A beautiful picture of Mt. Jefferson at Jefferson Park, Oregon. This photo was taken on October 3rd and you can see all of the Salmon berries in the foreground. They are in abundance throughout the entire Jefferson Park area and if you’re lucky you might stumble on a black bear foraging. I never got a chance to see one but I did notice several bear tracks and scat throughout the park and I did hear some rustling in some brush but I never took the time to find out what it was. September and early October is the best time to visit the park if you want to take advantage of getting the opportunity to see some wildlife like bear, elk or deer. However, the days are much shorter and the snow covered peak of Mt. Jefferson is at it’s lowest point of the year. You will have the opportunity to forage around the salmon berry drenched canvas as well as still have the opportunity to swim in one of the many lakes in the park. The weather can actually be warmer and sunnier during the months of September and October as well as maybe even getting a little of dusting of snow in the early mornings. The crowds are also much smaller then the summer months and this can be critical if you’re planning on back packing or hiking on the weekend. However, the summer months offer longer days and more snow at the higher elevations. Summer also brings out the ever so brilliant alpine flowers that canvas the park. You can literally feel like you could get lost in all of the wildflowers throughout the park. Even the lakes and smaller ponds will be at their highest levels and you can also follow some of the small creeks travelling through the lakes and fusing them into one giant water system. The biggest drawbacks about visiting during the summer months is that if you are planning on visiting during the weekend, you can expect to see hundreds of other hikers and back packers. This can really ruin the alpine experience. However, if you visit during the mid week, you are less likely to see as many people. Another drawback is that sometimes the trail will be covered in snow until August and that can really cause a problem unless you come prepared. The last time I visited was in early July and I couldn’t hike past the 1/2 mile mark without having to put on my snow shoe gear and I eventually ended up just finding a ledge and taking photos from there. I basically ended up losing out on a great hiking trip but at least I brought some snow shoe gear to get me about 3 miles up the trail. You also really want to check the weather and even contact to ranger station to see if the forest road is open. Sometimes it doesn’t open until later in the summer or there may have been a washout or fallen trees blocking the road. This can really ruin your day if you make the 100 plus mile drive and then only find out that the road is closed. You will need to purchase a Northwest Forest pass in order to park at the trail head and I would also recommend that you store your dinner in your car for your return since you will be pretty hungry, thirsty and very tired and dirty once you get back to your car. The hike to the park is 5.1 miles one way and it’s very steep. The elevation gain is 2400 feet and that’s only to the park. There is another 1000 feet of elevation gain available if you decide to continue past the park. That also doesn’t include the 3 or 4 miles of trails that winds it’s way around the area. If you plan on doing a day hike I would plan on hiking over 15 miles round trip since you won’t want to just hike to the park and then sit around. There is way too much to do and see once you get to the park. In fact, the real views and fun doesn’t even start until you get to the entrance of Jefferson Park and believe me you will know when you get there. About a few years ago, I was taking some photos of Mt. Jefferson when all of a sudden a snow owl leaped from a tree branch and quickly flew away. I never had a chance to even take my camera off the tripod to get a shot. There are even some waterfalls that you can take photos of as well as several snow bridges along the higher elevations that you may be able to cross.
The weather forecast for the Pacific Northwest is calling for several days of sunny and rare warm temperatures but chilly mornings. This creates the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the amazing views of the many snow capped mountains in the Cascades. The previous weather patterns brought heavy rain in the valley but brought abundant snow fall in the higher elevations. All you have to do is just walk, drive or hike to some of the higher elevations, above the valley floor, and you will have some pretty spectacular views. I took this photo of Mt. Jefferson, near Detroit Lake, with the forest in the foreground. Mt. Jefferson looks like a giant ice cream cone atop a green layer of sprinkles. To get this shot, I just made sure to use my tripod since the sun was starting to set and the glare from the mountain posed a problem by causing too much over exposure. I was also concerned about losing some of the sunny spots dotting the forest. I was fortunate to have a cloudless sky, which helped the mountain from being washed out and allowed the sun to cast an interesting glare over parts of the trees. If you plan on traveling around the Cascades in order to take advantage of this rare weather pattern, you want to keep in mind that the sun is setting much earlier and the sun glare can be pretty tricky. Make sure that you are on the west side of the mountains during sunset and on the east side during the early morning. The last thing you want to worry about is too much glare and washing out the snow capped mountains.
[/caption] Beautiful view of Black Butte and Mt. Jefferson from Central Oregon. This photo was taken while looking west and between Sisters and Bend, Oregon. I took the shot at about 5:20pm, which just just before sunset so the sun was pretty much on the other side of the Cascade mountains and the light was pretty soft. However, I did still have my CIR-PL and warming filter on due to some of the harsher light reflecting from the snowy mountains. The focal length was at 85mm and I was about 35 miles from Mt. Jefferson so I had a hard time keeping a strong field of view. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.3. The camera was in normal mode so the aperture was at F-6.4 and the shutter speed at 1/128 second. I also used my tripod and remote switch to avoid any camera shake and took several shots in order to eliminate too much camera blur due to the distance from the mountains and the field of view.
