Photographing in the Cascades

The Cascade mountain range is located in the northwest portion of Washington State.  The portion of this region contained in Whatcom County is largely organized into three national land management areas.  The central region, which incorporates the snow-capped Mount Baker, is the Mount Baker Wilderness.  The second and largest area is the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  The third and smaller area is the North Cascades National Park.  Only two roads lead into the area and allow viewing from the highway.  State route 542 is a scenic road that crosses the northern portion of the national forest, leading to Mount Baker from the north.  Farther south, route 20 leads through the North Cascades National Park and allows views of Mount Baker from a distance.  Because so much of the area is wilderness, interior access is only possible in most places by hiking trails.

Mount Baker, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington. Photo made with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 Z mount lens handheld.

We stayed for several days in the charming hamlet of Glacier, Washington, located at the mid-point of route 542.  Driving this road took us through forests of tall and often moss-covered trees, alongside the Nooksack River, and up the foothills of 10,700-foot Mount Baker.  We paused at Nooksack Falls for photos of the impressive rapids there, then climbed higher and higher toward Mount Baker along narrow, twisting roads that tested our nerves.  We reached the ski lift area at Heather Meadows, which afforded a good view of 9100-foot Mount Shuksan, which is situated in neighboring North Cascades National Park. 

This vase of flowers brightened the morning at the local bakery. This shot was made handheld.

We took our time making photos, using a tripod for most shots.  Though I had both a wide angle and telephoto lens with me, at the distances we were shooting, I was able to make most of my landscape images with a 24-70mm zoom lens.  I’m generally pleased with the resulting photos.  My principal regret is that I was unable to make any time exposures of the rapids so the water would appear as a frothy foam.  I thought I had packed the neutral density filter I needed to achieve this effect but discovered at the scene that I’d failed to pack it.  In addition, there was not enough time to make all the images I would like to have created.  But then, when ever is there enough time?

Nooksack Falls, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington
The intriguing menu at the Heliotrope Restaurant in Glacier, Washington.
What in the world is a boat doing in the middle of the Cascade Mountains? And a derelict one at that? It just goes to show that there are photographic subjects to be found everywhere, if only you look for them.

Published by Norman Reid

I worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 27 years in the field of rural community and economic development. I retired a few years ago and have been devoting my time to photography and writing. I've been a semi-pro photographer for more than 25 years and sell my work on the Web. I live in rural Virginia not far from the Shenandoah Valley.

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