North Cascades National Park

Hiking the Chain Lakes Trail at Mt. Baker

On Thursday August 21st, my brother-in-law Kurt, friend Zach, and I hiked the chain Lakes Trail near Mt. Baker. It’s a moderate trail that ranges from easy to difficult. In fact, the last two miles of the trail is downhill. Along for the fun was Zach’s dog Domino.

Baker View:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad © Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Coleman Pinnacle, left, and Mt. Baker from Ptarmigan Ridge. We hiked about 1/2 mile down the trail before turning back to Chain Lakes Trail.Photography - Hike ;along the Chain Lakes Trail with Kurt, Zach, and Domino on Thursday August 20, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Coleman Pinnacle, left, and Mt. Baker from Ptarmigan Ridge. We hiked about 1/2 mile down the trail before turning back to Chain Lakes Trail.

Starting at Artist’s Point, we began the 7 mile loop at about 10:30 in the morning. It was cool and breezy. The sky was deep blue with patches of clouds around Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. You can see steam rising from Sherman Crater.

 Kurt on the Trail:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Kurt passes a patch of fireweed as we approach Ptarmigan Ridge.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Kurt passes a patch of fireweed as we approach Ptarmigan Ridge.

The crater is the active part of Mt. Baker. For those who don’t know, Mt. Baker is the second most active volcano in the state of Washington. Right after Mt. Saint Helens.

Booyah! Scenes from “Dante’s Peak” came flashing in. How does one outrun a Pyroclastic flow?

Couple and Cairn:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A couple  pause at a cairn along the Chain Lakes Trail several hundred yards past the Ptarmigan Ridge turn-off. I came around the corner and saw them then the cairn. I used a shallow depth of field to set them against the forest.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A couple pause at a cairn along the Chain Lakes Trail several hundred yards past the Ptarmigan Ridge turn-off. I came around the corner and saw them then the cairn. I used a shallow depth of field to set them against the forest.

I packed as I’d normally pack when going on a day hike: a little too much. I used my Camelbak with a 100 oz. bladder full with fresh water, Petzl headlamp with fresh batteries, light jacket, compass, gloves, water filter, Leatherman knife, regular knife, eating utensils, protein bar, protein shake, jerky for snacking, and trail mix.

 Looking West from the Trail:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Coleman Pinnacle, left, Mt. Baker in clouds, and a few other peaks looking west from the trail.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Coleman Pinnacle, left, Mt. Baker in clouds, and a few other peaks looking west from the trail.

In the pack I also carried my 55mm f/2.8 macro for close-up shots in a soft pouch inside a waterproof bag, my Nikon SB-910 flash, SB-29 off-camera cord, my D300s, my 17-35 f/2.8, lens cleaner and cloth, and an extra battery. As weight was a bit of an issue, I left the tripod at home.

Starburst:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Sun forms a starburst through a grove of pine with the southern cliff face of Table Mountain on the left. I worked this to try to get the starburst. The aperture was at f/22 on my 17-35.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Sun forms a starburst through a grove of pine with the southern cliff face of Table Mountain on the left. I worked this to try to get the starburst. The aperture was at f/22 on my 17-35.

The weight in the pack was nominal, but I like to be prepared: both photographically and in case of an accident.

Fireweed:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - This was a pain to get. I was laying on the ground, holding my camera with one hand, and lifting myself enough to get the fireweed to line up with the tree line. Aperture on my 17-35 was at f/5.6 and at 17mm.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – This was a pain to get. I was laying on the ground, holding my camera with one hand, and lifting myself enough to get the fireweed to line up with the tree line. Aperture on my 17-35 was at f/5.6 and at 17mm.

After heading out, it was clear the photo ops would be phenomenal. The wildflowers were still in bloom, the sky fantastic, and although the light was mid day, it was just gorgeous.

As we hit about a mile out on the trail under the ridgeline of Table Mountain, we saw Mt. Baker in the distance over Ptarmigan Ridge with Coleman Pinnacle jutting into the bluebird sky. The passing clouds framed it wonderfully. The scenery towards Baker Lake was stunning.

