Castle Peak North Cascades

Manning Park Winter Photography

Manning Park Winter Photography

Castle Peak North CascadesCastle Peak North Cascades #64796  Purchase

Last week I made a trip to Manning Provincial Park for winter photography and skiing fun. Weather forecasts were for cold temperatures and a good amount of fresh snow. Perfect conditions to make some new winter photos.

Manning Provincial Park is a large park in southern British Columbia. It encompasses the northern reaches of the North Cascades Mountains, along the U.S. Washington State border. On the U.S. side the mountains present a rugged appearance with high jagged peaks. However, in Manning Park the range mellows out into high mountains with more rounded summits. Just north of the park the North Cascades ends, and gives way to the Thompson Plateau.

Gibson Pass Ski Area, Manning Provincial ParkGibson Pass Ski Area Lifts  #64771  Purchase

Skiing Manning Park

In summer hikers in Manning Park can find some great trails offering high views and meadows of wildflowers. In winter the park offers a network of cross country ski trails in addition to the small Gibson Pass downhill ski area. Backcountry skiers and snowshoers can also find fresh snow and solitude on the Fat Dog ski route to the Brothers Mountain group.

On this trip I took advantage of both the Nordic trails and downhill ski runs. Manning Park’s Gibson Pass Ski Area offers a bit of a unique experience in the Pacific Northwest. Most ski areas in this region receive a copious amount of heavy wet snow, often referred to as Cascade Concrete. Manning Park, on the other hand, often has colder powdery snow, due to its more inland location.

A few of other things sets Manning apart. For one it has a laid back retro feel perfect for families, and avoiding adrenaline junkies. Also, while the big resorts like Whistler Blackcomb charge a staggering $180 (Canadian) for a single lift ticket, Manning charges only $59 (Canadian). Plus, there are usually no lift lines. On my recent midweek visit, I skied directly onto the chair each time! The downside to these benefits is that there are only two chair lifts, with only one operating in midweek. The vertical drop is a modest 1400′.

North Cascades Winter, Manning Provincial ParkManning Park in Winter  #64780  Purchase

Winter Photography in Manning

While the Nordic trails are fun, they usually don’t offer much in the way of landscape photography. Therefore I made a point of taking advantage of the views offered from the top of the ski lifts. From the ridge top the views south into the Washington North Cascades are very good. The two dominant peaks in that direction are Hozomeen Mountain and Castle Peak. Further off west are the jagged peaks of the Mount Spickard, Mox Peaks, and the northern Pickets, in North Cascades National Park. To the north are the rounded summits of Three Brothers and Big Buck Mountains.

To photograph the twin summit towers of Hozomeen and the Pickets you’ll want to be on the ridge top early in the morning. However, unless you hike up to the ridge before dawn you’ll be limited by the ski lift schedule. The lifts open at 9:00 so you’ll miss sunrise. Of course depending on lighting and snow conditions you can still make good photos throughout the day. If you want to get to the top only for the views, you can purchase a one trip lift ticket for $10.

Later in the afternoon both Castle and Frosty Mountains will begin to receive warmer light. Note that until late spring the north faces of Castle and Hozomeen will be mostly in shadow.

North Cascades Winter, Manning Provincial ParkManning Park in Winter  #64783  Purchase

Timing is Everything

While having great light is always imperative in photography, another important consideration for winter photography is timing the snow conditions. In winter most of the landscape will have a blanket of snow over it. However, trees and forests without snow on them will become black holes for light against all that white.

In my opinion and experience the best conditions can be had just after a storm dumps fresh snow on the trees. This sounds simple and obvious, but it can be tricky. Often in the Northwest a warmer wet snowstorm is followed by sunny conditions, which melts snow off tree branches very quickly. That pristine scene can be gone within a few hours!

Frosty Mountain North Cascades British ColumbiaFrosty Mountain Manning Park  #64791  Purchase

Colder drier locations such as the Rockies present another dilemma. The snow can be so cold and dry that very little to no snow may adhere to tree branches. Unlike the coastal Northwest where wet snow acts like glue on everything. In cold locations and conditions a slight breeze can also remove the snow as easily as warm sunshine.

In the end winter photography can be much more fickle than photographing spring wildflowers or perfect autumn color. Depending on weather patterns where you live or are able to travel to, there may be only a couple of good opportunities a season. So keep a close eye on those forecasts and be ready to go at a moments notice!

North Cascades Winter, Manning Provincial ParkManning Park in Winter  #64778  Purchase

If You Go to Manning Park

Driving time to Manning Park is about 4.5 hours north of Seattle, and two hours from Vancouver. Winter camping is available, as are RV hookups at Gibson Pass Ski Area. Manning Park Resort also offers excellent lodge and cabin facilities, along with a restaurant grocery store and gas. Cell phone signal is limited to the immediate lodge area.

