Autumn in Skagit Valley and North Cascades

One doesn’t normally associate the northwestern corner of the US with fall colors. New England the Mid-Atlantic states in the northeast are usually the focus of any autumn photo spread.

But autumn in Skagit Valley and North Cascades is not too shabby.

The valley and the rivers make wonderful spots for fall.

Up the valley a bit along the Baker and Skagit Rivers fall colors abound. Salmon spawn in the fall. The entire valley is lit up and on display!

The 2020 Washington State Night Sky Calendar is now on sale! Get your copy here.

The main contributors to Fall here in the North Cascades are the blueberry/huckleberry bushes, which carpet the mountains in bright reds and the larch, who’s green needles turn bright orange in the first week or October. . .

North Cascades Photo Tours are also available!

Larch grow new green needles each spring, and in early October they turn orange and fall off! The elevation of the larch varies in Western Washington, usually you can find the larch between 5,000 and 7,000 ft elevation.

Fine Art Prints as well as Canvas Wraps are also available in a wide range of sizes and frames. Here is the Gallery Page.

Isolation Lake, Enchantments Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Isolation Lake is the first or last lake you visit on your trip into the Enchantment Basin, depending upon which direction you are hiking the loop.

Campers along Isolation's shore

Campers along Isolation’s shore

If you managed to hike up Aasgard Pass (more than 2,000 ft. elevation gain in less that a mile) than its your first.

Camped at Isolation Lake, Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Camped at Isolation Lake, Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Isolation Lake Panorama

Isolation Lake Panorama

If took the long route past Snowy Lake, then Isolation will be your last lake in the high country before heading down and out.
But either way, its a fantastic place.

Isolation Lake

Isolation Lake

High above timber line it is a world of rocks and ice.

Isolation Lake, Enchantments

Isolation Lake, Enchantments

Blue, gray and white are the colors here.
The air is crisp, sharp, clean.
A meadow is nearby with a small copse of larch hiding the toilet.

Isolation Lake

Isolation Lake

Sunset brings new colors, reds and orange, magenta and violet.

Isolation Lake

Isolation Lake


Later the stars appear.

Prints are available here!

Camped at Isolation

Camped at Isolation

Dome in a moon scape

Dome in a moon scape

Isolation is a world of wonder.

Prusik Peak in the Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Prusik Peak in the fall is an alluring sight. The larches turn bright orange and if the weather co-operates the blue skies punctuate the landscape.
I luckily won the lottery for a permit this fall and last week I spent 5 days in the Enchantments, exploring and ogling the colors.

Prusik Peak above Perfection Lake

Prusik Peak above Perfection Lake

Prusik Peak and Gnome Tarn

Prusik Peak and Gnome Tarn

Prusik Peak Reflected

Prusik Peak Reflected

Prusik Peak and Stones

Prusik Peak and Stones

Pasayten Panoramas: I love larches!

These 4 shots are all from a trip I took to the Pasayten Wilderness 2 years ago. I went over 4 days in the first week of October to see the larch turn bright orange. What a sight!
Each shot is two images stitched using CS 6 Photomerge. Before I merged them I opened the two shots as RAW images, synchronized them, and made slight changes to exposure, lens aberration and then using brushes made mods to the highlights/shadows. Once merged I tweaked them a little, but not much. Overall I am pretty happy with them, they are a HUGE improvement over my earlier efforts.
Amphitheater Mountain, Pasayten WildernessAmphitheater Mountain, Pasayten Wilderness

These first two are Amphitheater Mountain from just east of Cathedral Pass. Interesting how the larch form a band across the slopes…

Amphitheater Mountain, Pasayten Wilderness

Amphitheater Mountain, Pasayten Wilderness

These last two are from the other side of Cathedral Pass, near Upper Cathedral Lake. This trail, known as the Boundary Trail (it runs parallel to the Canada border) is a part of the Pacific Northwest Trail.

Fall Colors, Larches, Cathedral Peak and Amphitheater Mountain

The rain has set in and the days are short. Avoiding boredom necessitates a little creativity, which for me includes revisiting past hikes, editing images and trying to fashion a reasonable representation of a place.

The approach is from Tonasket, west to Loomis and then up the Toats Coulee Road to the Iron Gate Trail head.

The sky was blue and trees bright.
Iron Gate road trees em Iron Gate Trail Head Trees

The trip along the Boundary Trail (Doubling as the Pacific Northwest Trail) offer long vistas, green forests and in early October, brilliant orange larch.
Boundary Trail larch 1 em Boundary Trail

windy peak sky Windy Peak

The trail is a lot of fun, the old Tungsten Mine is an interesting place to explore, and Apex Pass provides sweeping views of Remmel Mountain and the east side the of Amphitheater Mountain.
Boundary Trail larch 3 em Remmel Mountain
The larch inhabit a band between 6,000 and 7,000 feet of elevation.
Boundary Trail larch 6 em Amphitheater Mountain

Arriving at Cathedral Pass its a short stroll down to water and reflective views!
Boundary Trail larch 302 em Cathedral Pass
Not a bad place to camp!
Boundary Trail larch 8 em Cathedral Peak

Boundary Trail larch 12 em Amphitheater Mountain, Reflected in a snow-melt pond

Heading down a little ways to Upper Cathedral Lake just before sunset provides all you need for a true orgy of picture taking!
Boundary Trail larch 28 m1

Boundary Trail larch 29 m1

Boundary Trail larch 303 em

Back up at the camp site the setting sun made the trees look even more afire!
Boundary Trail larch 7 em

Boundary Trail larch 11 em

Boundary Trail larch 13 em

The sensory overload was fun! Boundary Trail larch 5 em

Boundary Trail larch 18 em

The hike back provided more changes in colors…
IMG_0242hdr 1em

The trees along the road had a decidedly different look after only 4 days…
iron gate Road em

Amphitheater Mountain and Cathedral Peak, Pasayten Wilderness, in the Fall

Amphitheater Mountain Showing Bands of Color

Some time ago I visited the eastern Pasayten Wilderness in early October to catch the larches turning bright orange. I got lucky and had great weather and caught the trees at the perfect time.

Amphitheater Mountain at Sunset

As you can see the larch inhabit a specific altitude and when they turn create a band of orange against the green of the other trees…

Amphitheater Mountain Bands of Color in Fall

Several of these images are panoramas, created by stitching several images together…

Amphitheater Mountain Fall Panorama

Amphitheater Mountain connects to Cathedral Peak at Cathedral Pass. The hike is approx. 30 miles from where you park the car…well worth the hike.

Cathedral Peak from Upper Cathedral Lake

Definitely on my list for this summer (and fall!)

Cathedral Peak Reflection

Amphitheater Mountain: Spring and Fall

Amphitheater Mountain is in the eastern part of the Pasayten Wilderness, in Washington State. The mountain is about 2 or 3 miles south of the Canadian border. I visited there twice this year, on July l5th and 16th and then returned on October 1st and 2nd. The two images below are composites of several images stitched together.