Flying Around the Snowy Cascades

Had the chance yesterday to go flying with some friends up around the Central Cascades as we got a nice clear day finally.  I went with my Sony A7R2 for its in-camera lens stabilization and my Zeiss 55/1.8 lens for its fast aperture and great rendering.  With the settings on Continuous AF, Steady Shot set at 55mm and burst mode, I got mostly keepers.


View of the Snowy Cascade range


Snowy Cascades in the foreground leading up to Mount Rainier

seattle arial photography

A snowy Ridge atop the Cascades


Very popular hike called Mount Si peaks here, with a view back towards Seattle

Mount St. Helens Dusk Flyover

Had the chance recently to fly around Mt Rainier and St Helens around sunset.  I was really struck by how the devastation around Helens looked from the air.  Sony a7r and Zeiss 16-35mm Mike Reid Photography #mtsthelens35years #mtsthelens

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Artist’s Point Sunrise Overnight

I had been meaning to hike up here for sunrise for quite some time.  By mid last week, however, I had exhausted my list of companions, so I went alone. Weather was supposed to be good;  Clouds clearing off and temps around 20 with winds gusting to 30mph.  I was also curious about some of my new winter gear and how it would perform.  So off I went to Heather Meadows parking lot.  No recent snowfall, and the snow on the ground was crunchy, so I went with my Sorels and no snowshoes.  My other gear choices:

  • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 tent – I knew I would need something freestanding but didn’t think I would need my Mountain Hardwear Trango Assault.
  • Zpacks 10 degree down bag and Thermarest Xlite Xtherm pad.
  • Arcteryx Naos 55 pack
  • Mountain Hardwear Phantom and Ghost Whisperer Jackets with Transition Windstopper underneath.
  • Arcteryx Windstopper shell pants with Windstopper tights underneath.
  • Delorme inReach satellite beacon
  • Sony a7r camera and Zeiss 21, 50 and 100-300 lenses with Gitzo 0540 tripod.

Climb to Artists Point was uneventful, except maybe wishing they would open the road up with so little snow.  I’ve always seen the WSDOT as being a flexible organization.  🙂

At the top, the wind came on strong.  I tried pitching my tent in two spots and it blew itself inside out.  I lashed it to a tree while I looked for a better location.  Scouting around, I noticed a group of tents near the parking lot which was under several feet of snow.  I went back to gather my stuff to join them.  It turns out that seeing me, the guys camped there set out to come see if I was ok.  We met in the middle. They helped me with my tent aka wind sail and we camped together against a bluff that blocked the wind sort of.  They had used a sled to bring up an ample supply of Coors which we dove into.

With me in it, my tent was bending 20 degrees or so in the wind, but I eventually fell asleep.  I was warm enough, figuring the wind chill at about 0 degrees.

I got up early and got some nice shots of Baker with alpenglow coming on at sunrise.  I went back and thanked my new compadres and packed up.  As I was heading down, scores of skiers were heading up.  The new day looked spectacular.DSC03286 DSC03311_stitchsmaller DSC03397

6am In The Mount Baker Ski Area Parking Lot

6am In The Mount Baker Ski Area Parking Lot

Google maps said about 2.5 hours from Seattle, which was about right. I arrived and contemplated napping until the clouds burned off but decided to be true to my goal and got sorted out and geared up. I put on my Sorels and started hiking up the ski trail to Artist’s Point, my goal. The trail reports never seem to give an accurate idea of the climbing involved. I was soon taking several breaks to inconspicuously gasp.

Why I was being inconspicuous I have no idea. I looked around and marveled at the silence and calm. Then I noticed a small group a long way down the hill from me. That got me motivated and off I went. About 3/4s up I was tired of postholing so I put on my snowshoes which made the going a lot easier.

To sum up, I got to the point, saw little except low ceiling clouds. The small party of 20somethings caught up with me. We headed back down and I caught this nice vista of Mount Shuksan peaking out from under the clouds. Soon my nap awaited 🙂