Asters at Iceberg Lake:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Blue asters above Iceberg Lake along the Chain Lakes Trail. I used my 17-35 at 17 mm with an aperture of f/11. These are tiny flowers so I had to get super close. At f/11, it gave me sufficient depth of field to get the lake and surrounding mountains visible, but not overpowering. I like how they're a little out of focus.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Blue asters above Iceberg Lake along the Chain Lakes Trail. I used my 17-35 at 17 mm with an aperture of f/11. These are tiny flowers so I had to get super close. At f/11, it gave me sufficient depth of field to get the lake and surrounding mountains visible, but not overpowering. I like how they’re a little out of focus.

As we approached the fork in the trail, I saw the silhouette of a figure against a snow field under Mt. Baker. I took a few frames for posterity. Nothing grand. But here’s a link: Silhouette on Ptarmigan Ridge

Along the way there were some small patches of Fireweed, asters, and daisies. I’m no horticulturist, but I’m certain they’re daisies. As we walked between the lakes, the wildflowers were amazing. The fireweed were tall, the asters stunning, and the scenery unbeatable. Even this Colorado boy was stunned by the backwoods beauty.

Wildflowers

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Wildflowers along  the shore of Iceberg Lake.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Wildflowers along the shore of Iceberg Lake.

While we took a break at Iceberg Lake, Kurt decided it was time for a bath, well, sort of. He went to the water’s edge as he wanted to jump in. Instead after feeling the chill, he opted to cool down and wash his head. A wise move since we didn’t bring any blankets. And I wasn’t going to cuddle with him while he warmed up. LOL.

Kurt Shaking it Off: 

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Kurt shakes off the icy cold water after dipping his head in Iceberg Lake. It's called Iceberg for a reason Kurt.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Kurt shakes off the icy cold water after dipping his head in Iceberg Lake. It’s called Iceberg for a reason Kurt.

After the lakes,  we continued onto the trail which followed the saddle between Table Mountain and Mazama Dome. This provided a splendid view of the valley towards Mt. Shuksan.

The View From the Saddle:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Taking a break in Herman's Saddle, Zach takes photos of Domino as he lays in a snowfield. The peaks of Mt. Shuksan are shrouded by clouds. You can also see the road to Artist's Point on the left. You can see Mt. Sefrit and Nooksack Ridge in the background.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Taking a break in Herman’s Saddle, Zach takes photos of Domino as he lays in a snowfield. The peaks of Mt. Shuksan are shrouded by clouds. You can also see the road to Artist’s Point on the left. You can see Mt. Sefrit and Nooksack Ridge in the background.

From this viewpoint, it was pretty much downhill. Seriously, it was about 2 miles of downhill trail. Relatively easy-going. Unfortunately, Domino began getting tired and as a result, slipped on some sharp rocks and earned a slight cut. He was limping, but still strong.

Getting a Better View:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Kurt climbs atop boulders on Herman's Saddle to try and find an easier route back to Artist's Point. We opted to stay on trail.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Kurt climbs atop boulders on Herman’s Saddle to try to find an easier route back to Artist’s Point. We opted to stay on trail.

During one rough section, in order keep him from hurting his foot any more, Kurt carried him about 50 yards through one part of the trail that was bedded with sharp rock.

A Little Help From a Friend:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Kurt carries Domino through a rough part of the trail that was covered with sharp rocks.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Kurt carries Domino through a rough part of the trail that was covered with sharp rocks.

Half way down, we paused to take a break. We found a small grassy area to chill. This gave Domino a little time to recoup as we also caught our breath and reenergize with some trail snacks. Domino thought it was his playground and just did what dogs like to do, rolled around in the grass.

Happy Puppy:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography -Domino finds a little joy while rolling around in a grassy patch along the trail.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Domino finds a little joy while rolling around in a grassy patch along the trail.

Exhausted and beat at the end of the hike, I already decided I want to backpack in and spend a night at the lakes shooting the stars and trying to capture some of the Aurora Borealis we can sometimes see from Bellingham.

Selfie:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Had to stop for a selfie of me against a valley. I was about a foot from a cliff edge. No worries, I made it out safely.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Had to stop for a selfie of me against a valley. I was about a foot from a cliff edge. No worries, I made it out safely.

What a View – The Last Section of Trail:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography -Kurt, Zach, and Domino head down the trail after we leave Herman's Saddle. The view was fantastic. The light, clouds, sky, and greenery worked well together.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Kurt, Zach, and Domino head down the trail after we leave Herman’s Saddle. The view was fantastic. The light, clouds, sky, and greenery worked well together.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

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Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally published freelance photographer living in Bellingham, Wash., in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe.

