Welcoming Committee

Stehekin Weekend

Stehekin Weekend

We’ve made it onto the ferry early, needing a seat with table so that the boys, Max and Dawson, can get their algebra homework done. A 4-hour ride on the Lady of the Lake II will get us into Chelan just before days end, and we’ll start the drive back over the North Cascades Highway, west to home.

I have been invited to spend the weekend here teaching photographic workshops. I get room and board for the weekend for me and my crew. 32 years ago, in what seemed like another lifetime I caught a greyhound to Chelan, hiked up and over Park Creek Pass and upon reaching the North Cascades Hwy at Colonial Creek, hitchhiked back home. I relive this tip briefly as I board the boat, time traveling as I sit.

My last 2 trips to Stehekin were hike-in affairs, once crossing Cascade Pass and hiking down past Cottonwood Camp along the now abandoned upper Stehekin Road, and more recently time hiking south on the PCT from Highway 20, to High Bridge.

Although hiking is by far my preferred mode of transport, the Lady of the Lake is pleasant, a small town community feel abounds as a theme from when we get on the boat. Seating aboard the lady is Open and you’re free to roam about, taking in the views of the newly snow frosted summits popping up above the lake. Orange larches form a necklace just below the snowfields of the peaks. Not for the first time today I wish I was up, hiking there along the Chelan Summit, among the larches and brown meadows.

The sky is interspersed with clouds and sky as we make our way north, stopping to pick up a few more people here, dropping off a handful of backpackers there. One last stop, in Holden Village, sees a lot of people and goods on and off the boat.

Arriving at Stehekin Landing the fall weather was warm and pleasant, and there was quite a festive group awaiting us at the dock. The permanent population of the village is about 100 souls, but during the season the numbers swell with lodge staff. This is the last big weekend in Stehekin for the season. Mid October sees the weather change, wetter and colder skies are ahead. I talk to several of the seasonal staff, asking where they will head off too next week, one is headed to Key West, another to Taos, New Mexico, to work the winter season at a ski resort, and another has plans that will take her to New Zealand.

Part of the reason for the swell of visitors this weekend is the list of cool events including the annual October Apple Harvest and the Buckner Music Festival.

The orchard is located about 10 miles north of town, along the river road. We arrive Saturday afternoon among a throng of busy apple pickers, slicers and mashers, all working in unison to press as much cider as they can. A camp stove sits nearby, a bottomless pot warming the cider beckons.

The look and feel of the farm is magnificent. The people living here have a marvelously genuine and friendly demeanor and one can’t help imagine life, living here in the valley. Yeah, I think I would like this.

There is a band striking up the music, a pot luck lunch and a bonfire. Besides drinking my share of warm cider I interest myself capturing images of all the old farm equipment scattered about. The boys are happy to be here, but soon are urging me to head out, they have a hankerin’ to visit the Stehekin Pastry Company as soon as humanly possible. We make our way back to the river road and hitchhike back to town.

You can’t drive a car to Stehekin. The ferry, float plan or afoot are the three ways to arrive. Any cars that are here were brought by ferry and generally stay here. The couple who pick up us 3 scruffy hitchhikers are from Chelan and have a cabin here, which the call home most all summer. This is there last weekend as well. Out on a drive looking for bears they have not seen any today.

We joyfully get out and head into the Pastry Company, luxuriating in the smells. Now hard choices are before us. Which delicious treat to choose? Mountain bars, Almond-Apple pastry, sinful brownies and much more entice us. Several of each sounds good, along with a triple mocha and 2 hot chocolates.

The red National Park Bus arrives and we catch a ride back to the landing along with a dozen or so people fresh off the boat who have just returned from a trip to Rainbow Falls. We are welcomed aboard with our snacks and hot drinks.

Things are nice and easy here in the North Cascades National Park!

The food at the lodge is awesome; we all order the Steak and Frittes, seeing how much we can eat before buttons start flying. The take home containers are full!

