KAREN K. WANG PHOTOGRAPHY » Blog

The second time I overnighted at Blanca, I got to do it with my 3 best girls, and it was just what we needed this summer.  A good push with some heavy packs, and a warm campfire before bed.  This was actually the weekend where WA had the possible northern lights showing…but there was none.  :(  We did take a few night shots here and there, but I didn’t take too many throughout the day.  Here are just a few of my favorites from that weekend.

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Please be aware of the million photos that are in this post….so many things happened that I just couldn’t leave out.  This was probably the most anticipated trip of the summer–it was finally my chance to get out of Washington and explore elsewhere.  I signed up with a backpacking trip via REI Adventures.  I have a friend who works for REI and has always had really great things to say about them.  So I thought to myself….yolo, if your friends don’t want to do multi-day trips with you, you might as well go find others who will.  This trip was 2 nights and 3 days on top of Whistler Mountain and was worth every penny.  The alpine trails were very similar to WA but still so good.  It’s a bummer that I am only just now writing about this trip since I’m like 4 months behind haha, but I had to finish wedding season first.  Hopefully I can look back at my journal and remember some of the little details.

Thursday:

I haven’t been to Whistler in over 4 years, and the 5 hour drive up there was just as beautiful as I had remembered.  The Sea-to-sky highway takes you on a scenic route from Vancouver to just north of Whistler.  I guess the last time we drove on this road was in the winter, so there was snow everywhere.  But summer was just as nice, it really made me want to ride my bike on that road someday.  I got into town and checked into Blackcomb Lodge.  The hotel was meh, but I feel like anywhere is better than my own bed at home.  I loved how my window view overlooked the village–I had my patio door opened, and it was super refreshing.  I wandered around the village and visited my favorite store, Roots.  I got a new sweatshirt, and it was time to meet our group at the Whistler Brewhouse.  It was actually kind of strange because you have no idea who you’re looking for, but we all found each other just fine.  We met everyone in our group and distributed some gear/food.  Everyone in the group was so diverse and from all different parts of the US (except our guides were Whistler locals)–I truly love how the passion of a certain something can bring together so many different people, and you just know you’re going to love each of them.  So I’ve been watching the weather, and we all knew the weather going to be rainy/maybe storms all weekend, but we were all in no matter what.  It ended up being good that I got a sweatshirt because I only packed light layers for this trip hoping it’d be nice weather.

Friday:

We met the group at Gone Bakery at breakfast for our last meal before we were off.  It was such a chill morning getting to know everyone and hanging out in the warmth.  We did our final packing and took the gondola up to the mountains.  I’ve never taken one before, so it was scary because I hate heights.  But it was pretty amazing being lifted up instead of hiking.  We ended up seeing a bear cub beneath us too!  Then we took ski lifts to the beginning of our hike…this was actually pretty terrifying.  I’ve also never been on a lift before but nothing was holding you in your seat except a bar, and you could see all the jagged mountains underneath you, waiting to eat you up.  Pretty much we were going straight into the fog and couldn’t see much after awhile.  We got to the top, had our last real potty breaks and were off!  The majority of the time we were in the clouds, so we didn’t actually see very much of the scenery until the clouds parted a few times throughout the day.  The mountains ended up being surprises every time they came out, and we were all excited.  The rain was off and on, but we did end up putting on our rain covers.  I had to wear a Ziploc bag over my camera which was annoying, but I guess it’s part of the photographer’s life.  The trails winded through beautiful open spaces and lots of rock.  The climbs weren’t too bad either.  I remember being pretty cold the whole time though.

We made it to our campsite at Russet Lake and set up camp.  I had brought a 1-man tent, and it was so tiny.  I was definitely spoiled with Aaron’s Black Diamond 2p all summer, I missed it.  There ended up being a little shelter there where it was actually warmer, so I liked to hide in there sometimes.  We had our meals here too.  Our guides, Christine and Joel, were like these mystical chefs.  Somehow they magically cooked us all this gourmet dinner and had all of the ingredients/gear packed in their bags the whole time.  I was so impressed.  We ate some stir fry for dinner and went to bed.  I peeked out at 1am, and I saw stars, so I immediately jumped out of my sleeping bag to go outside.  Do you have any idea how painful it is to leave your warm (ish) bag to go outside of your tent?  But you just have to do it.  I was literally frozen when I got out though.  My body was shivering and teeth were chattering–I even started doing some jumping jacks to warm up.  I took a few whatever composed shots before the clouds rolled in pretty quickly and jumped back into bed.  I looked at my photos inside my bag and saw some green/purple in the sky.  I had no idea I captured any of  that!  Wish I would’ve known so I could’ve taken better photos haha, but I think I might’ve gotten a small glimpse of the northern lights.

