John Day River Oregon

John Day River Oregon

John Day River OregonJohn Day River, Oregon #59904

This post will begin a series of recaps from my recent spring photography trip. My first stop was Cottonwood Canyon State Park, along the lower John Day River Oregon. This is Oregon’s newest state park and it was a pleasure to visit. As you can see from the photos the surrounding country is part of the Coloumbia Plateau, with the John Day River cutting canyons through the flood basalt. The nature of this geology helps the river create many scenic winding turns and horseshoe bends.

John Day River OregonJohn Day River, Oregon #59852

Visiting this area in early spring offers cool green hillsides sprinkled with a variety of wildflowers. Most notably Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) and Desert Parsley (Lomatium laevigatum). Later in the season the hills will turn a golden brown, and the weather will be much hotter. The park was donated by a local ranching family and contains several remnants of its past, such as a picturesque red barn and some farming implements. A small campground is located right along the river where several nice riverside trails begin. If you’re not into natural history or photography the river is supposedly great for fishing and the spring runoff offers excellent rafting.

Red Barn Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon John Day River OregonRed barn Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon #59841

Hiker John Day River OregonJohn Day River Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon #59797

Photography, of course, was the main reason for my visit. The goal was finding some nice views of the river bends. This proved however to be a bit of a challenge as many of the best bends were inaccessible by road or foot. After scouring Google Maps I did manage to find a backroad close to the canyon rim with a nice view. My research showed the best horseshoe bend view is situated about an hour drive south of the park. The weather forecast didn’t look good enough to make the trip worth it though. That one will have to wait until my next trip to the area.

John Day River OregonDesert Parsley, John Day River, Oregon #59858

A couple words of warning if you visit this quiet and special area. All unsurfaced roads can be impassable to vehicles after a rain, they turn into a gluey gumbo. Trust me on this, I once almost got stuck and had to wait a couple of days for the road to dry out before I could safely proceed. Rattlesnakes are common, and in spring ticks can be a problem. Also in late spring and summer the temperature can be very hot, with little shade to provide relief.

If you’d like to see more photos from this area you can search John Day River or Cottonwood Canyon State Park on my website. All photos can be licensed for editorial or commercial use or also be purchased as prints. Thanks for viewing and please pass this post along to your friends!

John Day River OregonJohn Day River, Oregon #59912

John Day River Oregon

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Skagit Valley Daffodils and Snow Geese

Skagit Valley Daffodils and Snow Geese

Skagit Valley Daffodils, Skagit Valley Daffodils and Snow GeeseDaffodils Fields in the Skagit Valley  #50700

Daffodils and Snow Geese in the Skagit Valley, two sure signs that spring is here in the Northwest, even if the weather says it isn’t.

If you’re planning on visiting this famous destination in the coming weeks here is the latest report from RoozenGaarde. As you probably expected, blooms are a little behind schedule this year due to the prolonged cold weather.

snow geese, Skagit Valley Daffodils and Snow GeeseLarge flock of Snow Geese taking flight in the Skagit Valley  #15870

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Samish Bay Bellingham Bay

Samish Bay Bellingham Bay

Clayton Beach sunset Larrabee State Park Samish Bay Bellingham BayClayton Beach Sunset, Larrabee State Park, Washington  #59666

Once again its time to post some new photos from my favorite winter doldrum photo haunts, Larrabee State Park and Bellingham Bay. These locations are only a few miles from my home, so when I can’t get out on some winter ski trips I head to the local beaches for some fresh air and inspiration. These photos were made within a two day period when there was a lively mixture of sunny and stormy weather, a time during which you can usually get a wide variety of lighting conditions. To read more about Larrabee State Park check out this post from last year.

Bellingham Bay Washington Samish Bay Bellingham BayStorm clouds over Bellingham Bay, Washington  #59689

Clayton Beach Larrabee State Park Samish Bay Bellingham BayClayton Beach Sunset, Larrabee State Park, Washington  #59666

Bellingham Bay Cormorant Washington Samish Bay Bellingham BayCormorant, Bellingham Bay, Washington  #59699

Bellingham Bay Washington Samish Bay Bellingham BayBellingham Bay, Washington  #59692

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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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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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North Cascades Winter

North Cascades Winter

Table Mountain North Cascades WinterTable Mountain North Cascades #1644b

This image of Table Mountain was made near the Mount Baker Ski Area during the record snowfall winter of 1998-99. That epic winter the ski area received a whopping 1140″ of snow. I couldn’t find out what the actual base was but it was enough to have people specially hired to dig out the lifts! It should be noted that this total is from November 1, 1998 to May 12, 1999.

