mexico  #57385

Bisti Badlands New Mexico is one of those places that has an otherworldly beauty and mystique to it. Situated in the Four Corners area of Northwestern New Mexico, the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a land of layered sandstone, silt, shale, mudstone, and coal. Years of erosion by water and wind  have turned these layers into strange and whimsical rock formations, hoodoos, wings, fins, and mushroom shaped spires, seemingly straight out of a fantasy or science fiction story.

Always on the search for new locations offering dramatic landscapes, and being a big fan of geologic oddities, I was drawn to Bisti’s beauty many years ago after seeing some photos of it in a magazine. However, it wasn’t until this spring that I had my first opportunity to visit and photograph this wonderful wilderness. I had put off visiting this and other sites in New Mexico to photograph other more famous Southwest icons, such as Zion, Arches, Joshua Tree, and the beautiful Sonoran Desert, to name a few. So it was with great excitement that on this trip I was finally going to see one of the greatest concentrations of badlands in the Southwest.

Bisti Badlands New MexicoEvening storm over Bisti Badlands #57421

Bisti Badlands doesn’t flaunt it’s beauty like many of the well known and sought after locations in the SW. It’s one of those places where you’ll drive for miles on empty roads in a seemingly desolate landscape, only to arrive and wonder what the big deal is and where is all the scenery? It’s true that the Bisti Wilderness is situated in an arid, dusty, nearly flat and featureless high plain, arriving at the main parking area you are greeted by not much more than a wide dry wash framed by a few interesting hillsides, but there is much more to see.

Like many hidden wilderness gems you have to get out and do some legwork, spending the day exploring hidden canyons buttes and washes. This is where doing your homework and researching literature maps and photos comes into play. There are several key areas of interest scattered about and without some clues as to where they are you can spend many hours wandering about missing them and potentially getting lost in a very remote area. These days many people rely on GPS technology to guide them quickly to the best spots, but I feel this really takes away from that wonderfully satisfying experience of discovering something unique on your own.

Another way in which Bisti Badlands keeps it secrets is the light. You can spend several days wandering about and checking out all the best the Bisti has to see, but if all your time is spent during the middle of the day, and maybe in grey overcast conditions, you’ll miss out on the real magic. I was incredibly fortunate on my first trip to encounter some truly spectacular lighting conditions which made the badlands come alive with just about every adjective in the book. On my second day the weather was very cold and windy, with a solid grey sky that made even the most interesting hoodoos look dull and lifeless. Like a good photographer, and someone who has nothing else to do, I stuck it out and spent the time exploring and lining up compositions for when and if conditions were more favorable.

Bisti Badlands New MexicoSandstone Wing, Bisti Badlands #57500

To my surprise, and great relief, the clouds began to break up in the west about an hour before sunset, the time many photographers refer to as the “magic hour”. In the eastern sky was the remnants of a passing storm, sheets of rain and snow flurries against a dark grey background. As the setting sun broke through the clouds in the west it lit up the eastern sky like it was on fire, truly an experience that I will always remember. Of course in the midst of all this drama I was working in high gear to find and compose as many photographs as I could reach before it all ended. The next evening was more tame, but waiting around until dusk brought some interesting light on the badlands as alpenglow softly illuminated the formations.

To see more images check out this special Bisti Badlands Portfolio. As always all images are available for immediate licensing and purchase as fine art prints.

Bisti Badlands New MexicoBisti Badlands #57505

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Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National MonumentGila Cliff Dwellings National Monument #57013

On my recent photo trip to the Southwest I made a point of including, among my subjects, sites of Ancestral Puebloans. Several years ago I began visiting and photographing ruins, pictographs, and petroglyphs in the Cedar Mesa region of southern Utah. Finding these sites to be very intriguing and educational I wanted to explore more of them on future trips. On this latest excursion, my first stop was Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in western New Mexico.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National MonumentGila Cliff Dwellings National Monument #57023

Gila Cliff Dwellings, situated in a valley close to the Gila River, was home to the Mogollon people around 1200 AD and was thought to be inhabited until the early 1300’s. Like most of the ancestral ruins on and near the Colorado Plateau, the inhabitants mysteriously decided to abandon their homes and villages near the end of the thirteenth century. Within the boundary of the monument there are many preserved sites, but the main dwellings, which can be visited on a short hike, consisted of around 46 rooms situated among 5 cliff caves. The site can be visited in around an hour but it would be a shame to drive this far without making it a leisurely visit. At the main cliff caves a very knowledgeable ranger is stationed to answer all your questions and explain in detail the history of the Mogollon people.

