New Images Mount Shasta

New Images Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta New Images Mount ShastaMount Shasta #60133

I’m still working on the long process of editing all the new images from my recent trip to California and Oregon. However, there are some obvious highlights I’m anxious to share, this photo of Mount Shasta being one of them.

Making this photo was one of those lucky close calls. After driving south all day from Hood River Oregon I noticed some interesting clouds developing as I approached the California state line. Nearing the town of Weed CA it became apparent there was going to be some good light over Mount Shasta. However I was still miles away and not familiar with the area. Taking a clue from my trusty guidebook, Photographing Northern California by Gary Crabbe, I sped down a nearby ranch road and managed to set up my tripod just in time to make several exposures.

I’m pretty happy with the results, but further scouting the next day revealed an even better composition just a mile further down the same road. There was even an exit on I-5 that could have gotten me there faster. Oh well, there’s always a next time.

 

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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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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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Winter Heather Meadows Recreation Area

Winter Heather Meadows Recreation Area

Table Mountain North Cascades Washington Winter Heather Meadows Recreation AreaTable Mountain Heather Meadows Recreation Area 56528

Every winter for nearly twenty years I’ve made at least one visit to Heather Meadows Recreation Area. I come here for a variety of reasons, such as being close to home and one of the few places in the North Cascades with relatively easy access to subalpine and alpine terrain. Also because the scenery is some of the best in the state and the ever changing patterns of snow and light make for unique winter photography opportunities.

On this first trip of the 2015-2016 winter season I came mainly to begin getting in shape and acclimated for upcoming ski-photo tours. Last year was a near bust as far as snowpack is concerned, but so far this year winter storms have pounded the mountains resulting in a pretty impressive base. As of this writing the Mount Baker Ski Area reports 146″ in the upper runs, with more storms lined up waiting to dump more snow. The first break in the weather I’ll head back up for a few days of winter camping and photography.

Backcountry skiers North Cascades Washington Winter Heather Meadows Recreation AreaBackcountry skiers heading up to Artist Point 56540

Mount Baker North Cascades Winter Heather Meadows Recreation AreaMount Baker from Artists Point 56535

Nooksack River North Cascades Washington Winter Heather Meadows Recreation AreaNooksack River back down in the valley 56544

 

 

 

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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 Robson

Mount Robson

Mount Robson sunrise, Canadian RockiesMount Robson #54614

Here is another image from last September’s trip to Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies, since this image has garnered an exceptionally favorable response on social media I felt that I should fill in a little background on how it was made. This was my third trip to Mount Robson Provincial Park and I had high hopes of getting some stunning images of the mountain from a few spots I had scouted out on the two previous trips. I had allocated five days to fulfill my goal, but by the third I was becoming frustrated by the lack of interesting light. The weather was spectacular, warm with blue skies, but while great for outdoor activities it didn’t possess the kind of light I had hoped for. Finally on the third morning clouds from an approaching storm arrived just as the sun was coming up, perfect timing and conditions to illuminate the sky and mountains in a warm glow, just what I wanted.

The image above was one of the first made as the sky warmed with a reddish magenta glow. I had thoroughly investigated this spot the day before to see where and how the best compositions lined up, I knew there were many possibilities for both horizontal and vertical images so I mentally took note on which were the best and planned the shoot accordingly if the light cooperated. This plan paid off the next morning as I knew there would be a limited amount of time before the light faded.

However but the time I had finished working this area the light was still going strong. About a half mile east along this basin there was another spot I planned on photographing in the evening or next morning. With the approaching weather I had a feeling there might not be another opportunity like this one so I gathered up my equipment and ran along the basin as fast I could and hastily set up my tripod. By this time most of the warm dawn glow had faded but the light was still intense on the clouds. The third image in this post  is one of the last I made that morning. During the entire shot I used a variety of gradual neutral density filters on lenses from 14mm to 55mm, the post processing was nothing more than adjusting levels and curves with some burning and dodging. I like to keep things on that end as simple and strait forward as possible.