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Saturday:

I woke up early as usual and brought my sleeping bag out on a rock over the cliff to watch the sunrise, which was really no sunrise at all, because it was cloudy the whole time.  But the sun did peek out a little bit a few times, and it was like a glimpse into Heaven.  I tried out a few time lapses which was meh.  We had some steel cut oats for breakfast and were ready for day 2.  This day, we got to leave the heavy things in our tents to hike with a lighter pack down to Overlord Glacier.  The hike was mainly all downhill on rock.  We passed this amazing marshy area that was so green and squishy.  There were wildflowers everywhere and so lovely.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a glacier before; it was huge.  We climbed up some huge rock to get to it.  I was so intrigued by all the green and blue colors on all the rock.  Turns out it was black slate.  We explored the glacier a bit and took lots of photos.  The sun was coming in and out and lit up all the ice.  We headed back up to camp and chilled a little before dinner.  On this night, our chefs made delicious sun dried tomato pesto pasta and veggies.  It was my most favorite meal so far.  I felt so spoiled by them and didn’t feel like I deserved any of it because nobody was helping with dishes haha.  After dinner, we played Bananagrams and hung out for the night.  We also shared the shelter with 3 other Canadians who were backpacking through as well.  I think they thought we were all crazy Americans…but oh well.  It was super fun to get everyone together and share some funny stories.  I don’t think I’ve laughed that much in such a long time.  Amongst all the bad weather and terrible night photos, my favorite part of the trip was most definitely meeting everyone in our group and just being able to be in your own skin.  I attempted a few more night shots but gave up and had a better night’s rest.

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Sunday:

Our last day finally came to an end, and I was already sad it was over.  Since we took the Gondola up, we were going to be hiking all the way down to the village.  It was nice because when we reached the tree line, it looked just like WA.  There were just so much diversity in the scenery on this whole trip.  Everything rocky, turned into lush greens and high alpine trees.  We saw so many wild mushrooms everywhere too.  This day definitely seemed long, we were just hiking down for what seemed like forever.  We knew when we were close when we saw the zip lines. above us , and then the trail took you straight into the mountain biking trails.  Then we walked straight into the village!  It was weird being back in civilization, it was good so I could wash my hands and use a real potty but sad for it to be over.  We all got beers and nachos at Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill.  I had to get a beer obviously for all of our hard work, so that took a turn for the worse, but not really.  I waited it out a little bit before heading home.  I drove back into the US border, and our adventure was all over.

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Overall, one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.  My eyes have completely opened into taking more solo trips.  Something about being vulnerable in the outdoors really made me come of out my shell, more so than I would at home.  Not really sure why but probably because you’re doing something you really love with others who share the same passions.  I will never forget these amazing new friends I met, and we’ve all stayed in touch.  And I’m sure they’re happy that I finally have photos done after waiting 4 months…Merry Christmas!

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So, Mount Pilchuck.  We’ve been wanting to do an overnighter for awhile to take night photos, so I headed out with the Linquists and Clyde for a fun little hike.  The last time we did this trail, it was on the 4th of July and still had snow.  This time, everything looked completely different, and it was HOT.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a blazing hot day other than escaping the city and going to the mountains.  These are mainly just sunset/sunrise photos since it was super sunny the whole day

The hike was obviously harder with a pack on, and I think we started late afternoon.  We kind of wanted to beat the other hikers in case they got dibs on the lookout but brought a tent just in case.  When we reached the top, we surprisingly found no one at the lookout that planned on spending the night.  We unpacked our things and ate our burritos.  Chipotle is the best on top of a summit.  We took some photos during sunset and got ready for bed.  Linquists brought their hammocks to set up which worked out super well.  I slept on the ground with Clyde, and it was super comfy and warm.  We went out for some night photos to discover that we were actually not even above the clouds, and there were tons of city light–I had no idea Pilchuck was so close to life.  Took some whatever photos and went to bed.  We ended up sharing the lookout with a couple of Ukranians which was pretty fun.  Clyde kept trying to snuggle with one of them.  We woke for the sunrise and ate some breakfast and headed down.

Overall, fun trip with good people that ended up with whatever photos.  As always, trial and error!!

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  • Deb Brookes - Loved every one of these photos but where were the peeps ??? Sleeping in hammocks I guess.

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