2019 in Review: Andy Porter Images

2019 in Review: Andy Porter Images

Through the course of an entire year I take a lot of pictures. Its fun to look back at the images you captured earlier, to reconnect with the places you’ve been.

I choose these because there is some element about each one of these images that captivates me.

Happy Holidays and may 2020 be your best year to date!

Debay’s Swan Reserve, Clear Lake

Hals Drive-In, Sedro-Woolley

Fir Island at Sunrise

Daffodils under the Moonlight

Skagit Valley at sunset

Sun Mountain, Winthrop

Samish River, Skagit Valley

Cap Sante Marina, Anacortes

Rainbow, Sedro-Woolley

Liberty Bell, North Cascades

Night sky over the North Cascades Highway

Mount St. Helens

Artist Point, Mt Baker Highway

Point of the Arches, Olympic National Park

Mount Baker and Skagit River

Washington Pass, North Cascades

Fir Island, Skagit Valley

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

Skagit Valley, near Clear Lake

Point Wilson Light House, Port Townsend

2020 Night Sky Calendar is available. Click here to see the images and order your copy before they’re all gone!

Photography Classes in Burlington at Parks and Rec start in Jan, 2020. Here is the link to sign up.

Vistas of Skagit Valley

Always in the hunt for new vistas of Skagit Valley, here are some of the vistas I’ve visited in the last few years.

Night Sky Class at Artist Point

I teach Night Sky Photography through the North Cascades Institute, 2 or 3 classes a year.

The most recent class was July 31. We all met at the Glacier Public Information Center. The people from NCI came with a bus.

There were 15 students, we all met there and prepped our camera settings in the parking lot, jumped in the bus, and made our way up the hill to Artist Point.

We were there a bit early, so we practiced a bit, and when it was dark, we spread out and captured images.

I was busy, visiting the students to help with the details.

The sky was partly cloudy, we weren’t sure what we’d get, but as real darkness fell the vista was amazing.

Here are a few pics I managed while enjoying the dark spaces.

I teach photography for adults in Burlington, at Parks and Rec. Classes start in September.

I also do Night Sky Photo Tours, here is the link.

North Cascades Photography – Hike to Stehekin

North Cascades Photography – Hike to Stehekin

Along Cascade River Road

The hike from the Skagit Valley up and over Cascade Pass and down along the river to the remote village of Stehekin, on the northern shore of Lake Chelan is a magnificent journey. Sort of like crossing the Misty Mountains to get to Rivendell, there is a lot to see!

It is a 23 mile (37 km) hike from the Cascade Pass parking lot to High Bridge, where shuttle service is available to Stehekin. The entire trip falls with in the North Cascades National Park. Depending upon your level of motivation the basic trip can be done in 2 or 3 days.

However I would recommend 3 or 4 days for the trip. There are several detours along the way that are really to incredible to miss.

The journey starts along the Cascade Loop Highway in Marblemount. The North Cascades National Park Wilderness Information Center is located there. To camp anywhere in the park you need a permit. Here is all you need to know to obtain one! I highly recommend the trail guide: “Hiking the North Cascades” by Erik Molvar (Falcon Press). There are accurate and detailed descriptions of the trails and you’ll find a lot of useful info.

Once that’s all done you’ll be heading up the Cascade River Road to its end, at the parking lot for Cascade Pass. The road gets a bit sketchy at the end, and you wont be able to stop gawking at the views!

The trip has one up section, and this is it: 3.7 miles of switch backs to Cascade Pass, an elevation gain of 1,700 feet. The views start near the top, there is one last switchback and then the trail turns east and approaches the pass.

The Pass is a great place for a break, and you’ll see a lot of people there. From this spot, its all down hill to Stehekin!

Dropping from Cascade Pass the trail navigates around the upper basin and soon passes the Pelton Basin campground. It’s not long before the switchbacks start. Whereas the trail up to the pass from the Skagit side is completely in forest, here the trail is exposed to the hot sun.

One nice surprise is the waterfall along Doubtful Creek as it bisects the trail on the east side of Cascade Pass, where there are small pools providing a much needed break and swim.

