Goat Rocks Wilderness Under Smoky Skies

The Goat Rocks Wilderness, located in the Central Cascades of Washington State, is filled with wonder. Goat Lake, Snow Grass Flats and Cispus Basin are but a few on the many splendors. The Pacific Crest Trail bisects the wilderness so it is usually a busy place in the summer. Here are two pics from a trip in 2016.

Depending upon your access point, its not hard to intersect the Pacific Crest Trail, which is what we did, from the Snow Grass Flats Trail. Its about 5 miles to get to the junction, and our goal was to camp as high as we could, making it easier to spend sunset at the main attraction, the Knife’s Edge.

Due to the unusually hot July we had, the south facing slopes we ascended were dry. Looking up, the peaks surrounding were almost naked, only a very few small snow patches remained.

We made our way up, looking for the elusive camping spot, made more difficult due to lack of water.

Our final resting spot for the night was a magnificent camp, just below the last remaining snow fields below Old Snowy.

We hid in the shade until the proper hour and ascended to the “summit” of the PCT. High above the timber line the PCT climbs to a junction. Heading right you’ll climb steeply up Old Snowy to a saddle where the trail makes a turn, here are the views towards the north and south.

This is the highest point along the PCT in the Goat Rocks. If you want to scramble up the rest of the way to the top of Old Snowy, it takes about 15 minutes, one way.

Continuing upon the PCT, (headed north) the trail now descends along what is known as the Knife’s Edge. The long ridge zigs and zags down, and the trail is blasted into the very top of the serrated, sinewy ridge line as it descends into the abyss…

Its a cool place.

A short way down the trail reconnects to the “bypass”.  Back at the trail junction: If you’d gone left the trail skirts along steep slopes to meet the PCT as it descends along the first section of the Knife’s Edge.

And a very smoky abyss as you can see from the images. There are a forest fire nearby, and the horizons were smoggy. During the day, I could not see even a hint of Mount Rainier, or Mt Adams. Only at sunset could you make them out at all.

My plan was to climb up, camp a few days getting images of sunrise and sunset and night sky from that vantage point, but alas, the smoke was there to stay!

Here is my best shot from the trip:

Interested in Photo Tours? Photo Classes? Buying Prints? Visit Andy Porter Images and joy you will find.

Velikiy Novgorod

Novgorod is a beautiful city in Russia, I am just back from a visit.

Veliky Novgorod (Russian: Вели́кий Но́вгород, IPA: [vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət]), also known as Novgorod the Great, or Novgorod Veliky, or just Novgorod, is one of the most important historic cities in Russia,[15] which serves as the administrative center of Novgorod Oblast. It is situated on the M10 federal highway connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg. The city lies along the Volkhov River just downstream from its outflow from Lake Ilmen.

Population: 218,717 (2010 Census);[8] 216,856 (2002 Census);[16] 229,126 (1989 Census).[17] At its peak during the 14th century, the city was the capital of the Novgorod Republic and one of Europe’s largest cities.[18]

Anyway, I was there to visit my wife’s parents. I stayed a week and had the luck to visit quite a few wonderful places.

First, is the Novgorod Kremlin, which is a giant castle-like enclosed area, with turrets, moats and the like, situated on a bluff above the Volkhov River.

I did a Photo Tour there one evening.

There is a foot bridge that crosses the Volkhov River connecting the Kremlin to a part of the city with many very old churches. We strolled over and about.

As the sun set the colors were amazing. It was an incredibly pleasant city for a sunset stroll!

Not far from the city is a famous Monastery, St. George’s Monastery. We visited and walked about. There is a walled, enclosed area, and several churches, one of which we visited inside. The monastery is along the shores of a lake, and out side is a beach filled with people sunbathing and having a cookout!

There was another monastery we visited, arrived just as it was closing, and so I was only able to sneak in for a few quick pics before the locked me in!

Trip to St. Petersburg, Russia

I recently visited Russia. More specifically, I visited Saint Petersburg and Novgorod.

The reasons for the trip were many, my wife, Svetlana is from Novgorod and goes every summer with our son, Max, to visit her parents. This year happened to provide the World Cup Soccer spectacle in Russia, and so we entered a lottery, (never expecting to win) for a semi-final match, on July 10th, (which is Max’s birthday), and we won!