Friday night brings the Stehekin Valley Music Festival, we arrive at a new looking log cabin in the dark and there about 35 people crammed in, listening with rapturous intent to the different musicians. I am outside, circumnavigating the house, looking for the nice shot of the Milky Way above.

I am here to teach several courses one on composition and another on night sky imaging. My night sky class is scheduled for tomorrow night, but I am pretty sure we will not be seeing stars then, there is a storm forecast for Saturday. So I ask some two people outside in the dark for a nearby spot to go for a nice view of the lake and sky, they drop me off at the trailhead and point me on the trail. As I hike up the hill I am surprised to see I am walking through a camp site full of weekend revelers. Once my imaging is complete and I am on the way back I am accosted with questions of what sort of firewood I am toting. I explain that it’s a tripod and before I know it I am invited under a canopy tent for some scotch. My 4 new ‘ladies night out friends’ share stories and lots of laughter before I make my way back to the lodge and the boys.

The incessant rain on Saturday did little to dampen our spirits, we discovered a Rec Room for Lodge guests, replete with satellite TV, games, puzzles and a pool table. This is a welcome relief, because my aura of coolness faded a bit when we arrived and discovered that there would be no internet connection.

This morning I am up before sunrise, out to see what the sky may bring. Fall is a wonder of rich colors. I walk through empty Purple Creek Campground and north along the road. Another great meal and a short hike later we are ready to get on the boat.

Good-bye, North Cascades, you’ll see me again soon.

Mountain Goat at Sahale Glacier Camp, North Cascades National Park 3

Sahale Camp Mountain Goat

Just back from a trip to the North Cascades National Park, 2 nights, 3 days, visited my favorite camp, Sahale Glacier Camp.

This morning I awoke at 5am, got some sunrise shots and then the camp got a visitor.

This goat was pawing the ground and I was nearby, snapping away, then he got a bit interested in me and the camera!

I was shooting with a 24-105mm lens, set to 30mm (on a full frame camera) so my furry friend was a bit closer than he looks on the pictures!

Artist Point NCI Class 2

Recent Night Sky Images

Over the past 3 weeks I have visited the Pasayten Wilderness, the Glacier Peak Wilderness, Winchester Mountain Lookout (twice), Artist Point – for a North Cascades Institute Class and the Diablo Overlook – for a North Cascades National Park  class.

The Glacier Peak trip was not during ht e new moon, but I was able to get a few good shots early in the night, before moon rise. I was out working to capture an image of the tent at Upper Lyman Lake, with the Milky Way behind, over Spider Gap. I could clearly hear and animal sniffing around. It was a deer, come to find place where anyone peed, to lick the spot for any lingering salt.

I decided to see if I could capture the deer in the image, and it worked pretty well!

The Winchester Mountain Look out is a perfect place to spend the night and shoot night sky images…

The Night Sky Photo Class that I lead though the North Cascades Institute was held at Artist Point. There were 14 of us, we parked at the Artist Point rest area and started to hike to Huntoon Point. There were more than 50 other night sky photo enthusiasts there, all out along the same trail! We asked and were told that they were all from Vancouver, BC! The skies got cloudy, but we managed a  few shots.

The last class was on Aug. 1st, another Night Sky Photo Class, this one through the North Cascades National Park, as a part of the NPS Centennial. About 15 people arrived and we hung out at the overlook, trying to learn the basic tools of night sky capture.

There are two New Moons in September, on the 1st and 30th! If you’re interested in a Night Sky Photo Tour, here are the details!

Landscape Class July 11

Photo Classes at North Cascades National Park

Photo Classes at North Cascades National Park

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Landscape Class July 11

This is definite cause for celebration! National Parks are fantastic places, full of wonder and fun.

I am proud to be leading two classes in the North Cascades National Park this summer!

The first class is a Landscape Photography Workshop, scheduled for Monday, July 11th from 6 to 9pm. The class will be held at the North Cascades National Park Visitors Center, in Newhalem.

Be sure to bring your camera! We will start the class with a lecture and slide show covering the basic of Nature Photo Composition and then we will head out side to practice what our new-found knowledge!


