Photo of the Month: September 2014

Sorry for the long delay. I’m working on getting more storage space as posting photos for a year straight take up a tonne of room.

Without any further ado here are my top picks from the month of September. About time eh?


6. Moon Ripples, Kirkland Waterfront, Taken 27 September


5. Bridge, Malakwa Lake Trail, Taken 1 September


4. Beach Rocks, Kirkland Waterfront, Taken 27 September


3. Signpost, Granite Mountain Trail, Taken 17 September


2. Chipmunk Friend, Granite Mountain Trail, Taken 17 September


1. Spider Web, Discovery Park, Taken 20 September

Let me know what you think!

Chipmunks and a New Lens

Last week I read a report of the best fire lookout hikes in Washington and settled on Granite Peak for Saturday’s excursion. At the summit a family of chipmunks decided to join us for a snack and got quite friendly after some coaxing. This provided the perfect opportunity to test out the brand new 50mm prime lens I purchased the night before.


Waiting patiently


Happy snacking

We were very sad when we finished our food and had to leave our new friends to continue our journey back down to the car.


Begging for more



Many more pictures were taken but due to some technical difficulties on my backend I have been unable to upload them. These photos were finished before the system went down so more will follow in the near future. I have also decided to start posting which lens I use instead of what camera. Now that I have three different lenses for my Nikon D7100 I think this will be more informative for those that are interested.

Photos taken 13 September, 2014 with a Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF D lens

Dip in Melakwa Lake

For months we have been trying to swim at an alpine lake but the waters have always been too cold. The summer months are quickly speeding by and we are rapidly running out of time to get that swim in before the cold fall rains arrive, so we figured for our first hike of September we might as well try again. We chose Melakwa Lake near Snoqualmie Pass as our destination and set off on a bright warm Saturday.


Highway sounds from above?

The trail starts a few miles west of the pass at the Denny Creek Campground, between the split eastbound and westbound sections of I-90. However, we didn’t realise we would be in this section of the highway’s vicinity until we heard a significant amount of traffic noise above us. We were very startled as we looked up and saw the massive structure towering right next to us.


Under the Highway

While driving this section of I-90 you feel like you are much closer to the hillside and nowhere near as high off the ground. It was really neat seeing the roadbed from this new vantage point, and it made for a few awesome pictures.


Keekwulee Falls

After losing the finally persistent highway sound and passing a few waterfalls we reached Melakwa Lake and our long awaited mountain swim.


Hoping for warm waters

Sections of the trail were exposed and quite steep, so we were very warm and ready for a dip when we arrived. However, there were signs the weather was turning. We quickly changed into our swimsuits as the wind started to pick up and ominous clouds began to build above the peaks, creating interesting shadows dancing around us.


Thunderstorm coming?

We had made it this far and were not about to let a little wind stop us, so we jumped (slowly waded) into the lake. Between the snow fed stream water and the chilly gusts it was not the most enjoyable experience, especially after completely dunking ourselves. At least we can now say we went swimming (shivering movements count) in a mountain lake this summer.


Cooling down the mountains

While the weather did make our trek down significantly colder it turned out no storm ever showed itself that day, which was just as well for us. We had already experienced enough cold water on our bodies for one afternoon and were very glad no rains came. While we did finally have our swimsuits with us we forgot our rain gear.


From the ground up…

Just before reaching the parking area I was summoned to take some pictures of a group of trees from the ground’s perspective. I happily obliged and ended up getting a great image from a unique angle. Taking these last few photos was a great idea that I would not have thought of, which is one reason why having another set of eyes (and thus potential photos) when you’re out can be a great help. Everyone sees things a little differently, opening you up to beautiful images otherwise missed.

Photos taken 1 September, 2014 with a Nikon D7100

Photo of the Month: August 2014

August sure flew by didn’t it? This month included multiple hikes, a few soccer games, and a trip to the Olympic peninsula. Here are my top five photos from those adventures.


5. Flower Trail – 3 August – Mt Defiance


4. Clink View – 10 August – CenturyLink Field


3. Golden Tranquility – 16 August – Blue Mountain


2. Milky Way – 16 August – Deer Park Campground


1. Golden Ridge – 16 August – Blue Mountain

Olympic Expedition

Recently some work friends invited me on a weekend trip out to the Olympic Peninsula. While it would have been smarter for me to stay in town and try to find a new place to live (we won’t get into that story here) I chose to hit the westward road (and ferry) for an adventure. The primary reason for the excursion was to look at a potential wedding venue on Lake Crescent, and photos from the site can be found in this recent post. Seeing NatureBridge turned out to be a huge success, and the rest of the trip was a blast as well.


