Sunrise on San Juan Island

San Juan Islands and Mount Baker photos and hiking.

August 1, 2010

This past weekend I had planned a landscape photography weekend in the San Juan Islands. Sunday afternoon ferry to San Juan Island to be in place for early AM moonlight photography on Monday morning. Perfect. The Monday morning shoot was beautiful. English Camp (of Pig War fame) on Garrison Bay and South Beach at American Camp and Cattle Point were every bit as beautiful as could be hoped for. I had planned to spend several days based on San Juan and boating around the islands but my boat plans fell through so I decided to change my plans and head for the mountains. Incredibly, I was able to photograph both San Juan Island and the Colman Glacier from Heliotrope Ridge on the same day.

Sunrise on San Juan Island
The warm light of sunrise on Cattle Point on San Juan Island.

I was done shooting for the morning on San Juan by 7:30 AM but missed the 8:00 AM ferry to Anacortes.  So, with the Suburban parked in the ferry wait line until 11:00, I relaxed with a book (Marley and Me… I may be the last person left who had not read it) and enjoyed breakfast in Friday Harbor. Hang in there… there is a point to this detailed time line….

An hour on the ferry… then the drive to Bellingham and home to change into mountain mode.  Lunch, visit with Sloan, and then out the door by about 2:30PM.  A stop at my folks to say ‘hey’… and then the rest of the drive to the Heliotrope Ridge trail-head. 4:30PM and I am stepping into old growth temperate forest. Remember… 12 hours earlier I was shooting English Camp on San Juan Island by moonlight!

An hour or so later I am above the tree line, having passed through the alpine trees and flowers, at the base-camp used by Mt. Baker summit climbers. The Mt. Baker summit seems like and easy scramble from this point. (Summit climbers will wait until the next morning to make their trip to the top) Surrounded by snowfields, and glacial streams, I am looking down on the Colman glacier, alpine meadows, and forest valleys.

A couple of hours of shooting and enjoying one of the lesser traveled areas of Mt. Baker, and then back to the trail head. By 8:30 I am buying apple pie at Milano’s in Glacier.

It is a pretty amazing place that I live. As a photographer based in Bellingham I have always known this and would like to think that I am not one to take my own back yard for granted but it is sometimes nice to be reminded just how amazing it really is.

Living in Bellingham Washington allows me quick access to some of the most beautiful places our little planet has to offer. What is hard to quantify is that the beauty is so diverse.

So much possible in one day around here. See more landscape photography and purchase fine art prints from this day of shooting at

Dominic Urbano is a landscape and portrait photographer in Bellingham Washington. (now in Leavenworth WA)


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