Night Sky Aug. 1The second class is a Night Sky Photography Class. This will be held on Monday, August 1st at the Diablo Lake Overlook, at Mile Marker 132, on the North Cascades Highway.

This class is for anyone interested in capturing images of the Milky Way. There will be no moon in the sky, and if we get clear skies we will be able to see and capture the arc of the Milky Way above Diablo Lake!

See the flyer here for a list of what you need to bring!

Both classes are free. Hope to see you there!

Email me of you have any questions: andyporterphotography@gmail.com

Spider Meadows, Glacier Peak Wilderness

Summer Backpacking Plan 2016

Schools out for summer! This year the song has new meaning, and actually has more excitement for me as a teacher than it did as a student.

The plan for back country excursions and North Cascades Classes this year is:

Note: To see details for all my classes in the North Cascades National Park  are here.

AND details of classes at the North Cascades Institute this summer/fall, follow this link.

IF YOU are interested in coming along on any of these longer backpacking excursions, contact me! andyporterphotography@gmail.com

July 11 – North Cascades National Park Landscape Photography Class (free) 7-9pm

Cathedral Peak trip – 6 days, Mid July 12-18. This is a 60-mile RT hike, through the Pasayten Wilderness. Starting at the Iron Gate Trail head the route follows the Boundary Trail to Cathedral Lake. Here in the basin you are sandwiched between Amphitheater Mountain and Cathedral Peak. One of the coolest spots ever! I great early summer trip.

Spider Gap – Upper Lyman Lake July 20-24. This is a short and relatively easy trip, with unparalleled views. I cannot wait to do this trip!

July 30 Winchester Lookout. I was there 2 x last year, a short hike and unbelievable views. Great for Night Sky imaging.

July 31 Artist Point North Cascades Institute Night Sky Class

Aug. 1 North Cascades National Park Night Sky Class (free)

Aug. 2 Hidden Peak Lookout. I have never stayed overnight at the Hidden Lake Lookout, but reckin it would be beyond compare for night sky pics.

Aug. 3 Park Butte Lookout

Park Creek Pass Loop  – 6 days Early Aug. 5 -10. This is my most ambitious trip for the summer, 7 days and three steep passes, (Easy, Park Creek, Cascade) through the most remote parts of the North Cascades.

Aug. 21 – North Cascades National Park Slide Show at Colonial Creek (free)

All dates are estimates, based on weather and trail conditions!

Morning light

North Fork Bridge Creek

North Fork Bridge Creek Waterfall and Mount Logan, North Cascades National Park 2015The North Fork Bridge Creek Trail is one of the most scenic trails in the North Cascades National Park.

Goode Mountain, North Cascades National Park

Goode Mountain, North Cascades National Park

Winding its way up the valley towards North Fork Meadows you will see fantastic views of Goode Mountain, the highest peak in the North Cascades National Park at 9,220 feet, rising over 6,000 feet from its footings, and almost 7,000 feet from the bottom of Bridge creek valley.

Sign to North Fork MeadowsThe often brushy trail is 7 miles long and gains about 1,700 feet from start to end. To get there hike 10 miles south on the Pacific Crest Trail from Highway 20 .

You’ll ford Grizzly Creek and then break out into the open with views like this one. North Fork MeadowsTo purchase prints of these images (as well as other stunning images of the North Cascades, visit our Photo Gallery.

Following the creek up towards the head of the valley into North Fork Meadows, Mount Logan looms above.

The lush green swards are filled with flowers, as well as hordes of flies in July and early August and often there are bears foraging along your way. Bear on the PCT Bear at Horseshoe Basin

No matter what the weather, you’ll get wet pushing through the brush.

Seven miles from the junction, the North Fork Trail ends at the base of a fantastic waterfall with Mount Logan as a spectacular back drop.

Camping is available at Grizzly Creek and Walker Park.

Or you can camp at the North Fork Camp, located at the trail Junction of the PCT and North Fork Trail.

If you would like information about a North Cascades Photo Tour, here is the place to start!