Want to Learn More?

Would you like to learn more about photographing in Manning Park and or winter photography? I offer full day, half day, and multi-day photo tours and instruction. Check out my Private Instruction/Tours page for more info, or contact me directly. I would love to help you take your photography to the next level and shoot like a pro!

Blue Rocks Nova Scotia

Bluenose Coast Nova Scotia

Blue Rocks Nova ScotiaBlue Rocks Nova Scotia  #58819   Purchase

Bluenose Coast Nova Scotia

In my last post I left off with our departure from Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia. In this post I’ll be talking about our visit to Bluenose Coast of Nova Scotia. This area of Nova Scotia has been high on my photography wish list for many years. Bluenose Coast contains some of the most famous tourist attractions in the Province. Situated southwest of Halifax the area includes Peggy’s Cove, and the lovely coastal villages of Chester, Mahone Bay, Lunenburg, and Blue Rocks. How the term Bluenose originated is up for debate, some say it is a derisive term dating to political divisions of the late eighteenth century. However, others will say it refers to a bluish variety of potato, or the nose color of locals in winter.

Rowboat, Blue Rocks Nova ScotiaBlue Rocks, Nova Scotia  #58804  Purchase

Our drive from Cape Breton Island down to the Bluenose Coast was again a long tiring journey. Not only was the weather rainy discouraging, the route we took was longer than anticipated. Instead of taking a direct course via the main highway, we decided on a more scenic drive along the coast. While I won’t say this was a mistake we did find the road to be exceedingly long with very few coastal views. Most of the way travelled through heavily forested lands dotted with tiny villages. Occasionally the roads breaks out on the coast with views of numerous islands. According to our travel brochures this area northeast of Halifax is a haven for wilderness loving sea kayakers. I’d love to be able to return and explore this vast area with a boat.

The Fo’c’sle Pub Nova ScotiaThe Fo’c’sle Pub Chester, Nova Scotia #58700 

At Chester

Between the rain and the torturous road we decided to finish the drive to Bluenose Coast the next day. We weren’t to thrilled at the prospect of finding our way through the Halifax area at night. After anxiously getting through Halifax in the morning we decided to base our stay at Graves Island Provincial Park. Well situated near all the sites I was hoping to photograph, Graves Island also had some of the best campsites on our trip. After setting up camp we went on to check out the nearby town of Chester. Founded in 1759, Chester is a quaint village on Mahone Bay noted for stately old homes, and a thriving artist community. Along with a boat filled harbor Chester is also home to The Fo’c’sle, Nova Scotia’s oldest pub. I couldn’t resist photographing the whimsical dragon hanging above the entrance.

After a few weeks of photographing mostly nature oriented locations we were finally in Coleen’s environment. Picturesque coastal towns with lots of shops to browse through was something she had been looking forward to. Although I’m mostly a wilderness nature lover I also was enjoying the change. The next day was perhaps the most memorable of the entire trip. It was a big day with lots of sites to see and photograph on the Bluenose Coast. We began it with breakfast at The Kiwi Cafe in Chester, a colorful establishment with great food, after which we proceeded to Lunenburg and Blue Rocks. Along the way we passed by Oak Island, the site of questionable buried treasure, made famous on the History Channel’s Curse of Oak Island tv show. Needless to say, we didn’t stop by to check it out.

Mahone Bay Nova ScotiaMahone Bay Sailboats  #58726  Purchase

Mahone Bay & Lunenburg

Along the way we had to stop in the town Mahone Bay for the annual Scarecrow Festival and antique fair. Even without the festival the town is definitely worth a stop. Dating back to 1754, Mahone Bay has numerous eclectic boutiques, art studios, antique shops, B&Bs, and restaurants. Of course with the festival in full swing Mahone Bay was overflowing with tourists, including us. We ended up spending several hours there checking out shops and the over 250 whimsical handmade scarecrows. But we had to move on, I was anxious to scout Lunenburg and the tiny fishing community of Blue Rocks. Aside from Peggy’s Cove these to locations are perhaps the most scenic and photographed in all of Nova Scotia.

Mahone Bay Nova ScotiaMahone Bay Scarecrows  #58715  

Lunenburg is yet another old historic fishing town. In my mind it was the most interesting one we visited. The town sits on a gentle hill overlooking the bay, with many of the historic buildings sporting vibrant colors. For photographers looking to capture these colorful buildings on the waterfront there is no better spot than a park directly across the bay. You have the option of photographing from the waterfront or up a hill on the edge of a golf course. The later offers a wonderful elevated view of the town and boats.

