North Cascades National Park

Mount Logan, North Cascades National Park

In the last entry we explored the Northern Unit of the North Cascades National Park.

The Southern Unit of the North Cascades National Park is much more accessible than its northern sister. Lake Chelan created a natural route deep into the eastern flank of the North Cascades, a relatively short trek over Cascade Pass crosses into the western zone. This route was used by Native Americans, the village of Stehekin at the north end of Lake Chelan translates to “the way through”.

Once Cascade Pass was considered a possible route for what is now the North Cascades Highway but thankfully now is only reached on foot via a 3.7mile hike.

This is probably the most popular hike in the summer, a day hike to Cascade Pass and maybe up and onto Sahale Arm.  Late July the wildflowers explode and it’s really a Sound of Music experience…

North Cascades National Park info on trails and permits.

Sahale Glacier Camp is my favorite camp site on Washington. I have stayed the night maybe 15 times.

The North Cascades National Park turns 50 this year! In October, 1968 the park was officially established. Lauren Danner has recently written a wonderful book “Crown Jewel Wilderness: Creating North Cascades National Park” that chronicles the efforts of many to protect the North Cascades.

From Cascade Pass the trail continues east, dropping through Pelton Basin, and then down the Doubtful Creek drainage. The trail bisects the creek in a wonderful spot on the way down…

Before you reach Basin Creek there is a spur trail heading around the shoulder of Sahale Peak and up to Horseshoe Basin. This is NOT a trail to pass up. It’s a short way up into the basin, a wide semicircle of granite teeth sit in a bed of ice, glistening. Impossibly green swards of meadow slash below and bright blue gleams above… you get the idea.

The upper basin is the home of the Black Warrior Mine. A going concern as recently as the 1950’s, the opening to the mine is carved into the headwall of the valley, several rooms are accessible, littered with the detritus of past inhabitants. A road once led from the mine entrance to Cottonwood Camp, and Stehekin, but little by little nature has won back. As recently as 2003 there was a tour bus that ran a daily route from Stehekin to Cottonwood Camp, barely 11 miles from Cascade Pass!

The American Alps Legacy Project is a coalition working to protect more than 237,000 acres of pristine wild country, from Baker Lake to Washington Pass. Their proposal is to expand the North Cascades National Park. You can learn more here.

In the next post we’ll visit Stehekin, Park Creek Pass and the North Fork of Bridge Creek.

Fine Art and Canvas Prints of these and more images here.

Information about North Cascades Photo Tours here.  

Buckner Mountain from Park Creek Trail

 

These are just a few of the many spectacular hikes in the park. Your opportunities for adventure are endless.

I am planning trips to both Whatcom Pass and Park Creek Pass this summer, to celebrate the 50th Birthday of the Park.

Hope to see you out on the trail.

 

 

North Cascades National Park

The North Cascades National Park is situated in the northwestern corner of Washington State, along the Canada border. It’s a wonderfully rugged piece of wilderness, half a million acres of meadows, jagged peaks, glaciers, forests and wonder.

The North Cascades National Park does not get a lot of visitors, by National Park standards. That’s due in part, to the fact that the park is not on the way somewhere, unless you’re circumnavigating the US border! It’s a 3 hour drive, north from Seattle. In short, it’s an out of the way place. If you got there, its because you meant to!

Which is all fine with me. Less people means more solitude.

The park is bisected by the North Cascades Highway into two units. The North Unit is more remote than its southern sister. There are fewer trails.

The legendary Picket Range is here. Peaks like Mount Terror, Mount Despair and Mt Challenger tower over the deep, wet valleys filled with nasty things like Devils Club.

Trail access from the west side is via Hannegan Pass. Heading east from the town of Glacier on SR 542 (Mt Baker Hwy) for 13 miles there is a well marked turn off for the Hannegan Pass trailhead.

All sorts of important info about permits to camp overnight in the park, can be found here

Its about 4 miles to the pass, and from there you can do a short easy scramble to the top of Hannegan Peak, or a more involved climb of Ruth Mountain.

