May 20, 2006

Darrington Area

It was an absolutely beautiful day today in the mountains, but still I didn't bring home a single decent photo. There was too much sun for shooting the forest or rivers, and too many clouds to shoot the mountains. And I'm still not really in stride this season, this being only my second outing of the year. I don't seem to have much of an eye for photos yet. No matter. A day in the mountains without photos is still a day in the mountains, and that's a good day.

I started late, hitting Darrington after noon. What can I say? I like my lazy Saturday mornings. I had a nice solitary lunch at the White Chuck Road washout, watching the mountains and listening to the roaring river below. The rivers are raging right now, thanks to the warm weather we've had lately. Afterward, I headed down the Mountain Loop Highway to the washout (the 2003 floods really did a number on this area) at Bedal, but there weren't many photos to be had since the sun was out. I hate to admit it, but I like the Mountain Loop better since it washed out. Now that it's not actually a loop, there's a lot fewer people. I had virtually the entire place to myself, on a Saturday in spring.

Suiattle River Valley (Snapshot) I decided to head north to areas better for sunny days -- the North Cascades Highway maybe. When I got to the Suiattle River Road, the sky was mostly clouds so decided to give it a try. Of course, the sun came out again, but the drive was quite nice. I stopped at an unnamed creek where I'd found some interesting rocks before and found a handful more to bring home. And I made a side trip up Green Mountain Road to see one of my favorite areas, a hillside covered in moss and liverwort, with trees draped with beard moss. It wasn't quite as awe inspiring as when I first discovered and photographed it, but it still brought a smile to my face, and the clear skies let me see the beautiful mountains across the valley that I hadn't seen last time. I grabbed a handful of beard moss before I left, although I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. At the trailhead at the end of the road, I grabbed a few snapshots of the nice view of the Suiattle River valley and spent some time with my maps and compass figuring out which mountains where what.

Johannesburg Mountain (Snapshot) The sun was getting low by then, but the sky had cleared considerably, so I raced up to Cascade River Road to see if I could catch Johannesburg Mountain at sunset. I figured the road would be closed at Boston Basin, but it was actually closed earlier, at the switchback before Gilbert Creek. The clouds were hugging the mountain tops so there weren't any photos to be had anyway. I grabbed a few snapshots and headed out, thinking that was it for the day. But as I was driving back by Mineral Park Campground, I saw a black bear about a hundred yards down the road. He stopped and turned, then darted off after a few seconds. Unfortuatnely he was gone before I could grab my camera, just there long enough to say hello.

It was a good day, even without photos. And my car is now dirty enough that I can once again hold my head high with pride.