Night at Reflection Lakes
One of my favorite things to do when traveling is staying up overnight to shoot the stars, or simply wandering through the park while everyone else sleeps. There’s a peaceful solitude to nocturnal explorations, and also an odd rush of adrenaline that courses through your veins, not knowing what lies beyond the shadowy outlines of trees just beyond the range of your headlamp.
In the summer of 2015, during my recovery from my Pacific Crest Trail injury, I took a wander up to Mt. Rainier. I’d often driven through the park, taken walks around the Paradise Lodge and seen the iconic mountain from various angles, but I’d never really allowed myself the opportunity to truly explore it.
I took this photo along the main road cutting through the park, along Reflection Lakes, a common viewpoint and oft-photographed collection of small lakes in front of the mountain. At night, the sound of frogs chirping and the rush of wind through the trees were the only sound, and I sat along the edge of the lake, waiting for my long exposure shots to capture, my car just of camera illuminating the lake with its headlights. The smoke from the new Mt. Adams Complex fires, which I’d been hiking through during the preceding day, obscured the vast majority of stars from view, spoiling my plans to get a shot of the Milky Way, but creating a hazy, moody effect to the sky, as the cool light of stars and moon on the eastern side of the mountain completed with the red-orange glow of towns further to the west.
Next time you’re out, I hope you take the opportunity to get out and wander in the midnight hours, and find a new perspective on places you’ve only seen by light of day. It can be a truly magical experience.