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

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.

 

Star Trails

Here are my first two efforts at star trails.

This image is from Friday night, at the Diablo Overlook, along Highway 20 in the North Cascades National Park

and this image was captured on Sunday night, along the Baker River in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest.

The next new moon is June 23rd…I will be teaching a class on Night Sky Photography through the North Cascades Institute on Friday, June 23rd, details here.

OR if you’d like to go on a Night Sky Photo Tour, have a look here.

Mount Shuksan and Picture Lake, North Cascades

Mount Shuksan is reported to be the most photographed mountain in North America. One possible reason for this is that Picture Lake and this vantage point are just a few feet from where you park along the Mount Baker Highway.
Mount Shuksan
You can see faintly a SUV there, on the left that I forgot to photoshop out…

This image is from a September visit, nice red color from the huckleberry bushes.

This spot is about a 60 mile / 90 minute drive from my house, in Sedro Woolley. The last 10 miles gain 4,000 feet and its quite twisty!
I have visited many times at night, hoping to capture the great arc of the Milky Way Galaxy above Picture Lake and Mount Shuksan. This image is from a visit in June.
mount-shuksan-and-the-milky-way-jan
To get a good image of the Milky Way you need a wide angle lens. This allows you to have a longer exposure, capturing more light. But the wide angle lens also makes everything look farther away!

If you would like to learn how to go about capturing night sky images like these you may be interested in a North Cascades Night Sky Photo Tour. This is where we meet some near Sedro-Woolley and I give a guided tour to a great location for night sky imaging (like Picture Lake!) and then assist you to capture your own images.  Here is the link to learn more. There are drive-in tours, where we return home late after our photo shoot, and also Overnight Tours here we will backpack into a cool location for night sky imaging, like her at the Winchester Mountain Fire Lookout.

winchester-lookout-10

 

Diablo Overlook Winter Night Sky

On Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 I made my way to the Diablo Overlook on the North Cascades Highway.

The plan was to see about a few sunset pics and then wait for the stars.

Here are the results!

diablo-winter-panoranaThis is 4 images, photo merged into a panorama.

And a few more. The 2017 dates for the North Cascades Night Sky Photo Tours are set. Here is the link to find out more, and if you’re interested, register for this years tours.

Images of 2016

The year has come to an end.

2017 and the future beckon. Like it or not, here they come!

But today is a day for reflection. To look back and see what was accomplished, to revisit the beauty and wonder I commiserated with and to merrily contemplate new sights to see and places to go.

First Beach, Olympic Coast

First Beach 3  These two images were captured at the fishing village of La Push, on the Olympic Coast. The image on the right is backlit by lights at the marina.

The image on the right features Orion as well as Em and Amber!

2017 Calendars are still available here!

 

One evening on the spring I had a premonition of a fiery sky, I headed over to Bow and found these images.

The Tulip Festival started in February again…well, the daffodils did anyway… Trying to find that perfect match with the flowers and the sky…what a fun problem to have!

My first serious backpack for the year ended up getting rained and stormed out midway, but I did find a few flowers along the way, in the Pasayten Wilderness.

My night sky images for the year took me to Diablo Overlook, Washington Pass Overlook and Winchester Mountain Lookout several times each.

The opportunity opened to return to Spider Meadows, and climb up and over the pass at Spider Gap. What a fantastically exhilarating feeling to crest the top and look down to Lyman Basin below…

If you haven’t spent the night in a Fire Lookout, make sure to put it on your list…choose a evening when there are mostly clear, partly cloudy skies forecast and get ready for a color show! These images are from Winchester Lookout, above Twin Lakes.

Fall is a wonderful time for hiking, no bugs and great colors…these images are from Washington Pass and Blue Lake.

I led a Night Sky Photo Tour Eastern Washington to capture images of the old Govan School House… if you’re interested in learning Night Sky  Imaging, you may like to come out on a Night Sky Photo Tour

And lastly, visited my favorite camping spot in Washington, Sahale Glacier Camp! Here are some details if you’d like to go out on a North Cascades Photo Tour this coming summer!

I wish you excitement and adventure in 2017, anything but a boring life! I look forward to hearing of and seeing images of the places you go and the things you do! Have fun and hope to see you on the trail,

Andy