Saturday, November 16, 2019

NEW 2020 Wall Calendars!

 I'm excited to announce my NEW 2020 wall calendars!  I've been working feverishly on these for some time now, and am very happy with the results!

The first one is my Western Landscapes calendar.  It includes images from all over the western U.S. and Canada, including Bryce NP, Bugaboo PP, Glacier NP, Grand Canyon NP, Mount Rainier NP, Redwoods NP, Mount Robson PP, Mount St. Helens NM, Yellowstone NP, Yosemite NP and more!

The second one is from my home state - Mount Rainier! It includes images from throughout Mount Rainier National Park including, Paradise, Mazama Ridge, Spray Park, Emerald Ridge, Christine Falls, Tatoosh Range and more!

You can now order these calendars online in time for the holidays!  I hope you find these calendars as fun to look at as I did making them!

As always, thanks for looking!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Columbia River Gorge, After the Fire

Multnomah Falls amidst fall colors in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon, USA.
Multnomah Falls
I recently visited the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area this fall for the first time since the horrendous Eagle Creek Fire.

The Eagle Creek Fire was started in September 2, 2017 by a 15-year old boy lighting fireworks during a well-broadcast burn ban.  The fire took off at an unbelievable clip.  The fire was reported at 4:00 pm on this day, and by the next morning it had already burned over 3,000 acres.  On September 5th, it actually jumped the Columbia River into Washington near Archer Mountain!  153 hikers were trapped in the backcountry, 6 miles up the trail.  When all was said and done, the fire had burned over 50,000 acres and took three months to finally contain.  It would have consumed Multnomah Lodge if it weren't for fire tenders.  The damage was devastating.

I really wasn't sure what to expect.  Though a totally different event, in my head I was expecting the same type of recovery as Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument after the eruptions.  To a large degree, I think this is true - at a much quicker pace due to the lower elevation.

Latourell Falls amidst fall colors in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon, USA.
Latourell Falls
In some places, if one is unsuspecting, it can be hard to see the signs of the fire.  In other places, not so much.  The underbrush has grown back quickly.  But the charred stumps still remain.  Trees that are continuing to thrive have the black scars on their lower half to remind them of the ill-fated event, yet proudly display their resiliency.

The signs are first noticed while driving along the scenic highway.  Fences that were not previously present have been erected above the road to catch any debris that may come skidding down the mountainside.

The trail from the lower Multnomah viewpoint up to the Benson Bridge has such fencing immediately above the trail.  Signs of the burn are everywhere, including very uncomfortably close to the lodge.  Along this trail are signs of darker times, as well as hope.  Many trees are charred on their lower half, yet stand stoically with their full health up high.  Other trees weren't as lucky.

The good news for people wishing to visit this area is that most of the waterfalls I visited are not affected for photography or simply enjoying from the traditional observation areas.  Of all the waterfalls I visited, only Wahkeena saddened me to sea a large charred stump at the based of the falls, much too large to disappear anytime soon through the course of nature.

Latourell Falls amidst fall colors in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon, USA.
Latourell Falls
The bottom line is that the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is still a very beautiful place to visit.  Don't put it off!

To see more images from this area, be sure to visit my Columbia River Gorge Gallery at www.mountainscenes.com.

As always, thanks for looking!  Hope to see you on the trail!






Friday, September 27, 2019

Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park

Murphy Point and Soda Springs Basin from the Green River Viewpoint in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
Murphy Point and Soda Springs Basin from the Green River Viewpoint in 
Canyonlands National Park.
Created in 1964, Canyonlands National Park attracts recreationists from all over the world.  It's not hard to understand why.  The park is divided into three districts - Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze.  Each one is vastly different from the others and offers its own unique flavor.

Island in the Sky is the most accessible unit of the park, with a paved 34-mile scenic road leading to incredible views such as that pictured here near road end.  Grand View Point and Green River Overlook are incredible places to witness sunrise and sunset on the canyon walls overlooking the Colorado and Green rivers.