Lunenburg Nova ScotiaColorful Lunenburg Architecture  #58737  Purchase

Blue Rocks Fishing Community

After finding these locations and making a few photos we went on to scout Blue Rocks. Being new to the area it was a bit difficult to find among the maze of roads. However there was no mistaking it on arrival. Blue Rocks really is just a small community with several fishing shacks and boats on calm inlet. The location though is classic, old colorful fishing shacks and boats moored alongside with islands and the Atlantic as a backdrop. And the rocks are really blue, with the layers eroded into fantastic shapes. With crystal clear water and bright yellow skirts of seaweed the rocks boats and buildings presents a dazzling array of colors and shapes. I was bubbling over excitement at photographing this wonderful location! The only thing missing though were clouds, the sky was an empty electric blue. Perfect for picnics and leisurely drives but not for photography.

Boat dock Blue Rocks Nova ScotiaBlue Rocks, Nova Scotia  #58778  Purchase

It was still early so we went back to Lunenburg to check out the town and have a bite to eat. We found another gem at the tiny Salt Shaker Deli. I would highly recommend stopping by if you are in the area. The food was wonderful, probably the best seafood chowder in the Province, and the friendly staff and outstanding harbor view made for a memorable experience.  And if this wasn’t enough, as we were finishing our meal I noticed some interesting clouds moving in!

Rainbow, Nova ScotiaBlue Rocks Rainbow  #58795  Purchase

Blue Rocks Evening Photography

Our plan was to head back to Blue rocks after dinner for evening light, and then hurry back to Lunenburg to photograph the waterfront at twilight. Arriving at Blue Rocks the sky darkened and rain began to come down in sheets. A complete opposite of the earlier sunny blue sky. I was getting discouraged at my prospects when the showers began to move on. The elements for some great evening light were beginning to come together. Firstly a rainbow began to take shape, followed by curtains of rain and clouds being illuminated by the setting sun. Moving around I found many compositions among the boats and fishing shacks. As the light began to peak and fade I worked to photograph one of the most iconic shacks in the last glowing light of the evening. So far this was the best combination of light and subject matter on the trip.

Blue Rocks Nova ScotiaBlue Rocks, Nova Scotia  #58807   Purchase

Blue Rocks Nova ScotiaBlue Rocks, Nova Scotia  #58825   Purchase

Blue Rocks Nova ScotiaBlue Rocks, Nova Scotia  #58811  Purchase

We were also able to get back to the Lunenburg location in time for more photography. I quickly set up and made some photos just as the lights began to turn on in town with a purple twilight glowing above. All in all it was a perfect autumn day, sightseeing in historic towns with Coleen, great meals, and successful photography. But there was more in store for us along the Bluenose Coast the next day at Peggy’s Cove, our final location in Nova Scotia.

Lunenburg Nova ScotiaLunenburg, Nova Scotia  #58836  Purchase

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Island Nova ScotiaCape Breton Island seaside farm  #58624   Purchase

It’s funny how life can be so unpredictable. Some may be tempted to replace “funny” with frustrating, discouraging, exciting, or fun. Last year at this time I was on a dream trip with my wife Coleen to photograph in Nova Scotia and New England. This year I’m stuck at home in the office, working on marketing and fantasizing about future trips. So since I’m not able to get out on the road anytime soon, the next best thing is to relive last year’s trip by writing blog posts.

In my last post I wrote about our brief visit to the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. In this post I’ll be recapping our visit to Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia, one of the main highlights and destinations of the trip. As with any new location I hoped to see as much of the province as possible. We had to carefully choose only a few of the best locations to visit in our available time. After years of poring over Nova Scotia maps and images I settled on a couple of areas. For me Cape Breton Island and Peggy’s Cove Coastal Region were obvious choices. Cape Breton Island represented the rugged wind swept character of the Canada’s Atlantic Provinces.  While Peggy’s Cove Region highlights the historic and thriving culture of the province. There is, of course, much more to see, but these locations will make a good start.

Cape Breton Island Nova ScotiaCape Breton Island, Nova Scotia #58622   Purchase

Onwards to Cape Breton Island

After leaving New Brunswick we drove straight to our first destination, Cape Breton Highlands National Park. On the map it looked like about a half day drive. In reality it took us most of the day to arrive, exhausted from driving, at Chéticamp in the park. Of course we had to make a few stops along the way. Part of the appeal of Cape Breton Island is it’s Scottish heritage, most notable along the Ceilidh Trail. Picturesque Ceilidh Trail (pronounced Kay’-Lee) runs along the west coast, and has its road signs written in both English and Gaelic. Along the way are quaint villages, world class seaside golf courses, and North America’s first single malt distillery.

Further north the Ceilidh Trail gave way to the world famous Cabot Trail. Possibly the most scenic drive in all of Atlantic Canada, the Cabot Trail encircles the entire northern section of Cape Breton Island. During our visit we focused on the western section of the trail, from Margaree Harbour in the south to Pleasant bay in the north.

