Arches Peak
North Cascades, Washington

Unhurriedly, I stepped again up the huge, jutting outcrop and sat on a slab of exfoliated bedrock overlooking the open valley. The sunrise had been very brief; a horizontal sliver of open sky on the eastern horizon having been closed within minutes by a smothering sheet of overcast gray. A much deeper hue in the southwestern sky hinted at the size and intensity of the storm to come.

I had gazed upon this scene many times, having first stumbled upon it years earlier. It is a captivating place and one not easily forgotten. Photographs I’d taken here previously hinted at its glory, but had never quite lived up to my hopes. And as I sat there looking out over the landscape I thought about this and marveled at the quiet, infusive sense of prosperity I felt in being there. How could this ever be captured? As I made the reluctant decision to shoulder my pack and begin the day’s sojourn, I felt certain that I would be back yet again.

Descending, I traversed around the base of a high rock wall and again beheld the dramatic profile of Arches Peak; a magnificent, batholithic prow thrusting steeply from the surrounding valley. Here I paused, sensing something about the scene I hadn’t noticed before, and suddenly, feeling very alert. At the edge of the valley slope just in front of me a band of exposed bedrock drew my attention. Its texture and brightness conveyed a subtle counterbalance to the overpowering drama of the mountain. The vision was clear and at once I understood that my past challenges here had been a matter of balance; of portraying the breathtaking impact of the mountain within the context of its environment. I set up my tripod in the steady, even light and knew that here at last would be an image to match the richness of my experience.

 

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