Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall Colors Cascade Loop Highway

October 19, 2013
I was up and ready to go at 6am when my friend Britton, a great hobby photographer came to pick me up. We made a plan in August to pick up our cameras and head somewhere local in WA to capture the colors on a Saturday day trip in October. We planned to be gone all day to catch the lighting at the end of the day. We decided to do the Cascade Loop. Departing at 6am we hoped to capture the sunrise as we hit the Cascade Mountains at 7:30am. Britton and I were past Arlington, 45 minutes on our way to Hwy 20 to grab some Starbucks, when we realized Britton’s son’s football pads were in the back of the car. He wouldn’t be able to play today without his pads. Britton really is a great mom. We head back to Snohomish to drop off the pads and re-start our drive up this time on back roads up Hwy 9. It was still really foggy so even if we had made our original time schedule, we probably wouldn’t have caught anything. We needed the sun to rise to burn off some of the fog.
Skagit River off Highway 20 

If only there was smell-i-vision, because there were dead salmon everywhere that had recently spawned up the river.
Next we drove into Rockport State Park and decided to hike the Fern Creek Trail.
Leaf frozen in time 

Mushrooms growing on old tree trunk 

Another mushroom log 

Mossy tree 
Leaf on mossy tree 
Leaf cover 
Leaf tree trunk texture 
Big leaf 
Britton found a big leaf! 
Next we drove up Sauk Mountain, getting closer to the stunning views at the trailhead

Gorgeous patches of color on the drive up with fog clouds over the Puget Sound area 

The view from the trailhead

Britton and I stopped for lunch at Buffalo Run Restaurant for bison burgers. 
Next pit stop was further down Highway 20 along the Skagit River 

Gorge Creek Falls 

Sneak peeks of Diablo Lake 

Diablo Lake Overlook

As we drove, we encountered more and more snow-capped Cascade Mountains 

Washington Pass 

Britton found snow at Washington Pass 
Methow Valley 

There are deer crossings everywhere in the Methow Valley. We didn’t believe all the signs. The first two we saw were dead road kill on the side of the road. We eventually saw packs of 8 or more deer hiding in the brush.
Next we stopped at a cool pedestrian bridge over the Methow River in Winthrop.

I love the simple farm landscapes in the Methow Valley. 
We found the perfect fall tree as dusk set. 
We continued driving, past Twisp and on our way toward…what Wenatchee! Oh it’s gonna be a long drive back home on Hwy 2. We estimated we might be home by 9pm. Britton shared her life story as we drove past Lake Chelan with the faint light after sunset. We continued stopping at 59er Diner for a milkshake and lemonade after passing through Leavenworth. The waitress kindly tells us that she’s been informed that Steven’s Pass is closed! We are gonna have to turn around and head back the way we came and circle around the mountains to I-90 to get home! We were already so exhausted and just wanted to get home. We find no evidence from WSDOT that Steven’s Pass is closed. We do hear there was a huge head-on collision in Index that has caused very slow-moving traffic. Someone said the pass should open in 30 minutes. We decide to press our luck and head there, hoping that it will be open by the time we arrive. No problems traveling through the pass. Then 30 minutes later traffic comes to a complete standstill. We ‘parked’ on the highway without moving for 30 minutes! We finally made it through Index where the deadly accident had since been cleaned up, but the amount of traffic on the road from the backup made the drive home extremely long. Jackie took over behind the wheel to get us back to Mill Creek/Snohomish. We were finally home sometime after 11pm. Some 18 hours or so later, our fall color photography adventure finally came to a close!
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