Monday, December 28, 2009

Snoqualmie Falls in Winter

Snoqualmie Falls is one of Washington state's biggest tourist attractions, attracting over 1.5 million visitors per year. It's close proximity to Seattle makes it an ideal destination of convenience. And it is a worthy destination indeed.

The Snoqualmie River drops 270 feet over the famous falls in thunderous fashion. It is truly a spectacle to behold no matter the time of season you visit.

Some seasons do offer more than others however. Spring presents high water volumes as the snow begins to melt in the high country. The summer sun lights up the falls and northwest facing cirque, creating unforgettable evenings at sunset. November rains and warm temperatures often result in flooding along the Snoqualmie River, making the falls not only thunderous and wet while observing from the deck, but sometimes difficult to get to due to road closures. December brings freezing temperatures and scenery more typically associated with Alaska or some other cold climate. The rewards can be breathtaking!

A couple of weeks ago I packed the truck up in darkness and headed over Tiger Mountain to the falls in hope of finding a winter wonderland. I was not disappointed! The spray from the falls coupled with low valley fog created a serene setting in the bowl of the falls. It was an incredible sight!

I began my morning at the observation deck, which I believe to be the best vantage for the falls. The birds eye view is second to none in my opinion.

Though others had the same idea in mind, the viewers were few early on. I spent a considerable amount of time playing with compositions. When I felt I had exhausted most all opportunities, I changed lenses for a different feel and started all over again. The wider angle lenses showed the massive waterfall in all its surroundings, while the zoom lens allowed me to isolate on certain unique features of the area that I felt told a story.

Finally it was time to move down to the viewpoint below the falls. A quick drive had me at the lower parking area and walking swiftly towards the falls. The path is interesting as it takes you past a PSE generator building on a chain link fenced boardwalk.

The view from the lower platform is quite interesting, but not on par with the observation deck above. Photographers will and do grow frustrated with it as branches interfere with prospective compositions.

So, despite the signs saying to stay on the boardwalk, visitors have created a well-worn path down the steep rock to the river's bank below, and unobstructed views to the main event.
The ice presented a lot of interesting compositions from here. I had a lot of fun isolating different elements and playing with compositions. The possibilities were endless with the various ice formations teasing me at every turn.

The area was also quite slick. Very slick in fact! Another photographer I ran into was wearing Yaktrax. As a mountain climber in ownership of several pairs of crampons, I must admit to always hoisting my nose in the air at these "wannabe" devices. Not anymore. I requested and received a pair for Christmas!

I strongly recommend visiting the falls in all seasons. And since I have yet to view them in summer, I will heed my own advice! November during flood stage is truly an incredible time to see them. Make sure you check for local road access before heading out, or your visit may be one of frustration. As you can see, winter offers a totally different perspective of the falls and surrounding area; one in which ice is the focus.

I hope you enjoy my sampling from the area, and that it motivates you to visit them for yourself. You may view more of my images from this location here if interested.

Be safe and enjoy!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2010 Greater Seattle InfoGuide

I just received my copies of the 2010 Greater Seattle InfoGuide from Vernon Publications, which includes several of my images from around our state. It turned out quite nice!

The InfoGuide is a great publication to pick up if you are looking for things to get out and do, and is available at most hotels and tourist destinations around the greater Puget Sound area.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Return of the California Bighorn Sheep

I love visiting the Oak Creek Wildlife area outside of Naches in January/February each year and seeing the large numbers of California bighorn sheep descend from the hills above. The rams in particular are fun to watch, especially when they decide to practice their rutting techniques!

So it was a nice surprise when I was contacted by a graphic designer wishing to use one of my images for an interpretive sign in the Umatilla National Forest! The sign is to celebrate the return of the California bighorn sheep to Oregon after previously having been exterminated.

Through the efforts of the Oregon Department of Wildlife, the bighorn sheep have returned. They were reintroduced to Patomus Creek in 2003 and are now thriving in the area. This sign will be permanently displayed at an interpretive display there, and I am excited to go see it in person, as well as visit and learn about the area!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Backpacker Magazine Online

If you didn't get a chance to pick up the October issue of Backpacker magazine, you can catch the "National Parks Hall of Fame" article by Jim Gorman on their web site here.

The printed article is accompanied by a couple of my images from my trip to Glacier National Park last summer, in which we did a variation of the North Circle. However, only the image shown here supports the online version.

We spent a total of 7 days doing the North Circle in August, spending time at Granite Park, Fifty Mountain, Sue Lake, Stoney Indian Pass & Lake, Mokowanis Lake, Elizabeth Lake & Ptarmigan Tunnel. Sue Lake was accessed by climbing over the shoulder of Mt. Kipp from Fifty Mountain and descending the Chaney Glacier down to Sue Lake Bench. A cross country descent led us down to intersect the Stoney Indian Trail and put us back on the North Circle proper. This variation allowed us to avoid descending several thousand feet down to Waterton Lake, only to have to regain it again to Stoney Indian Lake. And Sue Lake Bench was worth its hardships in gold.

Here is a more detailed account of our trip posted on NWHikers, complete with pictures.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Covington Holiday Bazaar

My last show of the year was at the Covington Holiday Bazaar on Saturday. It was a little slower than I had hoped, but I still had a lot of fun. To those of you who stopped by to say 'hello', thank you - it was good to see you!

This show was made particularly interesting by the fact that my printer failed me on Thanksgiving morning, and had to be taken in for service. Due to part availability, I didn't receive it back until Friday afternoon - the day before the show! This made Friday night a late one, with an early rise Saturday morning to finish up!

My next scheduled appearance will be March 25th, 2010 at the Olympic National Park Visitors' Center Auditorium. I'll have more information as that date approaches.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Covington, here we come!

Is it really December already? Where did November go? For that matter, what happened to October?

Ok, reality check - December has arrived. This is the month I turn a year older, the bank account takes a serious hit "in the name of Santa", and my schedule gets turned upside down due to family commitments! But, there is something else...

The 2009 Covington Holiday Bazaar this Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Covington MultiCare Clinic!

This is our first year participating in this event, but we are pretty excited. It's a weekend long event, and includes the arrival of Santa and the lighting of the Christmas Tree. Should be a lot of fun! It will also likely be our last show of the year.

If you get a chance, come by and say hello. It would be fun to meet you!

I plan to have a lot of new prints available, and hopefully lots of new notecards as well. Did I mention it will be a lot of fun?