Discovering The Pacific Northwest: Northern State Mental Asylum

I have always considered myself crazy, so why would I not want to visit a mental asylum that is supposedly haunted??? Too bad this hiking adventure wasn't going to be at night, I am always down for some spooky good ole fun. To all the readers, visitors, creatives and aspiring photographers, the adventure continues with another trek, exploring around the Pacific Northwest. This time the place to be tackled would be the Northern State Mental Asylum in Sedro Wooley and the North Cascades Highway.

My best friend, protege and upcoming photographer extraordinaire Nicole, once again chose the location. As it turns out this would be more of an exploration than a hike. Little did I know was that this was going to be a two in one day, exploration and hike.

The Northern State Mental Facility closed its doors in 1973, interestingly enough the year of my birth, coincidence? I think not! The facility is rich in history and I learned so many things during my research. Northern Sate was built because of the overcrowding of two other mental facilities, Western State Hospital in Steilacoom, and Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake, near Spokane. Built in 1909, at its high point, the hospital housed over 2,000 patients and provided more than 1,000 jobs. Public perception of mental hospitals changed in the early 70's and after State Legislature cut down on funding, the hospital was closed. What remains now is a recreation park, while some of the other buildings are used for job corp and other purposes.

After our exploration, we decided to drive to wherever the roads would take us. Nicole had a notion for us to hike a Waterfall in Newhalem that was lit up at night. Along the way we stopped at Eagle Winery for a brief tasting of some locally made sweet drink. Great place to stop and visit if you are ever passing through.

The hostess at the winery suggested that we stop and take a look at the Eagles. This time of year is Bald Eagle watching season and she suggested that we stop in Rockport to see them. The Eagles were heading towards the North Cascades to feed on Salmon. Rockport was a very popular spot to get a sighting of these beautiful birds. When we arrived, there were a quite a few people there trying to get a glimpse of these majestic birds. The zoom we had was only a Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G. Would you like to know how I felt when a guy walks up next to me with a Canon EF Telephoto Lens for Canon EF ‑ 500mm? Yea his was bigger than mine so I quickly tucked mine away. I was able to get a shot of an Eagle though, which I am somewhat proud of, see if you can spot him.

NDS_3970North Cascades.jpg

After this it was on to our next adventure, wait I did say hike, well this was more of a drive hike if there is such a thing.  It was one of the most humbling and beautiful experiences I have ever had. This was Nicole's first time on this trek as well, and needless to say we were both beyond amazed. As we were driving along the North Cascades Highway, we saw guys river rafting, frozen waterfalls and we could hear rocks falling around us from the mountains. This was indeed a step up from the last hike but sadly we were unable to visit the night lit waterfall because the area was closed. Well that is all for now, enjoy the photos and video and there will be more coming.