Fishing boats, Cape Breton IslandFishing Boats Grand Étang Harbour Cape Breton Island  #58583  Purchase

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Arriving in Cape Breton Highlands National Park was exhilarating. We were just about as far north in the province as we could drive. The land had begun to take on a wilder primordial feel, even more evident high on the Cape Breton Plateau. There were few towns, and those being very small fishing outposts. Although Cape Breton Highlands lies only at 46º north, I had the feeling of being on the southern edge of the vast expanse of Canadian subarctic lands. I imagined that if I squinted hard enough I could see Newfoundland, then Labrador, and finally Baffin Island. I should state here that for most of my life I’ve had an obsession with everything arctic. Especially the Canadian Arctic, which holds a tight grip on my imagination, partly due to it’s rich and often tragic history of exploration.

After setting up camp in Cape Breton Highlands National Park I anxiously began to scout out the coastal drive. Along the west coast the Cabot Trail climbs high and has stupendous views of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. At its height you can see all the way to the Magdalen Islands, situated nearly in the center of the Gulf. I like to think this section of the Cabot Trail is Canada’s east coast version of Big Sur in California. After winding up along the coast the road heads inland to the plateau highlands and a dramatic change of scenery.

Cape Breton Highlands National ParkCape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia #58564   Purchase

Cape Breton Highlands Plateau

Dominated by boreal forest with a distinct sub-arctic feel, the Cape Breton Plateau is a windswept wilderness of barrens, bogs and lakes. Most people think of the Appalachian Mountains ending at Mount Katahdin in Maine. However, geologically they continue much further north. Cape Breton Plateau is actually an Appalachian mountain worn down by glacial activity. To reach the true end of this ancient chain of mountains you would need to travel as far as the highlands of Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. Since the weather was grey and forbidding on the plateau I headed back to photograph the coastal drive in evening light.

While in the park I wanted to hike the Skyline Trail to photograph the iconic view from the top. At the end of the trail a dramatic headlands cliff overlooks the winding road and the vast expanse of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. This  trail and view is one of the hallmarks of the park. However, my timing to get there was poor. I failed to take the length of the hike into consideration, it would’ve been dark by the time I made it there. I was fortunate to drive to an alternate overlook just in time make a few photos of evening light breaking through the clouds.

Cape Breton Highlands National ParkCabot Trail Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia #58637   Purchase

Margaree Harbour & Lobsters

The next day Coleen and I drove south to scenic Margaree Harbour to photograph fishing boats and coastal views. I really enjoyed this area, there were picturesque seaside farms, sandy beaches, churches, and colorful boats. An interesting find was Centre de la Mi-Carême, an interpretive center focusing on the Acadian celebration of Mid-Lent with masks, music, and dance. Attracting us to the center was the display of colorful effigies on display in the parking lot. Unfortunately our visit was cut short as the center wasn’t open at the time.

Back on the lobster hunt, as we found out in New Brunswick, lobster was out of season. However, we were lucky enough to find that in Margaree Harbour the Island Sunset Lobster Pound still had some some available. After chatting with the friendly owner and a patron about our travels we hurried back to camp to cook our long anticipated crustaceans. In the warm afternoon sun we made a glorious mess of cracked shells lobster meat and melted butter! This was the way to do it, out in the open air by the sea, not in a stuffy restaurant.

Cape Breton Island Nova ScotiaMargaree Harbour Cape Breton Island  #58615  Purchase

Church Cape Breton IslandChurch in Margaree Harbour  #58607  Purchase

Cabot Trail Coastal Photography

In the evening, and again the next morning, I went out to make photographs along the coast. I had some nice light for photography while in the area but it didn’t last very long. I came back with only a few new images, including one of a beach whale, headless and rotting on the beach. This is usually the situation when visiting a new location. Without prior firsthand knowledge of a location it’s difficult to be in the right place at the right time. In my experience I might get lucky a few times on an initial trip. But it normally takes several return visits to really understand the its character. There are some spots from which I still have not created a defining image, although I’ve been there many times and know it intimately.

Cape Breton Highlands National ParkCape Breton Highlands National Park  #58560  Purchase

Dead Whale Cape Breton Island Nova ScotiaWhale carcass, Cape Breton Island  #58647   Purchase

Over to the Atlantic Side

After packing up our camp we began our drive north and over to the Atlantic side of Cape Breton Island. At Green Cove we got our first real view of the Atlantic Ocean. Getting out of the truck to stretch our legs I found this to be a great place for photography. The headland is composed of beautiful pink granite laced with striped intrusions. Given the right lighting conditions I could spend hours here photographing the fascinating patterns. Unfortunately a storm front was arriving with the first drops of rain which lasted all day.

