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:

Interested in Photo Tours? Photo Classes? Buying Prints? Visit Andy Porter Images and joy you will find.

North Cascades National Park

The North Cascades National Park is situated in the northwestern corner of Washington State, along the Canada border. It’s a wonderfully rugged piece of wilderness, half a million acres of meadows, jagged peaks, glaciers, forests and wonder.

The North Cascades National Park does not get a lot of visitors, by National Park standards. That’s due in part, to the fact that the park is not on the way somewhere, unless you’re circumnavigating the US border! It’s a 3 hour drive, north from Seattle. In short, it’s an out of the way place. If you got there, its because you meant to!

Which is all fine with me. Less people means more solitude.

The park is bisected by the North Cascades Highway into two units. The North Unit is more remote than its southern sister. There are fewer trails.

The legendary Picket Range is here. Peaks like Mount Terror, Mount Despair and Mt Challenger tower over the deep, wet valleys filled with nasty things like Devils Club.

Trail access from the west side is via Hannegan Pass. Heading east from the town of Glacier on SR 542 (Mt Baker Hwy) for 13 miles there is a well marked turn off for the Hannegan Pass trailhead.

All sorts of important info about permits to camp overnight in the park, can be found here

Its about 4 miles to the pass, and from there you can do a short easy scramble to the top of Hannegan Peak, or a more involved climb of Ruth Mountain.

Just down the east side from the pass you enter the National Park. There is a campsite, Boundary Camp, and a trail junction. You can ascend Copper Ridge to Silesia Camp and Egg Lake, or follow the main trail down the Chilliwack River (there is a spot where you pull yourself over a chasm in a cable car) to a junction where you meet a turn off for the trail to Whatcom Pass.

This is one of the more remote parts of the park. The views of Mt Challenger and its namesake glacier are mind blowing. I have visited twice, the first visit was magnificent, and the most recent a total white out of gray.

From Whatcom Pass you can retrace your steps back to the car, or you can continue your trip east, and hike down along Little Beaver Creek to the shores of Ross Lake and take a water taxi to Ross Lake Resort,  or hike out via Beaver Pass.

A longer and more spectacular trip is to take the turn off for Copper Ridge. This is one of the few ridge hikes in the park, affording breathtaking views of Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker and host of other peaks. There are several camp site along Copper Ridge, Silesia Camp has the best views anywhere, and Copper Lake is a wonderful place to camp along the route.

The trail loops down the Chilliwack River, which you ford just south of the Canada border.

In early August expect to be wading through a river filled with salmon. It is quite a sight. From there its an easy hike to the junction with the Whatcom Pass Trail, and so you can make a loop out of the trek.


The Southern Unit has many more access points along Highway 20, Ross Lake to the east and Lake Chelan to the south. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through on its way to Canada.

In the next two posts we will visit some of the most spectacular areas in the lower section of the park.

Here is an image of Mount Logan from the North Fork Bridge Creek.

Mount Logan, North Cascades National Park

Deception Pass Bridge

Deception Pass Bridge

The bridge connecting Whidbey Island to the mainland at Deception Pass is one of the photographic icons of this area. Wooded slopes and sheer cliffs towering over a deep fast channel make it dramatic. The span itself lends to being photographed.

Deception Pass State Park includes several short and spectacular trails, on both sides of the channel.

The luminescence of the green water below the cliffs adds to the magic. The heavily forested slopes above, fed by fog and mist make the place dreamy. Sunsets are especially fantastic.

Prints are available here.

The new 2017 Washington State Scenic Calendar is now available!

Lake Ann Maple Pass Loop

I hiked the Lake Ann Maple Pass Loop om Wednesday, Aug. 3rd. The wildflowers are almost at peak.

As always, a fantastic trip!


Fir Island Barn and Snow Geese

Fir Island is part of the Skagit River delta. Farms, barns and many types of migratory birds visit.

Here are several images of geese and a barn.

Prints are for sale here.

Information about Skagit Valley and North Cascades Photo Tours information is here!

500th Post

January 2009 is when I began this blog.

Time is an illusory creature. 7 years ago seems like yesterday and a different lifetime, all at once.

During that span I have posted stories of hitchhiking, near death experiences and other adventures. 

I have posted travel reports and given advice.

But mostly I have posted pictures. Lots of pictures!

Images of the Mountains,


Images of Tulip Fields,


Pictures of Ocean,


and pictures of Night.


I hope you have enjoyed looking as much as I have enjoyed sharing.

Thank you all.

I’ll be seeing you soon!

Washington’s 5 Best Camping Spots

Washington’s 5 Best Camping Spots

You have to backpack to these spots, no ‘drive and park’ camping! Each spot can be reached with one days hiking (although depending upon your fitness/motivation level Isolation Lake and Lakeview Ridge may require a two-day hike to get there). All 5 spots afford an absolutely jaw dropping, gob smacking, OMFG view from your tent that you will not soon forget. List out your favorite superlatives: all apply to these scenic camping spots.

Sahale Glacier Camp – North Cascades National Park
This just might be one of the best camping spots anywhere. The camp is situated atop 3 piles of glacial rubble at the toe of Sahale Glacier. Stone rings protect you from the wind. Goats often come for a visit. And the views! An ocean of jagged summits spread out before you… oh, and the toilet has the best view in the state!

Isolation Lake – Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Hiking up Aasgard Pass with a big pack is no picnic, but once you get up, Isolation Lake is there, waiting. This is a land of rocks and ice. The serrated peaks cut the sky and the crystal pure, icy cold lake, blue/green lake beckon. The images of the visit will stay imprinted in your brain.

Point of the Arches, Olympic National Park
Camping on the beach is always awesome: The ocean breeze, the sounds of the birds, the feel of the sand in between your toes, a fire at night. Point of the Arches has it all: surreal sea stacks jutting out of the Pacific, tide pools filled with critters and unbelievable sunsets.


Lakeview Ridge, Pasayten Wilderness
This is one of the highest points along the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington, located just south of the Canadian border. The hike in is sublime, from the trailhead at Slate Peak you will meander up Rock Pass and shoot through Windy Pass onto Lakeview Ridge. Covered with wildflowers and affording views in every direction, you will have a hard time leaving.

Snow Grass Flats, Goat Rocks Wilderness
If you want to have it all, this is the place to come camp! Endless meadows carpeted with wildflowers, views of both Mount Rainier AND Mount Adams, great camping spots and…what else is there? From the Snow Grass Flats trail head hike up, up, up, the higher you camp, the better the views. Don’t miss a visit to the Knife’s Edge, its close by.

Please take a minute and send me YOUR favorite camping spots, with a picture, if you can!

If you are interested in buying fine art prints or canvas wraps of any of these images, here is the link.

Maybe you’d like to go on a guided photo tour to one these spots? We do that! Here is the link to find out more and get signed up!

Stars, Tent and Kids

Here is another shot from the other night along the Baker River.

Camped under the Milky Way 3

Camped under the Milky Way 3

I had in my mind several images, planning and scheming as we hiked in, having the kids in the tent illuminated with the I-Pad, having them look out of the tent, in awe at the stars.

Here is the i-pad shot. Not too bad! A little overexposed on the face of the kid (Dawson) holding the device.

Then I tried an image with them looking out of the tent. I used the red light function on my head lamp to illuminate their faces and this is what I got:

IMG_8179At first I didn’t even try to edit it, it looked so red.

But later I decided to give it a try. I edited (in photoshop, as a raw file) the foreground, then went back and edited the raw a second time, but edited just the sky.

Then I merged the two and did final editing.

That’s Joe on the left, wrapped in the sleeping bag. And my son, Max is the incredulous one on the right!

Not too bad!

I guess I’ll have to take the kids camping more often!

Looking at the stars

Looking at the stars

Earth Day 2015

Earth Day

What is Earth Day all about?

We live on a cool planet.


Mount Rainier

It’s beautiful.

Evening Light

Point of the Arches

There are mountains.

Colchuck Lake, Enchantments

Colchuck Lake, Enchantments


Washington Park, Anacortes

Washington Park, Anacortes



Bridge over Skagit River

Bridge over Skagit River



Skagit Tulips




Pacific Crest Trail, Pasayten Wilderness


AndyPorter_deer_ wildlife

Deer at Cascade Pass



boys a

Atop Maple Pass


and LOTS more.


Park Butte Lookout


Lets try harder to not fuck it up!

Snow Geese on Fir Island, Skagit Valley

Snow Geese on Fir Island, Skagit Valley


Skagit Valley



Spider Meadows






Skagit Valley Tulips 2015 – Best Images

I went to the tulip and daffodil fields often this year.

Daffodils, Morning Light

Daffodils, Morning Light

Eighteen times to be precise.

Yellow Tulips and a Smile

Yellow Tulips and a Smile

A new record for visits in one year.

Skagit_Valley_Tulip_Festival 2015_3

Backlighting, my favorite

The Daffodils started in February.

Skagit_Valley_Daffodil_Festival 2015_3


As of today, April 17, the tulips are done.

Skagit_Valley_Tulip_Festival 2015_29


Finished, kaput.

Skagit_Valley_Tulip_Festival 2015_15

Pink River

Skagit_Valley_Tulip_Festival 2015_2


I am not sorry, I’m relieved.

Skagit_Valley_Tulip_Festival 2015_6

Tulip Selfie

My Tulip Goal for this year was two-fold: to get an image of a huge double rainbow directly over the blazing tulip fields AND to somehow capture an image of dark skies over the tulips being ripped asunder by searing bolts of lightning.

Skagit_Valley_Tulip_Festival 2015_33


Skagit_Valley_Tulip_Festival 2015_45

The Barn

Skagit_Valley_Tulip_Festival 2015_52




I failed miserably on both of these counts.



All of these image, and many more, are for sale as fine art prints as well as Canvas Wrapped Prints. Here is the place to view and buy!

Love the backlit cene

Love the back lit scene



Water in the rows

Water in the rows