Sea of Clouds


Sunset from the Road

We camped at Deer Park Campground in the national park, high on a ridge at the end of Deer Park Road. The sun was setting as we approached the campground, providing us with great views above the valley cloud layers lit by the low sun angle. Only one walk-in campsite was still available Friday night, so we were extremely lucky we didn’t have to share a site like those campers who arrived later than us. When we awoke Saturday morning the clouds were completely encompassing us, but we had faith they would burn off after noon so we proceeded with our planned hike along Grand Ridge.


Morning Fog

At first it looked like it was going to clear for us, but just as quickly we were fully socked in, hardly able to see 50 feet in front of us.


Thick fog on the trail

As with previous hikes in the fog and rain I took the opportunity to get some unique pictures that might have been overlooked otherwise. A lot of these included flora and fauna on the sides of the trail.


Micro landscape from ground level


Pink flower and neon moss


A curious chipmunk


The native checkerspot butterfly

Because of the persistent weather we decided to turn back early, after only four miles in instead of the full seven from Deer Park Campground to the Obstruction Point parking area. Our turn around area was near Maiden Peak so one of my friends and I decided to get to the top and see if it cleared at all.


Clouds swirl around Maiden Peak

We had mild success, with just enough breaks to see larger clouds in the distance, with the occasional shadow of a distant ridge or peak. These made for some amazing shots as well though, so I have no complaints. Sometimes it can be more fun to hike with these changing weather patterns than on a bright sunny day.


Briefly above the clouds

After the eight mile hike we milled around camp for a few hours, enjoying the stress free environment and waiting to see if those pesky clouds would ever evaporate.


Deer Park is appropriately named


The clearing finally begins

It was not until 6 that evening that the clouds slowly started to dissipate, eventually giving way to the breathtaking views we had hoped to see throughout the day’s hike. Just as we had started to give up hope there was suddenly a good chance we would get to see a sunset from the top of Blue Mountain (right above the campground).


Massive shifting cloud layers

We clambered into the car and hurried up to the peak to enjoy the full 360 views of the last wisps of cloud on the mountainsides before the golden hour of sunset.


Oh to be a deer…


Valley and mountain clouds


The last of the clouds rise into nothingness

By this point it was nearly 8pm and the sun was about to dive behind the aptly named Rocky Peak, creating the most amazing golden glow. The lighting was perfect on our secluded peak, and no one else was there to enjoy it. They must have all assumed the low clouds were going to linger later into the evening. Boy did they miss out!


Lit grass before elongating shadows


Golden Tranquility


Golden ridge

This glow did not last long, but the ensuing light display in the sky kept us firmly rooted to the peak for another half hour despite the plummeting temperature.


Last rays


Painting the sky

As the colours faded from view we drove back down to camp for more fire activities. I took the opportunity to do some stargazing and night photography given the extremely lack of clouds and low levels of light pollution (which us Seattle folk don’t get to enjoy very often).


Experimenting with the stars


Camping under the stars


Milky Way on display

After a tonne of shots with the camera pointed up I shifted focus to the coals, where we made ember trails for a while before retiring after a very full day.


Flying embers

The next morning we leisurely got ready for a day at nearby Lake Crescent. As I mentioned before my friends were looking at a wedding venue on the lake, but we had ample time to mill around the beach and jump in the lake before the tour. If you’re interested photos from NatureBridge can be found here.n


Westward view from the Lake Crescent Lodge


Taking the plunge


A Peaceful Valley mural in Port Angeles

Finally the last thing on our trip itinerary was complete and we headed back for the big city, stopping for an attempted dinner in Port Angeles before hopping on the ferry in Kingston. This weekend was jam packed with adventure and a tonne of fun, but it was good to be returning home as there was a lot of important work that needed attending to. I really should not have taken this trip, but luckily it has since all worked out for the best and I’m once again looking forward to my next adventure with some very special people!

Photos taken 16-17 August, 2014 with a Nikon D7100

A NatureBridge Wedding

Last weekend some work friends and I took a trip out to Olympic National Park. The primary reason of the trip was to look at a potential wedding venue on the shores of Lake Crescent. The venue we toured is called NatureBridge, an outdoor camp group with affiliated facilities in a number of national parks. My friend’s were looking for an open outdoor venue with lots of flexibility and space close to nature, and NatureBridge fit the bill perfectly after a few minutes of walking around (even before the guided tour). The camp sits on the shore of a pristine lake in the midst of Olympic National Park, is secluded and self contained so there won’t be any outside disturbances (like tourists wandering through), has housing and a kitchen on site, provides two naturalist guides to entertain guests on the lake and in the forest, and is made available for the entire weekend’s use. The icing on the cake is the fact that they are a non-profit where all of the wedding costs are put straight back into teaching children about the great outdoors.

