Goat Rocks Wilderness Under Smoky Skies

The Goat Rocks Wilderness, located in the Central Cascades of Washington State, is filled with wonder. Goat Lake, Snow Grass Flats and Cispus Basin are but a few on the many splendors. The Pacific Crest Trail bisects the wilderness so it is usually a busy place in the summer. Here are two pics from a trip in 2016.

Depending upon your access point, its not hard to intersect the Pacific Crest Trail, which is what we did, from the Snow Grass Flats Trail. Its about 5 miles to get to the junction, and our goal was to camp as high as we could, making it easier to spend sunset at the main attraction, the Knife’s Edge.

Due to the unusually hot July we had, the south facing slopes we ascended were dry. Looking up, the peaks surrounding were almost naked, only a very few small snow patches remained.

We made our way up, looking for the elusive camping spot, made more difficult due to lack of water.

Our final resting spot for the night was a magnificent camp, just below the last remaining snow fields below Old Snowy.

We hid in the shade until the proper hour and ascended to the “summit” of the PCT. High above the timber line the PCT climbs to a junction. Heading right you’ll climb steeply up Old Snowy to a saddle where the trail makes a turn, here are the views towards the north and south.

This is the highest point along the PCT in the Goat Rocks. If you want to scramble up the rest of the way to the top of Old Snowy, it takes about 15 minutes, one way.

Continuing upon the PCT, (headed north) the trail now descends along what is known as the Knife’s Edge. The long ridge zigs and zags down, and the trail is blasted into the very top of the serrated, sinewy ridge line as it descends into the abyss…

Its a cool place.

A short way down the trail reconnects to the “bypass”.  Back at the trail junction: If you’d gone left the trail skirts along steep slopes to meet the PCT as it descends along the first section of the Knife’s Edge.

And a very smoky abyss as you can see from the images. There are a forest fire nearby, and the horizons were smoggy. During the day, I could not see even a hint of Mount Rainier, or Mt Adams. Only at sunset could you make them out at all.

My plan was to climb up, camp a few days getting images of sunrise and sunset and night sky from that vantage point, but alas, the smoke was there to stay!

Here is my best shot from the trip:

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Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park surrounds the entire mountain, but the thing is just so bloody big that you don’t have to be in the park for the mountain to fill the frame. These images were all taken quite a distance away, across White Pass and deep into the Goat Rocks Wilderness.

We entered the wilderness at Snow Grass Flats, hiked up to an intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked north to the highest point along the PCT in Washington, a place called the Knifes Edge.

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Goat Rocks Wilderness

The Goat Rocks Wilderness is located in the southern Cascades of Washington State. Remnants of an ancient volcano core eroded into crags of stone, the Goat Rocks lie between the mammoth summit of Mount Rainier and Washington State’s second highest peak, Mount Adams.

The Pacific Crest Trail makes its way through the wilderness on its way from Mexico to Canada.

In late July and early August the snow melts and the meadows are alive, painted with acres and acres of fantastically beautiful wildflowers.

Snow Grass Flats is a fairy-like section of trail nearby. The Bear Grass and Lupine creating such color splendor that its hard to hike!

If you’d like to purchase a canvas wrap or fine art print, here is the gallery to view and choose size and frame.

Next summer Washington State Photo Tours are available! Tulip Photo Tours, Night Sky Photo Tours and North Cascades Hiking Tours.

My Favorite Images of 2014: Part 2

Thank you all for the wonderful feedback! Every month I am learning new skills and integrating things, be it with image capture or photoshop…I am definitely looking forward to 2015!
Here is my next set of 12 favorite images from this year. I hope you enjoy them!

Isolation Lake Panorama, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Isolation Lake Panorama, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Tulips and Stormy Skies

Tulips and Stormy Skies

Barn and Dandelions

Barn and Dandelions

Lake Ann from the Maple Pass Trail, North Cascades

Lake Ann from the Maple Pass Trail, North Cascades

Mount Rainier Milky Way

Mount Rainier Milky Way

Mount Shuksan from Skyline Divide

Mount Shuksan from Skyline Divide

Padilla Bay Sunset

Padilla Bay Sunset

Mount Baker and Park Butte Lookout

Mount Baker and Park Butte Lookout

Sunset in the Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Sunset in the Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness


Mt Adams and Pacific Crest Trail, Goat Rocks Wilderness

Mt Adams and Pacific Crest Trail, Goat Rocks Wilderness

Tractor and Sky, Skagit County

Tractor and Sky, Skagit County

Virgin River at Night, Zion National Park, Utah

Virgin River at Night, Zion National Park, Utah

My Favorite Images of 2014: Part 1

I shot many images in 2014. As I review them there are some that capture my imagination. Here are the first 11 images:

Spider Meadows, Glacier Peak Wilderness

Spider Meadows, Glacier Peak Wilderness

Skagit County Barn: Early Morning

Skagit County Barn: Early Morning

Mount Adams and Split Rock, along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Goat Rocks Wilderness

Mount Adams and Split Rock, along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Goat Rocks Wilderness

Padilla Bay

Padilla Bay

Crystal Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Crystal Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Skagit Valley

Skagit Valley

Liberty Bell and the North Cascades Highway

Liberty Bell and the North Cascades Highway

Samish River

Samish River

In the Subway, Zion National Park, Utah

In the Subway, Zion National Park, Utah

Stormy Skies at Maple Pass, North Cascades

Stormy Skies at Maple Pass, North Cascades

Skagit River Bridge

Skagit River Bridge

Colchuck Lake, Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Colchuck Lake, Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

The Wilderness Act Turns 50 !