Many people who make the sojourn from Cascade Pass to Lake Chelan make a straight trip from the Cascade Pass parking area to Stehekin, with no side trips. But there is one of the most awesome valleys in all the North Cascades (Horseshoe Basin) that you should not pass up as you make your journey.

A short distance from Doubtful Creek is the trail to Horseshoe Basin. You can drop your big packs and day hike up to the Basin, or, if you scored a camp site at Basin Creek Camp, you can stay an extra day exploring Horseshoe Basin and the Black Warrior Mine.

The trail follows the stream up from the trail junction into Horseshoe Basin; it follows a course along the stream, across the stream and in the stream, brushy and wet. Shortly the trail emerges into a clearing where boulders dot the basin floor. Climbing up on the largest, the view is transfixing. The green bowl is surrounded with grandeur, full of color and drama.

Horseshoe Basin, North Cascades National Park

The Horseshoe Basin trail is less than 2 easy miles from the trail junction to the head of the valley and the Mine. black warrior mine

The North Cascades are full of old mining claims; piles of colorful tailings and rusted remains of sluices and Pelton wheels littered about. But I had never visited a mine that I could enter and explore. The Black Warrior Mine operated until the mid-1950′s and is a National Historic Place. There is a sign at the entrance giving a brief history of the mine, the names of the prospectors and misled investors who poured their mostly futile efforts into this hole. There are two main cavernous rooms blasted into the mountain side which make the opening of the mine. One of these “rooms” served as a kitchen while the other was used for workbenches and tools. Wooden supports and floor boards are flooded with water. Old tables and remains of habitation litter the floor. The shaft of the mine runs deep; several miles of tunnel remain, open for any brave person to explore.

When you tire of the basin and continue on your way down the Stehekin Valley you’ll pass several camp sites: Cottonwood Camp was once the last stop on the bus route from Stehekin! Traveling is pretty easy, for the most part you are following along the road following the bus route to Stehekin. But the road has been washed away in several places, replaced by a foot trail.

At Park Creek is another camp and the trail (Park Creek Trail) heads up to Park Creek Pass and continues over and down to Colonial Creek camp, on Highway 20.

Bridge Creek is another large camp along your route and is where you meet the Pacific Crest Trail. From here its 5 miles to High Bridge. Many years ago the entire road washed away in a flood. So for the next 5 miles you’ll be hiking along the PCT!

IF you have the time and energy, plan another day here and make a day trip up the North Fork of Bridge Creek. Its too long to describe here and will be the subject of an entire post soon!

Walking along the Stehekin River Road is in itself fantastic. The river cuts a deep cleft through the cliffs at High Bridge and the confluence with Bridge Creek creates a wondrous series of cataracts and islands. From High Bridge there is a regular bus that takes you the last 10 miles to Stehekin. Check the Park Service site for the bus schedule.

Your hike must include a visit to the Stehekin Pastry Company. Delicious, fresh treats, ice cream, espresso, friendly staff and a comfortable place to relax…

Everything about Stehekin is awesome. Its remoteness (you can only reach it by hiking, ferry boat or float plane), the people are cool, scads of awesome things to see and do…even the Post Office is a neat place to just visit!

Beside the Pastry Company there is a restaurant, a lodge, and a post office. Thru hikers on the PCT mail resupply items to them selves at Stehekin. Its the last stop on the route to Canada. Late in the summer you will often run into some of the PCT hikers as they finish the last few days of their 2,400 mile trek!

When you’re done restin’ and ready to go home you can either walk back the way you came, or catch the Lady of the Lake to Chelan!

Here are a few more images from the trail…

 

 

 

North Cascades Photography – Washington Pass

Washington Pass

North Cascades Photography – Washington Pass

Washington Pass is one of the most scenic spots along the entire Cascade Loop Scenic Highway.

Washington Pass is the highest point along the North Cascades Highway, at an elevation of 5477 ft./1669 m. Liberty Bell Mountain towers over the thin ribbon of pavement. Heading east, the highway plunges down to Mazama and Winthrop. The upper slopes are filed with Larch, which turn bright orange in October. Its a very scenic place!