This image was taken from the Green River Viewpoint near sunset, just a short walk from my campsite in Willow Flat.  It was recently licensed for a local travel brochure promoting outdoor recreation, the area's primary industry.

You can view more images from this awe-inspiring area by visiting my Southwest Gallery.

As always, thanks for looking!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Panhandle Gap, Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier from below Panhandle Gap on the Wonderland Trail in Mount Rainier National Park, Cascade Range, Washington, USA.
Mt. Rainier from below Panhandle Gap in Mount Rainier National Park.
The highest and most desolate section of the Wonderland Trail resides on the east side of Mount Rainier National Park, above Summerland.  Panhandle Gap is the official high point at 6,750', separating Summerland from remote Ohanapecosh Park.

The trail begins at Fryingpan Creek, where parking can be challenging by mid-day.  This popular trail is gradual for the first two miles before climbing up to a crossing of the creek at 3 miles.  Then is a mile of mostly short, steep switchbacks to Summerland.  There are campsites here and a stone shelter cabin with views of the mountain.

For Panhandle Gap, continue on by descending to the creek crossing and then climbing up, first thru alpine meadows, then thru rough moraine often marked by cairns to a couple high tarns, then a further climb to Panhandle Gap.  The views are glorious all the way.

From the gap, the trail can be followed south as it gently descends into and traverses Ohanapecosh Park.  This area offers wide open wandering for the curious.

For photographers, this trail can be challenging as much of Rainier is obscured from this side, and the desolate nature of the area doesn't necessarily offer a lot of interesting foreground material to put in front of the mountain.  The image above was taken just below Panhandle Gap, and is probably the first interesting view of the mountain in my opinion.  My recommendation?  From Panhandle Gap a path can be followed east as it traverses east along a ridge and descends into parkland, where one can wander open slopes up to a high point with unobstructed views of the mountain.

Bears are commonly seen in the Summerland area in early season, and mountain goats can be encountered throughout the hiking season.  Marmots are also present in Summerland as well as Ohanapecosh Park.  The big glass could come in handy if you so choose.

For landscape photography, my preference is the 24-70mm.

To view more images from Mount Rainier National Park, please visit my Mount Rainier Gallery.

As always, thanks for looking!  Hope to see you on the trail!


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Indian Henry's Hunting Ground, Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier reflected in a tarn in Indian Henry's Hunting Ground in Mount Rainier National Park, Cascade Range, Washington, USA.
Indian Henry was the adopted English name of So-To-Lick, a Klickitat or Yakima according to many tales.  He crossed the Cascade Mountains to call the Mashel Prairie home in 1864, living amongst the Mashel bands, who were thought to be a mix of Nisqually and Klickitat descent.

Henry was known as an excellent woodsman and guide, and gained fame by guiding at least one party attempting to summit Mt. Rainier.  Henry regarded the mountain as sacred and would not attempt the summit himself.  He considered ascending the glaciers to be bad luck.  But he would lead them as far as he could and watch their horses and belongings for them while they climbed.

A patrol cabin was built here in 1915 - 1916, and is still used by park staff patrolling the backcountry.  It seems to lend itself well to the area, offering a sense of history, and its front porch offering a destination for many, wishing for a place to enjoy their lunch or munch on the numerous huckleberries in the area in season.

Today Henry is most remembered by one of his most beloved destinations on the southwest slopes of Mt. Rainier, Indian Henry's Hunting Ground.  This picturesque setting is one of the most scenic areas of the park, offering breathtaking reflections, flowers in the summer, and bright red and orange colors in autumn.  It can even be a fantastic snowshoe trip in the winter for experienced winter travelers!

This reflection scene amongst the flowers of Indian Henry's Hunting Ground embraces the beauty of the park unlike any other, in my opinion.  It's a favorite of mine, and I'm proud to say that this particular image is currently appearing in a local travel magazine in my state of Washington.  I hope others enjoy it as well.