If you decide to visit the monument be aware that it is a long drive from Siver City New Mexico, the nearest town. The distance is only 44 miles but the road follows a winding up and down route through the mountains, making the time traveled from Silver City around two hours. The monument has some primitive camping available, and there are also a few national forest sites nearby, along with some natural hot springs.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National MonumentGila Cliff Dwellings National Monument #57009

Gila Cliff Dwellings National MonumentGila Cliff Dwellings National Monument #57008

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New Southwest Images

New Southwest Images

White Sands National Monument New Mexico New Southwest ImagesWhite Sands National Monument New Mexico #57137b

All of the new images from my recent Southwest trip are now online and ready for viewing and downloading. A selection of 100 images from a total of over 1000 have been added to my New Images Portfolio. To view even more  from any of the locations listed below you can use our Search feature or contact us for a custom portfolio.

  • States:  California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Utah
  • National Parks and Monuments: Carrizo Plains National Monument CA, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument NM, White Sands National Monument NM, Carlsbad Caverns National Park NM, Guadalupe National Park TX, Chaco Culture National Historical Park NM, Aztec Ruins National Monument NM, Canyon de Chelly National Monument AZ, Hovenweep National Monument UT, Mesa Verde National Park CO, Canyonlands National Park UT, Arches National Park UT
  • State Parks, Recreation Areas, Wilderness Areas: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park CA, Kofa Mountains Wildlife Refuge AZ, Lost Dutchman State Park/Superstition Mountains AZ, Angel Peak Scenic Area NM, Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness NM, Valley Of The Gods Utah

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park wildflowers New Southwest ImagesWildflowers, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California #56856

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Southwest Photography Trip

Southwest Photography Trip

Fonts Point Borrego BadlandsBorrego Badlands from Fonts Point

Well, I’m finally back home and catching up on business after six long weeks on the road, photographing throughout the Southwest. It’s good to be back home, but the mountain of work facing me won’t give me any rest for quite some time. Not to mention the fact that being a photographer I’m also faced with the fact that now that we’re well into Spring I need to somehow get back out on the road and trails ASAP!

This trip started out with a goal to photograph spring desert wildflowers but gradually turned into an epic adventure to visit and photograph as many SW locations as I could fit in. In the end, I visited lots of new locations, adding three new states to my photo library, New Mexico Colorado and Texas, and greatly expanded my coverage of Ancient American ruins and culture. I also added depth to my coverage of some classic Southwest National Parks, Canyonlands, and Arches in particular.

Accompanying this post are two new photos from the trip, one from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California and the other from Kofa Mountains Arizona. That’s about all I can find time to add right now. Below are some of the totals from this trip. If you are interested in seeing a selection of images from any of the listed locations let me know and I’ll do my best to edit and process some for you.

  • Days out: 38
  • Miles traveled: 6402
  • Total photos: (before editing) 4200
  • States where I photographed:  California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Utah
  • National Parks and Monuments: Carrizo Plains National Monument CA, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument NM, White Sands National Monument NM, Carlsbad Caverns National Park NM, Guadalupe National Park TX, Chaco Culture National Historical Park NM, Aztec Ruins National Monument NM, Canyon de Chelly National Monument AZ, Hovenweep National Monument UT, Mesa Verde National Park CO, Canyonlands National Park UT, Arches National Park UT
  • State Parks, Recreation Areas, Wilderness Areas: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park CA, Kofa Mountains Wildlife Refuge AZ, Lost Dutchman State Park/Superstition Mountains AZ, Angel Peak Scenic Area NM, Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness NM, Valley Of The Gods Utah

Stay tuned as I will be posting images and more info on this trip as soon as I can!

