Between family obligations and work, I haven’t been able to get out and do any photography this month. So instead of showing something new, I’ll show something old. Six years ago on November 24th, I shot the above image of Snoqualmie Falls. This is in total contrast to the present November. This year, we have not had a frost yet at my house in Tacoma. But six years ago, a blast of freezing Arctic air descended on western Washington, first bringing snow, then bitter cold.
That Thanksgiving Day in 2010, I packed up Tanya and our newfie, Carson, and drove up to Snoqualmie Falls to see what it looked like in the deep freeze. It was magnificent. The mist off the cascading water had encased the canyon walls in huge icicles, creating a very unusual, and photogenic, view of the falls.
There are several viewpoints at the falls, but only the one close to the parking lot was open due to the ice. While a nice viewpoint, it looks down on the falls, rather than being more level with the falls, and I do not think it is that great for photography. So I carefully walked around a barrier and carried my tripod down to one of the lower viewpoints to capture this shot. Yes it was icy, but not overly so. Plus, there was no one else around, so I could more easily position my tripod where I wanted. I think this little bit of rule-breaking was worth it. (Not that I would ever suggest any photographer should go into closed areas without permission to make an image!)
I’m very thankful about what that freezing Thanksgiving Day six years ago gave me. And thank you to all my friends and readers of my blog – if you are American, enjoy your Thanksgiving holidays, and if not, just have a great end of November.
This is the post I was preparing when my friend Gary died. I had hoped to post this while it was still possible to hike to Ingalls Lake, but it is quite possible it is snowed-in for the season by now. I took the hike on October 10th, hoping to find good fall colors.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, to find good autumn colors in Washington State, you need to know where to look and have good timing. My goal for the hike to Ingalls Lake was to see some of those fall colors – specifically the subalpine larch trees. Larch trees are conifers, but unlike other conifers, they are not evergreens. The needles on larch trees turn a beautiful yellow then fall off in autumn. What makes them extra special is their setting. In Washington State, they are only found high in the mountains, which can create some incredible autumn scenery.
Even without the nearby larch trees, Ingalls Lake is spectacular. An alpine lake set in a rocky bowl at the base of Ingalls Peak with a view of the spectacular Mount Stuart that just won’t quit. The conditions were nearly perfect for my hike. It was partly sunny after a rainy weekend – at least it was rainy in the lowlands. At Ingalls Lake there was fresh snow, which just enhanced the scenery.
This nine-mile roundtrip hike immediately starts uphill from the parking lot as the trail switchbacks up to Ingalls Pass where it enters the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. The lower part of this portion of the trail is through forest, but the later part is not and has great views of the Esmeralda Peaks and Fortune Pass to the southwest. Once Ingalls Pass is reached, the view expands dramatically to include Ingalls Peaks and all the Stewart Range, anchored by Mount Stewart directly across the valley.
Ingalls Lake is not visible from the pass and is separated from it by the lovely Headlight Basin. The southern side of Headlight Basin has impressive groves of larch trees. The basin also includes many small streams, meadows, bare rock slopes, and boulder fields.
Just past the pass, the trail splits. The more direct route to the lake cuts downhill then uphill again through Headlight Basin. The main trail circles around the west side of the basin, not gaining or losing much elevation. The trails meet up again about 1/4 mile from the lake. From there, the trail scrambles uphill to the lake.
Since I was searching for fall colors, in particular the larch trees, the lake was a secondary objective. But what a secondary objective! I think you’ll agree from the images I’ve included here that the lake is spectacular. And neither was I disappointed by the larch trees.
I had hoped to stay in the basin until sunset, but as the afternoon wore on, more and more clouds were moving in and I thought the sunset might be a bust. So instead, I headed back downhill, stopping in the forested section of the trail to take more images of autumn color in the forest underbrush (the trees here are evergreens). As it turned out, the sun did break out again at sunset. Being back down low, I didn’t get much in the way of sunset shots, but I can’t complain, overall it was one of my best photo hikes in years. Perhaps, based on the images above and below, you will agree.
This is not a post I wanted to write, but it is one I must. Last week, I was, in fact, preparing another post, but then death intruded into my life. My blog is supposedly about photography, yet here I am writing about death. Most Americans don’t like to talk or even think about death. Yet death is a part of life. And, like most photographers, most of my photography is about life – places I’ve been, people I’ve met, the sharing of scenes that enrich my life. So, here I am, writing about the one inevitable part of life that we all must face – death.
