The air is crisp, the sun warm, the mosquitoes have passed, and the hillsides are painted in colors of gold, red, and orange. There cannot possibly be a better time to be out in the mountains! To take advantage of this delightful time, my girlfriend, Aubrey, and I hiked among the golden larches for a short overnight in the North Cascades this past week. Fortunately for us we arrived just as a wildfire crew was packing up their gear after putting out a small fire that had sprung up the day before. Other areas have not been lucky enough to be put out so quickly.

Aubrey hiking through the golden larches towards our destination - that distant peak (well, the base of it).

As the sun moves towards its winter cycle the northern slopes see less and less light. In these cold and shady areas the water has already started freezing, trapping the summer greens in an early coffin of winter ice. It won’t be long before this entire landscape will be covered in snow and ice until the summer sun comes to the rescue.

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Moss and Ice, North Cascades National Park, Washington

Mossicles : Prints Available
Early winter ice starting to form on a moss covered hillside in Washington’s North Cascades National Park.

The Tech: Canon 5D2, 70-200mm, 25mm ext. tube, tripod
Exposure: iso 100, f/16, 0.3 sec

After arriving at the lake we would call our home for the night, I spent 4 hours scouring the hillsides in search of a composition that would capture the brilliance of the golden larches, the warmth of the sunshine, the crispness of the alpine air, and the solitude of the North Cascades. I must have visited nearly every larch within view of the lake – from a viewpoint 600 feet above the sparkling blue waters, to a few inches from shore. Finally, just minutes before the sun dipped behind the mountains, I found my spot. For me, it captured the entire experience into a single moment. A moment that I, and that larch down by the lake, shared for a few beautiful minutes.

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Autumn Larches, North Cascades, Washington

Larch Light : Prints Available
Afternoon sunlight illuminates the golden colors of sub-alpine larches in late autumn in Washington’s North Cascades National Park.

The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, tripod
Exposure: iso 100, f/16, 1/20th

Shortly after midnight I convinced myself to crawl out of my warm cocoon to photograph the surrounding mountain peaks at moonrise. Despite spending an hour playing under the stars and moon, I was not satisfied with my images, but I am convinced I saw my first Northern Lights. It was so faint I couldn’t make out any colors, but the dancing shapes of light were unmistakable! I cannot wait to one day see them in their full glory.

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2 Comments to “Autumn Larches – North Cascades National Park”

  1. No doubt, autumn is one of the best season for nature photography The second image is beautifully depicting the changes caused by season.

  2. chatou11 says:

    Beautiful pictures for a lovely season.. thanks