Mount Robson Canadian RockiesMount Robson #54646

The images appearing in this portfolio are 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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Top Eleven Photos 2014

Top Eleven Photos 2014

Once again it is time for all of us to look back on the past year and review our accomplishments and mistakes, in hopes that we will learn from them and experience personal growth in the coming year. 2014 was an exceptional year in which I was fortunate enough to visit some of my favorite truly outstanding locations. The top eleven images (yes other blokes best of lists may go to ten but mine goes one more, up to eleven)  below represent some of the best and most memorable experiences I had behind the camera while on the road and trail in 2014. Many of you that follow me here and on Social Media will recognize some of them, but there are a few that have not been posted anywhere before.

I would appreciate it if you could vote for your favorites in the comment box and share this post with your friends. Thanks to all my friends colleagues and loyal clients for making 2014 a successful year. Happy New Year with the best of health and prosperity for you and your families in 2015!

Mount Baker and Baker LakeMount Baker from Baker Lake #53563 

First in line is this late winter photo of Mount Baker, made on a short overnight backpacking trip along the shore of Baker Lake. One of those wonderful sunrise events where the light gets better every second.

Methow Valley wildflowers, North Cascades Washington

Methow Valley #53744

On a trip to the Methow Valley to discover new locations for Spring wildflowers I came across this beautiful hillside field where I spent several days hunting down compositions in a variety of lighting conditions.

Second Beach, Olympic National Park 2014 Photo HighlightsOlympic National Park #53979

One of the most scenic beaches on the Washington Coast. This photo was made on the summer solstice, behind me the beach was lined with dozens of tents from campers here to enjoy the event.

Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park 2014 Photo HighlightsSol Duc Falls #53867

I visit to Olympic National Park wouldn’t be complete without seeing some of the fantastic forests and streams. The short easy hike to Sol Duc Falls is one of the most popular attractions in the northern part of the park.

North Cascades National Park 2014 Photo HighlightsNorth Cascades #54196

The first of several high season backpacking trips into the Rugged North Cascades yielded this awesome sunrise view from Hidden Lake Peak.

Ruth Mountain North Cascades

Ruth Mountain Mount Baker Wilderness #54363

A week or so later further north in the Mount Baker Wilderness comes this view of Ruth Mountain made from wildflower meadows on Hannegan Peak. After spending a few days photographing on the summit I moved lower down to these meadows, where the warm evening alpenglow cast a nice soft light across the scene.

Mount Robson sunrise, Canadian Rockies

Mount Robson #54618

For me the pinnacle of the year came on this morning view of Mount Robson, King of the Canadian Rockies. This was my third trip to Mount Robson Provincial Park and I was hoping to come back with a great shot of the mountain. The first three of the five days I spent there offered only clear blank blue skies, nice for hiking and camping but somewhat dull for photography. On the fourth morning the first clouds of a storm system arrived just at sunrise, casting an exceptional glow everywhere for about twenty minutes. That brief period was my reward, in the afternoon it began to rain and didn’t stop until I reached my truck 15 miles and a day later.

Berg Lake, Mount Robson Provincial Park

Berg Lake #54660

Another image from Mount Robson Provincial Park offers textbook examples of glaciation. The silty delta of the glacially fed Robson River on the left, the glacial flour suspended in the lake giving it it’s turquoise color, and the Berg Glacier with its lateral moraines tumbling into the lake.

The Ramparts Jasper National Park

Tonquin Valley #54753

Another fantastic location in the Canadian Rockies, the Tonquin Valley of Jasper National Park. Although the light wasn’t of the colorful dramatic type I had hoped for, the steel grey sky and cliffs of the Ramparts accentuated the copper colors of the autumn grasses, creating a foreboding feel to the scene.

Floe Lake Kootenay National Park

Floe Lake #54933

Further south in Kootenay National Park is Floe Lake, set at the base of the awesome limestone cliffs of the Rockwall, a stunning scene at dawn when the water is mirror still. This visit coincided with the needles of the Larch trees turning golden in late September

Kananaskis Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Kananaskis Lake #55057

Lastly in this years highlights is a view Mount Sarrail reflected in the still waters of Kananaskis Lake. At the end of a trip punctuated by unseasonably warm fall weather an Arctic front moved in to deposit several inches of snow on the Canadian Rockies, giving this September scene a wintry look.

While the above photos comprise my favorites of 2014 there are many more in my library that I wanted to include. Please feel free to browse the galleries and portfolios on this website to see more, and don’t forget that all of my photos are available as fine art prints and for commercial licensing. Thanks for looking and I truly hope you have a happy and prosperous 2015!

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