If these statistics aren’t impressive enough you should also be aware that Mount Baker itself, the namesake volcano topping out at 10,778′ situated a few miles away, would receive many times the amount of snow than the ski area, which sits at about 4500′. No wonder it is perhaps the snowiest glacier cloaked peak in the lower 48 states.

Today however is a different story, the record year of 1999 is a distant memory. Last winter Northwest ski areas barely managed to keep open for a partial season due to unusually warm temperatures and little snow.

Since we are still in the grip of that same El Niño weather pattern the forecasts don’t look much better for this winter. But lets be optimistic, it’s only the second week in November and the mountains are already receiving snow from fall storms, albeit in higher elevations and still a little warmer than normal.

In the meantime I’m going to start scheduling some winter photo trips and getting my skis and other gear in shape!

Mount Baker North Cascades WinterMount Baker in winter #47031

 

 

 

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Mount Baker Wilderness Heliotrope Ridge

Mount Baker Wilderness Heliotrope Ridge

Mount Baker North Cascades_54421 Mount Baker Wilderness Heliotrope RidgeMount Baker North Cascades_54421

Summer is nearly over, and now that we’re in that exciting pause before the coming fall season I have some time to catch up on a few posts I’ve been too busy to work on. If you’ve been following my updates here and in my New Images Portfolio you’ll know that most of the height of  summer was spent close to home, specifically the Mount Baker Wilderness of the North Cascades. Fortunately for me this wilderness is only an hour or two drive from my home, practically in my backyard. During the month of August I photographed the following areas accessed via the Mount Baker Highway:

  • Church Mountain
  • Skyline Divide
  • Hannegan Peak
  • Heliotrope Ridge
  • Heather Meadows Recreation Area

 

During the last week of August I was hoping to visit one more spot that might offer good displays of wildflowers and almost forgot about Heliotrope Ridge. It has been around twelve years since my last visit and twenty or so since I taught a weekend photography workshop there through the North Cascades Institute. Heliotrope Ridge trail is extremely popular due to the easy and close access to views of the sprawling Coleman Glacier on the slopes of Mount Baker, and also because it is the start to one of the main climbing routes to the summit of Baker. Since I’ve been there before I knew that the best wildflower meadows were up high near the climbers camps near the edge of the glaciers and snowfields, and also that I would have the place to myself if I went during the week. Sure enough during my three nights on the ridge I saw only one other person wandering around, and the few climbing parties that set up camp stuck to the glaciers with eyes on the summit.

The wildflowers of Heliotrope Ridge were markedly different from those on the hikes to Skyline Divide and Hannegan Peak. There I came across fields mainly of valerian, lupine, corn lilies, and heather, but on Heliotrope there was a greater variety of flowers with an emphasis on yellow arnicas. Also since this area is so close to Mount Baker it receives much more snow, therefore the plants had just escaped the confines of winter and began blooming in late August while other subalpine ridges in the area were already well past peak and had gone to seed.

Another thing to do aside from gawking at the views and wildflowers is to wander cross country, there are no trails at this point. Going west along increasingly barren slopes of mixed volcanic rock and crumbly slate there are numerous rushing snowmelt streams. If you are prepared for steep snowfield/glacier travel then continue higher up to the actual crest of Heliotrope Ridge. Here the ridge consists of a wild display volcanic cinders jagged blocks of andesite and lava bombs, looking like it just cooled yesterday. Even better though is the view from the ridge of seldom seen Thunder Glacier and basin below Colfax and Lincoln Peaks, this is truly a wild and lonesome area of Mount Baker!

Coleman Glacier Heliotrope Ridge Wildflowers 54533 Mount Baker Wilderness Heliotrope RidgeColeman Glacier, Heliotrope Ridge Wildflowers #54533

Mount Baker climber camp on Heliotrope Ridge #54432 Mount Baker Wilderness Heliotrope RidgeMount Baker climber camp on Heliotrope Ridge #54432

Coleman Glacier climber camp Mount Baker #54518 Mount Baker Wilderness Heliotrope RidgeColeman Glacier, climber camp Mount Baker #54518

The images appearing in this post are available as a Fine Art Prinst and for commercial licensing. Click on the  image and then ADD TO CART to purchase.