Hope to see you on the trail!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Cascade Pass and Sahale High Camp

Sahale Peak above a rushing stream at a high camp in North Cascades National Park, Washington, USA.
Sahale Peak above rushing stream.
Cascade Pass is one of the most beautiful hikes in North Cascades National Park.  The views actually start right from the parking lot!  It's also known as one of the most historic passes.  Originally known as Skagit Pass  by some, it was originally used by Indians and later, explorers.

Today it is quite popular amongst hikers, backpackers and climbers, and one should not expect solitude.  Hikers enjoy the incredible views from the pass itself, and even continue up Sahale Arm, where the views get even more superlative with each step.

Backpackers continue up Sahale Arm to Sahale High Camp at 7,600' (a 4,000' ascent from the parking lot), or as a starting point for a much longer trek down thru Pelton Basin and Cottonwood Camp (former road end from Stehekin) to Stehekin or up to Park Creek Pass and out Thunder Creek to Highway 20.

Climbers use Cascade Pass as a starting point for the incredible Ptarmigan Traverse, traversing the crest of the Cascades south to Dome Peak and exiting via Downey Creek.  They also use it to climb the peaks in the immediate vicinity of the pass, such as Sahale Peak or Mount Buckner.

View from high camp in North Cascades National Park looking south along the Cascade crest, Washington, USA.
View from Sahale High Camp in North Cascades.
I've enjoyed all these trips mentioned and would be hard pressed to pick a favorite.  Each one offers something special and unique.

For this trip, I had my sights set on Sahale High Camp, and if my recovering injuries allowed, Sahale Peak.

I got an 8:30 am start at the TH and worked my way up the reported 33 switchbacks to the pass, arriving at 10:00.  After a brief break, it was up the trail to Sahale Arm and eventually, Sahale High Camp, arriving just after noon.

Doubtful Lake and North Cascades from Sahale High Camp in North Cascades National Park, Washington, USA.
Doubtful Lake and North Cascades from Sahale High Camp.
The views were as incredible as I remembered them.  I was the first overnighter to arrive, so I had my pick of campsites.  I quickly chose my home for the evening, pictured above.  Yep, that's my tent!

As the afternoon wore on, more people began to show up and the place filled up by evening.

I was also visited by a mother goat and her kid, looking for salt deposits.  Eventually I would learn there were actually two different mothers and kids!

I enjoyed evening photography from a rock bluff just above camp, then returned to my tent for the evening.
Stars and the Milky Way above the North Cascades.

I set my alarm for midnight and awoke to do some night photography and hopefully, capture the Milky Way.  As I set up my camera, I was surprised to look down and see several headlamps coming up!  Who the heck would be coming up this hour?  Following the now cairned route (no trail) would be very difficult in the dark.  I returned to my tent and waited for them to arrive and get settled before I continued night photography.

The group wandered around for a considerable amount of time, likely struggling to find an open site.  It took about an hour for the headlamps to stop lighting up my tent, and I got up and continued my photography.

View from Sahale High Camp at dawn, North Cascades National Park, Washington, USA.
View of North Cascades at dawn.
I then set my alarm for 4:30 am to catch sunrise and tried to get a couple hours more sleep.

Dawn is a time of tranquility and peacefulness, and is my favorite time to photograph.  Usually I am alone or nearly alone, but I was surprised how many others also rose at the early hour simply to experience it for themselves.  I'm pretty sure they enjoyed it as much as I did.

I usually start photographing about 1/2 an hour before sunrise, sometimes more.  These early shots usually turn out to be my favorite.

View of the North Cascades at dawn from Sahale High Camp, North Cascades National Park, Washington, USA.
North Cascades at dawn from Sahale High Camp.
Soon first light began hitting Dome Peak in the distance (snow cap) and shortly thereafter the peaks in front me.  I watched the shadows begin to grow darker and creep down the mountain sides, drawing an end to my early morning photography due to the increased contrast and ever growing harsher light.

I retreated back to my campsite for some coffee and breakfast, and deliberated how to spend the remainder of the day.  I had a permit for a second night, but was strongly leaning toward descending.  My legs didn't have Sahale Peak in them, so it would simply be another leisurely day around camp.  I made the decision to descend after waiting for light to hit Doubtful Lake for one last photo opportunity.

