Blue Mountain is a magic place for me. Located on the northern edge of the Olympic Mountains, it’s the ridge that towers above the spreading town of Sequim and the narrow coastal plain that borders the Straits of Juan de Fuca. One of the few accesses to Olympic National Park a road goes to the top. Seventeen miles and six thousand feet, the narrow dirt road climbs, first switchbacking through mature lowland forest then, higher, it sidlings the steep slope. When it breaks out above the forest, the deep tree carpeted canyon of Morse Creek and it’s tributaries spreads out far below and the paved road to Hurricane Ridge is a slight scar on the slopes of Mt Angeles in the distance. On a shoulder of the mountain, sits Deer Park, a ranger station and campground. From here, the view is into the wilds of the park with the valleys of the Gray Wolf River, Cameron and Grand Creeks far below and many miles of rugged mountain wilderness beyond. The road turns and climbs through subalpine fir parkland and meadows to the top of the mountain. From this spot, the view is 360 degrees. To the north, Vancouver Island in Canada and the Straits of Georgia and San Juan Islands and the Canadian Coast Range. To the east is the Puget Sound and it’s peninsulas and islands, the Cascade Range it’s backdrop.
To the south rises ridges of jagged rock, blanketed by snowfields, glaciers and alpine meadows with steep forests draping down to wild rivers. And to the west, more mountains and the Pacific Ocean beyond. The top of this mountain, accessible a few months, hibernates under deep snow the majority of the year. During the short summer, wildflowers color the meadows and deer approach unafraid, birds sing and the soul is refreshed. Even when clouds obscure the landscape, a walk through the meadows, is full of wonder. Cow Parsnip with it’s foot across flowers and pungent aroma can be found in the moist areas beside subalpine fir. The sweet perfume is from lupine which paints blue the open areas. The chattering sound might be a groundsquirrel arguing with a grouse. Another grouse sits whoop whooping atop a boulder, drumming to advertise in the misty fog… The subalpine fir grows in protective groups called krumholtz and here and there are rock outcroppings splashed orange red and yellow with lichen. Then, often just as the sun is setting, the clouds swirl and clear and the grand landscape is revealed. This image was made at such a magical time when the thick clouds and fog were giving way to sunset and yielding to the star blanket which would replace it.