There is a trail nearby, the Blue Lake Trail. The trailhead is on the south side of the highway. It leads around the Liberty Bell Group to Blue Lake. Fantastic views of Early Winter Spires and larch in the fall, but that’s for another post! .

There is so much snow each winter and the avalanche shoots so steep here that the highway closes for winter, usually in November, and opens again in April or May.

Today, April 18th, 2019 the North Cascades Highway opened for the season, one of the earliest openings I recall. There is still a bit of snow there, along the road, and the trailheads are still snowed in, they wont be open until May or June, earliest. But the road is open!

The Washington Pass Overlook, is one of those places I most always stop when I drive along the North Cascades Highway.

Washington Pass Overlook

Most overlooks are a one time deal, once you’ve seen it, no need to go back!

Not the case here.

The Washington Pass Overlook is in the Okanagon National Forest, and maintained out of the office in Winthrop. The Overlook is well marked, and the parking area is about 1/4 mile off the highway. There is ample parking, several rest rooms and some lights. There is a 200 yard paved path to the overlook, and lots of railings preventing a plunge.

NOTE: Even though the North Cascades Highway is opened, the Washington Pass Overlook may not open until May or June. The 1/4 mile road from the Highway to the Overlook parking is gated at the highway. You can park at the highway (there are usually many spots near the gate) and you can walk to the Overlook.

Here are a few pics from the Overlook.

The best time to get a shot of Liberty Bell is sunrise. The early light illuminates the sheer rock faces wonderfully… Its a long drive, from Sedro-Woolley to Washington Pass is a 2 hour drive! But worth it!

Washington Pass Overlook is also a fantastic spot for Night Sky Imaging. Its deep in the mountains, as there is low light pollution, the Lookout faces south, and you have Liberty Bell as a foreground, but also the hairpin turn of the North Cascades Highway below…

Here are a few images from my many night time visits! This is one of the locations for the Drive-In Night Sky North Cascades Photo Tours.

Here are a few more images of Liberty Bell from Washington Pass.

North Cascades Photography- Diablo Dam Tour

North Cascades Photography – Diablo Dam Tour

As you drive along the North Cascades Highway section of the Cascade Loop there plenty of wonderful vistas and things to see. There are three dams along the Skagit River, Diablo Dam is one of them, part of the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project that supplies Seattle with a large proportion of its power needs.

You can stop at the overlooks and admire them from afar, OR you can take the Diablo Dam Tour and see the operation up close.

Here is a view of Diablo Lake, from the Diablo Overlook.

Diablo Overlook Panorama

The unique, intense turquoise hue of the lake’s water is attributed to the surrounding glaciers that grind rocks into a fine powder that is carried into the lake through creeks. That fine powder, also called glacial flour, stays suspended in the lake, giving the water its brilliant color.

Seattle City Light Diablo Lake Boat Tours

Seattle City Light offers tours of Diablo Dam. The tour includes a look at the Powerhouse, a walking tour of Ladder Falls, lunch and a Boat Ride! I was lucky enough to get invited on one of the tours and managed to capture a few images along the way.

We started off the tour in Newhalem.

The tour of the Powerhouse and Ladder Creek Falls was awesome. There is a night time program at Newhalem, Dam Good Chicken Dinner & Ladder Creek Falls by Night which I am definitely coming back for!

Then we were off for a boat ride!

The pictures speak for themselves, the tour was interesting and a lot of fun. Here is the main page for Seattle City Light – Skagit Tours. Tours start at the end of June and reservations are required, so book your trip today!

Be sure to visit the Diablo Lake Overlook, its a great place for sunsets and also for capturing images of the night sky!

North Cascades Photo Tours

Mt Shuksan, Mt Baker Highway

Access to the back country of the North Cascades starts in July. Each years winter snowfall melts faster or slower and its usually not until mid to late July that you can access the passes and higher elevations of the park.

Washington Pass

Day Photo Tours are available, we can visit places along the North Cascades Highway, like the Washington Pass Overlook and at the end of the Mt Baker Highway, Artist Point

These highways are closed in winter due to snow and open in late-May/June and even some years in July!

