Phone Friday IX

It’s Friday again so here’s another selection of phone photos for a very frosty Phone Friday, aka Frosty Friday or even Frosty Phone Friday! These were all taken sometime in the past two weeks as we encountered winter on various hikes in northern Washington and BC.

Winter is doing its best to make its presence felt, although it hasn’t really succeeded up to now. The upside to that is we’ve easily been able to access quite a few hikes without the need of our snowshoes and without risk of avalanches.

  1. At the end of our hike on the Chain Lakes circuit, we stopped off at the famous Picture Lake to see if we could catch any sunset light on Mount Shuksan. For the briefest moment we could see the faintest glimmer of light on Shuksan’s peaks and I quickly took a few shots. By the time I looked up again the light had gone.
  2. It’s hard to make out in this photo but I took it because the ice had formed a shape a bit like a duck’s or a swan’s head.
  3. Along the trail to Heliotrope Ridge we had to cross a couple of mostly frozen creeks, which was much easier than I’ve read it can be in summer. The creeks were still running beneath the ice, and in places the flowing water could be seen through gaps. It was the gaps that interested me, providing a contrasting background that highlighted the shapes along their edge.
  4. The Coleman Glacier greets you at the end of the Heliotrope Ridge trail, a stunning blue and white mass of ice and snow fractured into dozens of deep crevasses. We didn’t have the best light owing to our late-ish start but the blue of the crevasse walls was still intense.
  5. Our third hike in the Mount Baker area took us up to Yellow Aster Butte, a place we’d visited on a beautiful autumn day back in 2010. This time we had the trail entirely to ourselves and enjoyed the hike up as far as this view of the summit of Yellow Aster Butte and the Border Peaks. What can’t be seen in this photo is the freezing gale-force wind whipping the snow around our ankles and taking our breath away. A few quick photos and it was time to hastily retrace our steps.
  6. About 40 minutes after setting off on the trail to Elfin Lakes, the trail passes a creek cascading down a short rock face. I call the lower section of this cascade Zig-Zag Falls due to the way the water is diverted this way then that by the angled rock. Unsurprisingly, the edges of the creek were adorned with ice that nicely framed the moving water.
  7. In the frozen puddles in the ditch alongside the trail, needles of ice had formed overlapping patterns as they grew towards the centre. In this puddle, they hadn’t quite met in the middle, the thinner ice allowing some contrast into the scene. Perhaps my favourite photo of the day.
  8. Both Elfin Lakes had frozen over, but it looked like someone had been throwing rocks in while the ice was thickening, creating an ice crater complete with rim and ejecta. Of course, it could be that the rock has been there for some time and the pattern reflects the manner in which the ice froze. Who knows?
  9. Last but not least, this is one of my favourite views of the Garibaldi massif from Elfin Lakes. In summer, a calm day offers up a perfect reflection of the mountain. Today we had a mix of clear ice and “frosted” ice giving a two-tone reflection. It’s hard to believe from this angle, but the dominant peak is actually lower than the summit of Mount Garibaldi itself, that tooth-like peak to its right.
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Zig Zag

Zig-zag falls – at least, that’s what I call them – on the way up to Red Heather Meadows and beyond to Elfin Lakes.

I’ve tried to get photos of this creek so many times before that I almost didn’t bother on this trip, but for some reason the zigzag in the cascades really stood out and I just had to capture it.

I still remember the first time I saw these falls – except they were nothing more than a trickle on a hot, early October day. I remember them because one of the people we were hiking with decided to fill their water bottle straight from the creek and drink it. I never found out if they got sick or not, but it’s something I simply won’t risk. The only time I’ve drunk untreated water in the backcountry was from a stream on the surface of a glacier. That water went beautifully with some good single malt whisky…

Mamquam Mountain Monday

Mamquam Mountain from a few weeks ago after the first dusting of snow. There’ll be way more than that now.

Mamquam is a huge massif of a mountain, and it can be tricky to photograph effectively. The version of this photo on Flickr has a little less presence than this one, and even that’s a crop from the full image. But that’s one of the things I actually like about Instagram: it forces you to change the perspective on an image, and gives the opportunity to highlight one or two features of a particular scene. And so it is with this photo – a tighter crop, a touch of warming, and a little bit of desaturating to emphasize shape and texture and before you know it, you have a completely different photo.

Elfin Shelter

Elfin shelter and Mt Garibaldi as seen in Oct 2004. Seeing this week’s leave-no-trace Tuesday post from happiestoutdoors gave me an idea for what I wanted to say. Backcountry huts are always popular and will only get more so over the winter season. Good hut etiquette is vital in order for 35 or more people to get along in such a small space which means showing some consideration towards your fellow hikers. Go easy on the noise, be aware that some folks are wanting an early start, and make space for others when you’re done cooking and eating. Oh, and don’t pee right outside the cabin!

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Elfin shelter and Mt Garibaldi as seen in Oct 2004. Seeing this week's #leavenotracetuesday post from @happiestoutdoors gave me an idea for what I wanted to say. Backcountry huts are always popular and will only get more so over the winter season. Good hut etiquette is vital in order for 35 or more people to get along in such a small space which means showing some consideration towards your fellow hikers. Go easy on the noise, be aware that some folks are wanting an early start, and make space for others when you're done cooking and eating. Oh, and don't pee right outside the cabin! #LeaveNoTrace #lnt #elfinlakes #wanderungca #elfinshelter #garibaldiprovincialpark #mountgaribaldi #atwellpeak #bcparks #explorebc #beautifulbritishcolumbia #hiking

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It’s hard to believe we’ve been in BC for 12 years now. Twelve years of hiking in the Coast Mountains, and 12 years since we went on our very first hike with Wanderung. Just for fun I counted up the number of times I’ve visited Elfin Lakes. Answer: 10, which means it’s almost an annual trip for me. Oh and I have a confession to make – I didn’t take this photo, Maria did. I was so hot and tired by the time we reached the lakes that all I did was lounge there. 🙂

Ooh, Garibaldi

Leading lines: the sharp ridge rising from Diamond Head to Atwell Peak, seen through a gap in the trees near the Red Heather shelter

We had a long cold spring in 2011, which meant the snow lingered well into July and August. This day in early July 2011, I solo-hiked up to Elfin Lakes on snow almost the entire way. As I neared Red Heather meadows (or rather, white snowy meadows) I looked up to catch a glimpse of Garibaldi through the trees. A moment later I came to a tiny gap with the mountain framed beautifully by the tall firs. This spot is so specific that I haven’t actually been able to find it again on subsequent visits. I was even happier with this photo when I realized that it was absolutely pin-sharp, about as sharp as I could possibly get with that camera-lens combination. It’s probably my favourite photo of Garibaldi.

It was also the quietest day of hiking to Elfin Lakes I’ve ever experienced, although I did start out quite early on the trail. The funny thing was that I deliberately picked Elfin Lakes for a solo hike as I thought it would be busy…!