Jake Morrison has been wandering around Olympic National Park since he was a child.
So when the Quinault photographer stumbled across a photo contest on the park’s Facebook page, it seemed like a perfect fit.
Morrison, who grew up in Olympia, entered a photo of an alpenglow capped Mount Olympus as seen from the Queets Basin.
Earlier this month, park officials announced that Morrison won the contest and his picture will be used on the park’s 2016 annual pass starting in June. Morrison’s image was selected from nearly 200 entries.
Morrison gets a free pass for winning the contest. Starting June 1, the pass will cost $50, a $10 increase from the current rate. National Parks nationwide are increasing rates this year.
Morrison started a blog, barefootjake.com, to keep his friends and family updated on his adventures on the Olympic Peninsula. His photos soon caught the eye of outdoor publications and advertisers, who started purchasing his work.
He recently invested in new camera equipment and spends much of his time exploring the mountains. We recently caught up with him long enough to get answers to a few questions:
Q: How exciting was it when you found out you won?
A: I’d love to be featured with anything that has to do with the park. … People who know me and know I’m obsessed with the area were congratulating me. No formal celebration. I was just happy.
Q: What’s it like to think that your photo is going to be in the wallets of thousands of people this summer?
A: That exact thing popped into my mind. It’s quite the honor to get featured on something that people take with them through their lives.
Q: Do you have a favorite spot in the park?
A: That (the Queets Basin area in his winning photograph) is actually my second favorite. The first, I won’t even mention because it is like the church. People go to heaven there who are obsessed with the Olympics. I’m not going to name it.
Q: What was your first experience in the park?
A: When I was about 12, we went on a backpacking trip up at Hurricane Ridge (with his father and two brothers). It was led by father and we were under-prepared. It was a heavy snow day so we were all day on snow, and he ended up getting us all cliffed out, which just means you get to a point where you are surrounded by cliffs. We ended up not even staying the night. We came back out the way we came in and headlamped it back to the car. So my first experience almost could have killed me and my family. … You hate it at the time, but then you finish it up and you’re, “Oh, wow, I want to do more.”
Q: How’d you get the trail name Barefoot Jake?
A: I was a barefoot running coach and had my own training studio in Port Angeles. … I would wear those toe shoes when I was hiking, and I would get rangers and other hikers who would come up to me and say, “I’ve been tracking you all day. I was wondering what those were,” because they saw the prints in the snow or the mud. At the time they (toe shoes) weren’t very popular, and I’d special-ordered them from Europe. So everybody just started calling me that.
Q: What do you wear now?
A: Have you’ve ever heard of a Luna Sandal? (Designed for trail running and hiking, the sandals are made in Seattle.)
Q: Are you still a trail runner?
A: Nah, I’m too lazy. I just do it for health when my girlfriend drags me out. I used to do fastpacking and crazy mountaineering stuff, but I just came to realize I enjoy reaching people and the impact through my photos, so I started carrying heavy equipment. My mileage per day got a lot shorter, but it doesn’t bother me because I love being out there.
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