His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings. He is available for short and long-term assignments.

Reflections of 2013 – My Best Images From the Past Year

This post is a bit late as I’ve dealt with the passing of my beloved father-in-law Todd. He was a great man, a retired Army 10th Special Forces member who  spent time in Korea during the Vietnam War, in Iraq, Nigeria, and Afghanistan and other places that if he told me “(he) would have to kill me.  He became a great friend who I admired and respected. His laugh was infectious. He was a great soul and loved by everyone. His loss weighs heavy on my heart as well as my wife Heidi’s.

As the year comes to a close, I submit what I would consider my best images from 2013. These range from landscapes to city scenes to portraits to events. It’s been a fun and eventful year as I’ve worked with Getty Images, the Mount Baker Experience magazine, Total Confidence Martial Arts, won photography awards with the City of Bellingham and the Whatcom Tourism Board, Victoria’s Secret, and a few others.

During the past year, I also became more serious about pursuing portraiture and weddings. Although I love journalism and see not only its importance but its value, I must move my career towards more local work. And what’s more important that capturing the love between two friends?

I would like to give a big Thank You to all my followers and friends for reading and commenting on my blog. Without you, this blog would not exist.

Watching The Ships Roll In: – A man watches a sailboat during Sunset on the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash. –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A man watches a sailboat traverse the setting Sun while ejoying a front row seat of a gorgeous sunset at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday Aug. 25, 2013.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A man watches a sailboat traverse the setting Sun while ejoying a front row seat of a gorgeous sunset at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday Aug. 25, 2013. (© Paul Conrad/ Paul Conrad Photography)

Foggy Morning Walk:A pedestrian on Cordata Parkway during a foggy autumn walk in Bellingham, Wash. –

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - A woman walks her dog into the morning fog at the Boardwalk in Bellngham, Wash.

A woman walks her dog into the morning fog at the Boardwalk in Bellngham, Wash. (© Paul Conrad/ Paul Conrad Photography)

Sunset Jog: A jogger on the Boardwalk against the setting Sun in Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash. –

A runner jogs along the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., during a blazing Sunset on Sunday evening April 14, 2013. (© Paul Conrad/ Paul Conrad Photography) bellingham photographer, bellingham wedding photographer

A runner jogs along the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., during a blazing Sunset on Sunday evening April 14, 2013. (© Paul Conrad/ Paul Conrad Photography)

Full Moon Rising: The super perigee Moon rises between the turrets of the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash. –

The full super perigee Moon rises over the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., on Monday evening July 22, 2012.  (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)  bellingham photographer, bellingham wedding photography,

The full super perigee Moon rises over the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., on Monday evening July 22, 2012. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

String of Pearls: Dew drops on a spider web –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Morning fog dapples a spider web with dew on West Bakerview in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday morning Oct. 4, 2013.  (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography), bellingham wedding photography, bellingham photographer

Morning fog dapples a spider web with dew on West Bakerview in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday morning Oct. 4, 2013. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

Mount Baker Alpenglow: The setting sun bathes Mount Baker in its rays –

The setting Sun alights Mount Baker in alpenglow on Monday evening July 22, 2013.  (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography), bellingham wedding photographer, bellingham photography

The setting Sun alights Mount Baker in alpenglow on Monday evening July 22, 2013. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

Lone Wolf: A red rose among a sea of yellow during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Tulips blooming at Rozengaarde Tulip Farm in Skagit County, Wash., on Tuesday April 15, 2013.

Mt. Shuksan: Melting ice on Picture Lake –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Mount Shuksan is reflected in a thawing Picture Lake as it is lit by the setting Sun on Saturday June, 22, 2013, while the super perigee Moon begins its ascent into the sky.

Footprints: My foot prints in the snow atop a frozen Picture Lake while capturing Mt. Shuksan in alpenglow –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie Wilderness in northwest Washington east of Bellingham.

Little DJs: Kids playing DJ at the wedding reception of Chelsea and Ryan –

Junior DJs- Kids play DJ at the wedding of Chelsea and Ryan

Soaring: An American Bald Eagle on Whidbey Island

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) takes flight along West Beach Road on Whidbey Island east of Oak Harbor, Wash.

