Thursday, November 24, 2016

Autumn bounty - photo gallery & timelapse video

Happy Thanksgiving! After badly neglecting Illuminations from the Attic this fall I decided to bring you some of the best of my autumn photographs. Our gardens were bountiful indeed this year - honeycrisp apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a few potatoes made their way to our table. The trees also put on a spectacular show, and I've included a few of my finest photographs of fall foliage. I hope you enjoy this visual feast as much as that laid upon your table.

Friday, November 4, 2016

For the sake of our public lands, please vote!

I cannot stress how important public lands are for me, and not just for the obvious reason of recreation. If I were never to visit a park again I would still take comfort and joy in the knowledge that the wild places I love are still wild and pristine. Public land is owned by us all; it is the common ground we all can share, and America would not be the same country without its parks and forests. However, all that could change this year.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

6 National Monuments Obama should create before he leaves office.

Obama has already protected vast areas of land and water under the antiquities act - Katahdin Woods and Waters, a vast area of ocean off the Atlantic Coast, the San Gabriel Mountains - and 20 other places now owe their status as National Monuments to the current President. However, he still has a few months in office, and there are still many spectacular regions in urgent need of the protections his executive order would grant.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Cutthroat Climb Trail

The art of humans and the art of nature - both unique and wonderful in their own ways- are found here in a misty valley on the shores of Willapa Bay. Not so long ago, this whole region was blanketed in virgin old growth forest, but now after decades of logging, nearly all of it is gone. Willapa National Wildlife Refuge protects what little is left, as well as forests that will now be allowed to grow until one day they may be as grand as they once were.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Smoky sunsets and pyrocumulus

The giant Pioneer fire in Idaho is approaching 200,000 acres in size - a tragedy for the forest that has been consumed, and a source of immense amounts of pollution. However, every cloud has a silver lining - even if it is composed of smoke! From far to the north of the fire I was able to watch the towering pyrocumulus clouds boil up into the sky. In the evenings the sun would light up the smoke for tremendous sunsets.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Westside Road Adventures: Lake George and Gobblers Knob Lookout

I said it would be an easy bike ride followed by a short and easy hike. I said we would see hardly any people. I said these things to entice my teenage siblings up the Westside Road of Mt. Rainier to the Gobblers Knob Lookout, and even believed them myself. As we pushed our bikes up the long hill to Round Pass we were passed by many swift and unencumbered hikers – yet again my rose-tinted planning glasses had let me down.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Gobblers Knob Historic Lookout Vandalized

A few days ago I visited the Gobblers Knob lookout. The view was amazing, but the experience was spoiled by the discovery of damage to the beautiful, historic lookout by malicious vandals.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Giant Old Growth Forest at Teal Slough

Tucked away in a quite corner of Willapa Bay may be found one of the last remnants of the titanic ancient forest that once blanketed the Pacific Northwest. It is a wonderful thing indeed that even this little grove of giant trees was saved, thanks to the efforts of local activists. Wander beneath these behemoths that have stood since before the dawn of the Roman empire, and imagine how it must have been to visit in the time of Lewis and Clark when there were trees like this everywhere.

The trail is only a half a mile long, with short side paths leading to each of these half dozen ancient cedars. Parking is extremely limited with room for no more than 3 or 4 cars.

If you're looking for more a a bigger adventure in Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, including a much larger grove of giant trees, then click here to read about backpacking on Long Island in Willapa Bay.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ape Caves: An Abused Natural Wonder

This was going to be a typical trip report, replete with fanciful language describing the wonders of Ape Caves, a 3 mile long lava tube burrowing through the flanks of Mt. St. Helens. I would have described the feeling of descending into another world, of traversing natural train tunnels, towering Lovecraftian cathedrals, shining slabs, and twisting patterns in the rock. However, this ancient, hallowed cavern has been so badly defaced that to promote it without mention of its poor condition, and the need to remedy the circumstances that continue to degrade it, would be remiss in the extreme.

Lava Tubes and Light Trails

Mt. St. Helens is best known for its cataclysmic eruption in 1980, but on its southern flank lies the entrance to the longest continuous cave in the contiguous United States: Ape Caves. Many wonders may be found here in this tube formed in an eruption that occurred millennia ago; Giant caverns, natural railroad tracks, and even a giant meatball suspended high above the tunnel floor. Fellow visitors passing by lit the cave and formed startling light trails in the air as they passed. By allowing others to unwittingly provide me with illumination I was able to avoid the harsh light that would have been cast by a flash. What follows is a photographic journey into a surreal world of darkness and light.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Shell ultralight camera cover review

Rain, mist, fog – damp weather brings out the best colors and most interesting conditions. Famous landscapes that have been photographed a billion  times may look unfamiliar like alien landscapes with swirling clouds, flowing mists, and skeins of virga to reveal them in new and intriguing ways. Sadly, such weather often makes getting a shot not smeared with water droplets impossible,  so many photographers avoid going out in the kinds of weather that produce the most interesting and unique photos. The Shell by Peak Design allows you to conquer inclement weather and brave the storms that thwart your photographic success.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Flowers in the Blast Zone

