Mount Rainier Photography – Risking the Weather

With a busy weekend coming up and a forecast for mostly rain and some snow, I decided to slip down to Stevens Canyon Road and scout around a bit for shots.  The road was supposed to open on Friday so I was really eager to get on it and see how things looked.  I really prefer the 410 approach as I find Puyallup and Meridian to be depressing in a sociological sense.  I like the drive through Enumclaw, stopping for some coffee, getting supplies and gas at Safeway and then slowly approaching my favorite parts of MRNP via 410 and breathing easier with every mile.

I sidetracked up to Tipsoo to see how the lake was melting out.  Rainier itself was in the clouds and the lake showed a lot of promise.  Then down 123 to the Entrance at Grove of the Patriarchs.  To make a longer story shorter, I drove around Stevens Canyon Road until about 7pm, watching clouds fly by, occasional snow flurries, some rain, but never a really clear shot of the mountain.

Brief glimpse of Rainier amongst fast-moving clouds. Zeiss 85mm Otus

Brief glimpse of Rainier amongst fast-moving clouds. Zeiss 85mm Otus

The Castle, along the Tatoosh Range. Zeiss 100-300mm

The Castle, along the Tatoosh Range. Zeiss 100-300mm

Stevens Canyon Ridge Details

Stevens Canyon Ridge Details. Zeiss 100-300mm

Driving back to Seattle, a lot of traffic was heading out of town.  After about an hour on I-5, any sense of backcountry relaxation was gone.  I meandered along in the slow lane, watching others soar by.  Passing through the city, my mellow self was giving way to the irritated, curmudgeonly Seattle native in me.

My Friday the 13th Adventure – Rainier Icy Cloudscape Reflections

So I got back from going down to Rainier Friday night to see how the lakes were thawing.  Turns out they are amazing so I will be going back down next week early for some sunrise.  Highlights of the Friday the 13th trip:

– Leaving at 1pm wasn’t early enough – still bad traffic down 167

– Lots of people in the park

– I get to Reflection Lakes and they appear mostly frozen but a few thawed spots.  I hike out to one and get some nice shots.  I see this guy watching me and sure enough once I get back to the road he pounces with all these questions ie Is it safe? (maybe)  Did you get a reflection? (yes).  You can tell he’s been studying this situation for about an hour or more.

– I drive down to the Snow Lake trailhead and two guys are parked there happily smoking.  Turns out they are from the South.  Of course, who else smokes in the park?  🙂

– I hike out to the lake in my Sorels.  There is no trail but some faint bootprints.  I eventually find my way and the lake is gorgeous.  I stay til sunset and get some great shots. I wander over through the brush to this 1000 foot sheer drop and get some nice shots but kinda regret the risk.  I also manage to butt dial my sister which is surprising that I got cell reception and hearing her voice from my pocket was funny.

– I decide to hike back before its pitch black even though I have my headlamp.  My route goes straight up this steep hill but I find my way.  I punch through some snow and land in a creek but am still dry.  I find this steep trail down to the road and it works.

– Driving back down out of the park I run into these two kids hiking back in darkness.  The girl has made a crutch out of a stick since she sprained her ankle.  I gave them a ride to their car at Longmire.

– Driving past Alder at 60-ish mph, a deer wanders onto the road.  I manage to swerve and miss it.

– Driving through Spanaway and Parkland – what  a twilight zone of crushed dreams 🙂


whew…home at 1130




Mount Rainier Icy Cloudscape ReflectionMount Rainier Icy Cloudscape ReflectionDSC03264Mount Rainier Icy Cloudscape ReflectionMount Rainier Icy Cloudscape ReflectionMount Rainier Icy Cloudscape Reflection

Mount Baker Artist’s Point Sunset Views

My friend Dan was coming off of 3 weeks of solid work behind a screen and was in need of some backcountry time.  So we headed up to Artist’s Point for an overnight and views of Mount Baker and Shuksan. Took us about an hour to snowshoe up to the point and scout around for a camp spot. Several promising locations were already carved out of the snow. The weather seemed mild during the day but got cold and windy at night. We did well with our 3 season Big Agnes Seedhouse 2 tent.  I hiked up everything in my Zpacks Arc Blast 45L pack and it felt comfortable from the moment I slipped it on.  My Z-packs 10 degree down sleeping bag kept me warm all night in freezing temps with  considerable wind.  All in all, I was happy with our gear choices including bringing a few bottles of Pike Kilt Lifter ale.


Mount Baker Sunset Light



Mount Baker details – Zeiss 100-300mm




Dan’s controlled descent  😉




Mount Baker Morning Light



Climbing the Hill