I wished we had better weather and more time to stay and explore beautiful Cape Breton Island. One of my biggest regrets was having to pass up a visit to Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. Located on the far eastern edge of Cape Breton Island, the fort is a wonderfully preserved 18th century military installation. Among activities here are interactive tours and reenactments of 18th century life. Including Louisbourg on our trip would’ve meant excluding other important locations further on. And I definitely didn’t want to miss out on photographing iconic Peggy’s Cover and historic Lunenburg. So it was onward into the rain, and part two of this post!

Green Cove Nova ScotiaGreen Cove, Cape Breton Highlands National Park  #58656  Purchase

Alpenglow over Marriott Basin, Coast Mountains British Columbia

Marriott Basin Coast Mountains British Columbia

Marriott Basin Coast Mountains British Columbia

Alpenglow over Marriott Basin, Coast Mountains British ColumbiaMarriott Basin alpenglow, #61843    Purchase

Last month I made my third trip into Marriott Basin, in search of new landscape images. Hot on the heels of my recent trip to Whatcom Pass, I wanted to get in as many backpacking photo trips as possible before wildfire smoke returned. This season has been one of the worst in history for wildfires. Both in the western United  States and British Columbia numerous large fires are burning.

Located in the southern Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Marriott Basin is an extensive alpine area. Access to the area is from Cayoosh Pass on highway 99, about an hour’s drive east of Pemberton. Nearby is the extremely popular Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. While the lakes are popular with sightseers and day hikers, the Joffre Group of peaks is wildly popular with climbers and backcountry skiers.

Generally above 6000′ Marriott Basin contains several lakes and numerous peaks for climbing, most notably Marriott Peak. My previous trips to Marriott Basin entailed one overnight backpack to Mount Rohr, technically outside the basin. The other was a winter ski trip to the Wendy Thompson Hut, located at the head of the basin. The Wendy Thompson Hut is operated by the Alpine Club of Canada and is open year round. However, the hut sees most of its visitors during the winter and early spring ski season.

Avalanche warning sign Coast Mountains British ColumbiaTrailhead avalanche warning #61910    Purchase

Marriott Basin Trail

Getting into Marriott Basin is fairly straightforward, with summer access being slightly different from winter. In summer you can drive a couple of miles up a brushy gravel secondary road to the trailhead. Parking and turnaround space is extremely limited and you my need back down the road to find a spot. The total length into the basin from trailhead to the hut is around five miles with about 2000′ feet of elevation gain. I say around and about since I don’t carry a GPS and rely on maps and online trail guides instead. Depending on your fitness and pack weight the hike in can be from 2-4 hours.

Posted at the trailhead is a large sign warning of and explaining avalanche hazards, which generally is of no consequence in summer. Hikers accustomed to hiking on U.S. trail in the Pacific Northwest may be in for a rude awakening. Well marked and easy to follow, the trail receives very little maintenance. Climbing over logs around boulders and muddy areas the trail is pretty rough in places. After a short level spell the trail climbs a headwall very steeply, without switchbacks, trough forest. Near the top of this section is the turnoff for Rohr Lake and Mount Rohr. From here the trail levels off a bit and zigzags around muddy bogs and small meadows until a tricky log crossing of a stream. On my visit the water was low but in late spring early summer the crossing must be quite exciting!

Marriott Basin trail Coast Mountains British ColumbiaMount Rohr junction #61905    Purchase

Marriott Basin trail Coast Mountains British ColumbiaCreek crossing, Marriott Basin Trail  #61892    Purchase

The next section of the trail climbs into the subalpine zone, or the boulder zone as I call it on this trip. As soon as you start breaking out of the trees the trail is almost constantly negotiating rocks and boulders. The constant ups and downs and zigzagging can be very tiring, especially in warm weather. However the views also begin to open up now, above to the ridge tops and over to green Marriott Lake. After reaching the far end of the lake the last bit of climbing to the hut begins. Again, depending on your pack weight this section can feel short or agonizingly long. In all it’s less than a mile and 200′ higher up. A level boulder filled meadow with a meandering stream is home to the hut.

Wendy Thompson Hut British ColumbiaWendy Thompson Hut  #61793    Purchase

Wendy Thompson Hut

The upper lakes were my ultimate destination, so I only paused briefly for a rest and inspection of the hut. Wendy Thompson was a ski patroller and paramedic. She died tragically in 1995 at the age of 33 in a Medivac flight crash in the Queen Charlotte Islands. As a memorial and legacy to Wendy, her parents and the ACC worked with volunteers to build this hut.

Since my last winter visit the ACC made some substantial renovations. They extended the entire length, added solar powered lighting and USB ports. They also replaced the obnoxious smell of kerosene heaters with a wood burning stove. As is usual in backcountry huts one of the tables was covered in maps, guide books, and misc. reading material. Also present was the obligatory cribbage board and multiple decks of cards.

From the hut the work begins again. Access to the upper lakes is via more and bigger boulder fields without benefit of a trail. Some well placed rock cairns mark the way but mostly it’s a pick your own best route deal. Once at the upper lakes it wide open wandering in all directions. I set up camp in a spot suitable for easy access to photo ops of the distant peaks and valley below.

