|Posted by Dean Hebert on January 31, 2021 at 6:35 PM||comments ()|
This is not the hike for someone out for a Sunday stroll, it's for serious hikers only! Over 1800 meters of elevation gain can sap the strength out of most and I was no exception.
The day started overcast but the forecast was for clearing skies so I was hopefull for a good sunset.
I really enjoyed hiking the trail. The lower section is a well graded trail through an ever changing forest, making it easy to keep your mind occupied. Around the 1500 meter mark you roll through an emerald forest which I just loved.
Not much further along and the views open up.
At the end of July the slopes have abundant wildflower cover and all the vibrant colours helped lift me to the lake, still over 400 meters below the summit.
Past the lake the trail turns to rock with zero shade. It's here that the slog begins. The unending treadmill can be a real ankle twister if you're not careful. I kept the carrot of the summit dangling in front of me and made my way to the top.
Unfortunately, the clouds moved in just as I was summitting. Because of that, I decided to not actually make the final climb to the peak, but instead enjoy a snack and take some photos.
I could see a lake off to the south-east that looked very inviting but I wasn't sure if I could just drop down to it. The terrain didn't look too complex so I made my way in that direction. The sunlight played across the plateau and I had to stop for pictures.
Without any difficulty I was soon at the lakeshore. Looking back at the peak I could see the clouds parting. Apparently my timing was a bit off.
Viewed from the lake, the summit isn't overly impressive but it still draws the eye. I waited for the wind to die so I could get the perfect reflection shot but it didn't happen.
Originally I thought I could just sidehill over to the trail, but as the route in front of me became cliffy I decided the safest thing to do would be to hike up to the first lake and regain the trail from there. As I passed a garden of castilleja I had to stop and frame a few shots with the distant mountains in the background.
Then it was time to make the trek back to the car.
I was ready for the hike to be over long before it was. My knees and hips were throbbing and I knew I'd be feeling it for days to come.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on December 22, 2020 at 11:15 PM||comments ()|
In the fall of 2018 I made several return trips to the Mount Baker wilderness, exploring the Chain Lakes, Lake Anne, and Ptarmigan Ridge.
While pre-scouting the Chain Lakes I saw a spot that looked promising for a reflection shot of Mount Baker. From the parkinglot the trail dips down to Upper Bagley Lake before climbing up to a pass filled with fall colours.
There's a great view of Mount Shuksan from the pass but this time the peak was obscured by clouds. My destination was Iceberg Lake, about a 200 meter drop from the pass.
As I made my way to the north-east shore of the lake the grade became quite steep. While contemplating how to get down to the edge I feasted on blueberries and huckleberries.
With no easy way down I bashed my way through the brush, placing each foot carefully and holding on to anything at hand. I got close enough to set-up my tripod and composed a few shots, crossing my fingers and hoping the wind would die down.
I stayed for 20 minutes as the light faded, then packed my gear and hauled myself back up from the shore, fighting against the bushes. At the pass I stopped to get a shot of the moon rising. I should of taken the time to get out my tripod but I was too impatient.
Every time you go to the Mount Baker Ski Resort to go hiking, you drive past the aptly named Picture Lake. I've never stopped here before but I thought I'd give it a try. I'm happy with the results although I may try to get another shot with some colour in the sky.
Leaving from the Artist Point parking lot, the Ptarmigan Ridge trail side hills below Table mountain, offering good views back to Mount Shuksan.
I wandered along the ridge for about an hour or so looking for a good composition until the light began to climb the mountain side. I set up for a few shots of Shuksan but couldn't seem to get anything to come together,
A week later I was back on the mountain, heading to Lake Anne. The plan was to climb the rise to the west of the lake and see if I could get a reflection shot of Mount Shuksan.
The hike to the lake is filled with great views but I was in too much of a hurry to get to there to enjoy them. I was at the lake in just over an hour and circled around to the far end before starting up the ridge. I was just picking my way across the slope, climbing higher as I went, looking for the best view, when the last of the sunlight hit the peak of Shuksan.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on December 1, 2020 at 11:30 PM||comments ()|
After Dan and I did a loop trip around the Three Sisters in Oregon, I felt a return to the southern portion would allow me to hit the highlights without doing as many miles per day.