Just down the east side from the pass you enter the National Park. There is a campsite, Boundary Camp, and a trail junction. You can ascend Copper Ridge to Silesia Camp and Egg Lake, or follow the main trail down the Chilliwack River (there is a spot where you pull yourself over a chasm in a cable car) to a junction where you meet a turn off for the trail to Whatcom Pass.

This is one of the more remote parts of the park. The views of Mt Challenger and its namesake glacier are mind blowing. I have visited twice, the first visit was magnificent, and the most recent a total white out of gray.

From Whatcom Pass you can retrace your steps back to the car, or you can continue your trip east, and hike down along Little Beaver Creek to the shores of Ross Lake and take a water taxi to Ross Lake Resort,  or hike out via Beaver Pass.

A longer and more spectacular trip is to take the turn off for Copper Ridge. This is one of the few ridge hikes in the park, affording breathtaking views of Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker and host of other peaks. There are several camp site along Copper Ridge, Silesia Camp has the best views anywhere, and Copper Lake is a wonderful place to camp along the route.

The trail loops down the Chilliwack River, which you ford just south of the Canada border.

In early August expect to be wading through a river filled with salmon. It is quite a sight. From there its an easy hike to the junction with the Whatcom Pass Trail, and so you can make a loop out of the trek.

 

The Southern Unit has many more access points along Highway 20, Ross Lake to the east and Lake Chelan to the south. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through on its way to Canada.

In the next two posts we will visit some of the most spectacular areas in the lower section of the park.

Here is an image of Mount Logan from the North Fork Bridge Creek.

Mount Logan, North Cascades National Park

Five National Parks: Images from 2018

As I started to review images from this year, the theme of “National Parks” kept coming to me. So here are some of my best images from 5 National Parks this year…

Zion National Park

I visited Zion NP for the 4th time, always a marvel…

Here is an image from a new place, for me: Double Alcove Arch!

And for those who have not heard of the Subway…

“The Subway”, Zion National Park

The Subway, Zion National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

They say the night skies at Bryce are magical…they say right! This is from a short 2 day trip to Bryce in April…

Milky Way, Bryce Canyon National Park

 

North Cascades National Park

I have visited this park more than all others combined. I made the boat ride this year to Hozomeen, along the shores of Ross Lake near the Canada Border, and spent a night at Hozomeen Lake…

Hozomeen Lake, North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park turns 50 in 2018! Here is a link to a wonderful new book, by Lauren Danner, “Crown Jewel Wilderness: Creating North Cascades National Park” which chronicles the efforts of many to create NCNP.

And a shout out to my all time favorite camping place, Sahale Glacier Camp.

Sahale Glacier Camp, North Cascades National Park

 

Olympic National Park

My only trip this year, out west to the Olympic NP was back in February… as always dreaming of my return…

Sea Stacks at Point of the Arches, Olympic National park

 

Yellowstone National Park

I just returned from a Christmas trip to Yellowstone…Cold, crisp mornings, with no one about…I am still digesting the wonder of the place…

Oh, and here is my favorite image from 2017:

Winchester Lookout and the Aurora Borealis, North Cascades

Star Trails above Winchester Lookout, Northern Lights on the horizon

To purchase prints, here is the link.

For information on North Cascades Photo Tours, this is the place!

And, 2018 Calendars are still available! Get them while they last!.

Mount Baker, North Cascades

From Wikipedia: After Mount Rainier, Mount Baker is the most heavily glaciated of the Cascade Range volcanoes; the volume of snow and ice on Mount Baker, 0.43 cu mi (1.79 km3) is greater than that of all the other Cascades volcanoes (except Rainier) combined. It is also one of the snowiest places in the world; in 1999, Mount Baker Ski Area, located 14 km (8.7 mi) to the northeast, set the world record for recorded snowfall in a single season—1,140 in (2,900 cm).[12]

Mount Baker falls with in the confines of the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. Here are a few pictures I’ve taken from various vantage points. You can see more and buy prints and calendars at AndyPorterImages.com

Cascade Loop Photo Trip

Cascade Loop Photo Trip

I drove the Cascade Loop this weekend. It’s about 400 miles through wonderful valleys and over two mountain passes.

