My return journey from Chelan brought me over Stevens Pass on a sunny day. I had a schedule to get back for another meeting so wasn’t able to loiter too much but I still managed to take a few minutes out to stop and grab a couple of shots. There aren’t many places to stop going over Stevens Pass but, coming down from the summit heading west, there is a pull out and so I made my first use of that. I also stopped coming in to Index to grab a snack from the coffee hut there which has a nice view of Mount Index.
Snowy Cascades shots are pretty but I was shooting from an airliner on my way for a work trip and the mountains were sitting amongst the clouds. Getting a good shot from a plane of a white subject when contrast is not going to be great is a risk but this came out better than I expected. It won’t be too long before the snow is melted and we shall have to wait for half a year to get something like this again.
When starting up at rocky mountainsides, it is easy to spot trees that seem to be doing an amazing job of growing out of somewhere that looks like it shouldn’t be possible. Normally I am a lot further away that is practical to get a good look at how they do this. However, while hiking in the Cascades, we came across a spot right next to the trail where some trees were growing right out of the rocks next to us. It was so cool to see how they develop a root structure in solid rock from which they can grow and flourish. Here are a couple of shots to show how they have successfully embedded themselves in a rocky surface.
The ferry ride from Swartz Bay back to Tsawwassen was on a day that wasn’t particularly nice weather wise. And we emerged in to the open water from the islands, I was wandering about with the camera. The view to the mountains north of Vancouver opened up and they were in clear sunlight with the snow reflecting the warm winter light beautifully. It was a distant shot but a panorama seemed to be a good idea. Everyone on the boat seemed to be taking notice and plenty of people came out on deck to take their photos.
My effort to shoot an arriving A350 at SeaTac provided a secondary benefit. The majority of arriving aircraft land on the outer runway. This is further away and also has a threshold further up the field. This means the aircraft are higher up on the approach. On a clear winter’s day, the planes have the backdrop of the snow covered Olympic mountain range. They were a bit far away but did provide a rather scenic view.
Our trip over the Cascades took us through Washington Pass. There was an overlook area with parking which allowed us to stop and wander around a bit. The view of the pass was gorgeous. There was snow on the peaks surrounding things and a hint of snow on the ground too. The road drops down dramatically from the pass and comes down the valley below the overlook. You were almost looking straight down on vehicles as they passed beneath.
There were plenty of places to walk. The overlook area itself was not far from the parking lot but a short trail wandered up and around the rocks to give a wide variety of views. The autumnal light was nice and low even though it was very sunny. Being quite high up meant the sun was a bit stronger than normal. The panoramic views meant standing and staring was the order of the day. We ended up staying there for quite a while. It will soon (if not already) be snowy up there. As I write this, the road is already closed for the winter. Hopefully we shall head back up that way when spring arrives.
Diablo Lake sits behind one of the dams as you head across the Cascades. Overlooking the lake is a vista point and we stopped there to have our lunch. We certainly weren’t the only ones to think of this. The parking lot was pretty full and there were tons of people enjoying the view. For being up in the mountains, you certainly weren’t a long way away from civilization! On a sunny day, it wasn’t hard to understand why it was so popular.
Across one side of the lake you could see the top of the dam. Meanwhile, you had great views in all directions. The vista point was quite high above the water level and looking down on the water and the islands in the lake, you had a perspective that almost felt like flying. One of the islands had a nice jetty and the water was clear enough to see down to the bottom in the shallows. I guess the water is snow run off from the mountains so it probably doesn’t pick up too much sediment.
Heading through the Cascades one weekend, we stopped off at a farm stand. They had apple orchards and were showing off one of the machines used for picking the apples. It had multiple tines for sweeping the apples from the branches when they are ready, presumably without bruising the fruit. I imagine this thing can pick a lot more fruit than a person in a given time.
Since moving to California, we have been in a drought. There has not been a huge amount of rain and, more importantly, the snowfalls over the Sierras have been very limited. Sometimes I have flown over the mountains and they have been pretty bare. Since the snow pack is a primary source of water for the reservoirs, this is a big deal. This winter has been different. We have received a lot of rain along the coastal areas and the mountains have been getting a decent amount of snow. I flew across a while back and, as we looked down on the mountains, they were totally covered. Normally the snow is clear but the other features show up well too like the forests. This time, everything looked white. It was one uniform texture across everything. I imagine that, not only had a lot of snow fallen but it had fallen recently and hadn’t yet shaken off the trees. It looked amazing out of the window of the plane!
From Hurricane Ridge, you get a great view of the surrounding mountains of the Olympics. September obviously is not the time to see the snow on most of the mountains but there are some glaciers on some of the peaks. However, it appears like they are in retreat. Photos on the display boards near the visitors’ center show the extent of the glaciers in previous decades and they have retreated a long way. If they don’t slow down (and usually this accelerates), they will be gone before too long. We saw them but it seems plenty won’t get the chance.