On September 3rd, 1964 President Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act. This watershed piece of legislation has been a cornerstone in preserving the wild lands of America.

The Wilderness Act provides a definition for wilderness: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

I have been lucky enough to visit many wilderness areas and enjoy their majesty and solitude. Here are a few images from my travels.

Sahale Camp, Steven Mather Wilderness

Sahale Camp, Steven Mather Wilderness

Pasayten Wilderness

Pasayten Wilderness

Milky Way, Glacier Peak Wilderness

Milky Way, Glacier Peak Wilderness

Point of the Arches, Olympic Wilderness

Point of the Arches, Olympic Wilderness

Mount Rainier and Avalanche Lillys, Goat Rock Wilderness

Mount Rainier and Avalanche Lillys, Goat Rock Wilderness

Left Fork Canyon, Zion Wilderness

Left Fork Canyon, Zion Wilderness

Steeple Peak and Lost Temple Spire, Bridger-Teton Wilderness

Steeple Peak and Lost Temple Spire, Bridger-Teton Wilderness

Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Mount Olympus, Olympic Wilderness

Mount Olympus, Olympic Wilderness

Amphitheater Mountain, Pasayten Wilderness

Amphitheater Mountain, Pasayten Wilderness

Upper Lyman Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness

Upper Lyman Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness

Mount Baker and the Park Butte Lookout, Mount Baker Wilderness

Mount Baker and the Park Butte Lookout, Mount Baker Wilderness

Sunrise, Steven Mather Wilderness - This image will be displayed in the Smithsonian Museum as a part of the Wilderness 50 Celebration starting on Sept. 3rd, 2014

Sunrise, Steven Mather Wilderness – This image will be displayed in the Smithsonian Museum as a part of the Wilderness 50 Celebration starting on Sept. 3rd, 2014

Goat Rocks Wilderness, Washington State

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Washington State is blessed with more than 30 Wilderness Areas, one of which is the Goat Rocks Wilderness.
The Pacific Crest Trail passes through the Goat Rocks crossing some of the most stunning terrain along the trail in Washington.
Here are a few images from the Goat Rocks Wilderness.

Mount Rainier and Beargrass from the Lily Basin Trail

Mount Rainier and Beargrass from the Lily Basin Trail

Mt Adams and the Pacific Crest Trail

Mt Adams and the Pacific Crest Trail

PCT along the Knife's Edge, Mount Rainier in the distance

PCT along the Knife’s Edge, Mount Rainier in the distance

Avalanche Lilies along the Lily Basin Trail

Avalanche Lilies along the Lily Basin Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

Snowgrass Flats

Snowgrass Flats

Mount Adams and Snowgrass Flats

Mount Adams and Snowgrass Flats

Mount Rainier and Packwood Lake

Mount Rainier and Packwood Lake

Upholstered in Lupine

Upholstered in Lupine

Cispus Basin

Cispus Basin

Morning light and Beargrass

Morning light and Beargrass

PCT Thru hiker "Thirsty Boots"

PCT Thru hiker “Thirsty Boots”

Acres of wildflowers

Acres of wildflowers

Explosion of colors

Explosion of colors

Milky Way over the Goat Rocks

Milky Way over the Goat Rocks

Nighttime in the Goat Rocks Wilderness

Nighttime in the Goat Rocks Wilderness

Thirsty Boots on the Knife’s Edge

The Knife’s Edge is a section of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington State. Here the trail has been blasted and carved into the top-most edge of the ridge.
As one heads north on the PCT the trail climbs through the colorful meadows of Snow Grass Flats, through the snow and on to rock and scree to reach a promontory on the side of Old Snowy.

Mount Adams and Snowgrass Flats

Mount Adams and Snowgrass Flats


From here the trail plunges down the Knife’s Edge towards Highway 12 and then on to Mount Rainier.
Knife's Edge, Goat Rocks Wilderness

Knife’s Edge, Goat Rocks Wilderness


Early in the morning we hiked up to capture images and met Thirsty Boots. He was thru-hiking the PCT. I was surprised to see a thru-hiker so far north so early in the season (it was July 29th), but he explained that the snow level in the High Sierra in California was low this year making it possible to make good time.
Thirsty Boots

Thirsty Boots


I asked how long until he reached Manning Park and the end of the PCT in Canada, and he said he figured about 16 days.

We chatted for a few minutes, he seemed ready to go, but I distracted him by having him pose for more pictures while I plied him for info. All hikers going long distances pick up a nick-name, and his seemed to fit very well.

Thirsty Boots

Thirsty Boots


This was his second time thru-hiking the PCT (its 2,400 miles, end to end) and he told us that he’d already completed the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail (3,100 miles) making him a Triple Crown Thru-Hiker.

He was very friendly and certainly didn’t seem tired, stressed or over worked. In fact he looked and acted like someone out for a stroll on a nice Saturday afternoon.

But he did seem a bit antsy to keep walking….

Thirsty Boots along the Knife's Edge

Thirsty Boots along the Knife’s Edge