I took this photo on February 1st, 2003, on a a day when the skies were achingly blue and the air so clean and cold it hurt to breathe.
We had driven far into the North Cascades National Park that weekend. I don’t remember where we hiked that weekend – the trips run together in my memories, so many we did that winter – yet I remember watching the Bald Eagles the night before in the trees above our tent. That time of the year the Skagit River is covered with them. The creek we slept by had Salmon in it, so the birds came. Some of them were only 15 feet above us. They didn’t seem to mind that we were sharing the area with them.
In the morning we drove high, as far as we could till the road was closed by snow. We spent the morning listening and feeling so alive.
When we drove down the mountain and through the tiny town of Rockport we wondered why the flag was at half mast. In the deep mountains there is no radio signals to receive. I walked into a tiny gas station to see a TV talking about the shuttle disaster.
It was a bittersweet moment – where you were having such a good time and then you feel guilty for the pleasure you were having.
Still, it remains one of my favorite photos I have taken over the years. For me, there is nothing that will compare to those mountain ranges – they are unlike anywhere else.