100 Days of National Parks: Day 60 – Upper Royal Basin, Olympic National Park

Upper Royal Lake Basin

One of the things I love the most about Olympic National Park is the remoteness of its most stunning attractions. With the vast majority of the park designated as a wilderness area, with no roads or easy access routes into the interior, the park courts exploration and wandering, and doesn’t make it easy on intrepid hikers to get back and find the amazing places hidden in the depths of its forests and mountains.

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Upper Royal Basin

Upper Royal Lake Basin
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One of the things I love the most about Olympic National Park is the remoteness of its most stunning attractions.  With the vast majority of the park designated as a wilderness area, with no roads or easy access routes into the interior, the park courts exploration and wandering, and doesn’t make it easy on intrepid hikers to get back and find the amazing places hidden in the depths of its forests and mountains.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 60 – Upper Royal Basin, Olympic National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 55 – One Does Not Simply Walk into Chinook Pass, Mt. Rainier National Park

Located on the easter edge of Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington, where State Highway 410 crosses the Cascades before dropping down toward the town of Yakima, Chinook Pass is one of the major road crossings for the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington. I passed through the area in the summer of 2015 while section hiking portions of the trail through the state, amid the smoke from fires throughout the Cascade mountains that summer. As massive wildfires engulfed areas around Mt. Adams and elsewhere, thick smoke blanketed the sky throughout Washington, lending itself to amazingly apocalyptic light displays like the one above.

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One Does Not Simply Walk into Chinook Pass

Located on the easter edge of Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington, where State Highway 410 crosses the Cascades before dropping down toward the town of Yakima, Chinook Pass is one of the major road crossings for the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington.  I passed through the area in the summer of 2015 while section hiking portions of the trail through the state, amid the smoke from fires throughout the Cascade mountains that summer.  As massive wildfires engulfed areas around Mt. Adams and elsewhere, thick smoke blanketed the sky throughout Washington, lending itself to amazingly apocalyptic light displays like the one above.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 55 – One Does Not Simply Walk into Chinook Pass, Mt. Rainier National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 52 – Sunset over the Olympics, Olympic National Park

Sunset over the Olympics

Sometimes you come across a sunset that is so breathtaking, nothing else around you seems important. It doesn’t matter if you’re exhausted from a long day of hiking, or freezing from the bone-penetrating cold of winter in the mountains, or simply ready to get back on the road and return home to your bed and a much needed shower. Sometimes, you just stand and watch as the sky seems to burn with the reds and oranges of the setting sun.

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Sunset over the Olympics

Sunset over the Olympics
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Sometimes you come across a sunset that is so breathtaking, nothing else around you seems important.  It doesn’t matter if you’re exhausted from a long day of hiking, or freezing from the bone-penetrating cold of winter in the mountains, or simply ready to get back on the road and return home to your bed and a much needed shower.  Sometimes, you just stand and watch as the sky seems to burn with the reds and oranges of the setting sun.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 52 – Sunset over the Olympics, Olympic National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 44 – Chimney Peak, Olympic National Park

With the spring melt in full affect throughout Washington, I find myself looking toward the mountains of Olympic National Park, ready once more to get out and explore its vast wilderness areas.

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Chimney Peak

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With the spring melt in full affect throughout Washington, I find myself looking toward the mountains of Olympic National Park, ready once more to get out and explore its vast wilderness areas.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 44 – Chimney Peak, Olympic National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 43 – Mist Rising from Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park

Sometimes in my wanderings I find myself passing through a place at the perfect time, when the lighting and conditions are so perfect, that I have to stop and try to capture the moment as best as possible. In July of 2015, on my way to the Rainy Pass trailhead to pick up a small section of the Pacific Crest Trail, I passed over the bridge along the small spur of Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park, just as the sun was cresting the mountains to the east, creating a thin layer of fog that hung over the lake in an eerily beautiful haze.

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Mist Rising from Diablo Lake

 

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Sometimes in my wanderings I find myself passing through a place at the perfect time, when the lighting and conditions are so perfect, that I have to stop and try to capture the moment as best as possible.  In July of 2015, on my way to the Rainy Pass trailhead to pick up a small section of the Pacific Crest Trail, I passed over the bridge along the small spur of Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park, just as the sun was cresting the mountains to the east, creating a thin layer of fog that hung over the lake in an eerily beautiful haze.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 43 – Mist Rising from Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 30 – Doe, a Deer; Olympic National Park

Wildlife encounters when you’re in the backcountry can be some of the most exciting, and unexpected times that you can spend in the wilderness. When I’m hiking or backpacking, I’m often lost in my own thoughts, and invariably get surprised when I come across another life along the trail, be it person or creature. Most of the time these moments are fleeting, an elk bounding up fern-covered incline above me, or a marmot scurrying behind a rock as I walk past. Sometimes these moments are terrifying, like a bear encounter in the mountains, or lifting my pack to find a scorpion the size of my hand. Rarely, though, I get the chance to really observe the animal I come across, to connect with it for more than those few brief seconds it takes for it to run away.

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Doe, A Deer

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Wildlife encounters when you’re in the backcountry can be some of the most exciting, and unexpected times that you can spend in the wilderness.  When I’m hiking or backpacking, I’m often lost in my own thoughts, and invariably get surprised when I come across another life along the trail, be it person or creature.  Most of the time these moments are fleeting, an elk bounding up fern-covered incline above me, or a marmot scurrying behind a rock as I walk past.  Sometimes these moments are terrifying, like a bear encounter in the mountains, or lifting my pack to find a scorpion the size of my hand.  Rarely, though, I get the chance to really observe the animal I come across, to connect with it for more than those few brief seconds it takes for it to run away.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 30 – Doe, a Deer; Olympic National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 18 – Night at Reflection Lakes, Mt. Rainier

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.

 

Night at Reflection Lakes

Night at Reflection Lakes
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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.