Boulders Marriott Basin Coast Mountains British ColumbiaBoulder field, cairn visible in lower right corner  #61849    Purchase

Upper Marriott Basin

The next day I did some exploring and I set my eyes on  an easy ridge within my comfort level. Hiking and easy scrambling over boulder slopes brought me to the crest with new view to the west and north. One of the reasons I picked this particular ridge was for the unobstructed views of Cayoosh Mountain. Sitting at 8200″Cayoosh  is a fairly bulky chunk of rock with the north and east aspects covered in glaciers. Looking down between me and Cayoosh was a high pass with a small green lake. To the north was a long deep valley with countless peaks on the horizon. Taking in such a view I immediately wished I had my camp set up here! Photographing in good light would be spectacular. I guess I”ll have to make another trip back sometime.

Later back at my camp I settled in to wait for evening light. Although the sky was mostly free of clouds, there was some nice alpenglow present which enabled me to make a few photos. It was nice to watch the progression of layered colors after sunset. First came yellows and oranges followed by purples and blues of the Belt of Venus.

Backcountry camp Coast Mountains British ColumbiaCamping in Marriott Basin #61795    Purchase

Cayoosh Mountain Coast Mountains British ColumbiaCayoosh Mountain #61805    Purchase

Marriott Basin Coast Mountains British ColumbiaUpper Marriott Basin #61815    Purchase

Back at the Hut

The next day I had planned to hike out to my truck but on exploring the area near the hut I decided to stay an extra night. Near the hut were small grassy meadows and a small stream among more boulders. I found a nice campsite near the small stream which held potential for some nice photographic compositions. I tried to make some evening photos but the light was bland, especially with no clouds. In the morning it was apparent that winds had shifted. Smoke once again began to creep across the sky. Although there still weren’t any clouds the light was a bit nicer, with the smoky haze giving a more pastel hue to the scene. I set up my tripod in a few predetermined places and came away with several more photos.

I had a quick breakfast and packed up my gear. Although I wasn’t as successful with photos as hoped I did have a great time. And I did manage to find a new view that was worthy of a return trip.

Backcountry camp Coast Mountains British ColumbiaMarriott Basin Camping #61863    Purchase

Marriott Basin, Coast Mountains British ColumbiaMarriott Basin #61871    Purchase

Lower Marriott Lake Coast Mountains British ColumbiaSmokey haze over Marriott Lake #61884    Purchase

Bay of Fundy low tide

Bay of Fundy New Brunswick

Bay of Fundy New Brunswick

Bay of Fundy low tideBay of Fundy at low tide  #58545    Purchase

A year ago I made my first visit to the Bay of Fundy New Brunswick. For many years the Atlantic Provinces of Canada have been on my must see list. Last year my wife, Coleen, and I finally had the opportunity to visit and photograph in this beautiful region. Our plan was to spend six weeks traveling to Nova Scotia and New England for fall color photography. Since we had to drive through New Brunswick we couldn’t miss the opportunity to check out the fabled Bay of Fundy.

Fundy National Park

Fundy National Park was our first stop in the Atlantic Provinces after leaving New England. Fundy National Park showcases rugged coastline, over 25 waterfalls, dense Acadian Forest, and of course the famous tides. We excitedly pulled over at the first overlook of the bay. After such a long drive across the continent it was a welcome sight to see and smell saltwater again. We checked in at the visitor center to secure a campsite then quickly set up our home for the night.

Fishing Boats New BrunswickFishing boats, Alma, New Brunswick  #58493   Purchase

We stayed in Headquarters Camp and found it very convenient, being very close to the bay. Campers in Fundy National Park have a variety of options available in three different campgrounds. You can choose between traditional tent and RV sites, yurts, rustic cabins, oTENTik, or the new Goutte d’Ô. Goutte d’Ô is a structure with a water droplet shape suitable for couples or family. I must warn, however, along with the park’s daily use fee per person, the cost of renting out an oTENTiks, or Goutte d’Ô could be higher then a nice motel room.

Alma, Bay of Fundy

Our next objective was to pay a visit to the small town of Alma in search of lobster. While in town I made some photos of fishing boats moored to piers at high tide. My plan was to make some comparison photos of low and high tides. We searched the town but couldn’t find any open lobster shacks. It turned out the season had closed so there wasn’t any lobster available. So we settled for the next best thing, clam chowder and fish & chips. I wish I could report that we had a good introduction to east coast seafood, but it wasn’t to be. The clam chowder was very watery, with hardly any cream clams or flavor. Unfortunately the fish & chips were no better, a small fillet covered in thick very greasy batter. Although we were sorely disappointed, our dining luck will greatlyimprove in the coming weeks!