View of North Cascades at dawn from Sahale High Camp, North Cascades National Park, Washington, USA.
North Cascades at dawn from Sahale High Camp.
While packing, I notice a couple descending the route below very slowly and surmised they must be having a problem.

By 8:00 am I was packed up and ready to go, and was nearly the last to leave camp.

About 3/4 of the way down the moraine I came upon the couple I had seen from above.  Sure enough, one of them was "butt scooting" down the path, which meant he was injured.  His ankle had been wrapped in foam and immobilized.  A rock had rolled out from underneath his foot, and he had turned it badly.  I asked if there was anything I could help with, to learn that the woman with him was with the park service, and was actually the same woman who had issued me my permit!  She assured me that more park service people were on their way up with a litter.

Sunrise on North Cascades, viewed from Sahale High Camp in North Cascades National Park, Washington, USA.
Sunrise on North Cascades, viewed from Sahale High Camp.
I wished them the best and continued on my way.  As I descended near the pass, I passed another park service employee on her way up with crutches strapped to her pack.  Sahale Arm is not a place for crutches, and it left me scratching my head how they could possibly make that work.  I spoke with her briefly before descending to the pass.

I arrived to find the large guided group gathered that had camped next to me.  I learned that the injured hiker was actually their guide, and that the injury had not taken place during his descent, but rather the previous afternoon above camp!  The headlamps I saw at midnight were actually his replacement and park service members coming up to help!  Things were now making a lot more sense.

Doubtful Lake and Mt. Formidable from Sahale High Camp, North Cascades National Park, Washington, USA.
Doubtful Lake and Mt. Formidable.
I also learned that as a result of the ranger presence at camp, the idiot flying his drone around was indeed cited.  That's another story!

I continued my descent down to the car, expecting to pass the litter carrying party at every bend.  I was nearly to the parking lot before I reached them.  It was going to be a long day for all involved and I hope the outcome was a good one. Having had Mountain Oriented First Aid (MOFA) training and helping out on a rescue near Leavenworth, I can tell you that getting a litter down a trail can be a long, slow process.

Photo Advise:

This is a weight sensitive trip due to the elevation gain and steepness of the trail (especially towards the top).  Having learned that a couple bears and the goats had been reported in the area, I brought my "bear lens" and 2x teleconverter.  But when it was time to decide on whether to pack it in, I said heck no - not worth it.

My lens of choice was my 24-70mm, and my 14mm Rokinon wide angle for night photography.  These would be my recommendations.

There are lots of flora options near Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm, with lots of potential of putting peaks behind them in your composition.  Above the meadows, it's just moraine up to camp and a world of rock and ice.

I hope this report helps in your own planning.  Feel free to contact me with any questions.  Always happy to help!

If you wish to see more images from this area, please feel free to visit my North Cascades Gallery.

See you on the trail!





Sunday, April 14, 2019

Mount Robson Provincial Park

Mount Robson reflected in Berg Lake, Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.
Mount Robson reflected in Berg Lake.
In my opinion, Berg Lake at the foot of Mount Robson in Mount Robson Provincial Park is one of the absolute highlights of the Canadian Rockies.  The Berg Glacier tumbles down from the uppermost reaches of the mountain, terminating at the side of the lake.  The constant rumbling you hear throughout the day and night (sometimes quite loud) is the ice from the glacier calving into the lake.  This classic view is just a few short steps from your tent site!

Much like Lake Magog in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, getting here involves a long hike in, or scheduling a helicopter ride on one of the two days a week they are allowed to land.

A base camp at Berg Lake offers several exceptional hiking opportunities to explore the area beyond the lake, including Mumm Basin, Hargreaves Glacier, Toboggan Falls and my favorite, Snowbird Pass.

This image is currently appearing on a tourism website.  You can see this image and many more from this area by visiting my Canadian Rockies Gallery.