Overnight Photo Tours are overnight backpacking trips to special places in the North Cascades like one of the Fire Lookouts, or Sahale Camp.

More info is available here, or feel free to email me with questions. andyporterphotography@gmail.com

 

 

North Cascades Photography – Hike to Stehekin

North Cascades Photography – Hike to Stehekin

The hike from Skagit Valley, over Cascade Pass and down to the remote village of Stehekin on the shores of Lake Chelan is one of the classic hiking routes in Washington State. The trail follows an old Native American path used for millennia to cross the mountains.

Cascade Pass

Cascade Pass

It is a 23 mile (37 km) hike from the Cascade Pass parking lot to High Bridge, where shuttle service is available to Stehekin.

Cascade River Road

Cascade River Road

Driving up the North Cascades Highway, which is a part of the much longer Cascade Loop Scenic Highway,  to Marblemount and up along the Cascade River Road my heart always revs up with excitement. We made an early start and schlepped up the 40-something switchbacks to Cascade Pass.

The day promised to be a hot one and after a short rest we hoisted our packs and headed down, down, down…

I have hiked most of the trails in North Cascades National Park with the notable exception of the section we would cover today: From Cascades Pass east to Basin Creek (and Horseshoe Basin!)

Stehekin Valley Trail and Doubtful Creek, North Cascades National Park

Dropping from Cascade Pass the trail navigates around the upper basin and soon passes the Pelton Basin campground. It’s not long before the switchbacks start. Whereas the trail up to the pass from the Skagit side is completely in forest, here the trail is exposed to the hot sun. Hiking down here I am already dreading the trip back up!

One nice surprise was the waterfall along Doubtful Creek as it bisects the trail on the east side of Cascade Pass, where there are small pools providing a much needed break and swim.

Many people who make the sojourn from Cascade Pass to Lake Chelan make a straight trip from the parking area to Stehekin, with no side trips. But there are two of the most awesome valleys in all the North Cascades (Horseshoe Basin and the North Fork of Bridge Creek) that you should not pass up as you make your journey.

We made it to the trail junction with the spur to Horseshoe Basin, dropped our packs and headed up for a look-see. Having scoured many route guides about the North Cascades I had read about the amazing beauty of Horseshoe Basin, but honestly was not prepared for what we saw there…

Horseshoe Basin, North Cascades National Park

The trail follows the stream up from the trail junction into Horseshoe Basin; it follows a course along the stream, across the stream and in the stream, brushy and wet. Shortly the trail emerges into a clearing where boulders dot the basin floor. Climbing up on the largest, the view is transfixing. The green bowl is surrounded with grandeur, full of color and drama.

The basin was aglow in the afternoon light, orange granite spires surrounding the lip like fangs, too-numerous-to-count waterfalls glistening, their sparkling waters plunging down into the valley. There were wildflowers popping out everywhere, yellows and purples, reds and blues, all accenting the deep green of the basin floor.

Glory Mountain from Horseshoe Basin, North Cascades National Park

We hurried on, racing the sun, heading up the valley, climbing across boulders and scree, on to a snow field, up to the gaping hole of the Black Warrior Mine.

The Horseshoe Basin trail is less than 2 easy miles from the trail junction to the head of the valley and the Mine.

The North Cascades are full of old mining claims; piles of colorful tailings and rusted remains of

Black Warrior Mine

sluices and Pelton wheels littered about. But I had never visited a mine that I could enter and explore.

The Black Warrior Mine operated until the mid-1950′s and is a National Historic Place. There is a sign at the entrance giving a brief history of the mine, the names of the prospectors and misled investors who poured their mostly futile efforts into this hole. There are two main cavernous rooms blasted into the mountain side which make the opening of the mine. One of these “rooms” served as a kitchen while the other was used for workbenches and tools. Wooden supports and floor boards are flooded with water. Old tables and remains of habitation litter the floor. The shaft of the mine runs deep; several miles of tunnel remain, open for any brave person to explore.