Dickson Falls Trail, Fundy National ParkDickson Falls Trail, Fundy National Park  #58487   Purchase

Dickson Falls

Aside from the obvious attraction of the bay and it’s tides, Fundy National Park also has over 100 kilometers of trails. I wanted to check one of those trails before getting ready for evening photography. I decided on the popular Dickson Falls Trail, a short walk into a forested ravine to a famous waterfall. Upon entering the forest I was immediately struck by the heavy fragrant scent of spruce trees. Forests in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are classified as Acadian, a mix of northern hardwoods and boreal spruce usually found in the far north. A well constructed boardwalk trail takes you through a cool green forest which felt more like home in the Pacific NW. Due to all of New England and the Atlantic Provinces experiencing a severe drought, Dickson Falls turned out to be a disappointing trickle.

Bay of Fundy New BrunswickBay of Fundy headlands  #58518   Purchase

Bay of Fundy New BrunswickFog over Bay of Fundy  #58525   Purchase

After the hike we returned to a wide overlook of the bay and settled in to see what kind of light evening will bring. A quaint feature of Fundy National Park is the placement of red Adirondack chairs in quiet scenic locations. It was relaxing to take advantage of the chairs as we gazed across the bay hoping to see whales. While we didn’t see any whales in the bay I did manage to make a few semi-abstract photographs of cloud patterns.

Bay of Fundy low tideFishing boats at low tide, Alma New Brunswick  #58535   Purchase

Fundy Low Tide

I got up early the next morning to drive down to the bay for low tide. It was quite a sight to see such a low tide. All the fishing boats were now resting high and dry on a gravel and mud seafloor. After scouting for photos along the expansive low tide beach I headed back to camp to pack up and move on to Nova Scotia. I was hoping to make a stop along the way at Hopewell Rocks to photograph the famous sea stacks. However, as we pulled into a full parking lot the sight of a large quantity of tour busses was discouraging. I knew from experience that the best views for photography would be crowed with tourists. So with a tinge of regret we instead drove on to our next main destination, Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia.

It seemed a shame though to have only a little more than a day for this area. I guess we’ll have to come back again!

Bay of Fundy low tide New BrunswickBay of Fundy low tide  #58540   Purchase

Marriott Basin trail Coast Mountains British Columbia

Coast Mountains

How to tell if you’re hiking in the Coast Mountains trail of British Columbia:

  1. State of the art bridges over creek crossing
  2.  Deep mud with slippery logs and branches strategically placed for optimum ankle twisting

I actually love these types of trails, there’s a sense of  true wilderness about them, unlike some of the crowded super highway trails found in Washington and Oregon. These pics are from a few days ago during a visit to Marriott Basin in the Coast Mountains.

I have lots of new photos in the works from this and my previous trip to North Cascades National Park. Stay tuned you’re going to love them!!

Marriott Basin trail Coast Mountains British Columbia

 

Marriott Basin trail Coast Mountains British Columbia

Mount Robson Canadian Rockies

Mount Robson Canadian Rockies

Mount Robson Canadian Rockies

   Mount Robson Canadian Rockies British ColumbiaMount Robson Canadian Rockies British Columbia #54613 Purchase

Here is another image from last September’s trip to Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies, since this image has garnered an exceptionally favorable response on social media I felt that I should fill in a little background on how it was made. This was my third trip to Mount Robson Provincial Park and I had high hopes of getting some stunning images of the mountain. I had allocated five days to fulfill my goal. However, by the third day I was becoming frustrated by the lack of interesting light. The weather was spectacular, warm with blue skies. But while great for outdoor activities it didn’t possess the kind of light I had hoped for. Finally on the third morning clouds from an approaching storm arrived just as the sun was coming up. Perfect timing and conditions to illuminate the sky and mountains in a warm glow. Just what I wanted!

Mount Robson sunrise Canadian Rockies British ColumbiaMount Robson Canadian Rockies British Columbia #54615 Purchase

The images above were some of the first made as the sky warmed with a reddish magenta glow. I had thoroughly investigated this spot the day before to see where and how the best compositions lined up. I knew there were many possibilities for both horizontal and vertical images. So I mentally took note on which were the best and planned the shoot accordingly if the light cooperated. This plan paid off the next morning as I knew there would be a limited amount of time before the light began to fade.

By the time I had finished working this area the light was still going strong. About a half mile east along this basin there was another spot I planned on photographing in the evening or next morning. With the approaching weather I had a feeling there might not be another opportunity like this one. So I gathered up my equipment and ran along the basin as fast I could, and hastily set up my tripod. By this time most of the warm dawn glow had faded but the light was still intense on the clouds. The third image in this post  is one of the last from that morning. The post processing was nothing more than adjusting levels and curves with some burning and dodging. I like to keep things on that end as simple and strait forward as possible.

