Artists Point Sunrise Views and Snow Camping

I love Artists Point with its amazing views of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, north to the Canadian Border and west to Table Mountain.  You have the earn the view in the winter, as the last reaches of 542 are closed at the Ski Area.  It’s about an hour snowshoe up from there.

Usually I try to go during the week, and preferably after some fresh snowfall.  Dan and I reached the parking lot about 3 to hike up to the Point to camp.  Most people were coming back down at that point as the afternoon wound down.  I don’t use my Arcteryx Naos 55 winter pack too often but it’s perfect for this trip.  We both brought zero degree sleeping bags.  That shovel, glad I brought it.  It made making a tent pad in the snow and digging out the stakes the next day much easier.

Getting Ready in the Heather Meadows Parking Lot

Getting Ready in the Heather Meadows Parking Lot

We climbed the hill and reached the Point totally socked in with clouds.  No sunset apparently today, but there was hope for tomorrow morning.  We made camp a bit east of the Point.

Dan and our Fjallraven tent ready for the evening in the snow at Artists Point

Dan and our Fjallraven Abisko 3 tent ready for the evening in the snow at Artists Point

We awoke to temps in the teens with 20mph gusts but a beautiful morning.  I had kept my batteries in my sleeping bag that night so they still had charge.  Many photos were taken and I got a bit of drone footage as well.  We saw maybe 5 people the whole time, including two dogs in dog heaven who stopped by with their owner 🙂

Happy Husky Dogs at Artists Point

Happy Husky Dogs at Artists Point

Stillness in the snow covered trees…

Stillness in the Snow Covered Trees at Artists Point Fujifilm GFX50s

Stillness in the Snow Covered Trees at Artists Point Fujifilm GFX50s

Flew the Mavic Pro 2 drone for a few minutes to capture the scene from above and catch the light on Mount Baker.  So glad I brought it.

 

Back to down to heated seats and a triple mocha…

Canadian Rockies Fall Colors Highlights Part 2 Lake Moraine and Lake Louise

I had arranged things so that when we came out of camping in the backcountry around Mount Assiniboine, we would have some hotel time to recoup.  To me, the Lodge at Lake Moraine is worth the splurge to be so close to the lake.  Not having to worry about parking and the nice rooms help too.

So we spent the next two days exploring Lake Louise and Moraine around sunset and sunrise.  Both were crazy busy but we expected that.  At Lake Moraine, the Rockpile is an obvious attraction but so is the nice trail half way around the lake.  I got some nice shots from both, including a wedding party getting their photos taken.

Bride and Groom at Lake Moraine Fuji GFX50s

Bride and Groom at Lake Moraine Fuji GFX50s

Lake Moraine from the Rockpile at Dusk gfx50s

Lake Moraine from the Rockpile at Dusk

Lake Moraine Angles Reflected

Lake Moraine Angles Reflected

Lake Moraine Along the Trail

Lake Moraine Along the Trail

We also took a side trip down to the Vermillion Lakes for sunset and hopefully a nice Mount Rundle reflection.  It was well worth the trip.

Vermillion Lakes Fall Colors Canon 200mm f/1.8 and GFX50s

Vermillion Lakes Fall Colors Canon 200mm f/1.8 and GFX50s

Mount Rundle Dusk Light in Vermillion Lakes

Mount Rundle Dusk Light in Vermillion Lakes

The next morning we ventured up to Lake Louise and got the first parking spot by showing up before 6am.  Several hundred of our closest friends soon followed.  It was a great experience watching the peaks around the lake light up with golden sunrise light, all reflected in the aqua waters of the lake itself.

Lake Louise Sunrise Fire gfx50s

Lake Louise Sunrise Fire

Golden Light on the Peaks Arou gfx50snd Lake Louise at Dawn

Golden Light on the Peaks Around Lake Louise at Dawn

The next day we were set to camp in the backcountry around Lake O’Hara.  We had put the tent out to dry at the hotel but it was time to get some solid meals to get ready and to finalize our shopping and gear selection.  On to Part 3…

 

Visiting the Icelandic Highlands Landmannalaugar Fuji GFX50s Part II

If you are here, you have to hike a bit to see the surroundings.  So I did some research and found a vigorous loop that would take me around the area and provide amazing views from above.  One source recommended Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil, one of the longer hikes, but with a huge payoff.  I set out early hoping to be in the views around dusk.

The first part takes you up and over several peaks with incredible vistas in every direction.  Each peak seemed to be better than the last.  I largely had a place to myself, only running into four other people.

Hiking the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands

View towards Bláhjúkur, Brennisteinsalda and Laugahraun along the hike.

Lone Hiker Along the Suðurnámur mountain ridge, Icelandic Highlands.

Lone Hiker Along the Suðurnámur mountain ridge, Icelandic Highlands.

Hiking the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands

View along the Jokulgilskvizl between the Barmur Ridge in the Icelandic Highlands.

