[/caption] One of the best things about the Pacific Northwest Cascades is that you can always find a great place to view the volcanoes that span the Cascade mountain range, as well as the enormous stands of forest. Some of the best things to do when taking in the views is to gaze out across the enormous span of forest and look down and try to find some of the meadows and alpine lakes. The geology is so diverse and complicated that it’s hard to imaging just how violent the Cascades were during their earliest days. It’s also hard to imagine that some of the only alpine glaciers, within the lower 48 states, are found in the Cascade range. 97% of them are found in the North Cascades National Park alone. It’s well worth taking the time to hike some of the trails that they offer and take advantage of it diverse geology and awesome splendors. I took this shot of mt. Jefferson in the distance using my ultra-wide angle lens in order to show just how impressive the forest and the foothills are. The focal length of my 12-24 wide angle lens was at 14mm. I set the ISO at 100 and the F stop was at F-6.4. The exposure time was at 1/100 second and I didn’t use my tripod to take this shot. The clouds helped create some great pictures as well as provide some great personality of the forest. I had to have the F-stop below 7 since the sun was hidden behind the clouds during this photo. I have some shots with more sun but it caused too much glare and also the photo to be somewhat over-exposed. Having clouds in your shots always creates a much need personality of the Cascades. This is especially true if the sun is too bright and the sky is somewhat hazy.
[/caption] Tuesday’s weather was amazing all over the Pacific Northwest. There was only one problem though. I had to choose between snow-shoeing in the Cascades, hiking along the Columbia River Gorge, walking along the Spring Flowers or visiting the Coast. I chose to visit the coast since I knew that the weather was going to be especially amazing. And I wasn’t disappointed. I haven’t seen weather like this, on the coast, in several years. The sun was positioned perfectly and the blue sky and water made for the easiest of photos. You couldn’t have taken a bad picture even if you tried. I settled on this photo due to the amazing colors in the sky as well as the motion of short sand creek winding it’s way towards the Pacific Ocean. The setting sun really gave the ocean and the creek a really dynamic glow. I set me camera on auto/shutter priority in order to get a really good blurred effect. The F stop was at 25 and the focal length was at 32mm. I stacked several filters on my 18-55mm kit lens. I had my usual uv filter but also added my warming filter, CIR-POL and my ND8. Without my ND filter, I wouldn’t have been able to get the blurred effect like this since the sun was so intense. I had to zoom in a bit in order to keep any of the surfers or beach combers from appearing in the shot. The ISO speed was at 100 and the shutter was at 1 second. I was trying to create a very tranquil setting as to make it look as though this could be a rocky deserted island. I normally only come here to hike and take photos along some of the many rocky cliffs or heavily canopied forest but I decided to try my luck at a sunset shot. I wasn’t disappointed at all.
[/caption] I can’t believe Spring is officially here. It’s pretty cool to think that soon all of the spring flowers and trees will be blooming. I’ve already snatched every Oregon flower brochure that I could find so I don’t miss any of the spring festivals this year. This will be my first year ever being able to go to one, so I hope to get some really great shots. I took this photo of a wild iris about two years ago along the Oregon coast. This was along the South trail of the Cape Lookout trail system. This was back when I was using my Panasonic Lumix point and shoot. I believe I was using a warming filter as well as a CIR-POL. I believe I didn’t even crank up my ISO or the white balance. Even though it was around noon, the lighting was perfect since the trail was shrouded in shade. I didn’t use a tripod on this shot. I was really surprised that this came out since my Panasonic is only a 8mp and is really shaky at close range, even though it has IS.
[/caption] No I didn’t take this photo last summer. I took this last Saturday during one of our warm and sunny days along the Coast. What’s most interesting is that there was absolutely no wind for the entire day. There wasn’t even any wind at the summit of Neahkahnie Mountain. The crowds were also fairly spars as well. This made for one of the best days along the coast in a long time. The sun set fairly quickly so I had to really scramble to get some descent shots. I didn’t need to use any of my ND filters, which made it easier for me to change lenses when needed.
[/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]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.