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Nature puts on multiple eye-popping shows as hikers tackle Glacier Peak

Brocken Spectre effect seen from the edge of Luahna in the Cascade Mountains (Photo: Radka Chapin)

The spectacular natural beauty of the Cascade Mountains is known around the world, but can inspire even more awe when Mother Nature adds in a few more special effects.

Radka and Chris Chapin recently completed a five day hike/ski along the Dakobed Traverse, which begins at the White River trailhead near Boulder Creek and finishes at Indian Creek.

"We climbed Luahna, Kololo, Disappointment Peak, and Glacier Peak on the trip," Chris Chapin wrote in their hike's log. "The weather was a mixed bag of wind, whiteout, and sunshine. The pollen from Glacier Gap and beyond was horrendous."

But oh, the views.

Radka is an amazing photographer and made sure to capture more than just the snow-capped wonder of the higher elevations. She managed to capture a few atmospheric displays as well.

Perhaps the most unusual is the "brocken spectre" and related "glory" effect, which depends on yourself to make happen. Radka went looking for it as they climbed the edge of Luahna.

" It is always a real treat to watch the clouds spilling over the mountain tops and crests like a flowing river," Chris wrote. "While on the descent, Brocken spectre made its appearance once again. Radka couldn't resist her cult's hunger and had to fill their appetite with more spectre photos."

The effect, which projects your long shadow on top of a rainbow halo, requires sunshine, a person on a peak or at least someplace where they are higher than the horizon, and a fog or mist layer below.

The spectre is always shown exactly opposite from the sun, which is why if the sun is above the horizon, you have to be able to see the effect below your horizon, like, on top of a mountain. (The effect can be replicated on a flat surface if the sun is low on the horizon)

The shadow surrounded by the circular rainbow halo is caused as the light bends around you and your shadow is projected onto the fog/mist layer below. Much like where you see a rainbow positioned is unique to your eye, the spectre would also drift as your eye moves.

Also on display at times, the 22 degree sun halo -- caused by the ice crystals in those cirrus clouds. The crystals act like tiny prisms that refract the sunlight into the colors of the rainbow.

And of course, if you're in the mountains, you can get a front row seat to lenticular clouds. Radka captured some amazing cloud atop Glacier Peak.

Radka invites you to glance through some of the rest of the incredible photos from their hike in the Cascades, which you can find in the gallery above. Our mountains sure are a beautiful, wondrous place!

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