The plan was to make it to Index for sunrise. As I drove south the skies were mixed, mostly cloudy, it didn’t look good.

Somehow I made it right on time, drove up the Index Road, crossed the bridge, parked, set up and started shooting. The light up the North Fork was perfect, still some fall colors…and then the clouds lit up.

Gunn Peak, newly dusted with snow, scrapped the sky. Purples erupted.

Leavenworth was the next stop, a night at the Sleeping Lady Resort. Three trips to the outdoor hot tub, two trips downtown for Oktoberfest and two fantastic meals at the Sleeping Lady…yes, I could make a habit of this!

I opted for the long way back, north up Highway 97 to the North Cascades Highway, and then west.

The drive along the Columbia River is relaxing, long sweeping stretches through the sun and shade. The brown dotted with the green of a small settlement.

Things start to get interesting as I drive through Twisp, Winthrop and Mazama. The drive up is exhilarating, the colors, the fresh air…

My last stop is Washington Pass. The highest point along the road at 5,400 feet. I always get excited driving up to any pass… snow is along the road and I am wondering about the trail…

I arrive at 1pm, cars are parked all along the highway. I find a spot left open from an early morning hiker and start the jaunt to the lake.

Most of the people are heading back now, but I would say there were about 60 late afternoon hikers headed up the trail along with me.

The sky is blue, the snow white, the larch orange and the trees green, it doesn’t get much better than this. The images look over photoshopped just out of the camera!

What a perfect weekend. Time to start planning my next Cascade Loop Photo Trip!

Information about Andy Porter North Cascades and Night Sky Photo Tours is available here.

If you’d like to purchase canvas prints they are available in many sizes, frames, etc. Here is the link. 

Click on a gallery to see images and place orders.

 

 

Washington Journey Magazine

Some months ago I was referred to a local travel author for tips on capturing awesome landscape images. I shared my ideas and sent it off with some images. I was a bit surprised to get a call later from a “fact checker” to verify what I had said!

Months past and I assumed the article was scrapped, but behold, here it is in the Fall issue of Washington Journey Magazine.

Departures  — Journeys Issue: September/October 2017

Scroll down a bit for the article “Picture Perfect”.

The next Night Sky Class at the North Cascades Institute is scheduled for Sat. Sept. 16th. This class is through NCI, I am the instructor. We will visit Artist Point.

I will also be doing Night Sky Tours on Friday, Sept. 15 and Saturday,Oct. 21 Here is the Link. 

Classes in Burlington and Marysville start again September.

 

Cascade Pass, Horseshoe Basin and Park Creek

Park Creek flows south from the slopes of Buckner Mountain, bound for the Stehekin River and Lake Chelan…

Buckner Mountain and Park Creek

The trail starts at the junction with the Stehekin River trail, once a road served daily by bus, the upper reaches fallen back to their native state.

After gaining almost 4,000 feet the trail tops out at Park Creek Pass. This is one of the most scenic and seldom visited passes in the North Cascades National Park.

I have visited twice and am hungry to return. The trip has been on my “must do” list for a while, but weather, fires of some other element distracted me. Now I was prepared to go…

Crossing Park Creek

The 40-something switch back to make Cascade Pass get you warmed up. We arrived before 9am, an early start. Heading down through Pelton Basin, the trail made a hard left and plunged down into a new climate. The headwaters of the Stehekin River bring dry eastern air far up this western valley.

Doubtful Creek bisects the trail, a welcome distraction…

Stehekin Valley and Doubtful Creek

A spur trail leads up to Horseshoe Basin…

The next day I am camped at Buckner Camp, along Park Creek. Here are the images from a magnificent trip!