Starting from the Green Lakes Trailhead it's a fairly easy hike along Fall Creek. I enjoyed listening to the creek for the first part of the hike. After a couple of kilometers in the forest the trail splits and I headed west. I'd been driving all day so I wasn't feeling at the top of my game. Half an hour later I arrived at the Moraine Lake camping area. I chose a spot high above the lake and set up camp.
A quickly eaten supper left me time to check out the lake. The wind made the lake choppy so I decided to head up to the ridge. I gravitated toward the dead trees and framed several shots as the light slowly changed.
I don't know why I didn't set up for some star shots, I think they'd look great from here. Back at camp I watched the lights of hikers coming down the mountain in the dark.
The plan for day 2 was to hike to the summit of South Sister and then move to Green Lakes for the night. While 1200 meters of elevation gain is nothing to sneeze at, I was confident that I would be able to reach the top without any troubles. What I hadn't taken into account was that I'd been quite the couch potatoe over the summer.
I realized early into the hike that my legs were not in prime condition. Half way up, my calves started cramping and I really started to slow down. It was about then that a trail runner trotted past me, ugh!
The final push to the summit was brutal for me but I just kept moving. It was a huge relief to crest the last ridge and stand on the top of the caldera. I took some photos of the views stretching into the distance.
With nothing left in the tank I headed back to camp. I was beat so I took a short nap before dinner.
Sometimes I amaze myself at how stupid I can be. I was exhausted but still packed up all my gear and started off towards Green Lakes. It was down hill for the first couple kilometers before reaching Fall Creek and starting the ascent to Green Lakes. It had to be me, but I had a hard time finding camping sites. I searched for what seemed like 30 minutes before finding a good spot. I set up and crawled into bed.
The next morning I could barely move my legs. After a brief look around I went back to my sleeping bag and slept until about 2:00 pm.
The smoke from nearby fires cast a haze throughout the valley, almost blocking the views to the surrounding peaks.
It was an effort to move but I kept telling myself that I had to scout out a location for a sunset shot. A little bunch of flowers on the shore of the lake looked promising. Further on I came across a small pond that was calm enough to get a reflection shot of South Sister.
My energy was fading so I hiked back to camp for some noodle soup and a nap. As the light began to change I pushed myself to get up and wandered over to my shot location. Along the way I found a tiny stream tucked away from the main trail.
My hopes for a sunset reflection shot with flowers in the foreground were dashed when I reached the lake. The wind kept the lake from settling down and the flowers apparently close at night.
In the morning I made the descision to pack up and head home. My legs were stiff and sore and I just didn't think it was worth spending another night there if I wasn't enjoying myself. I had plans of hiking up the Camp Lake Trail but that will have to wait until next time.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on November 18, 2020 at 11:10 PM||comments ()|
With flights into Las Vegas so cheap, it makes a great launching pad for a trip around the Grand Canyon. After picking up the rental car we headed to one of our favourite destinations, the Valley of Fire. Always looking to explore new sights we drove to the Seven Sisters for a lunch stop. Then it was on to the CCC Cabins where we investigated the tiny homes built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. From there it was a short drive to Elephant Rock.
With our sight-seeing done for the day, we drove to St George.
The next day I thought we were going to Red Cliffs, but instead we ended up at Snow Canyon. Serea and I spent the afternoon exploring the entrances to several laval tunnels and a trail around a small prominence.
There was no time left for Red Cliffs so we drove on to Zion. This was a big mistake as we had too little time to even scratch the surface of what this park has to offer. On the plus side, this early in the season you can drive your own vehicle up the canyon. We only had a bit over an hour of daylight to see everything and it wasn't enough time!
We spent the night in Kanab before starting day 3 at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. I've wanted to photograph dunes forever but I couldn't find what I was looking for.
Next on the list was Grand Staircase-Escalante.
We made one stop at the Toadstools trail and wandered through this alien landscape for over an hour.
