PNW

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Sunglasses Lakes!

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Sunglasses Lakes!

Here is another shot from that hike up Winchester Mountain. These are the Twin Lakes. From the top of Winchester they look like a pair of sunglasses. My car is parked in the lot between those two lakes.

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
Joe’s Photo of the Week – Mt. Larrabee

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Mt. Larrabee

Here is another hiking shot from the end of the fall hiking season up hear in Washington State. It was only a few weeks after this shot was taken when the snow rolled in, making many hikes in my area unreachable with my vehicle. I do not have 4 wheel drive.

This is Mt Larrabee as seen from the top of Winchester Mountain. Here’s a video I put together from that hike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOM0JkqRV24

Mt Larrabee is the front peak. American Border Peak is right behind it and slightly left. And beyond that is Canadian Border Peak and the exotic lands of Canada.

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
Joe’s Photo of the Week – You Schmuck

Joe’s Photo of the Week – You Schmuck

This week I figured I’d share something a little different for my Photo of the Week. Living in the Pacific North West as many perks; and one of them is only being hours away from where The Goonies was filmed!

Name that scene!

Here are my wife and son standing outside of the jail, which a film museum.

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
Joe’s Photo of the Week – Happy New Year!

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I wanted to start this year off with a bang and share my very favorite recent shot. This was taken a couple months back at a night photography workshop I attended.

The white light is a fellow photographer’s headlamp. All of the red light is also from the other photographer’s head lamps. I like the extra light, that’s what makes this image fun to me.

 

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
Joe’s Photo of the Week – Big Mushroom!

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!

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
Joe’s Photo of the Week – Lake Diablo

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!

 

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
Joe’s Photo of the Week – Samish Overlook South

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.

 

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
Hiking the Heliotrope Ridge Trail

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

Do you want to see more posts like this? Let me know! And do consider becoming a patron of my writing here:

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
Joe’s Photo of the Week – Mt Baker Appreciation

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Mt Baker Appreciation

Today I bring you sad sad news. Last week the last 2 miles up to Artist Point have been shut down until the snow thaws next year.

But, to cheer us all up, this week’s photo isn’t just one photo; it’s a collection of photos of Bellingham’s favorite volcano!

Mt. Baker!

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
PNW Photo of the Week – Raptor Ridge Trail

PNW Photo of the Week – Raptor Ridge Trail

From here in Bellingham I have access to a lot of amazing hiking trails. Just over an hour east and there are trails crawling over the North Cascades surrounding Mt. Baker. But there are also trails right here in and around the city of Bellingham.

A large system of trails called North Chuckanut Trail System borders the south edge of town. These trails traverse through a patchwork of state parks, city parks, and forest lands. Some of the biggest portions are in Larrabee State Park and Arroyo Park.

Awhile back I tried out a large loop leading up to Raptor Ridge. This is 8ish mile round trip takes you up to some of the highest elevation in the Chuckanut mountains.

How To Get There!

Here is a great description of the hike: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/raptor-ridge-chuckanut-mountain

Unlike that description I started from the North Chuckanut Trailhead. Instead of turning onto Old Samish Way, just keep going straight on Chuckanut drive for a tiny bit and you’ll see a sign and parking lot on the left for the trail head. You’ll just hike north on the Interurban trail until you get to a marker in the Arroyo park area leading you up the Hemlock Trail. Then, the hike is uphill for a good 3 miles at least.

This image is taken on the Raptor Ridge Trail only a little bit after turning off the Hemlock trail. This section is horse free, as it is very narrow and winds through some large rocks.

After checking out the overlook I continued down the Raptor Ridge trail to the Lost Lake Trail and took that back North to where I started.
I’m not in the best shape, so this 8 mile hike was a doozy for me. But it was worth it. The Raptor Ridge Trail running from the Hemlock to the Lost Lake trail was beautiful. There are massive trees, plush ferns, and blankets of moss everywhere.

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments