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   Purchase

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

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. 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   Purchase

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   Purchase

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. Such a large and sturdy structure is rare in the wilderness. Horses also use this trail 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! When I got to camp I was soaking with sweat

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

Image Lake itself is nothing to go out of your way to see. It’s a very shallow the lake which has a soft sediment bottom, and is 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 admiring. And since it so far out 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   Purchase

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 of the trail is above tree-line.  Along the way you’ll travel 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.

Glacier Peak and Image Lake

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

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

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

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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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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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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Sol Duc Falls Olympic National Park

Sol Duc Falls Olympic National Park

Sol Duc Falls Olympic National Park53867 Sol Duc Falls Olympic National Park #53867

I’m still working on editing and processing all the new images from my recent trip to Olympic National Park of Washington and Ecola State Park of Oregon. The first leg of the trip however is just about done so I wanted to post this one of Sol Duc Falls.

These falls are one of those must photograph spots in the park and can be seen everywhere online. Although I’ve been been to the park many times over the past 34 years this was my first visit to the falls so I’m a bit excited to share this photo with you.

This image is available for purchasing as a fine art print and also for commercial licensing, just click on the desired image and then click Add to Cart to select your option.

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Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park
La Push Sunset Olympic National Park #2770Afterglow on Second Beach La Push Washington #2770   Purchase

I’m excited to announce that we will be on location on the Washington/Oregon Coast from June 17-June 30.

Locations include:
  • La Push Olympic National Park
  • Lake Crescent Olympic National Park
  • SolDuc and Hoh Rain Forest Olympic National Park
  • Ruby Beach/Kalaloch Olympic National Park
  • Cape Disappointment State Park Washington
  • Cannon Beach/Ecola State Park Oregon
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