Our final stop for the night was Page. We checked-in to our hotel and then went for dinner. Afterwards, I decided to checkout Horseshoe Bend. It is literally minutes outside of town.
I've heard that it's a popular location, but I wasn't expecting the steady stream of people hiking the short trail to the rim. Once there, I grabbed the last opening and setup my tripod. Then I waited for the sun to hit the horizon. I'm glad I went for sunset as the next day dawned overcast.
With better planning and a bigger budget we would have spent the next day going through one of the local slot canyons and getting amazing photos of these unique locations. Instead we headed back to Horseshoe Bend and explored some of the surrounding landscape. I took shots of the bend from several angles. With a long day of driving the next day, we turned in early.
And what's a trip around the Grand Canyon without stepping to the edge and looking down. I'm not sure how many times we've been there, but in no way has the canyon lost any of it's breath-taking ability.
With more of this stunning area still waiting to be explored, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before we're back.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on June 7, 2018 at 12:30 AM||comments ()|
A last minute cancellation meant that I was solo hiking again! I called Jasper to change my resevations and the lady I was talking to said that I should be aware that there was a very high level of grizzly bear activity in the valley! Great!
Tonquin Valley is renown for it's muddy trails and hordes of mosquitos but by the end of August I found the trails mostly dry and pretty much bug free.
With what I thought was going to be a relatively easy 14 kms to Switchback camp, I set a moderate pace, passing quite a few people who were heading out. Views across the Astoria River valley were constant and I kept gazing at the numerous peaks.
After around 4 kms I crossed the river and got to see the mountains on the other side. The trail is a decent grade until you pass a recent rockslide and begin the switch backs.
From a low point of 1700 m I gained almost 400 m before reaching my campsite for the night.
Without a great view I didn't spent too much effort doing any photography that evening or in the morning.
After a lazy morning I packed up camp and headed to my next campsite. The trail went past Amethyst Lake and I had to stop and gaze at the Ramparts, an impressive ridge of jagged peaks!
Past the lakes it was a short walk to Mccarib camp and I arrived in the early afternoon. After taking a short break to rest my feet I made an early supper and decided to explore the trail leading up the lower flank of Majestic Mountain. At the back of the campsite is the grave of a ranger who died nearby. I was quite on edge and hiked with my bear spray in my hand.
It didn't take long to clear the trees and emerge on the open slopes.
The smoke from nearby fires made for some "interesting" effects as I wandered further upslope.
My confidence level wasn't very high and I couldn't seem to find a shot worth waiting for so I started back down. There was some nice light that caught my eye.
Due to booking my trip so late I couldn't get a very organized itinerary so in the morning it was time to pack up and retrace my steps to Clitheroe Campground. With less than 7 kms to get there I dallied along the way, stopping to photograph the Ramparts and any flower I could find.
With lots of energy left in my legs after getting set-up I decided to do some exploring. It's a short, 2 km hike to Surprise Point with more great views along the way.
This part of the valley was deserted and I didn't see anyone at the campsite. Which was a good thing as I wasn't impressed with the "open concept" out houses. Although I must admit that the view was amazing!
Tonquin Valley is really a wide open, high mountain pass. As clouds filled the sky I stopped and took a photo of tomorrow's destination, Eremite Valley.
Back at Clitheroe Campground I met Christophe, a hiker from France. He was planning on hiking Eremite Valley as well so I suggested we hike together. We made plans to meet in the morning.
After breakfast, I met up with Christophe. The plan was to hike to the ACC hut where I was booked for the night and see if there was room for Christophe to stay in the hut as well. Unfortunately there's provisions for walk-in guests. With that in mind, Christophe decided to not to hike Eremite Valley with me. We had some lunch and I dumped my gear before we hiked back down to the Eremite Valley trail head, where I said good-bye to Christophe.
The sky was leaden above the silt-ladened streams flowing across the valley floor. The two streams exit the valley side by side, one through a small gap in the hillside, the other underneath it.