Black Warrior Mine

The wonder of the place is still with me. Maybe its the history, all of the people who worked so long and hard here, digging and scraping for naught. Here, as in many of the North Cascade valleys, it was miners who blazed the trails that we now use to visit the high country. The road from Stehekin, long ago, came all the way to the mine entrance. Over time nature has reclaimed the road, now vehicles can only go as far as High Bridge, 17 miles downstream.

The falling sun chased us out of the valley, we camped at Basin Creek camp.

The next morning we started our pleasant hike along the trail to Cottonwood Camp and on towards our rendezvous with the shuttle bus at High Bridge.

Our timing was perfect; we made it to High Bridge (On the Stehekin River Road) and caught the North Cascades National Park shuttle down the valley.

Along the way our jam-packed tourist bus passed a huge black bear and her two cubs foraging for berries; I was disappointed to miss the chance to visit and capture a few images, but my chance would come soon enough!

stehekin pastry companyEvery hike to Stehekin must includes a visit to the Stehekin Pastry Company. Delicious, fresh treats, ice cream, espresso, friendly staff and a comfortable place to relax…we went here first and ate as many pastries as we could hold.

It was a hot day in Stehekin. So we took shelter at the local restaurant and then took the bus back up the valley to visit Rainbow Falls. The 300 foot cataract provided lots of cooling!

Everything about Stehekin is awesome. Its remoteness (you can only reach it by hiking, ferry boat or float plane), the people are cool, scads of awesome things to see and do…even the Post Office is a neat place to just visit!

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

Next we visited the old Stehekin School house and then the local organic farm. Now we needed to await the last shuttle bus back up the valley, and what better place to while away the time than at the Stehekin Pastry Company!

Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan

The last shuttle was full when we boarded and headed back towards High Bridge. But after the bus stop at Courtney Ranch we were the only ones left for the rest of the trip.

From the “bus stop” at High Bridge we hiked 5 easy miles to the trail junction at Bridge Creek and camped the night. From here you can make a side trip to one of the most remote valleys in the North Cascades National Park. The trail is called the North Fork Bridge Creek Trail and its remote because its a one-way affair, not a through-trail. The round trip from your camp at Bridge Creek along the Cascade River road to North Fork Meadows and the head of the valley is 16 miles, but the hiking is not strenuous. You head east on the Bridge Creek Trail (which is also the Pacific Crest Trail here) to the scenic North Fork Camp.

Goode Mountain, North Cascades National Park

Goode Mountain, North Cascades National Park

The trail climbs a few short switchbacks to a junction with the North Fork Trail, head left, north. SignThe trail passes Walker Camp and soon you’ll get a glimpse of the wonders of the valley. Continuing along the way you’ll pass Grizzly Creek Camp and have to ford the creek. As the trail meanders its way gently upward the trees thin and you’ll break out into a spectacular meadow with views of Goode Mountain (highest peak in the North Cascades National Park) and Mount Logan at the head of the valley. From here the hike is almost all out on the open, the North Fork Meadows is a wonderful green wonderland.

North Fork, Bridge Creek

Wildflowers bloom, bears forage and waterfalls stream down from the glaciers above. The path winds its way up, passing numerous waterfalls to its terminus at the base of a wonderful cataract. here you are surrounded on three sides by steep peaks, cloaked in glaciers with countless waterfalls.

Mount Logan and North Fork Bridge Creek Waterfall, North Cascades National Park

When you can finally pull yourself away, its time to head back down the trail to your camp at  Bridge Creek Camp. The next day we continue our hike back up towards Cascade Pass.

The hike along the Stehekin River Road is in itself fantastic. The river cuts a deep cleft through the cliffs at High Bridge and the confluence with Bridge Creek creates a wondrous series of cataracts and islands.

The next day we again left before sunrise, hoping to beat the heat on our way up to Cascade Pass. We reached Basin Creek with its flown-in foot bridge and were greeted by a nice breeze and perfect skies.

 

North Cascades Backpacking and Photo Tours

If you would like to visit any of these places with a very small group and learn photography skills at the same time, here is your link!

