Last month I had the perfect opportunity to explore astrophotography with the Perseids meteor shower and clear skies in the forecast. Since the peak of the meteor shower was on a Thursday night, my husband was unable to join me. There was no way I was going to let the ideal conditions pass me by, so I headed out on my first ever solo camping trip!
After looking at a map of the surrounding light pollution, I decided to head east over Snoqualmie Pass. I loaded the car up with my tent and other car camping essentials, along with my camera and tripod. I arrived at Lake Easton State Park in the late afternoon, hoping to find a camping spot near the lake for wide open views of the nights’ sky. I explored the park and learned that the campground was located on the opposite side of the park from the day use area along the shores of Lake Easton. Knowing this, I explained my goals of exploring astrophotography that night to the park ranger at the entrance booth, and he assured me campers were allowed in day use area at night.
I quickly set up camp, ate dinner, and headed to the lake with my camera gear. With over two hours until sunset, I spent the evening reading a book about astrophotography and exploring the settings on my camera. As I was positioning my camera for the best view, I enjoyed photographing the lake as the sun was setting. Just as the first stars started to come into view, a park ranger arrived informing everyone that the day use area was closing for the night. I explained my goals for the night, but unfortunately, the park ranger I spoke to earlier in the day was unaware of the rules and I was forced to leave. Thankfully the park ranger suggested an area nearby in the National Forest with a large field along a forest service road.
Solo car camping was one thing, but solo night photography along a dark, unfamiliar forest road was another. I followed the directions given to me by the park ranger, and parked in a large field as described. I’m not going to lie – it was quite an eerie feeling to be completely alone in the dark in an unknown area. Once I had my camera set up and started taking pictures, the feeling of being scared was washed away by the feeling of excitement. Once the first meteor streaked across the nights’ sky, all of my fears were completely forgotten.
I saw more meteors that night than I have in my entire life! The Perseids put on quite a show giving me the perfect opportunity to learn more about astrophotography. I took pictures until the battery in my camera died. It was well into the early morning before I finally loaded my gear back into the car and headed to the campground. As I laid in my tent that night, the sounds of a train echoed off the lake. I slept perfectly that night, no longer letting the idea of camping on my own scare me. I knew this was the beginning of many new solo adventures.
Last week I spent several days in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness for the first time. As an amatuer wildlife photographer, I have dreamed about my first mountain goat sighting in the wilderness. After reading several recent trip reports from many of the hiking trails in the area, I was certain this would be my time. Unfortunately, after hiking over 25 miles in 3 days I still did not see any mountain goats in the wild. This friendly goat, however, posed for me near the Enzian Falls Putting Green while visiting Leavenworth during the same trip.