As the trail meandered along between the forested hillside and the shrub covered valley floor, I was getting a little freaked out. There could be a grizzly bear just meters away and I would have no idea unless it made it's presence known. I made plenty of noise as I hiked along, so it was a bit of a surprise when I spotted a moose about 50 meters into the valley.
Thankfully it didn't disappear as I switched out lenses. This was the first moose I'd ever encountered in the wild andI spent several minutes photographing it before it decided it had had enough of me and quickly stode out of sight.
Soon after my moose sighting the trail began to climb towards the head of the valley. The path wound it's way through ripe berry bushes and I enjoyed a tasty snack until it dawned on me that I was in the middle of prime grizzly feeding grounds. A big pile of bear scat reinforced that fact.
I reached the head of the valley and the end of the trail. I would love to explore this area further but the overcast sky and the prospect of hiking back solo in the dark made my descision for me and after a short stop I headed back to the hut.
Back at the hut, I rested my feet and had some supper. With only a couple of hours of daylight left, I set out to explore around Outpost Lake.
The first thing that caught my eye was a small seedling, trying to gain a foot hold on a boulder. It was stunted and broken, struggling to survive in the harsh enviroment.
The gathering clouds warned of a storm to come but I was hopefull it was going to pass.
On the far side of the lake, I stopped to photograph the eastern side of the Ramparts reflected in the calm waters.
The outlet of the lake was easy to cross and from the other side I was able to get a good view of Outpost Mountain.
Darkness fell quickly and I headed back to the hut for the night.
The next morning I took a short walk by the lake, photographing Outpost Peak, before packing up and starting the 16 km hike back to the trailhead.
Leaving the Wates-Gibson hut the trail descends quickly and I stopped to take a few shots behind me.
I made short stop at Chrome Lake and then carried on.
While most of the trails I'd hiked over the last few days had been relatively dry, the route along the south side of Astoria River still had lots of water flowing off the flanks of Thunderbolt Peak. It wasn't until I crossed over to the north side of the river that my boots had a chance to dry out.
Only half way back, I was getting tired. I should have taken a longer break at the bridge crossing back to the south side but I was so intent on getting home that I just kept trudging along.
I struggled along for another couple of hours before finally reaching the truck. Then it was time for the long drive home.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on June 3, 2018 at 1:00 PM||comments ()|
We made a return visit to Las Vegas for a friends birthday celebration and some of the people we were with, including our son, Devin, had never been to the Valley of Fire.
Devin always wants to drive so I let him take the wheel of the rental. After a couple of quick stops at the entrance and the "Bee Hives", we passed the visitor center and started driving through a break in the red rock. Something caught Devin's eye and he turned the car around and drove slowly back until he pulled over. Then we all saw the family of big horn sheep. I quickly switched to my 70-200 lens and began snapping away!
As the sheep moved away I saw where they were headed and moved to position myself for a better view. With Devin beside me, I waited for just the right moment when the large male emerged on the ledge and posed for us.
Then they were gone.
With such a late start there wasn't a whole lot of time to explore but we pulled into a parking lot and took a look around. We all met at the top of a little rise and posed for a phot.
The sun was headed towards the horizon so I said I was going for a stroll.
I know I'm not the first person to walk these paths but when the light is low and there's noone else in sight there's a definite sense of aloneness.
I found a pinnacle catching the last rays of light.
I didn't want to make everyone wait too long so I headed back to the car. It was nice to know that our friends enjoyed the Valley of Fire as much as we do.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on April 12, 2018 at 12:45 AM||comments ()|
I've seen this ridge on the south side of Needle Peak, plenty of times and finally gave it a little reconnaissance.
From below Flatiron, I skirted around Tastey Lake, and side-hilled a bit until the ridge dropped down to meet me. The best wildflower blooms had come and gone but I managed to find a few.
I couldn't take my eyes off of Needle Peak, rising up from across the valley.
There was a bit of a trail but I just wandered about, eventually coming upon a small pool that was drying up. I tryed to get a reflection of Needle Peak but it was tough to get a clear view.
My original goal was to get to the very end of the ridge but I wasn't ready to take on the steep gully that seperated me from it.