As always, thanks for looking!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park

Mount Assiniboine above fall larch near Lake Magog, Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.
Mount Assiniboine above larch beginning to turn color.
I have been visiting Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park for many years now, and have come back with some of the most memorable experiences with each and every visit!  These memories include trudging through a foot plus of snow in September, mice infested cabins the one time I took my wife (our anniversary!), a mother grizzly bear and cub flattening my unattended tent, and more!  Yes, Assiniboine holds a special place in my heart.

This image was taken on my very first trip into Assiniboine.  It was mid-September and the larch had just started to turn.  It was a cold visit and we had it mostly to ourselves.  We packed in a tent with plans to stay in the campground, but arrived to find over a foot of snow on the ground and elected instead to stay in one of the Naiset Huts, which were mostly unoccupied and readily available.  Such would most likely not be the case today.  The huts are now reservable and booked well in advance.  Assiniboine has also seen a dramatic increase in popularity as more people are drawn to the "Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies".

While popularity has gained, it still is nothing close to most national parks and I highly recommend a visit.  It's a 17 mile hike in, or helicopter flight, or tandem there of (including having your gear flown in while you do the hike).

For lodging, there is the campground, the Naiset Huts, or the Assiniboine Lodge itself!

This image is currently appearing in an internationally distributed wall calendar by a Japanese manufacturer.

To view more images from the Canadian Rockies - both National Parks and Provincial Parks, feel free to visit my Canadian Rockies Gallery.

As always, thanks for looking!


Monday, March 4, 2019

The Picket Range in North Cascades National Park

The Southern Picket Range as seen from above Luna Saddle in North Cascades National Park, Washington, USA
The Southern Picket Range, North Cascades National Park
The Picket Range of the North Cascades remains the wildest region in the North Cascades.  There are no easy approaches, and most all approaches involve heavy bushwhacking, stream crossings and challenging route-finding.  But for the seasoned climber willing to take on the challenge, the Pickets can be a spectacular place from which lifetime memories can be made.

The Picket Range is divided into two groups - the northern and southern groups.  While both provide challenging approaches, the northern group's are substantially longer and most challenging.

I've been fortunate enough to have spent considerable time in both groups.  While not always successful, the memories of friendships, challenges, celebrations, and defeat that I've brought back live with me forever.

I have fond memories of high camps on Easy Ridge on the approach to Mount Challenger, and camps in Terror Basin while ascending McMillan Spire.

But my most memorable trip was the one in which this image was taken.  It involved taking a boat taxi up Ross Lake to Big Beaver Landing and hiking 10 miles up the Big Beaver Trail.  From here, we "turned off the paved road", venturing cross-country to the raging river known as Access Creek and nervously crossing it on a wet log ever so diligently and greeted by one of the worst bushwhacks I've ever experienced.  The rewards that awaited us were many, with some of the most fantastic high camps I've ever enjoyed.  We climbed both Luna Peak and Mount Fury (East Peak) on this trip, and had hopes of climbing many more as we traversed to the Southern Pickets and exit via Goodell Creek.  We didn't make it to the Southern Pickets this trip, unfortunately.  As often happens, we encountered unforeseen challenges that would require additional time to navigate - challenges we hadn't budgeted time for.  Still, in the arms of defeat, this was a pretty special trip!

The image above was taken from a camp above Luna Saddle, and is currently appearing in a German travel brochure.  While morning photography often involves waking up well before sunset and scampering up some ridge in the dark, such was not the case here.  It was our view from our sleeping bags!

I hope you enjoy.  If you wish to see more images from this area, I invite you to visit my North Cascades Gallery.

As always, thanks for looking!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Wildflowers at Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens above meadows of lupine in Pumice Plain, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington, USA.
Lupine in bloom in Pumice Plain below Mount St. Helens.
When most people think wildflowers in Washington state, they immediately think of Mount Rainier.  And why not?  The area is spectacular!  But further to the south, more people are starting to discover colorful flower displays scattered around Mount St. Helens.

