[/caption] As you can see there was plenty of sunshine when I took this picture. This was taken on the same day that I climbed Kings Mountain earlier in the morning. The weather was much different later in the afternoon. In fact, the sun was so bright that I really had to work to get some pictures along the Wilson River with the waterfall in the background. Both the river and the waterfall were almost directly in the sun so I decided to try something a little different by using the direct sunlight to my advantage. I either had to find something to stand behind whenever I found a good vantage point or I would stand some place when the sun was temporarily blocked by one of the massive trees high in the hills. The Wilson river flows right along Highway 6 towards the coast. There are several great places to take some pictures. There are also plenty of hiking trails to take so you can have hundreds of opportunities to get some pictures of the river and the forest in the background. I chose this spot since this waterfall was crashing towards the river just above the waterline. The Highway is just above the top of the waterfall. You can see the stones just to the right. The waterfall is also coming out of a large aluminum pipe so I made sure that it wasn’t in the picture. There is also a really nice waterfall on the other side of the Highway with a trail going to its base. You just need to cross the Highway and walk about 200 yards. If you park at the day use area you can walk on a trail that parallels the Highway and then cross a suspension bridge that takes you directly to the waterfall and a popular swimming hole during the summer. However, the river is really raging in April and the rapids looked like class 3 to me. To get this shot I set my shutter to only .5 seconds since the sun was so bright. The F stop was at F/9 and the ISO was at 100. I used my 18-55mm lens and set it at 37mm focal length. I also had my warming filter, ND8 and my CIR-PL attached. There was no way to use the shutter without stacking as many filters as I could. I almost added my ND4 as well but that was too many. I also used my tripod.
[/caption] Friday was a great day to hike to the summit of Kings Mountain. However, the weather during the afternoon was much better than the morning. And I chose to hike to the 3226′ summit during the morning. It was cold, windy, rainy and very overcast for most of my hike. I was able to get this shot at a time when the sun was barely poking out for just a few minutes but for the most part it was pretty nasty. There was still some snow hovering around the higher elevations and it was a little slippery near the cliffs at the edges of the summit. This is the second time that I’ve hiked to the summit of Kings Mountain and it’s not for the fainted heart. It’s a grueling 2.5 mile hike straight up towards the summit with 2780 feet of elevation gain. This is probably one of the best vantage spots to gaze out towards the Coast Range with views in all directions. Some of the spring flowers were starting to come out but it was still a little bit early with very few wildflowers along the upper ridges. To get this shot I made sure that I was using my tripod since the wind was pretty bad. I used my 18-55mm lens and the focal length was set at 24mm. The F stop was set at 8 since it was pretty gray with limited light. I set the ISO to 200 and I used my warming filter as well as my CIR-PL. This is a great hike so I will be heading up again as soon as the weather improves and the wildflowers are at their peak. The Wilson River is also just below the trail with several other trails and picnic areas nearby. There are also several small to medium sized waterfalls close by.
[/caption] This hike along the Washington side of the Gorge is one of the best trails along the northern part of the gorge. There are two amazing waterfalls and the scenery from the top of the trail are stunning. You can see Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood as though you can almost touch them. The trail to the summit of Hamilton Mountain is a grueling 7.6 round trip hike and gains a total of 2,000 feet of elevation gain. There are several sure drop views along the trail and you are welcomed with some of the most stunning views of the gorge. I wouldn’t recommend this hike if you’re afraid of heights or get dizzy easily. You can sometimes hear the distant sounds of gun fire from the nearby shooting range and the Bonneville Dam can be somewhat of an eye soar. Though I still think that the views are still worthy of this challenging hike. Hardy creek is one of the most scenic creeks and I really enjoy photographing this area. On this hike, I decided to only hike to the bridge that crosses Hardy Falls since I was planning on an additional hike the following day. I had climbed down from the bridge and carefully navigated my down along the creeks edge. The rocks and moss made it challenging and I eventually found out that my hiking shoes still keep my feet dry when I slipped into the creek. I ended up planting both feet in the creek when one of the many rocks rolled as I stepped on it. The morning was mostly overcast and it rained periodically but the sun eventually came out as I settled on this photo to post on my blog. Again, the water was thundering from high above and the moss was just starting to show its neon green that makes it famous around the gorge. I had to set up my tripod on a very narrow rock and plant my feet at the very corner of the creek. I used my 18-55mm kit lens and set the range at 18mm. I set the shutter speed to 1 second and the F stop at 18 since the glare from the creek was pretty high. I set the ISO to 100 and kept the sensor at Program mode. I used my warming filter as well as my ND4 and CIR-PL filter. I have hiked this trail several times and I would recommend it to anyone that wants to get a grand view of the gorge as well as two volcanic mountains.
[/caption] I spent a fantastic day at the gorge yesterday. This time I wanted to take some pictures of the falls while the sun was out. I was hoping to get some great shadow features in my shots and I wasn’t disappointed. I decided to post this picture since it shows just how fast the water was moving and it details how diverse the vegetation is. This isn’t my favorite shot but I thought it summed up my day pretty well. The water was moving with so much force that I had to reduce the shutter speed in order to avoid the heavy glare from the sun reflecting off of the water. The water is currently thundering down from the Cascades with unbelievable force. If you look closely, you can see that the creek has spread to every nook and cranny of the basalt, winding it’s way towards the Columbia river. Now is the best time to see this in it’s rawest form. However, some of the vegetation still hasn’t come out. Also, many of the spring flowers are starting to bloom. I would give it another week or two before all of the neon greens break through the soil. To get this shot I stood behind a tree in order to block some of the suns light. I set my shutter speed to one second and set the F-stop to 8. I used my 18-55mm lens and had to use the 55mm focal length since I was standing high above the falls. I set the ISO setting to 100 and used my tripod, as I always do when photographing moving water. I’ll be posting several more shots on my business facebook page.
[/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.
It may be warm in the Cascades but that just means lots of rushing water in the Columbia Gorge. My favorite time to take pictures in the gorge is during the winter since the summer vegetation is gone. This leaves better opportunities to get great shots like this. It’s even better when warmer temps bring more water through the creeks.
Last week’s cold weather in the Columbia River Gorge caused most of the waterfalls to partially freeze and leave awesome displays when the spray froze near the waterfalls. Too bad it didn’t snow as well.