France vs. Belgium, Semi-final, July 10th @ Saint Petersburg Stadium

Winning in this sense meant that we were now allowed to purchase the tickets for the game!

And so we received our tickets and booked the flights to St Pete.

My brief stay in the city took us to several wonderful spots where I managed a few images. Here are two random shots from the streets.

One of the places we visited was St Isaac’s Cathedral. Here is the info on the place from Wikipedia.

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor (Russian: Исаа́киевский Собо́р) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral (sobor) in the city. It is the largest orthodox basilica and the fourth largest (by the volume under the cupola) cathedral in the world.[5] It is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great, who had been born on the feast day of that saint.

And here are some of my images. You can tour inside, AND navigate the stairs to the roof as well!

Next we visited the Peterhof Palace. Again, info from Wikipedia here.

The Peterhof Palace (Russian: Петерго́ф, IPA: [pʲɪtʲɪrˈɡof],[1] German for Peter’s Court)[2] is a series of palaces and gardens located in Petergof, Saint Petersburg, Russia, laid out on the orders of Peter the Great. These palaces and gardens are sometimes referred as the “Russian Versailles“.

And a few images from our self guided tour!

That’s it for now, stay tuned for the next installment, Veliky Novgorod!

Night Sky Images at Winchester Lookout

The Winchester Mountain Fire Lookout is located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, along the Mount Baker Highway. This is one of the few remaining lookouts in Washington. Most of them were removed, but several are now maintained by local alpine clubs. The Mt Baker Club does a fantastic job of caring for and maintaining the Winchester lookout, you can donate to their efforts here.

During the summer the lookout is open to the public, you can day hike up and spend the day there, or if you’re inclined, you can spend the night. There are no reservations, its first come, you got it for the night. If you hike up and the lookout of already claimed for the night there is plenty of flat space nearby where you can pitch a tent.

I have hiked up and spent the night atop Winchester Mountain 5 times, three of those trips I slept in the lookout, and 2 times I camped in my tent. Basically, if you want to sleep in the lookout, go on the weekdays and go very early. And bring a tent or a bivvy sack just in case! Oh yes, and bring all your water, there is none there, nor along the hike.

The view from the lookout is unbelievable.

As you can imagine the night sky views are fantastic. To the south and east the darkness is almost complete. The western horizon is aglow in the direction of Vancouver to the north, Bellingham to the west and Skagit Valley south.

These 4 images were taken during the same evening. Check out the green aurora glow!

During the same night, a view of Mount Larrabee from Winchester.

Here is one more for good measure. Good luck and happy shooting! I may see yo there.

If you’re interested, Night Sky Photo Tours are available, you can find out more here. 

Silesia Camp and Copper Ridge, North Cascades National Park

The North Cascades National Park turns 50 this year! Learn more about its history here.

This is the 4th post in a series highlighting spectacular places in the North Cascades National Park. You can access earlier posts here.

Silesia Camp is located along Copper Ridge in the northern section of the North Cascades National Park.

You can hike there in one day, access is from the Hannegan Pass trail head. You must have a permit to camp there. Details here.

There are few camp sites with a better view then Silesia Camp.







Diablo Lake Overlook, North Cascades National Park

The Diablo Lake Overlook is located on Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway) at mile marker 132 and is a part of the Cascade Loop .

From the intersection of Highway 20 and Interstate 5, its about 90 minutes drive to get there. The overlook is just east of Colonial Creek Campground. Open to traffic year round, its a wonderful place for sunsets.

Diablo Overlook Panorama

Night sky imaging is also wonderful at the overlook, the lake below and Colonial Peak above make for some stunning shots.

Diablo Overlook

Night 4

Cascade Loop

Stars at the Diablo Overlook, North Cascades National Park

Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan in eastern Washington is a wonderfully friendly and scenic space. At the south end of the lake sits the resort town of Chelan. Here are a few images of sunset from the hills above Chelan, from last weekend.

The local area is filled with orchards and wineries, spring is a wonderful time for a visit. Chelan is part of the Cascade Loop, so you can get all sorts of info for your trip at the Cascade Loop page.