As winter arrives to the Cascade Mountains, I did some shooting in the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River valley this weekend. This river, just 20 miles from my home, drains the southern half of the scenic Mountain Loop Highway, an area in Washington’s Central Cascades popular for fishing, camping, hiking and kayaking, and full late 19th-century mining history.
This is also one of the wettest portions of Washington’s Cascades. As moisture-laden Pacific winds blast into Washington’s coast, they are forced to spit around the Olympic Mountains. After getting around these mountains, they re-converge right in this part of the Cascade Mountains. This area, known as the “convergence zone”, drops 140 to 180 inches of rain a year, and it was adding up today.
Every photo in this series was shot through a polarizing filter to reduce glare off the foliage, thereby letting the autumn hues and mossy greens show through. The heavy cloud cover, 2-stop loss of the polarizing filter, apertures in the f11-f22 range and shooting ISO100 for maximum detail conspired to force shutter speeds in the 2-10 second range. Thus, every image was made from a sturdy tripod.
This fork of the “Stilli” or “Stilly”, as the locals call it, tops out at Barlow Pass, where I found 1-1/2 inches of fresh snow on the ground, and more of the fluffy stuff falling hard.