Tag Archives: Mt. Rainier

2015 in Review: Mt. Rainier Dreams

Slowly but surely I keep revisiting places of 2015.  Mt. Rainier National Park is a special destination for me and has been since I moved to Washington State over 20 years ago.  A place that always provides much inspiration.  This time around I was heading out to meet up with my good friend Ross (have a look at his work here) visiting from Florida.  Over the years we’ve enjoyed many great photographic excursions, and this was no different.

Due to extreme heat, at least for our area, and lack of adequate precipitation the previous winter and spring, flowers came and went early.  Despite this, the landscape remains glorious.  To get “warmed up” we spent some time in Paradise Valley, enjoying the glowing firs and meadow.  I particularly enjoyed working this scene with the mountain ash berries in the foreground.

Paradise Valley Meadow, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Paradise Valley Meadow, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

One can find various gems throughout the park, some hidden in plain sight, others truly off the beaten path.  Following a good start at Paradise Valley, we spent quite a bit of time photographing Paradise River rapids before seriously focusing on Ruby Falls.  With its many strands of falling water, various rock surfaces and dappled light, this can be a magnificent place to enjoy for a while.

Ruby Falls, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Ruby Falls, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Feeling quite pleased with the day’s work, we decided to take a quick spin up to Reflection Lakes.  No matter how many times one views the Mountain from here, the landscape is simply glorious.  We had the place to ourselves, and that is a big bonus at this spot.  And we were even treated to stunning sunset light.

Mt. Rainier Sunset | Washington

Mt. Rainier Sunset | Washington

Returning to camp, we stirred up some grub, good drink, and good conversation.  It was a grand time with a great friend in a magnificent location.

 

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Mt. Rainier in the Rain

Most of the year I had moments during which I told myself it was time to go to Mt. Rainier.  I’d get excited but then something would take that spark away and I wouldn’t go.  Spring went by, the wildflowers of summer, and the brief brilliance of autumn.  Mind you I’m no stranger to the park.  I used to go there 10-15 times per year for a good 15 years.  Then I stopped.  A lot changed for me, around me and in me.

And so for three years I didn’t make a single visit.  At times I missed being there and at times I felt helplessly indifferent.  But that desire to travel came back and I actually grabbed my camera, some extra clothing, got into my vehicle and drove south to the park.  It wasn’t particularly a nice day; heavy overcast with passing rain storms.  It looked worse at my destination.  But I was ready to go.  The closer I was getting the higher my excitement grew.  And yeah, I was excited about my excitement!

Ancient forest in the rain, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Ancient forest in the rain, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

At the entrance gate I knew I messed up for not coming here for so long.  I got the annual pass.  As I entered the park the drizzle was still coming down, but it was really trying to stop…or so I told myself.  I have passed by the above scene a 100 times or more.  I looked but didn’t see.  This time it took my breath away.  It was wet, lush, gorgeous, so much so I had a few tears of absolute joy.  I looked for a while before setting up my camera, simply absorbing the scene, while big drips of rain from the branches above fell on me and all around…just perfect.

As I continued through the park, via Longmire, climbing in elevation, the landscape looked so new yet I had witnessed it on so many occasions over the years that it was recognizable.  I guess it is like aromas that are familiar to us from childhood, forgotten for years, and once inhaled again feel as new as yesterday.

Edge of Stevens Canyon, drenched in mysterious fog, Mt. Rainier | Washington

Edge of Stevens Canyon, drenched in mysterious fog, Mt. Rainier | Washington

With the climbing elevation the rain increased to downpour strength.  I wasn’t going to see the mountain up close today but that’s just fine, I love the forests for all the various trees, the shrubs, the lakes, the valleys.  Heavy rain and fog in Paradise.  I was bummed that the park closed the Paradise Valley Road even though the snow had not come and some remnants of autumn still adorned the landscape.  I was overjoyed to see some remaining color despite the fact I was here nearly a month past the usual peak.

I stopped at Reflection Lake and set up a couple compositions in a sideways downpour.  Maybe not the most romantic thing to be setting up a large camera with one hand and holding an umbrella with the other.  But when you love the craft, such things don’t really matter.

Arriving at the western edge of Stevens Canyon the fog thickened and the rain really did stop.  In the above photo I loved the shrubby vine maples (among my favorite “trees”) with autumn color and the layers of silent conifers.  I filled my lungs with deep and sweet breaths of wet mountain air….

Stevens Canyon with lifting fog, autumn, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Stevens Canyon with lifting fog, autumn, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

The fog began to lift and break up revealing secrets of the gorgeous Stevens Canyon.  I was thrilled to make another composition.  I was able to take in the sight for a few more minutes before the vail of fog returned thicker than ever hiding the glorious landscape…rain began pelting the landscape once again.

The rest of my journey was in the rain.  I was filled with peace, however, knowing I had been blessed by God.  There was much to be thankful for and much to contemplate.

 

Glacial Fields

If I was told that I could only photograph Mt. Rainier, I don’t think I’d ever run out of compositions…as long as I remained inspired.  The mountain is so gorgeous and so very different from each side.  The glaciers that have chiseled it for thousands of years are in themselves weathered and full of character, like aged and beautiful faces.

During this excursion we were poking around the Sunrise side of the mountain (north-eastern section of the park) when I became aware of the dappled light on the massive glaciers created by slowly floating clouds.  Look at the furrowed crevasses, how much character they add.  I can just get lost in the details.

There wasn’t much color in this scene, just a little blue here and there, so I made the decision to make it into black and white.  I thought that it would make the image’s complexities simpler, allowing the viewer to focus on the rawness of this ancient landscape.

Glacial fields on Mt. Rainier | Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

Glacial fields on Mt. Rainier | Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

 

Quiet Forest Pond

There are always new discoveries to be made, even if we know a place by heart.  I don’t remember much else from this particular trip to Mt. Rainier National Park except walking a narrow and overgrown path through a forest of subalpine firs to find a beautiful setting.  A quiet landscape of a forest pond surrounded by firs and its shores sprinkled by gorgeous blooming lupine.

Soft sunlight filtered through the trees to add a bit of a sparkle to the scene.  The air was still and filled with aromas of summer forest and flowers, sweetened by the sunshine.

I have returned to this spot many times over the years, like visiting an old friend, but it has never been quite as glorious as this time.  But I have missed the last couple of years…could it have been so breathtaking then?  Perhaps this year God will paint it even more beautiful….

Quiet forest pond graced by lupine and sunshine | Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

Quiet forest pond graced by lupine and sunshine | Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

Monkeyflowers & Mountain Stream

We’re experiencing a little heat wave in the Seattle area with temps in the 90s.  That’s not really bad and I’m not complaining but when so much of the year is gloomy and cool it is definitely a bit of a shock to go to these extremes.  With this heat my thoughts are taking me to mountain meadows.  By now the flowers should be nicely blooming and gracing the meadows with their beauty and filling the air with just an amazing and delicious aroma.

It has been several years since I witnessed such a gorgeous display and I’m hoping to get out this season.  I’ve definitely missed it.

This photograph was made in the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier National Park a few summers ago.  The display of pink monkeyflowers was simply stunning!  I made this composition in the early evening along a quiet little creek.  I really like a bit of the blue cast on the rocks coming from the blue sky and the glorious “island” of pink monkeyflowers in the foreground.  A sprinkling of the yellow mountain monkeyflowers made the whole scene even more attractive.

How I wish I could be standing there in this small sea of lovely flowers and be making compositions….

Monkeyflowers & Mountain Stream | Mt. Rainier NP

Monkeyflowers & Mountain Stream | Mt. Rainier NP