Who could have guessed just a few decades hence that today that the then barren, blighted landscape of dust and rock that was left in the wake of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens would in 2016 be a paradisaical flower garden! That is indeed the case, as Indian Paintbrush and Gentian now conceal gray ash.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Capture Pro review

A conundrum faces all photographers: you can carry your camera safely in a backpack, but then you will struggle to remove it every time you need to take a photo. Alternatively, you can carry it like dead weight from your neck – more accessible, but often uncomfortable. The Capture Pro camera clip offers an ideal compromise. By securing your camera to the strap of your backpack or belt, it can be carried comfortably and securely while remaining easily accessible.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Trip Report: Mima Mounds

The southern reaches of the Salish Sea are bordered by an ecosystem not typically associated with the Pacific Northwest. Here in a land fabled for its dense and dripping rainforests may be found vast prairies, though in the modern day they are not as plentiful as they once were. Mima Mounds is one of the few prairies open to the public in the region, as well as perhaps the most unique. For miles the terrain is made up of rank upon rank of rounded mounds, the origin of which is often guessed at but has never been definitively proven. Was it ancient gophers, glaciers, or bigfoot that built these mounds? Perhaps they are the barrows of ancient kings, their grand halls long fallen to ruin and decay. Whatever the cause it makes for interesting speculation as you wander through this strange landscape.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Walkabout at Mima Mounds

This is the first in a long-planned video hiking guide series.

Friday, April 29, 2016

April sunset timelapse

April is drawing to a close, here's a spectacular sunset timelapse as a finale for my blog's most successful month yet!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Hulda Klager Lilac Garden

 Hulda Klager Lilac Garden is the crown jewel of horticulture in the Lower Columbia Region. This 150 year old garden is host to a staggering number of unique species bred by its namesake. At the peak of the bloom in April the scent of a myriad of flowering plants assails the nostrils as a dazzling rainbow of blossoms fills the vision. I’ll let the flowers do the rest of the speaking for me.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Trip Report: Snowshoeing at Paradise Mt. Rainier

"Oh no!" I exclaimed, as I stared in mock horror at my computer screen, "An avalanche just took out the road to Paradise!". The cries of woe this elicited told me that my “April Fool’s” joke had hit the mark.

The road was, of course, in fine condition, and we headed to Paradise for a spring snowshoe trip. The heat wave rolling over Western Washington had brought summer-like temperatures to Paradise, and the fresh powder of several days prior had turned to a thick slurry. However, the scenery was as breathtaking as always on the alpine flanks of Rainier, as we trudged up ever more liquid slopes. In fact, the beauty of it was so distracting that it was not until we reached our lunch site at Paradise Point that I realized I had forgotten to apply sunblock. Standing in a snowy mountain basin under a cloudless sky is essentially like being a bug at the focal point of a gigantic lens, and I had been burnt so red that I appeared more lobster than man!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

White Pass Panoramas and Timelapse

It was a wild and cold day to ski yesterday at White Pass. Blizzards sent snow howling horizontally across the ski runs and froze one side of our faces as we rode the lifts.

The one time it cleared off was when we stopped for lunch, and as soon as we headed back up the mountain the storm came roaring back with a vengeance. Despite the biting cold and inclement weather we enjoyed the slopes and the beautifully scenery that revealed itself now and again through breaks in the skeins of snow.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Bench Lakes Trail

Published in Seattle Backpackers Magazine
The fog lay over the lake like a downy blanket as I laced up my boots and quietly threw a few essentials into a rucksack. With the dim pre-dawn light to guide me, I made my way through the gloom to the trailhead. The sign showed four miles to Bench Lakes, and I had until 11 AM to get there and back again......... 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Snowstorm on Mt. Hood

Snowstorm on Mt. Hood Here are a few photos taken during a perfect day on the slopes of Mt. Hood this past tuesday. Only a couple ended up being any good - turns out a blizzard isn't the ideal condition for photography!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Klymit Static V Lite Review

Published on

Buying a camping pad is a complex gamble that will often take an avid backpacker years of expensive trial and error to win. Every pro has its con; foam pads are cheap, light and durable, but at the same time are bulky and are often uncomfortable. Inflatable pads are light, compact and can be extremely comfortable, but they are expensive, delicate and cold. Rarely do you find a pad that does everything right, yet does not cost the moon. In the Klymit Insulated Static V Lite I have found that balance.
Read More......

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Soft powder and brilliant ice, a Mt. St. Helens photo gallery

 Now that the terrible drought that stalked the Pacific Northwest has finally abated, it is a joy to once
again be able to stomp my way through soft powder amongst the lofty forested highlands of Mt. St. Helens. The long time bereft of snow made me realize how much I had taken it for granted in years past. Not only did I miss the soft, cold silence it brings in winter, but also the flowers that rise from the melting drifts come summer. It sustains the glaciers, nourishes the rivers, and quells the firestorms that rise in the heady heat of august. I, for one, will never take the miserable weather of a traditional Pacific Northwest winter for granted again. At least until the cabin fever sets in!

  Deep snow on Mt. St. Helens

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Salal Review Arts Magazine now accepting submissions!

Hello everyone!
       This semester at LCC I'll be editing their award winning arts magazine: The Salal Review. We are looking for a wide variety of visual art work.

Check out our previous issues: