This is My Backyard Part 1: Mount Rainier National Park
Living in the Pacific NW lends it self to a bounty of amazing places to explore as a landscape photographer, hiker, and all around adventurer. From jagged volcanic peaks, rugged coast, to moss covered waterfalls, and high desert – this is my backyard!
Mount Rainier National Park is one of those gems of the Northwest, maybe one of my favorites in all of the national park system. Every year in August the subalpine meadows erupt with every color of wildflower imaginable. Recently I received word that the wildflower display at Paradise was in full force. I had assumed I had missed this years bloom due to being in Canada most of early August, but thanks to a slightly later bloom than I’d experienced before – I hadn’t!I made the decision on a Sunday evening that I’d head up to the Paradise area of the park the next day, spending the late day and evening exploring and seeing if the light would lend it self to photography. Monday arrived and quickly after lunch I tossed my gear into the Xterra and headed north. I arrived with about three and a half hours of daylight left before the ‘golden hour’, so on went my backpack with camera gear in hand and up the mountain I went. If you’ve never been there, Paradise isn’t far from your car, but does require a bit of a climb because it’s all uphill and steep (but don’t let that ever be a deterrent to visiting). The information I had about the flower display was right on the money! I enjoyed hiking around for the next couple hours while exploring for unique spots to put my tripod down. I found my way up the skyline and glacier view trails to several patches of vibrant lupine, indian paintbrush, alpine aster, broadleafarnica, etc.
Golden hour had arrived and I was witness to one of, if not the best, displays of light I’ve ever seen as a photographer. Now, I’m what I’d describe as a bit of a ‘roving photographer’, I like to move around my scene, see if there is a better angle, more interesting foreground, better position for the light? How was I going to tell the story of this night? The light and how it danced along the ridges and lit up the clouds was telling the story without any help from me. I walked away excited because I was able to capture a handful of images I was very happy with. And believe it or not I shared the entire area with one hiker who was enjoying the sunset and not taking a single photo (there is also a lesson to be learned in that: sometimes it is ok to just take it all in and NOT be behind the lens). If you’re in the Pacific NW, Rainier is not to be missed now matter the time if year, but August may be my favorite. I’m already looking forward to my next visit – when fall color takes over the park!