North Cascades Photo Walk

Stepping out into the glory of the North Cascades, I joined my first “photo walk” last weekend. Wow, what an adventure. Led by Emmy award winning photographer (and all around nice guy) Tanner Wendell Stewart, a few dozen folks with cameras clicked and chatted and felt the wash of cool, fresh air.

A respite from the heat that warmed our cameras and our shoulders. We formed an eager group. Hiking, and framing shots, and shuffling by each other single-file over this suspension bridge by the Skagit River.

The wind from the rushing water drowned out half of my words as I threw camera questions to Kate Hailey, the inspiring organizer of this photo walk presented by Glazer’s Camera. She takes great photos and has a contagious can-do attitude. We discussed f-stops and focal points there on the bridge. And I kept clicking.

Even so high off the ground (or water, in this case), nature found a way to join every part of this walk.

When we finally headed over the river and through the woods (sorry, I couldn’t resist), every nook and cranny begged to be photographed. Water cascaded like a happy toddler over rocks and fallen trees, claiming ownership of this space. Passing through quickly, like a kid growing up. Carrying a bit of time away with it, and yet giving these moments back to us because we paused to look.

What’s under here? If my kids were with me, I’d know for sure! Those soft ferns, that log cover, all too tempting to resist.

Can you imagine fairies and trolls among that greenery? Seems just the place for them. And yet, steps away looms the backside of the massive structure of the Gorge Dam, part of the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project.

In Seattle, we have water. And, as for centuries, water gives us power. Old news, but still, that’s pretty cool! Besides the bustling group of fellow photographers on this photo walk, I saw families and other explorers out enjoying this monument to our hydroelectric state of being. It’s worth a drive, and fairly accessible to those with mobility limitations. Check the link above for tour information.

Continuing along the North Cascades Highway, our photo walk became more of a photo drive. We paused at scenic overlooks and took some time to connect with those around us. As I said, all total strangers coming together with a shared purpose. Except this guy, who I know very well!

(Heart eyes!) We’ve been together for twenty-three years, and I’m so thankful for my husband’s support and love. It’s super awesome to share these adventures with you, Honey! I mean, look at this view:

We sent the kids on sleepovers so we could soak all this in. Six hours in the car roundtrip, and a five-hour photo walk in between. When he’s not even a photographer. That’s love!

So many pictures. But that was the point, right? As we neared our third stop, we crossed over the top of the Diablo Dam. At this point, and maybe it was the elevation, everything seemed so magical. Purposeful. Powerful.

Planned for. Poignant. Serene.

Which is another reason why I’m glad my husband came along.

You’re welcome. He always makes me smile, and said I could share this.

At this stop, people split off into smaller groups. We had an hour at this location to really test out what our cameras could do. What our lenses could capture. And making sure our loved ones didn’t jump over the dam.

Feet back on the ground, we all hopped back into our cars and caravanned to the fourth stop. At this stop Tanner talked to us about reflections and waiting for just the right moment. He shared tales of when he fell into an icy lake, and when he sat for 12 hours waiting for the wind to settle. Our group bonded as the day drew to a close and we all started to get a little silly, hopping around in the sand, looking for a great shot, and trying not to get wet.

We spent some time reflecting on reflections.

And checking out the lone structure on the water, this turquoise blue boat house. I framed the shot so the pitch of its roof aligned with the angles of this driftwood.

And enjoyed how the curve of this rock mimicked the curve of the mountain’s shadow.

Finally, the sun set on this great adventure. Those of us who remained, smiling and sharing tales, set up camp at Diablo Lake Vista Point. Perching our tripods into the sun and relaxing as we waited for it to set, closing out the light on this wonderful day.

Thanks for reading along and joining in virtually on this photo walk. If you’ve got a camera of your own, this is a great way to spend your free time! Don’t worry about your skill level, or equipment setup. We had people with cell phones and people with thousand-dollar lenses. We had a woman with a drone and a man with a time-lapse rig. All out to take photos. To remember the day. To do what photos do, pause time.

There’s always something to see. Out there. On our way home, we pulled over as I caught sight of the lights of the dam through the trees. One more photo, I promised my husband, who was already out of the car ready to help me set up.

Though the sun had set (you saw it in that previous photo), somehow it rose again. As if asking me to take this photo. Or extending its rays back up across the mountain to get that sky blue. The little line of lights called to me. The wild expanse of trees near and far breathed a timeless breath, there on the side of the road. Instead of ending the adventure, I felt as if this photo betrayed a new beginning. A chance to get back out there. To stay out there. To keep my eyes open for the next chance.

To get, as my kids say, one more story.

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5 thoughts on “North Cascades Photo Walk

  1. Your photos are simply fabulous!! I loved every single one of them. The photo walk sounded (and looked) amazing – what’s better than time and scenic sights to just snap away at? And your hubby….well, he must be a lot like mine – patient and supporting. If we’re out driving, mine will say, “Do you want me to turn around so you can get a picture?” when he hears me say, “Oh!” I can’t tell you how many times he’s patiently waited for me to capture just the right angle or whatever. We both have keepers, Melissa!

    1. Yes! Our husbands sound like they would get along great! As would you and I. 🙂 Thanks for the kind words! It was a great day, and so fun to share it here on the blog.

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