While visiting my hometown, we managed to get out on one of my all-time favorite hikes. It is extremely rigorous, as it starts with the 3-mile ascent of Deer Mountain, which moves from muskeg and forest to alpine as you gain nearly 3,000 of elevation. From deer Mountain, it’s another 2.5 miles of ridge walking to Blue Lake. But this part of the hike is sooooo worth it. 360 degree views are just stunning. Blue lake itself is a crystal clear basin of snow-melt that shines sapphire blue – hence the name.
As we were descending down into the lake, I could see a herd of Mountain goats on the slopes of the far side, along what I believe is called Roy Jones Mountain. Knowing I wouldn’t get another chance at this in who-knows how long, I took off ahead of everyone else, scrambled up Roy Jones Mountain, and snuck up along the eastern ledge, where I was able to look down on the herd resting and cooling off in a snow field. The mountain goats here are less tame than in other areas, so when they spotted me, they all got up and started moving off. Here are some shots I managed to get.
After the goats departed, I pulled out my drone for some aerial views of the area, and then headed down for a freezing dip in the lake.
I grew up right down the street from a salmon hatchery in Ketchikan, Alaska. The abundance of spawning salmon swimming upstream and dying makes for some ripe smells in the Fall. There is a slough where the creek fills up at high tide. The property used to belong to my Grandfather, Ben Fleenor, who built a sawmill there and used to float log rafts up and into the mill at high tides. Now it has become a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to watch bears as they fish salmon out of the creek.
Just a quick note: It is illegal to fly a drone in restricted airspace – and Deception Pass falls under that category – without FAA authorization and permission from the Whidbey NAS. I acquired both for this flight and took off from Cornet Bay (not State Park land) in order to obtain these shots. It was a fun experiment, though I’ll have to try it again sometime when the bridge construction is over.
I took these photos back in March but never posted them. I was driving in the Skagit Valley and happened to spot this Great Egret fishing in the ditch. I had my camera so I pulled over to get some pictures. It’s somewhat rare to see these birds here, nor did I ever realize that there are fish in the ditches! I watched him pluck two or three out of the water and gulp them down before I continued on my journey.
This image took a total of 42 captures to make. It is composed of three images stitched together, but each of those three is a blend of two – one taken for the highlights, one for the shadows. Each of the two was shot as a burst of seven photos, which were then stacked and averaged to reduce noice. Some basic editing and retouching was done in addition.