[/caption]I was able to take some really great shots of Mt. Washington and Big Lake once the fog lifted and revealed the mountain. This is one of those snow-show trips that I had to find myself since neither my Oregon snow-show book or any of my hiking books had this trip anywhere. I started my trip at the Benson snow park, near Hoodo Ski hill. There is a church camp at the lake. For the most part it looked pretty well closed. However, it looked as though they were renting out several of the A-frame cabins to anyone that could get to the camp. I never saw a single person but I did see a few snow mobiles and two barking dogs that seemed to enjoy following me for a few yards. the trek from the snow park to the lake is about 5 miles. The trek around the lake was about 3.5 miles. I went past several picnic areas as I plowed the wet snow. There are two camping areas on the Western side of the lake. The sun was so bright and the temperatures got so warm that it felt like summer and the snow eventually was like play dough. The lake was still completely frozen but I only hiked across near the edges. However, there were several snowmobile tracks covering the frozen lake. As the day wore on, I could see several edges of the lake turn to slush. I did eventually step in a slushy part which soaked through my shoe. By the end of the day, both of my feet were soaked and nearly frozen. Since there were no clear maps of the trip, I first found myself going the opposite direction of the lake and straight up mt. Washington. After about 2 miles of a grueling climb I decided to head back towards the lake. After the day was done, I probably covered about 12 miles in about 8 hours. I only stopped long enough to eat and make some changes to my lenses. I also broke my sunglasses which was not good since the glare from the sun, lake and snow was absolutely blinding. I would highly suggest a snow-shoe trip around Big Lake since the views are awesome and you will surely burn some calories. I didn’t see any hiking trails around the lake, so snow-shoeing may be the only way to go around the lake. You can also get a good glimpse of Three Fingered Jack at several points along the trek around the lake.
[/caption] This was another great day in the Cascades. I was able to get some really great shots of Mt. St. Helens, viewed from the south as well as Mt. Adams. This was another great sunny and scary warm day in early February. The morning started out pretty cold but by the afternoon, the snow was as soft as ice cream. I first set out to snow-shoe towards the Pine Martin trail but I decided to turn around after a 4 mile, uneventful hike. The snow was too hard and sparse to warrant me to wear my snow-shoes, so I just hiked along the trail before turning back. I decided to drive back to a large clear cut area to get some photos of the volcano before re-grouping. I finally decided to hike up Climbers Bivouac as far as I could before having to call it a day. I didn’t start until around 2:00 so I knew I wouldn’t be able to go as far as I would like to. I had just met a couple that had just returned from the summit. They stated that the snow was easy to hike through and could get above the treeline within an hour. They mentioned that they barely used their snow-shoes so I figured I would give it a shot. I had been near the winter climbing route of Climbers Bivouac before but that was during the summer. I have never hiked so fast in my life. My hiking shoes got soaked from all of the wet snow and I wished that I had worn my gators. The view turned out to be spectacular and the weather was even better. My time was limited but it was worth it. The day may have started out as a bust but the end of the day proved to be perfect.
[/caption] I finally made a trip to Mt. St. Helens while the sun was out. When I left Portland, the entire Valley was covered in heavy fog, which made me nervous about the conditions of the Cascades. However, once I drove past the first view point, the sun started showing itself. Mt. Adams and the rest of the Cascade foothills kept the storm clouds at bay. However, Mt. St. Helens was engulfed by the sun. This gave me the opportunity to hike from Coldwater lake to the Johnston Ridge Observatory view point. I hiked along the Hummocks loop and then connected to the Johnston Ridge loop . I brought my snow-shoes thinking that there would be plenty of snow but the trail was almost entirely bare. I only had to scale about 1/4 of a mile through the snow. Most of the Johnston Ridge was void of snow. However, the view from across the blast zone was awesome. It felt more like early spring than winter. The snow level was high but at least it made my hiking trip easier. Mt. Adams rarely made itself visible. I was able to capture several sunset shots and the moon also made an entrance. I’ll be going back as soon as the snow re-appears.
[/caption]Not another photo from the Columbia Gorge! Again, I hiked along the gorge. This time I hiked along the Eagle Creek trail. I hiked just past Tenas camp, before returning. It never rained but it sure looked like it wanted to. Again, I saw over 50 waterfalls that are usually not on this trail. The warm weather and rain sure is walloping the gorge. The trail was muddy at the beginning of the trail but soon improved. I caught this picture while I was winding through the steep part of the trail, just before Metlako Falls. I really got lucky on this since I haven’t been able to get a good shot of the clouds and gorge lately. The sun was trying to peek out but stayed well behind the clouds. It made for a great shot.
[/caption] This is another awesome and scenic trail through the Columbia River gorge trail system. It starts at Horsetail Falls and continues past 4 waterfalls and then continues to Larch mountain. Oneonta Falls has always eluded me due to the heavy vegetation that covers most of the falls. However, I was able to get a great shot in Winter since there are less leaves blocking the view. I again got soaked on this hike. I was able to make it past the first bridge above Triple falls but then it started to pour. I had to dry out my photography bag for the first time. However, it made for a great hike with lots of solitude and the fog was winding its way through Oneonta Gorge during the hike down. I was able to use my NDx4 without using my CIR-POL.
[/caption]The best thing about the gorge in winter, is that there is always plenty of water to go around. The warm temperatures in the Cascades may be hampering the ski resorts and washing out all of the snow but that just makes for more dynamic waterfalls along the gorge. I have never seen this many waterfalls along the stretch between Troutdale and the Bonneville dam before. While many of the smaller creeks and waterfalls, during summer are dried up, the rainy and warm temperatures have created quite a spectacle. I was able to get about a 3 mile hike in and a few shots before I was hammered by a huge rain storm. I tried to wait out the rain under some rocks and then in my car for about 2 hours before giving up. Now is the time to take advantage of the ample amount of spectacular waterfalls and rushing creeks. I used my NDx4 along with my PL-CIR
[/caption] This is soon to be the very first hike for the members of the “Adventure’s Club.” After a few hours and good conversation about the many hikes in Oregon, a group of us decided to start an adventures club and choose a trail to hike each month. Since I was enlisted to choose the first hike, I was needing to make sure that our first hike met a few requirements….moderately challenging, accessible during the winter, within driving distance from Portland and offering plenty of scenery. Finally I remembered the Clackamas River Trail. This is a moderate hike that can be accessed from two sides. I have hiked this trail several times and I always return due to the awesome view of Pup Creek Falls and the many sites along the river. This trail is open year round.
The Pine trees in Central Oregon, during winter, make for great photo opportunities when the snow is falling and the clouds are overcast but bright. One this day, it was snowing pretty hard and several inches had accumulated on the trees. The glare was pretty high, so I used a lower exposure and several filters. I had my cir-p as well as an NDx4 that I used. Good thing I had my tripod with me. The wind was pretty fierce, so I had only seconds to get off some shots before having to clean my lens.
It’s still sunny and the snow is great in the Oregon Cascades. It hasn’t snowed in a while but the clear skies make for some really good views of the mountains. The trees especially look good in the foreground of the blue sky. However, I’m counting down the days until we get our next big snow storm.
The snow if falling in the Oregon Cascades and I’m counting the days before I can start snow-shoeing and taking some awesome pictures.