Kofa Mountains SunsetKofa Mountains Sunset, AZ

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Southwest Trip Spring Wildflowers

Southwest Trip Spring Wildflowers

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Southwest Trip Spring WildflowersOrgan Pipe Cactus National Monument Arizona #35416

I’m very excited to announce that on Monday, March 7 I will be leaving for an extended trip to the Southwest. As usual for spring trips, the main subject matter will be centered around desert wildflowers. This tour will encompass many new locations, as well as several others that I have visited in the past. Listed below are the main areas and subjects I will be photographing. It’s a long list, and I’m hoping that 4-5 weeks on the road will enable me to cover everything. However, weather and time constraints force me to forego some subjects.

California:

Carrizo Plain National Monument / Antelope Valley

San Gregorio Pass Wind Farm

Anza Borrego State Park

Algodones Dunes Wilderness

Arizona:

Kofa Mountains

Superstition Mountains

Saguaro National Park

Canyon De Chelly National Monument

New Mexico:

White Sands National Monument

Bisti Badlands

Colorado:

Mesa Verde National Park

Utah:

Cedar Mesa Anasazi ruins sites

Arches National Park

Canyonlands National Park

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Larrabee State Park Samish Bay Washington

Larrabee State Park Samish Bay Washington

Samish Bay, Larrabee State Park Washington, Larrabee State Park Samish Bay WashingtonSamish Bay #56660

Like in many previous years, during the lull between winter and spring, I’ve been making several visits to Larrabee State Park. Situated along Samish Bay a few miles south of Bellingham this is one of the best locations for photography in the area. Hikers trail runners and mountain bikers will find numerous trails into the Chuckanut Mountains, but for the photographer, the shoreline along the bay is the place to be. Facing out to the famous San Juan Islands the shore is lined with sandstone cliffs and boulders eroded into fascinating formations, there is even a small natural arch dipping into the water, if you can find it.

Possibly the best location for photos is Clayton Beach at the south end of the park. It is accessed by a trail approximately one-half mile long, once on the beach there are great rock formations to the left and right, my favorite being just to the left of the beach. Back at the main park entrance, a little to the north, a short trail takes you down to a sandstone formation jutting into the bay with more great compositions.

Clayton Beach, Larrabee State Park Washington, Samish Bay, Larrabee State Park Samish Bay WashingtonSandstone erosion patterns Clayton Beach #47151

If you go you will need to purchase a day use pass, unreasonably priced at $10, a yearly pass for all Washington State Parks, the Discover Pass is $30. The best time for photography in this park is late afternoon to sunset, when the golden colored sandstone glows in the light. Low tide is best since you’ll be able to access more formations, however since this is a popular park it will be next to impossible to get photos without the sand being tracked out. The good news is that in winter most people leave around sunset, during my last three trips I had the beach all to myself. It’s a different story though in summer when the park is packed with people.

Samish Bay, Larrabee State Park, Larrabee State Park Samish Bay WashingtonSandstone pinnacle Larrabee State Park #47154r

 

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Methow Valley Winter

Methow Valley Winter

Methow Valley Washington in winter Methow Valley WinterClearing fog near Mazama, Washington #56617

Last month I made a quick trip to the Methow Valley in north central Washington for some much needed fresh air exercise and photos. The weather in western Washington had been fairly warm and rainy, so I headed to the east side of the North Cascades for a quick fix of crisp winter conditions.

The Methow Valley is renowned for it’s extensive network of perfectly groomed cross-country ski trails and dependable snow cover. The area is also very popular with snowmobilers and backcountry skiers accessing the high country via the seasonal closure of the North Cascades Highway. On this trip I stayed in the upper part of the valley near Mazama area where I knew of several good spots for photographing if the light was right. Here are a few of the highlights from this trip.

Methow Valley barn, Washington Methow Valley WinterBarn near Mazama, Washington #56601

 

North Cascades Highway closure Methow Valley WinterNorth Cascades Highway winter closure, near Mazama, Washington #56605

 

Cross-country skiing North Cascades Methow Valley WinterCross-country skier on Methow Valley trails #56646

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