With a decent water source I decided that this would make a nice over-night destination and left any further exploring until next time. After another shot of Needle Peak,
I took a look around at the smokey views to the south. There was an "other-worldliness" to the landscape so I framed a few shots.
It was easy to retrace my steps back to the trail junction where the lowering sun created layers of fading light.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on February 18, 2018 at 3:50 PM||comments ()|
A couple of years ago I "discovered" the amazing wildflower display in the bowl below Mount McGuire and I knew I had to get back and photograph this area again.
With no intention of summiting, I headed to the trail head in the late afternoon. The lower part of the road is still ok but it's getting overgrown making for a lot of single lane driving. Then the road deteriorates rapidly and I switched to 4 wheel drive to save my tires.
There was no one at the trail head and I quickly headed to the rockslide. The hills were alive with flowers but the contrast made it difficult to get a decent shot. The trail gets steep at the funnel and I took my time until reaching the ridge. My first look into the bowl confirmed my timing. The hills were bursting with blooms!
By 7:00 pm the light had softened enough for my to start getting some good exposures and I did my best to frame the flowers with Mount McGuire in the background. There was tonnes of white flowers with some yelow, pink, and red ones thrown in for variety.
This can be a difficult location to photograph due to the steep slopes and I struggled to get my tripod to not fall over! And of course, wildflower season is mosquito season!
At one point I found myself in a field of thistles. Thankfully I wasn't wearing shorts!
After realizing that the clear skies wouldn't provide a great sunset I made my way to the top of the ridge. There the light was better and the line of the ridge leading to the peak made for an ineresting composition.
As the light faded from the sky, I said good-bye to one of my favourite, local destinations.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on February 14, 2018 at 11:30 PM||comments ()|
Elk Mountain, my go-to location for a quick, after-work hike, combining some decent photo opportunities with a good cardio workout!
In early summer the wild flowers are in full swing so I headed up a little after 5:00 pm hoping to catch the sunset on the summit.
The dense greenery of the lower slopes always has me looking for a good composition. I took some quick shots of these ferns, cranking the ISO on my camera up to 1600 and reducing the exsposure to try and get a longer shutter speed as I was hand-holding my camera. I always give myself a slap in the face later, for not setting up my tripod.
Just past the road I took a quick shot of some flowers and then gave myself a mental slap-in-the-face and pulled out my tripod and spent a bit of time framing the shot.
From there, I put my head down and huffed and puffed my way to the summit area where the steep slope was covered in blooms.
I would be great to just sit and enjoy the views after the hard hike but in the evening the hill is alive with mosquitoes. The deet stops them from biting but the buzzing in your ear is maddening!
When it looked as though there wouldn't be much to see at sunset I started back down, stopping for a parting shot of the little white flowers that lined the upper trail.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on February 6, 2018 at 12:35 AM||comments ()|
We've been going to the Valley of Fire for years now because of the incredible scenery and I'd never been to "the wave". This short, easy hike leads to a cool rock feature.
As sunset approached, I made my way down the trail and around the tumbling cliffs of a large outcrop of red rock. On the south side of this formation I was mesmerized by the countless lines and layers in the rock surface. Normally, this would be, at most a 10 minute walk, but I had to stop every few feet and frame another photo!
There were some neat clouds in the sky and I was hoping they'd stick around for sunset and add more colour to already colourful landscape.
This is not a secret trail and there were some other people enjoying the scenery and exploring around the wave. After waiting a while for some people to move, I decided to just go about my business and try and stay out of their way.
With plenty of light in the sky I headed down a little valley and up the other side, climbing to the top of some cliffs.
If you've ever been to the Valley of Fire you'll know how intriguing this spectacular landscape is!
The sun was just above the horizon as I made my way back to the wave. Most of the crowd had left, leaving me to compose my shots without having to work around anyone else.
Because the Wave is in a depression it was soon in shadow. Fortunately there was more to photograph as I headed back to the car, and my waiting wife, and I used up all the light I could.
Even after so many trips to this unbelievable valley, I'm still spellbound by the remarkable scenery!
Until next time!