This post is not one I wanted to write. It has been difficult putting these words on “paper.” It’s difficult to share. I’ve procrastinated, refusing to believe, searching my feelings for truth, for a reason. I’ve procrastinated, because by not putting this down on paper, somehow it cannot be real, because maybe it is just a dream. But it is real, and I cannot procrastinate further. My friend, Gary Mueller, deserves to be celebrated, and hopefully this post can be a small part of a celebration of Gary’s life, a celebration of his lasting impact on this world. A world he made a better place by just being himself. For Gary was one of the happiest people I know. A gentle, caring man, always quick with a smile, a chuckle, and an amusing story. He was a delight to be around. He was a Beatles fanatic, a dedicated Washington State Cougars fan, a fine wine and beer connoisseur. Most of all, he was my friend; a reliable mate to share a beer, help with a chore, or to just hang with. A man so full of life and love.
I met Gary about 40 years ago in high school. And unlike with many of my high school friends, Gary and I kept in touch. Over the past 15 years of so, since Tanya has been in my life, we have gotten together with Gary and his wife Vicki almost monthly. A week ago Thursday, Gary collapsed while getting ready for work. Vicki found him a minute or two later, but he was already gone. Often when the four of us were together, we’d joke about how Gary was the youngest of the four (we are all within about a year of the same age). Yet now, seemingly way before his time, he was the first to go.
If we are lucky in life, we have a few true friends. Friends who will stick with us through anything life throws at us, who aren’t bothered by our warts and eccentricities, who make our lives better to live. Gary was such a friend. He made my life better; he made me better. And this, my feeble attempt at a tribute, does not do him justice. Gary, my dear friend, I miss you…
Once a year, the artists in Tacoma open their studios to the public in the Tacoma Studio Tour. This free event is held annually as part of Tacoma Arts Month, where the city celebrates the arts and its artists. This year, the studio tour includes 57 artists including yours truly. I’d like to personally invite any of my blog readers in the local area to come on by, see my studio, and talk about the art of photography.
The studio tour this Saturday and Sunday, October 15 and 16, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. I am stop number 3 on the tour.
As part of the tour, many artists are offering hands on activities. I am no exception. I have been playing around with scanography – making photographs using a flat-bed scanner. I will have the scanner set up so my guests can try their own hand at scanography and take home a print of their masterpiece. The image above, one of my favorites photographs I’ve created with my scanner, is an example of what you can create. This is a fun activity, and I will write a separate blog entry on it in the new future.
Hope to see you this weekend!
Tanya and I recently returned from a trip to Quebec and Vermont. We spent four days in Montreal. When talking about the trip to friends here in Tacoma, the most common question asked is why we went to Montreal. They can understand going to Vermont for fall color, but not Montreal.
We chose to go to Montreal because we had never been there before and it didn’t cost too much in terms of frequent flyer miles. When I booked the trip about six months ago, I hadn’t really thought about Montreal either. I didn’t know what tourist attractions the city has or what we would do when in the city.
After this trip, I can highly recommend Montreal as a fun, interesting destination for photographers and non-photographers alike. Montreal, and Quebec in general, is like a little slice of Europe inside North America. French is the native language of most Montrealers. But it is not just the language that sets it apart, the city is different (in a good way) from the other major American and Canadian cities I’ve been to, especially in the old part of the city (called Old Montreal). In Old Montreal, most the streets are narrow, some are set-aside for pedestrian use only, and many are paved with cobblestones – all features of many European cities. There are very many churches in the city (such as the Notre Dame Basilica featured above and in my last post), many being very large and impressive, again reminiscent of Europe. You can easily find traditional French food, and most of the wine is also French. If you are a beer drinker, at least one like me, it is also hard, in my opinion, to find a decent micro-brew there, just like my experiences in Europe. (Traveling the short distance across the border into Vermont was another story – Vermont is chock full of good micro-brews.) There are several open-air markets, again very similar to many European cities.
From a photographer’s point of view, the city is a visual delight as well. I hope the images I posted here can give you a taste of why you should visit Montreal.