Here are all 25 pictures I took of the wedding space. Enjoy!






Nearby interpretive trail:






Guided tour:














Lake Crescent:


As this is not a true wedding venue there are only a limited number of dates available (only weekends). Luckily a date in August 2015 was still available and has since been penciled in for Cole and Colleen. Congratulations, and enjoy everything NatureBridge has to offer!


Photos taken 17 August, 2014 with a Nikon D7100


Mt. Defiance Round Two

Two weeks ago we decided to take another shot at summiting Mount Defiance. The last time we attempted the hike in mid May (much to early in the season) and the trail was completely snow-covered.  In fact we only made it as far as Mason Lake, and even part of that was actually off the official trail.  This time there was no snow to be seen, and boy were very grateful.


No snow on Defiance this time around


And a snow-free Mason Lake

After making it to Mason Lake we were in uncharted territory but had an idea where we were going.  I thought I had read the turn off for the peak was hard to find and the trail conditions were not the best, so when we stumbled upon a side trail that headed in the correct direction we took it, figuring it must be the correct path.  I was wrong.


Defiance mocks us from Little Mason Lake

We were not lost, but we were definitely not where we needed to be.  We could see hikers on a tantalisingly close but on a different trail switchbacking their way up the hillside above us.  The incorrect path took us about a half mile in the wrong direction, but did provide for a few pictures I wouldn’t have gotten any other way.


The marsh skirting trail to Little Mason


Trail-side tadpoles

Rummaging around in the undergrowth proved to be fruitless, so we turned around and headed back to the main trail, knowing our destination was waiting for us out there somewhere.  The correct branch turned out to be a short walk farther down the trail, and was very well signed.  We were finally going to conquer the elusive peak!


Tree fungus! (Really a water break excuse)

While we were finally on the path to the peak we soon began to regret the decision.  The trail shot almost straight up the hill for a few miles.  There were a few switchbacks at first, but their grade was so steep they hardly helped.


A steep angle

Our only relief from the… relief… came as the path leveled out (slightly) in the exposed meadows above the treeline.  This is where was the same point the hikers had been that we saw from down below, which mean we were very close to the summit, lunch, and a long break.


Scenery motivates tired legs


Flowers blooming!

Just as we thought the trail was going to slowly spiral its way around the peak it turned up again.  This time there was no sugar-coating it at all, we were going straight up the mountain, crawling our way through the loose soil and rock at times.


Making the ridgeline…


…and turning up up up

Fully exhausted we emerged triumphantly on top of Mount Defiance.  After months of talking about conquering the peak we were finally standing on the summit, sweaty but oh so happy.  The only problem was the massive crowd of people clustered about the outcrops, preventing us was fully enjoying our lunch in peace.  At least the views did not disappoint.


Hiding Rainier


Eastward peaks


Mount Baker (tiny white peak on the left-hand side) to North Cascades National Park

The trail down was just as treacherous, but went quickly with gravity’s assistance.  Once again we wished we had our swimsuits so take a refreshing plunge in Mason Lake, but did make a pit stop at the Snoqualmie Brewery for celebratory dinner and drinks.  Now we can finally say we defied Mount Defiance!

Photos taken 3 August, 2014 with a Nikon D7100

The Oregon Whirlwind

The last weekend of July we took a three day trip to Central Oregon to visit my dad and his fiance. Bend/Redmond is the perfect meeting point between Seattle and Reno, almost exactly halfway between the two cities. We left Seattle around 2pm and sat in traffic for hours (as you do in Seattle), eventually making it to downtown Portland for dinner.


Public art in the shape of a bell pepper skeleton


The Hawthorn Bridge at dusk

We ate a delicious little Thai restaurant (Thai Peacock) near Powell’s City of Books, and took a short stroll along the waterfront after dinner before hopping back in the car to finish the rest of the drive.


Plaza at Waterfront Park


Another plaza, another fountain

We ended up getting to the Eagle Crest Resort outside Redmond at 1:00am, only 20 minutes after my dad arrived.  Bed was calling but we were still able to plan on hike the Matthieu Lakes loop the next morning.


Oregon peaks, all in a line


One of the Three Sisters


South Matthieu Lake

The weather was perfect for the 5.2 mile hike, but toward the end the bugs came out and started eating some of us alive, reminding us how lucky we are to live in climates not conducive to mosquitoes.  After the hike we headed into Bend for dinner and drinks (including a delicious stout milkshake) at McMenamins Old St. Francis School.


