J. W. Donley

Writer, Photographer, Programmer

Category: Photography (Page 1 of 4)

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Big Mushroom!

How is everybody doing out there in the world?

I hope well. If not, this should cheer you up. Here’s this week’s

Photo of the Week!

This time I bring you a shot I took on a little mushroom photo tour with a local photography group. It was tons of fun, even though it was raining the whole time. But the rain is part of what made the experience different and interesting.

All of the leaves and ground cover were soaked, as was I after I chose to lay in the wet mud to take this picture. Before I go out to take more forest floor macro shots I need to invest in a small tarp or some rain pants.

The Mushroom

As for the mushroom, it’s a strange looking fungal beast. I don’t know what kind it is, but it looks gnarly. The rain made it appear extra slimy. I think mushrooms are beautiful. They are so different from other forms of life that we, as humans, are used to. (like puppies and lettuce)

They are like strange alien things from the covers of 70s Yes albums.

This one even has crazy dark horn/nub things covering the cap. I love it!

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Back Trail Waterfall

Guess what time it is…

Its Joe’s Photo of the Week time!

Yeah!

And this time I have a wonderful shot for you from the first time I hiked Heliotrope Ridge. After the first major creek crossing, the trail goes up and up steeply for a ways, following the creek you just crossed upstream. After a bit you come across this view:

Hiking Winchester Mountain

A month or so ago I tried out a new hike in the area.

Winchester Mountain

This was about a 2 mile out a back trail that takes you up to the peak of Winchester Mountain. On this peak sits an old, refurbished, fire lookout.

The trail itself isn’t too difficult. It’s all up, but it’s not overly steep. Really, the hardest part about this trail is getting to the trail head.

The Drive

It lies at the very end of a 7 mile one lane forest road. And the last 2 miles are not maintained. I made it up in my front wheel drive semi-high clearance vehicle, but I would not suggest it in anything lower. Also, I would not dare attempt the drive if it were raining or if there were snow on the road. I had no trouble in the conditions I drove in, but there was one point when I approached a wash-out where I seriously began to question my choices that morning. With a little momentum I made it over that last hump, and just around a turn were the Twin Lakes and the parking lot at the trail-head.

The drive is pretty, but also avoid it if you are afraid of heights. It is a one lane road that runs along side of a very steep hill with no guard rail and then there are steep switchbacks. (I loved it!)

The Hike

The hike starts between the two Twin Lakes and quickly starts to climb and snake back and forth across the face of Winchester Mountain. All along the way you are treated to amazing vistas of massive forested valleys and picturesque views of Mount Baker in the distance.

There is one section that is fairly precarious though. The trail gets ultra thin as it crosses a steep face of loose mountain scree. It then goes up a steep chunk of orange stone up to a small ridge connecting the main mountain to a smaller peak.

Than you climb up the remainder of the trip around the back side of the mountain. Here you are treated to huge views of the valley between Mount Larrabee and Tomyhoi Mountain. Lake Tomyhoi sits at the bottom. Also, even late in the season, snow still waits in the shadowed north face of the mountain.

Once at the top, bask in your accomplishment and enjoy the even better views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Also, be sure to check out the fire lookout, but be respectful of anyone that may be using it to camp for the night.

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Branch and Mountain

It’s time for, yet another, Joe’s Photo of the Week!

This week I give you a picture with it’s focus flopped around. Usually, picturesque mountains in photographs are the center of attention, but in this shot I wanted to blur out the background mountain and put your full attention on the evergreen branch floating in front.

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Shipwreck

Here’s a shot from our little anniversary trip out to the Oregon Coast.

Just west of Warrenton, OR is a little beach with the Shipwreck of Peter Iredale.

It is a gorgeous beach, but this decaying boat steals the show.

 

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Lake Diablo

Are you dreaming of warmer, more sunny days?

Good! Because today’s Joe’s Photo of the Week is from back in sunny summertime.

The family and I took a little road trip out east on I-20 just to see what was out there. This is one of the many stops we checked out that day.

Lake Diablo!

 

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Mushrooms!

It’s time for another Joe’s Photo Of The Week ( week … week … week)

This time I’ve got something a little different for you.

Mushrooms!