About an hour into the hike, I got hit by a strong rain squall.  Fortunately I had my parka with me and slipped into it.  There was enough wind that I figured it would pass, and it eventually did.  I talked to two hikers who said the rest of the way was sunny and clear.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Two hikers I talked to about the weather…

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and Zeiss 100-300mm lens

Views over the ridge at Frostastaðavatn lake and beyond.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Massive geological features along the trail and the lava fields of Graenagil to the left

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Golden light on the green landscape of Landmannalaugar.

The trail and its views were captivating.  I lost sense of time, except for the sunset coming on brought me back.  The rain had indeed passed.  I started to descend to the valley below, taking care going down the slopes slick with loose gravel.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Trail to the valley below in Landmannalaugar

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Tiny sheep on the golden hillsides of Landmannalaugar.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lensIt felt good to be descending but I also missed the views from up on high.  More in Part III.

Visiting the Icelandic Highlands Landmannalaugar Fuji GFX50s

I have been enjoying my Fujifilm GFX50s camera since the moment I bought it last January.  I knew I had to get back to Iceland with it and see how it captured the fascinating landscapes there.  I also wanted to visit the Highlands around Landmannalaugar for the first time along with my many usual favorite locations there.  So I booked a sturdy 4×4, did a ton of research and off I went in early August.  I also packed two drones to capture the vast landscapes.

Drones and Luggage Heading to IcelandI got into Iceland and quickly heading along the Ring Road and then to the Highlands via F Road 208.  30 miles to Landmannalaugar it said.  How bad can that be?  Well its about 3 hours of rocky rutted road with 6-7 stream crossings deep enough you leave a wake.  Crazy but incredible.  The scenery began to change to wild hillsides of contrasting green and brown with occasional blue.  This was what I was after.  I put the drone up to see how it looked from above.

Driving to Landmannlaugar Iceland Drone Views

Driving to Landmannalaugar Iceland Drone Views

Driving to Landmannlaugar Iceland Drone Views

Driving to Landmannalaugar Iceland Drone Views

I reached the campsite area around Landmannalaugar and set about capturing some dusk light images of the area

Landmannlaugar Iceland Blue Mountain Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Blue Mountain Fuji GFX50s

Landmannlaugar Iceland Half Moon Rising Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Half Moon Rising Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Plains of Barmur Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Plains of Barmur Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Blue Mountain and Campground Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Blue Mountain and Campground Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Plains of Barmur Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Plains of Barmur Fuji GFX50s

There are many hikes in the area and I decided to take on the most rewarding but also roughest one. Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil is a 4-5 hour adventure with spectacular views in every direction.  I planned on doing it in the evening for the best dusk light.

More on that in my next piece.

Enchantments Fall Colors Multi-Day Hike

My Enchantments party kept shrinking until there were two of us: Dan and myself. We headed up Sunday, leaving a parking lot packed and parked cars running down the road. I basically carried too much stuff. My pack was at 45lbs which is twice what I usually carry. Part of me is proud of this: Not bad for a 50yo, but also I need more gear discipline. Many of my gear choices paid off since we had snow the second morning but it still was heavy load. I brought two camera bodies, 3 lenses and a tripod.  Didn’t end up using the tripod, but the three lenses were nice to have.  The Arcteryx Altra 75 does carry well.

A ranger was checking permits at the Stuart/Colchuck crossroads. Much appreciated and we thanked him for hanging out there being the gatekeeper.

The fall colors going up were absolutely gorgeous, and never stopped. Took a while to get up Aasgard but we reached the top with a bit of light left to find our first camp spot. Dan had mistakenly dropped our Sawyer filter down a stream chute so it was unfiltered water for the trip. I’ll get back to you on how that panned out although I’ve usually had no trouble drinking unfiltered water up there.

We found a spot around the first of the lakes and camped there. We moved the next day to something a bit more wind protected. Weather was cold and windy, with snow apparently on the way. We got the snow the next morning. I didn’t sleep well, both hearing the snow and dealing with a mouse in my tent. I thought one was trying to come in. Who could blame them? I had some seriously yummy treats in a warm dry enclosure. Turns out once he ran across my head I knew that he was trying to get out. Eventually I got that sorted.

Anyway woke up the next day with a light dusting of snow. Really beautiful landscape. Eventually it started to continue to snow for the rest of the morning and we decided to head down on Tuesday. Snow turned to rain on the pass, and continued all the way to the car and down to Leavenworth. I think it was a good decision. We shared lots of beta with various other hikers. Drove back to Seattle where my cat was very curious about my pack and its intriguing smells 🙂

Ok now some gear commentary. What I brought and thoughts on it…someone might find this useful.

Arcteryx Altra 75 Pack: Carries very well, very adjustable and comfortable. It’s so big you can get lured into bringing more stuff than you really need 🙂

Shires Tarptent Contrail: Very light, roomy and easy to set up. Tends to sag when loaded with snow and rain. Very dependent on its stakes which creates issues in soft powdery granite sand. Not much condensation when set up up facing into the breeze. I didn’t use a groundcloth this time and had no issues. Uses a hiking pole to set up. I didn’t bring poles but instead used a single 48″ zpacks carbon pole.