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New Images North Cascades Washington

New Images North Cascades Washington

I’ve just finished uploading a group of New Images made over the last four weeks, please check them out when you have a minute. All the images were made in various locations of the North Cascades, including North Cascades National Park, Mount Baker Wilderness, and Heather Meadows Recreation Area. These areas have been visited by me before, a few of them nearly a dozen times, but never have I had such success in timing with wildflower blooms and wonderful lighting conditions. There is still one more spot I need to revisit before the wildflowers fade for the season, that would be Heliotrope Ridge on the north flanks of Mount Baker. This is one of those rare areas where one can get an up close view of large glaciers and ramble among fields of wildflowers. My gear is already packed and I’ll be off in the morning!

Ruth Mountain North Cascades New Images North Cascades Washington

Ruth Mountain, North Cascades Washington #54365

The image appearing in this post is available as a Fine Art Print and for commercial licensing. Click on the  image and then ADD TO CART to purchase.

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North Cascades Photography

North Cascades Photography

North Cascades sunrise from Hidden Lakes Peak #54196 North Cascades PhotographyNorth Cascades sunrise from Hidden Lakes Peak #54196

What a great summer season for photography! Despite canceling my last trip in July to British Columbia due to wildfires I’ve been very busy adding lots of new images to my files. While waiting for the wildfire season to moderate up north in Canada I’ve returned to several of my favorite locations in the North Cascades, practically my back yard. Since this is the height of summer in the mountains I selected some sub-alpine locations where good displays of wildflowers and rugged vistas can be found, mainly in North Cascades National Park and the Mount Baker Wilderness. Late July and August is the driest time of the year in the Northwest with the most predictable weather. Sometimes though this means the weather can be a little too good with empty blue skies, great for general outdoors activities but no the greatest for photography. Fortunately my timing was spot on and on a few days I was treated to some fantastic lights shows both in the morning and evening.

There is much to talk about from these trips but for now I’ll just post some image highlights from the first few locations since I still have tons of editing and processing to do from them, not to mention my regular business tasks. I also have another summer trip planned to a very exciting new location that will put the brakes on any further posts for a few weeks. When more time is available I’ll go into more detail and update my Recent Images Portfolio. Stay tuned, and don’t forget that prints and commercial licensing are available for all of these photos!

Mount Baker from Skyline Divide #54275 North Cascades PhotographyMount Baker from Skyline Divide #54275

North Cascades Sunset #54224 North Cascades PhotographyNorth Cascades Sunset #54224

Mount Baker from Skyline Divide #54238 North Cascades PhotographyMount Baker from Skyline Divide #54238

North Cascades backcountry camp #54229 North Cascades PhotographyBackcountry Camp on Hidden Lake Peak #54229

The image appearing in this post is available as a Fine Art Print and for commercial licensing. Click on the  image and then ADD TO CART to purchase.

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New Images Olympic National Park Washington Ecola State Park Oregon

New Images Olympic National Park Washington Ecola State Park Oregon

Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park #53874  New Images Olympic National Park Washington Ecola State Park OregonSol Duc Falls Olympic National Park #53874

I’ve just finished editing and processing and uploading all the photos from my recent trip to Olympic National Park Washington and Ecola State Park Oregon. Take a look by clicking here. This trip was very successful as I came back with a wide variety of photos ranging from waterfalls and rain forests to coastal scenes and a special portfolio of black and white images.

Over the years I’ve travelled to Olympic National Park many times but this on this trip I made a point of spending extra time at most areas to expand my portfolio, most notably the Hoh Rain Forest, Lake Crescent, Sol Duc Falls and La Push. Fortunately for the most park the weather and light was very cooperative when and where I needed it most, nice overcast in the forests and dramatic evening light on the coast. One surprise was when photographing one day on the Oregon Coast, the weather was drizzly with some persistent fog, however when driving along Highway 101 along the cliffs of Neahkahnie Mountain there was a nice break in the clouds. There were several nice scenic pullouts on the road so I quickly set up my gear to photograph the higher clouds above the fog lit up from the setting sun, quite an unusual experience.

Please feel free to share this post and comment, thanks!

All the images in this post and website are available as Fine Art Prints and for commercial licensing. Click on an the desired image and then ADD TO CART to purchase.

Oregon Coast #54107 New Images Olympic National Park Washington Ecola State Park OregonClearing fog over the Oregon Coast #54107

Lake Crescent Olympic National Park #53919 New Images Olympic National Park Washington Ecola State Park OregonLake Crescent Olympic National Park #53919

Hoh Rain Forest Olympic National Park #54042Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park #54042

All the images in this post and website are available as Fine Art Prints and for commercial licensing. Click on an the desired image and then ADD TO CART to purchase.

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