Johnston Ridge is the most obvious and easiest to get to.  Wildflowers can be viewed by the parking lot or on short paved path to an amphitheater behind the visitor center.  For more easy views, the Boundary Trail can be walked below the visitor center from a pullout before the Visitors Center.  For the more ambitious, hike the Boundary Trail east from the Visitor's Center towards the Truman Trail.  All excellent choices, and typically prime in early to mid-July.

If you want to escape the crowds a bit, head to Windy Ridge on the NE side of the mountain.  Again, roadside displays are readily available.  But even better displays await those willing to stretch their legs.  Norway Pass is a famous viewpoint overlooking St. Helens above Spirit Lake.  An eruption of colors can be found along this section of the Boundary Trail, as well as the Independence Ridge Trail.  For the best experience, make this a loop trip, hiking counterclockwise!

From the south side of the Windy Ridge parking lot, walk around the locked gate and walk the former logging road south to the Truman-Abraham Saddle.  Here there are choice to be had (and you can't go wrong with either!).  For flowers, continue walking the road downhill, now known as the Truman Trail, to hook up with the Windy Trail.  Turn right.  In early to mid-June, lavender colored slopes will greet you on Pumice Plain, and if arriving at peak, the aroma of lupine may overtake your senses.

The above image was taken along the Windy Trail along Pumice Plain, after shooting sunrise from the Truman-Abraham Saddle.  A prominent lenticular cloud had been present off the top of the mountain at sunset, but had mostly dissipated by mid morning, when this shot was taken.

This image is currently being used in a keynote presentation by a prominent local technology corporation here in Washington.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Snoqualmie Falls In Winter

Snoqualmie Falls in winter amidst a winter wonderland, Snoqualmie, Washington
Snoqualmie Falls in winter from the lower viewpoint
I'm pleased to announce that this special image of Snoqualmie Falls, taken during an exceptional December cold spell, will be used by Seattle University for a "Mountains to Sound" course they are teaching this winter, which focuses on the geology of the I-90 corridor.  Students will even be visiting the falls mid-course - hopefully it won't be this icy!

This image was taken at sunrise during a particularly harsh December cold spell, causing the spray of the falls to freeze against the surrounding rock and creating a true winter wonderland!

Snoqualmie Falls is one of Washington states most scenic attractions, with 1.5 million visitors annually.  This dramatic 270 foot waterfall is a sight to behold as it plunges to a pool of the Snoqualmie River below.

The best views, in my opinion, are from the observation deck, only 200 feet from the parking lot.  However, the interesting alternate scene pictured here can be viewed by hiking the path down to the base of the falls, or finding the lower parking lot off SE Fish Hatchery Road.

This is one of many images I have taken of Snoqualmie Falls.  If you wish to view more, please feel free to visit my Snoqualmie Falls Gallery.

As always, thanks for looking, and enjoy your winter!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ptarmigan Tunnel - Glacier National Park

A hiker ascends the steep, exposed Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana.
Greg Moo makes the final ascent to Ptarmigan Tunnel from Elizabeth Lake
in Glacier National Park, Montana.
This image is from the end of an incredible week long trip in Glaicier National Park in Montana.  It's referred to as The North Circle, typically beginning and ending at Many Glacier.  However, we elected to start at Logan Pass and end at Many Glacier (with a shuttle back to Logan Pass).

Our variation of this fantastic trip had us visiting such sights as The Garden Wall, Granite Park, Fifty Mountain, Sue Bench, Stoney Indian Pass & Lake, Belly River, Glenns Lake, Mokowanis River & Lake, Elizabeth Lake, Dawn Mist Falls and Ptarmigan Tunnel, and more!  It's a trip that will live in my mind forever, and one that I would like to do again someday.

This image captured my hiking partner, Greg Moo, as we made our final ascent up the trail to Ptarmigan Tunnel.  This section of trail on the north side of the tunnel was blasted from the rock in 1931 as a means to access the Belly River drainage from Swiftcurrent.  This image was recently published in a worldwide design publication.

You can view more images from this wonderful national park in my Glacier National Park Gallery.

As always, thanks for looking!