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Murderous Glee

It’s my favorite time of year:

Halloween!

And in honor of this stupendous holiday this week’s Photo of the Week is an older shot of mine called:

Murderous Glee

A terrifying clown trashcan at the Grady County Fair

I figured that this image was appropriate given the new adaptation of Stephen King’s It in theaters. (I still need to go see that)

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Samish Overlook South

This week’s photo is from a spot fairly close to Bham. If you drive south on I-5 about 15 minutes than head west you’ll find the Samish Overlook. From here you can hike on up to the popular Oysterdome viewpoint, which I’ve yet to do. But the view from the parking area is amazing.

This photo is the view looking south over the flat farm lands of Skagit Valley.

 

Hiking the Heliotrope Ridge Trail

A Hike up for Glacial Views

Hiking the Heliotrope Ridge Trail in the North Cascades.

As an Okie, seeing a glacier was not something I was likely to see without traveling very very far. Even seeing substantial mountains in Oklahoma was not a real possibility. There were the Wichita Mountains down near Lawton but they were just a patch of high piles of granite boulders. All of it surrounded by plains which teeter on the edge of desert. It is beautiful out there. There are buffalo, and the rugged terrain is a welcome site in comparison to the forever rolling highways edged with billboard after billboard.

The Wichita’s are the best place to hike in that part of the country. But they do not compare in majesty to the North Cascades of NW Washington. Some call them the ‘American Alps’.

Recently I moved out of Oklahoma and up to Bellingham, WA. This is only 30 minutes South of the Canadian border. One of the best perks of living here is the easy access to outdoor adventure.

BHam (as the locals call it) is right on the shore of the Salish Sea. The beaches are less sandy and more rocky here, but the views out the San Juan Islands are amazing.

But to the west are the Cascade Mountains. The volcano, Mount Baker, is in view from everywhere. But it is about 40 miles away. As are all of the awesome trails that meander the sides of the volcano and the landscape surrounding it.

The Hike

The first hike I tried out in the Cascades is Heliotrope Ridge. This hike gets you up close and personal to Mount Baker and a couple of the glaciers anchored to it’s side. Trail is 2.5 miles one way. Almost all up hill. 1800 feet of elevation gain. (according to Dayhiking the North Cascades by Craig Romano)

During this first hike I came across a WTA (Washington Trails Association) volunteer work crew. They are a local organization that helps to maintain the trails. They were out there digging drainage trenches and placing stones and logs to help in the steeper parts. I have great respect for all of volunteers who do this.

I’m not in the best shape, so the first third of the trail is a grueling up hill trudge for me. But after a while you get to a point that you decide you’ve gone too far, and that you might as well just finish. It is then that the trail levels off a bit for quite a while.
There are also a few creek crossings to beware of. The first is an easy stone hop across. The second is not as easy, but there were a couple logs laying over the top. The third isn’t too bad. But the last one is a doozy.

Both times I’ve gone out on this trail I’ve been stopped at this last crossing. The first time I could’ve gone across bare foot and dried off on the other side, but I was already too tired. The second time I came prepared with water proof socks and water shoes to change into. But the weather was substantially warmer, and the glacier above was melting fast enough to make the creek a danger to cross.

Note: Always remember that during the days the temperature will rise causing more glacier melt, which then causes the creeks to rise. Your trip back over the creeks will be more difficult.

So instead I backtracked a bit on the trail and went up the summit route for a view of the glaciers. This route is used by those summiting Mt. Baker and is very steep. But you only have to go up a short distance to get above the tree line and see the Coleman and Roosevelt Glaciers.

Most of the hike you are surrounded by large trees. These trees put Oklahoma trees to shame. They tower above seemingly forever. Occasionally the trees clear out giving you vistas of the surrounding Cascade Mountains and the meandering valleys between. While approaching the last creek, Mt Baker makes itself known and stands tall above the meadows that now surround you as you approach the tree line.

Photos

Conclusion

I love this hike. It is beautiful from beginning to end, with the rolling glacial creeks, the giant trees, and the grand vistas over the valleys radiating from Mt. Baker. I’m a bit biased towards this hike since it was my first North Cascades hike, but I do highly recommend it if you get the chance.

Here’s a little video I put together of my hike here

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