Harts Pass

“You haven’t lived ’til you’ve been to Harts Pass,” my friend told me. I got there and set up camp in the rain, thinking I’d been had. That night I stayed in the Meadows CG, a desolate place, surrounded by too many dead trees to count, the remains of a fire 10+ years ago. Occasionally the wind wailed through the little basin, sounding like ghosts of the burnt forest.

The next morning I left my tent to dry in the sun and went to the top of Slate Peak. So it’s true. The North Cascades just about smack you in the face, and the view spreads out in every direction. It’s unbelievable. To the west, Snowfield Peak, Mount Baker, and Jack Mountain come into view; one of these in the heart of glacier land, another hinting that Ross Lake isn’t all that far, and the final peak, more than 50 miles away, sits on the far side of the national park. To the east are dryer but no less rugged mountains.

I hiked a bit of the Pacific Crest Trail, scrambled a ridge, ate in sunny meadows while drinking creek water, saw a baby ptarmigan with its mother, and spent four nights and days exploring a beautiful place.

From Slate Peak

West Fork Pasayten River Valley

A meadow on the Pacific Crest Trail

Sunset

Moonset

The northern lights over Slake Peak and the Pasayten

The Milky Way

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9 thoughts on “Harts Pass

    • Thanks! And sure, or at least I’ll try.

      First, I use a tripod, I’m sure that’s obvious. I’m using a 24 mm lens, which means I can’t leave the shutter open more than 20 seconds at a time if I want the stars to be pinpoints, the way they look in real life. Beyond that, they begin to streak, like a star trails photo. Beyond that, it’s just a matter of getting as much light as possible into the exposure. Most of these are f/2, ISO 3200 to 6400, and 20 seconds.

      Slate Peak, where I shot the night photos, is about 7,000 feet above sea level. This is up above the most dense and turbulent layer of air, so you have better visibility. It’s also a 210 mile drive from Seattle, there’s very little light pollution (the photo of the Milky Way, though, shows some red light at the bottom, this was well after midnight and even at such a great distance it’s Seattle’s city lights) to obscure the view. The moon had gone down hours ago in most of these, so it was very dark. Finally, it was a cold, cold night, and I think the camera likes that.

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