Nearing the summit


Old lava flows in front of Mount Washington

Sunday we got up early again and headed out for another hike in the Central Cascades, this time up Black Crater (just south of Saturday’s hike).  This 7.6 miles hike provided us with stunning 360° views of the surrounding volcanoes, lava flows, and forests.  Doing this hike with two geologists was a major bonus, and we might have hiked down with more than a few rocks to take home.


Looking Northeast toward Redmond area


A white tree framing the volcanic neck


Volcanic rock galore

We then dropped my dad off at the room and ventured over to Smith Rock State Park and Peter Skene Ogden State Park.  I had been to Smith Rock twice growing up and loving it so it was a must stop on this trip as well.


A climber’s paradise


A basking lizard


The Crooked River carves its way through the park

I also remembered driving over and being in awe of the Crooked River canyon during those family vacations.  However, we never had the time to stop and walk over the gorge and I was not going to miss that opportunity again.  We were not disappointed by the 300ft vertical drop off, geology, and picturesque bridges.  Both state parks are well worth a visit even if you are just passing through on Highway 97.


The historic bridge over the Crooked River gorge


Layer after layer of columnar jointing

That might seem like a very full Sunday, but there was still more in store.  Upon our return to the resort we all helped with dinner, (making four delicious pizzas with every topping you can imagine) and watched deer roam the golf course.  Then the sun started to set…


The shadows lengthened and the colours built


A sky full of colour

I couldn’t pass up the chance for a few artsy shots as well.


Lovers on the hillside


Mt. Jefferson through the lens

The sun eventually set leaving behind a beautifully black sky with a billions stars all around us.  It also just happened to be there between the peaks of the Alpha Capricornid and Perseid Meteor Showers so we were treated with some brilliant shooting stars before bed.  Luckily we didn’t have to stay up to late to see the show because we were getting up early Monday morning to head down to Crater Lake before the long drive back to Seattle.


Glimpsing Crater Lake


Wizard Island from the top of The Watchman

Crater Lake is about a two hour drive south from Redmond, but we figured we might as well swing by while we were this close (relatively speaking).  The day was perfect for stopping by, with clouds slowly building to provide great reflections and depth.


Across the lake


The brilliant blues of the caldera


A shack above the water

After completing the loop drive it was time to grudgingly hit the highway again.  Only a seven hour drive separated us from a short sleep, then back to work again the next day.  This whirlwind trip was the perfect short reprieve we needed, and getting to visit my dad and his fiance was the icing on the cake.

Now where to go for our next trip…

Photos taken 25-28 July, 2014 with a Nikon D7100

Photo of the Month: July 2014

Another month has sped by and it’s time to pick my favourite photo.  This time around I’m providing my top five.


5. In the Lens – 27 July – Outside Redmond, OR


5. Central Oregon Silhouettes – 27 July – Outside Redmond, OR


3. Pure Water View – 12 July – Snow Lake, WA


2. Gate to Nowhere – 6 July – Seattle, WA


1. Island Reflections – 28 July – Crater Lake, OR

Hope you enjoyed these pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them!

Date at Snow Lake

Last Saturday I took a date up to Snoqualmie Pass for a shorter six mile hike to Snow Lake.  The trail is well maintained and is one of the most popular hikes along the I-90 corridor through the Cascades, which also meant a tonne of people out for a jaunt in the mountains.


Switchbacking up the wall

The trail starts gradually climbing from the car park to the base of a cliff, behind which is nestled Snow Lake.  Which meant rapid elevation gain with a grand reward of spectacular views of the snowy lake and the surrounding peaks from the ridge.


First look


The melting surface

From here we continued down to the lake, finding even better vistas along the way.  The sky had just enough clouds to provide some texture and depth to the reflections in the clear water and ice.


Reflections from the shore

The lake is fully surrounded by the high Cascades with many waterfalls tumbling from the snowfields above, feeding the lake the meltwater it needs to sustain itself and providing hikers with amazing natural beauty.


Water water everywhere

We found a small secluded ledge to eat lunch at in relative privacy and debated jumping in the lake.  Unfortunately I completely forgot my swimsuit, and she had nowhere to change into hers.  The water was so inviting though it made it hard to pass up on a hot summer day.


Taking in the crystal blue waters

The water was a perfect blue and so clear you could see the point where the rocks dropped off and the abyss merged into the reflection of the granite peaks to the west.


Snow Lake in its entirety

I had been told about a panorama programme called Hugin and my date kindly offered to make one if I took the pictures for it.  She built the amazing picture above and I can’t thank her enough.  I had such a blast on this hike, it was the perfect start to a wonderful weekend full of good memories.  I really hope we can come back and take advantage of the various camping locations found around the lake in the future, and maybe even plan ahead and go swimming next time too!


Flowers by the lake

Photos taken 12 July, 2014 with a Nikon D7100

1 2 3 10
Page 1 of 10