Horseshoe Basin

Tracing our earlier steps from a few days ago, we hiked up into the valley, but this time not all the way to the mine entrance. I worked on my mostly futile efforts to capture the grandeur of the flowers, spires and waterfalls, and then we headed back down to our packs and continued the slog to Cascade Pass and back to the parking area.

The change in flora as I trudged up the switch backs was enormous. The lower basin on the east side of Cascade Pass is filled with Cottonwood trees and Douglas Fir. A few miles above the trail traverses the mountain side and is bereft of any plants, just crushed rocks and boulders. Then the trail swings south and starts its zigzagging route upwards. Here the path is choked with slide alder.

As the trail approaches the upper basin just below Cascade Pass the temperature dropped considerably. From sunny to misty, the forest was now populated with tall sub-alpine fir and a carpet of evergreen needles covered the trail. It was like we had been transported into a new landscape.

We arrived at the top of Cascade Pass and stopped to re-energize before flying down the switchbacks to our car. Gazing east, down the valley which we had just climbed I marveled at the beauty of the mountains.

And I was already planning a return trip.

Any and all of these images are for sale as prints, canvas wraps and digital downloads! Here is the link to the Gallery.

Sahale Mountain from the Stehekin Valley Trail

 

Field Trip to Artist Point

Last Thursday I took 47 students on a field trip to Artist Point. It was awesome!

Artist Point is the coolest place you can drive a car here in our state, and on a fall day with nice weather its unforgettable. Located at the end of the Mount Baker Highway, at more than 5,000 feet elevation) Artist Point is right between Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan.

The weather was perfect and we had a blast. Most of the kids had never been to Artist Point before, in fact many had never been in the mountains until today!

Just the bus ride up the switch backs at the end of the highway was breath taking…

This all started with Career Day; I was invited to the Burlington Edison High School to present what life is like for a professional photographer. I came and did the talk twice and the photo teacher started to recruit me, he was retiring soon and suggested I take his spot.

So now I am the Photography Teacher at the Burlington Edison High School! This is my 3rd year. I have a full schedule of Photography Classes, this semester I have about 165 students.

The school has about 40 Canon Rebel DSLRs; a wide selection of lenses, studio lights, Photoshop… so I can teach the students to take and edit cool pics. And field trips!

We stopped at Picture Lake for some shots of Mt Shuksan…

Often I go on a field trip and take few images, spending most time advising, but the light and setting was so stunning that managed to snap a few pics…

Picture Lake is right in the middle of the two ski areas. From there we drove up to the end of the highway, at Artist Point

Our next Field Trip adventure is Oct. 16th and I cant wait!

 

Happy 50th Birthday, North Cascades National Park

Fifty years ago, on October 2, 1967, the North Cascades National Park was created.

Happy Birthday!

Diablo Overlook Panorama

From the first time I laid eyes on a map of the North Cascades I was captivated. The names of the peaks drew me in; Mt. Terror, Desolation Peak, Mount Fury. And then I saw a few pictures. The North Cascades looked like I thought mountains should look: deep dark forests, lush with life; sharp serrated peaks, ridge, after ridge, stretching to the horizon, donned with glaciers, spouting myriad waterfalls glistening in the sun….

My first visit was a mostly cloudy one. I hiked over Park Creek Pass from Stehekin. There were a few glimmers through the clouds of the majesty beyond.

 

 

It would be many years before I returned and tried again.

And I was able to confirm that indeed the North Cascades were everything I had dreamed of.

Lush forests and waterfalls

Sharp serrated peaks

Meadows and wildflowers…

and endless vistas

The North Cascades have not lost the feeling of wildness. For that I am grateful!

Happy Birthday, and Thank you, North Cascades National Park!

 

 

Silesia Camp and Copper Ridge, North Cascades National Park

The North Cascades National Park turns 50 this year! Learn more about its history here.

This is the 4th post in a series highlighting spectacular places in the North Cascades National Park. You can access earlier posts here.

Silesia Camp is located along Copper Ridge in the northern section of the North Cascades National Park.

You can hike there in one day, access is from the Hannegan Pass trail head. You must have a permit to camp there. Details here.

There are few camp sites with a better view then Silesia Camp.