Mount Robson Canadian Rockies British Columbia Mount Robson Canadian Rockies British Columbia #54646   Purchase

Mount Robson Canadian Rockies British ColumbiaMount Robson Canadian Rockies British Columbia #54651r   Purchase

Kananaskis Country, Alberta

Canadian Rockies Fall Photography

Canadian Rockies Fall Photography

Kananaskis Country, Alberta Canadian Rockies Fall PhotographyKananaskis Country Alberta  #53471  Purchase

Fall is here and very soon the annual parade of colors will begin. It seems like just yesterday I was photographing wildflowers in the North Cascades during the height of summer! This year I will once again be returning to several special locations in the majestic Canadian Rockies. It will actually be a close repeat of last years trip which was cut short due to an early arrival of wet cold weather, hopefully I’ll be more lucky this time.

The trip will begin at Mount Robson Provincial Park in the North followed by Tonquin Valley in Jasper National Park. By the time in finished with those two locations fall color and especially the subalpine larches will be in full swing. I’ll then head south into Banff National Park, Kootenay National Park, Yoho National Park, and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.

While I’m on this trip I will of course be in contact with Coleen in the office who will be taking care of regular business and client requests.

Icemaker Mountain Coast Mountains British Columbia

Athelney Pass Coast Range British Columbia

Athelney Pass Coast Range British Columbia

This article was originally posted back in August of 2008. Since my main summer photography trip for 2014 will be an extended visit to several very remote and seldom visited areas in British Columbia, I felt it appropriate to bring this one back to light. To date this trip to the Athelney Pass Coast Range British Columbia was one of my favorite and exciting in recent years. Despite an abundance of National Parks and Wilderness Areas in the Pacific Northwest, it is getting harder every year to find a place to visit and photograph that is relatively unknown and has a truly remote wilderness feel to it. The Athelney Pass/Salal Creek area fits the bill in all aspects, even though it has no wilderness park or protected area designation.

Begin original 2008 post:

Icemaker Mountain Coast Mountains British ColumbiaMount Ethelweard and  Icemaker Mountain #18242   Purchase

For the last six days I’ve been working on editing all the new images from my recent trip to Athelney Pass in British Columbia’s Coast Range. This trip was one of the best and most productive amongst a string of excellent photo trips in 2008. So it’s worth adding a few words and pics about it. I was vaguely aware of this area until early last month while researching nearby Coast Mountain routes and trails on the web. It only took seeing a couple of photos on Google to convince me to make a trip there.

Salal Creek Coast Range British ColumbiaSalal Creek Coast Mountains British Columbia #17884  Purchase

Researching Athelney Pass in a couple of guidebooks revealed that it wasn’t too far away. Just a 4-5 hours drive north from Bellingham. I felt four-six days would provide ample time for exploration and photography. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) there is no formal trail leading into this rugged wilderness. Meaning that while the hike to Athelney Pass is only a modest 8-10 or so miles in length and 2200 feet elevation gain. However it felt like it was about twice that much.

Athelney Pass Coast Range British ColumbiaAthelney Pass Mountains British Columbia #19083  Purchase

Mining cabin Coast Range British ColumbiaDerelict mining cabin and equipment at Athelney Pass #17979   Purchase

There are several sections requiring route-finding in the forest. Along with a couple of torturous sections of bashing through thick nearly impenetrable slide alder. The rest of the route is “easy” hiking in open country along the river bank and steep loose glacial moraines. If your definition of easy is hiking for miles on unstable ankle breaking rocks the size of baseballs and bowling balls! All of this plus a lengthy logging road access meant that I had the whole area mostly to myself. I only saw one other person in six days and that was from a distance. The only other downside to this trip was encountering the discarded items from past mining exploration.  There is a derelict cabin rusting equipment, plus discarded barrels of fuel higher up the ridge.  (By 2014 all this may have been cleaned up since my 2008 visit)

Athelney Pass Coast Mountains British ColumbiaAthelney Pass British Columbia #18127  Purchase

As an added bit of excitement I came across a very large Grizzly Bear on the road as I was driving out after the hike. I’ll never doubt the speed at which these animals can run. I was driving a gravel road when it burst out of the brush in front of my vehicle. It took off down the road at an accelerating speed before disappearing into the brush again.

So if you are looking for a new place to go hiking away from the crowds with a true feeling of raw wilderness, and don’t mind putting in the extra effort this area might be for you.

Icemaker Mountain Coast Mountains British ColumbiaIcemaker Mountain  British Columbia #18270  Purchase

Mount Ethelweard Coast Mountains British ColumbiaMount Ethelweard  British Columbia #18545   Purchase

Salal Divide, Coast Range British ColumbiaSalal Divide British Columbia #18545   Purchase

All photos are available for purchasing as prints or for commercial licensing. Just click on the desired image and then click Add to Cart to select your option.

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