View Full Version : Zeacliff Sunset...Zeacliff Sunrise!

08-17-2009, 09:51 AM
Disclaimer...As I'm usually critical of high impact camping...I want to state that I slept on bare rock, on the ledge, without a tent, and ensured zero impact on the environment, which is ofcourse, the intent of the rules!

I've been slow to knock down my list of places to photograph from this summer, but had an opportunity to get away for a few days this past week/end. Spent a few nights out at shelters, and generally got some ideas in mind for foliage hiking and photography options. Zeacliff is one of the places I've been eyeing for a foliage sunrise shot, but haven't been before so I wanted to check out the feasability of this trip, and to learn the light.

The Hike:
Saturday afternoon was beginning to get warm and muggy, and a friend and I took off only after a jump at upper falls! Refreshed, we made quick time to Zealand Falls. Raspberries and blueberries are ripe and delicious, bunchberries were ripe and bland. Swamp maples were beginning to show a hint of autumn, this during the hottest stretch of weather since before they leafed out!

After another dip in the river, and a cookie bar from the croo, the hike up was steep, slow, hot...but less muddy than many of the trials I'd been on the previous days (Sawyer Pond Trail was the worst!) We got up to the overlook at around 5PM...and it was as amazing as I've seen in pictures. View from Bond to Jefferson.

Haze wasn't too bad, but noticeable...and knowing that sunset would be a wash as the light started tracking through the haze at a lower angle...I set out to make my doccumentary pano for the fall! Here's being there, without being there:

Link to larger:

Without much prospect of good photos, I enjoyed the sunset!


I also have to share that I was quite proud of our bearbag...safely out of reach of bears in a unique way (for me):

The night was silent. Silence like I'd rarely heard before. No wind, no water, no bird, bugs or bears...no motors of any kind. Astounding.

First light revealed HAZE...thick haze that severely limited view. Washington was gone, ridges were washed of detail. The only good shots were to the east before sunrise, so here's Willey and the Giant Stairs:

One the sun was up...light became very scattered. Here's what a SW wind, high humidity and some pollution does to the famous southern view:

I snapped a quick photo of camp:

Without wind, black flies became unbearable...I have a dozen itchy bites this morning from a spot I missed with the spray...so we high tailed it down, back in zealand falls, and out to Upper Falls by 8:30!

Sunset might be good for a foliage hike as the sun slips further south, but sunrise...and the potential for valley fog will be my goal. With the later sunrise around october first, an overnight will be unncessary, but desirable. Can't wait for the heat to break, the haze to fade, and the bugs to DIE!

One more tool that I used for this hike, and will become very useful for me/photographers/YOU this fall is a map of sunrise and sunset ephemeris. Knowing where the sun will rise in a given location, over what mountains will be very useful for planning locations. Link here:

08-17-2009, 11:27 AM
Great trip report. The pictures are excellent as usual. Sounds like a great time. Thanks for sharing.

Snow Miser
08-17-2009, 12:20 PM
It sounds like you had a good hike, despite the heat, haze, and bugs. Very nice TR and excellent photos!

08-17-2009, 04:56 PM
beautiful pictures and thanks for sharing!

BTW nice bearbag


08-17-2009, 08:24 PM
Amazing shots as always Jim. The "sunrise haze shot" definitely needs to be on the photo journal. What a location to spend the night! Now what I want to know is if the bears show up and get frustrated by the extremely clever bear bag and there are people sleeping on the rocks, sans tents nearby will they simply take out their frustration on them? Just askin...

I like the ephemeris app. Going to have to spend some time playing around with this and planning some fall sunrise/sunset shots.

Bill O
08-17-2009, 09:01 PM
Great TR, nice bivy site.

What range is that in the second to last photo? Its very steep.

KD Talbot
08-17-2009, 09:08 PM
It's the classic view through Carrigain Notch from Zealand. Mount Lowell forms the eastern wall and Vose Spur/Mount Carrigain the western. Yes, very steep. Mount Lowell is basically a cliff with a huge talus field below it, similar to Cannon's famed cliff.