Western Mountaineering Versalite 10 Degree Bag: I sleep cold. I know this about myself and bring much more bag than most would. Part of this is a slower metabolism that doesn’t create as much heat in the bag as it used to. That being said, I was warm in this bag, wearing pants and a light coreloft top. My little Sea to Summit inflatable pillow and Thermarest NeoAir XTherm pad helped create a very snuggly sleeping situation.

Anker Power Port Solar Lite: I usually get a hair of a Verizon signal in the Enchantments so I bring my phone to wake up in the morning, capture candid photos and text missives of well being back home. The Anker did a great job of keeping the chargeables charged. Keep in mind that the cold is working against your batteries and often just keeping them inside the sleeping bag at night will preserve some charge.

Mountain House, Backpackers Pantry, Good to Go Dehydrated Meals: Yuck. Sorry I don’t know what to tell you. We carried an assortment of these up the hill and back down. One dinner of these was enough. One reason I love overnights is that I can bring a zip lock bag of my frozen homemade bolognese pasta sauce or meaty three bean chili and reheat.

Zipshot TR406 mini tripod. I have two monster Gitzo’s at home and they stay there when I’m headed into the Enchantments. I don’t use tripods much in the backcountry. I watch my shutter speeds and practice careful handheld technique to get sharp photos. That being said, to catch a timelapse, a small tripod helps. I like the 9oz Zipshot which basically has tent pole collapsing legs and a minimalist ball head. One secret to making this more stable that no one mentions is to spread the legs out wide enough to create some tension. That seems to help make it more solid.

Arcteryx Firebee Parka and Atom LT pants. Hiking up the hill, you are plenty warm. Its the time sitting around camp or waiting for sunrise that you need insulated layers. Like most NW natives, I have a whole closet of options. These two pieces however were essential to my warmth. I wore them constantly and was never cold, even in windchill gusts into the teens.

Endurox R4 and Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes. I like to think that I use every modern trick of nutritional chemistry to make the Enchantments a more pleasant hike. I mix Endurox into my water bottle as it does a great job of replenishing lost glycogen and helping with muscle damage and protein needs. Everyone has different thoughts on this kind of thing but Endurox makes me feel less sore the next day. Plus the banana flavor is yummy. Since I tend to sweat like a waterfall, eventually I’m going to flush out my electrolytes which leads to cramps. Putting some Endurolytes in my drink helps ward these off. A pinch of Sea Salt will do the same thing but I like the Mango flavor.

Ok that’s what I have….hope it helps

 

Enchantments Fall Colors Larches Photography and HikingAasgard Pass Enchantments Fall Colors Larches Photography and HikingPrusik Peak Sunrise Enchantments Fall Colors Larches Photography and HikingFire and Ice Enchantments Fall Colors Larches Photography and HikingVoigtlander 10mm Enchantments Fall Colors Larches Photography and HikingEnchantments Fall Colors Larches Photography and HikingLocal resident Enchantments Fall Colors Larches Photography and HikingIce, snow and granite. Enchantments Fall Colors Larches Photography and HikingPrusik Peak and skies reflected. Enchantments Fall Colors Larches Photography and Hiking

Fremont Lookout Sunset Layers Photography

Ended up back at Fremont Lookout last night figuring that the Hawks game would keep traffic down a bit. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that judging from the Seahawks decorations on all the lifted trucks and so on, it would probably be a good time to be out hiking.

The sunset did look promising, with some wispy clouds in the skies. Parking lot was pretty much empty when we arrived at 7pm. Trail is very dry and dusty, and wildflowers are starting to line the path, but not enough to lure the selfie stick crowd off trail.

Beautiful night for hiking and photography…These are mostly Zeiss 50mm and 100-300mm shots.DSC04282-PanoDSC04256DSC04265-PanoDSC04302-PanoDSC04350DSC04387DSC04253

Spring Overnight Hike Along the Baker Chain Lakes Trail

I had noticed on WTA.org that the Chain Lakes Trail up around Artist’s Point had mostly melted out.  So I decided to go up there for an overnight and hopefully some nice light on Mount Baker.  My gear selection was Arcteryx M40 pack, Shires Tarptent Contrail and ZPacks 10 degree bag.  These choices turned out to be good, I was warm enough at night and the pack carries so well with about 25 lbs or so.  I have to mention that I really appreciated the Zep Peach air freshner that someone left in the bathroom at Artist’s Point.  Much appreciated as its a losing battle in the bathroom, but the Zep helped.

Iceberg lake wasnt quite totally melted out but still had a nice reflection.  I decided to scramble down the avalanche chute and try to find a spot along the lake.  I think it was definitely worth the trip.  www.mikereidphotography.com #backpacking #hiking

DSC09303 DSC09338

…and now the timelapse I made at sunrise