Written and Photographed by Heather Weagant
Growing up east of the Cascades, I was always drawn to the mountains. Without the ability to enjoy the trees and prominent peaks on a daily basis, I quickly learned that the forest was something special and needed to be cherished.
My family would spend countless weekends at our cabin in Packwood, enjoying the fresh mountain aromas and the surrounding sights. As a young girl, my grandfather would take me to his favorite fishing stream, Skate Creek, in hopes to land some trout for dinner.
Located between Ashford and Packwood, Skate Creek was only a short drive away from us and provided hours of fishing, exploration, and the opportunity to create new memories. I spent many hours as a child with a fishing pole in my hand, scouring the moss-covered rocks in hopes to find slugs and caterpillars, and enjoying a number of hidden waterfalls along the way.
As I’ve grown older and have started a family of my own, I continue making those memories with my own children. While the trout aren’t as abundant as they used to be, my son still loves dropping a line in hopes to catch the big one. My daughter never tires of throwing rocks in the stream or finding a plethora of leaves, each one bigger than the last. It’s their smiles and happiness that keep me coming back.
As I become more serious in the hobby of photography, Skate Creek is now a place I never visit without a camera in hand. In addition to the rugged wilderness it provides, there is a great amount of untouched beauty that begs for attention. Whether it’s cascading waters flowing over boulders, deep blue pools, or the multitude of colors changing between every season, my camera always has something special to catch.
While visiting the cabin on a weekend in early October, the intermingling of clouds and sunshine provided the perfect atmosphere for an autumn scene in the mountains. As I plotted my day, I knew that there was one place I could not resist: Skate Creek. It took some self-control to wait until the sun began to set, but the wait was worth it. Due to recent rainfall, the ground was saturated and the creek was flowing with some ferocity, the leaves dripped with lingering raindrops and the unseasonably warm sunshine shone through the low lying clouds.
The sun beamed off the golden leaves, setting the perfect autumn tone. With every slight breeze, leaves dropped one by one off of the trees, littering the ground in vivid shades of yellow and orange.
It’s moments like these that I remember why I am continually drawn to this place. This is one small section of a meandering creek that provides more sights than your eyes can take on in one single visit. I am one of the lucky ones who can call this majestic mountain paradise a second home, and hope that others take the time to visit a place so near and dear to me to experience the beauty it has to offer while making memories of their own.
Heather Weagant is a landscape photographer sharing beauty and experience from all over the Pacific Northwest. When she doesn’t have a camera in hand, she is teaching special education and spending valuable time making memories with her family.
You can see more of her work on Instagram @hweagant.