Lake Easton State Park Overnight Camping and Stargazing

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.

Sunset

Sunset over Lake Easton, Lake Easton State Park, WA

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Sunset over Lake Easton, Lake Easton State Park, WA

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.

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Perseid meteor shower, National Forest near Easton, WA

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Perseid meteor shower, National Forest near Easton, WA

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Perseid meteor shower, National Forest near Easton, WA

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Perseid meteor shower, National Forest near Easton, WA

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Milky Way Galaxy, National Forest near Easton, WA

Milky Way

Milky Way Galaxy, National Forest near Easton, WA

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Airplane and Milky Way Galaxy, National Forest near Easton, WA

Airplane

Airplane flying over the nights’ sky, National Forest near Easton, WA

Airplane

Airplane flying over the nights’ sky, National Forest near Easton, WA

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Moon setting behind the clouds, National Forest near Easton, WA

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Moon setting behind the clouds, National Forest near Easton, WA

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Moon setting behind the clouds, National Forest near Easton, WA

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.

Boulder River Trail Day Hike/Trail Run

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Boulder River Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie Forest

8+ miles round trip / 700′ elevation gain

Have you ever had the feeling you’ve been somewhere before?  As my husband and I turned off the highway towards the Boulder River trailhead parking, we had that exact feeling.  Once we parked and started making our way down the Boulder River trail we knew we had made this hike before, or at least we had tried. Two years ago we headed down that very same trail, only to be turned around by unsafe, icy trail conditions which we were not prepared for; but that was not the case on this day.  Although our drive into the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest was slowed down by thick, dense fog, as we made our way down the forest road the fog cleared and blue skies appeared.

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Boulder River Trail, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie Forest

 

Even though the air was a bit frigid with temperatures in the high 30’s, trail conditions were perfect.  With the recent large amounts of rain we have been receiving in the Pacific Northwest, Boulder River was thundering along the trail throughout our entire hike.  The abundance of rain also resulted in beautiful, cascading waterfalls speckled along the way.  The trail ascends slowly along the river making for an easy day hike.

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Boulder River Trail waterfall

After a few miles we rested beside Boulder River enjoying the sounds of a small, cascading waterfall.  We returned to the trail and made our way around the next bend to find a much larger, even more captivating waterfall.  It was mesmerizing – I couldn’t take my eyes off of it!

Boulder River Falls

Boulder River Falls

 

Boulder River Falls

Boulder River Falls

Once we peeled ourselves away from the beauty of the falls, we continued along the trail winding through the forest with the sounds of the river as our soundtrack.  The short winter day had the sun dipping behind the mountains early in the afternoon.  After nearly 4+ miles we decided it was time to turn around and head back towards the parking area not quite making it to the end of the trail.

Boulder River, Mount Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest

Boulder River, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest

With plans to make our return a trail run, my husband and I stripped down to our running gear and stuffed our warmer layers into our packs.  We made our way along the trail this time moving more swiftly jumping over the boulders and small creek crossings along the way.  Even though it was mostly a descent back towards the trailhead, at times the trail climbed upwards slowing me down to a light jog or even walking on occasion.  The backdrop of cascading waterfalls and the sound of the booming Boulder River made for an exhilarating, breathtaking trail run.  We arrived back at our car just in time as the warmth of the sun was being stripped away by nightfall.  As we headed back towards Seattle the dense fog that had dissipated late that morning returned as if it was waiting for us to leave the trail.