Strength: Anna Haskin as she prepares for an upcoming bout –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Muay Thai black belt Anna Haskin trains at Total Confidence Martial Arts in Bellingham, Wash., for an upcoming bout. Haskin has recently began competing in the amateur circuit.

Concentration: Anna as she prepares for an upcoming bout –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Muay Thai black belt Anna Haskin trains at Total Confidence Martial Arts in Bellingham, Wash., for an upcoming bout. Haskin has recently began competing in the amateur circuit.

Bedazzled Bellingham: The setting sun ignites the Twin Sisters and Bellingham –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad PhotographyThe setting Sun glints off windows and street signs in Bellingham, Wash., as it bathes the snow capped peaks of The Twin Sisters of the Cascade Mountain range in its last rays.

Celebrating Freedom: 4th of July fireworks of Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham, Wash. –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Boats moored at Squalicum Harbor as fireworks explode overhead during Fourth of July celebrations at Zuanich Point Park in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday July 4, 2013.

What A Show: Kayaking at sunset in Bellingham Bay –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A kayaker paddles on Bellingham Bay under a brilliant sky near the Boardwalk in Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., on Tuesday evening June 25, 2013.

Diving Over: Mt. Baker senior quarterback Andrew Zender (11) flips over a Meridian defender on Thursday evening Oct. 31, 2013, in Bellingham, Wash. Mt. Baker defeated Meridian 24-17.

Mt. Baker senior quarterback Andrew Zender (11) flips over a Meridian defender on Thursday evening Oct. 31, 2013, in Bellingham, Wash. Mt. Baker defeated Meridian 24-17. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography) bellingham wedding photographer, bellingham photography

Mt. Baker senior quarterback Andrew Zender (11) flips over a Meridian defender on Thursday evening Oct. 31, 2013, in Bellingham, Wash. Mt. Baker defeated Meridian 24-17. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

Artemis the Archer: Ann Benem of Benem’s Body Work portrays the archer Artemis for an upcoming calender

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Ashley Benem of Benem's Body Works portrays the Greek goddess Artemis during a photoshoot for a calendar.

Queen Amidala: Crystal von Oy portrays Queen Amidala during the 2013 Emerald City Comicon –

© Paul Conrad/SyFy/Getty ImagesCrystal Von Oy of Mill Creek, Wash., portrays Queen Amidala from Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace during the 2nd day of the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday Mar. 2, 2013.

Perfect Form:

Shannon blocks a round kick from Alyssa during Muay Thai Camp at Total Confidence Martial Arts in Bellingham –
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Arjhan David Neal Brown teaches during the first day the PNW Muay Thai camps at Total Confidence Martial Arts in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday evening Aug. 23, 2013

These may not be “THE BEST,” but they’re my favorite of the year.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. Instagram: @PaulConradPhotography
  2. Twitter: @pabloconrad
  3. Facebook: Paul Conrad Photography
  4. Pinterest: Paul Conrad Photography

Paul Conrad is an award-winning photographer living in Bellingham north of Seattle, WA, in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and in Europe. He is available for assignments anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. Although his specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography The last rays of the setting Sun bathes the snow-capped peak of Mount Baker in alpenglow as the lights of the city of Bellingham, Wash., begin to turn on during evening April 23, 2013.

Mount Baker in Alpenglow

Just a quick posting of a beautiful photograph I captured of Mount Baker from Tuesday evening April 23, 2013.

Mt. Baker in Alpenglow:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The last rays of the setting Sun bathes the snow-capped peak of Mount Baker in alpenglow as the lights of the city of Bellingham, Wash., begin to turn on during evening April 23, 2013.

Several weeks before I shot this image, I was driving westbound on Bakerview Avenue in Bellingham, Wash. It was just before sunset when my wife Heidi and I just left the gym. As we were stopped at the light, I looked in the rearview mirrow and saw Mt. Baker in this beautiful light. The alpenglow was gorgeous.

On Monday evening while driving home, It was a starkly clear day. I told myself if it was going to another crisp and clear evening, I was going to skip the gym and drive to Lummi Shore Drive, which is west across Bellingham Bay from Bellingham.

It was a crisp day so I left the gym early, drove to Lummi Shore, and captured this.

Prints available for purchase for all sizes up to 24″ x 36″
Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. All comments are appreciated.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

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