[/caption] You can nearly get this exact view of Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sister’s from the parking lot of Timberline lodge but it’s even better if you get this view from one of Mt. Hood’s moraines that exist on the north eastern part of the mountain. Your only way to get to the moraines are by snow shoeing since your cross country skis will become too cumbersome and the slopes are too steep for skis. However, you can ski down from the northern part of Mt. Hood Meadows if you want to do some out of bounds skiing. However, it’s much more difficult to get back to your car if you parked in the parking lot of Meadows. The best bet is to park at the White River East snow park and follow along the white river. The trail starts out gradually ascending and then will become much more steep as you work your way to the moraine that casts you directly in the mouth of the volcano. The imposing ridges that you will be encountering were formed by the debris and sediment left from the White River Glacier, whose bottom end resides several hundred feet above timberline. You will find yourself at the end of the line and have the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent views available. I took this particular photo just before reaching the top of the moraine. The clouds were heavier than I was hoping for and the sun was almost directly above the mountains. To get this shot I was using my Canon 28-135 telephoto lens. I made sure to attach my CIR-PL, warming filter and UV filter due to the harshness of the glare caused by the snow and sun. I didn’t use a tripod so I set the camera on IS and kept a steady hand since I kept the ISO at 100 and adjusted the white balance to 0. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the shutter speed was set at 1/150 second and the aperture at F-7 due to the filters and ISO setting. I maxed out the focal length at 135mm and since it was about 1:00pm I had to make sure that there wasn’t too much glare reflecting into the lens. If you decide to take this route I would plan on bringing a lot of water and snacks since it will take a few hours to get to the summit point.
[/caption] A birds eye view of Mt. Jefferson and Jefferson Park with Russell lake looming smack dab in the middle of the Wilderness. Late July, August and September are the best times to visit the Jefferson Park wilderness. In fact, any other days of the year will be either covered in snow and impassable or you will find yourself trudging through steep slopes that are too dangerous to cross. The forest road that you need to drive is about 7.5 miles and once the snow level drops, the entire road will be closed and that will make your journey that much more demanding. I couldn’t imagine snow-shoeing or cross country skiing to the Park but I assume that people can and have done it. However, the best thing about visiting during the summer months is that you can swim in the lakes, view the wildlife, photograph some of the creeks and waterfalls and most importantly, you can view the hundreds of wildflowers that grow throughout the wilderness. If the day is sunny when you visit, you’re pretty much guaranteed some of the best photographic opportunities. So, I would plan on bringing your tripod and as many lenses that you can carry. I actually saw a snow owl leaping from a tree and flying away as I was taking a photo of the mountain with my wide angle lens. Unfortunately, my camera was on my tripod and I didn’t have a telephoto to get a shot but the owl was gone before I was even able to see where it flew off to. I took this shot from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which can be seen in the photo in the lower right hand corner.
[/caption] Park Butte offers a great vantage spot to view Mt. Jefferson as well as the rest of the Oregon Cascades. However, you can also get some great views looking north from Russell Lake and Park Butte is a great photo subject with the vast forest lingering below. Russell lake looks like a refreshing swimming hole with dozens of beaches lining the alpine lake. This photo was taken from the south side of Russell Lake with Mt. Jefferson directly behind me. The sun was also behind me and the glare was pretty strong so I decided to get some photos looking away from the sun where there was less glare. If you’re only doing a day hike and you decide to hike towards the summit of Park Butte, you want to make sure and bring plenty of extra water and food since it demands and additional 1000 feet of elevation gain and an additional grueling 3 miles of switchback trails. The view is absolutely amazing but you will have to pay the price to get there unless you are backpacking and camp somewhere in Jefferson Park.
[/caption] This is a view of Mt. Jefferson and its summit as viewed from Jefferson Park. With the elevation of the Park being so high, the forest that spans the area offers some great views with the mountain in the background. You can’t ask form anything better than photographing a 10,000 foot volcano with a hanging alpine glacier and nothing but blue sky in the background and an amazing forest of trees in the foreground.
[/caption] Squaw mountain is a little known hiking spot that offers some of the best views in the Oregon Cascades. Only a few remnants of the fire lookout tower remain but at least the view is still there. You can see Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson from its summit. And best of all, you have an amazing view of the rolling foothills that make up the Cascade mountain range. If you look closely in this photo, you can see the tip of the North Sister and Mt. Washington in the distance. This photo also doesn’t show any of the logging scars left by the timber industry. However, there are plenty of scars surrounding the mountains and it’s almost impossible to avoid having them in your photos. This photo was taken on 6/12/10 at about 5:20pm and as you can see the weather was absolutely amazing. There was a few feet of snow still covering parts of the trail but the summit was mostly void of snow due to the sun exposure. I was using my Canon T1i and my Canon 18-55mm kit lens. I had the focal length at 24mm and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. I had the camera in program/normal mode so the aperture was set at F-7 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at 0. You are almost guaranteed to see several hawks and even a bald eagle and keep a sharp eye out for owls since you will be hiking through an old growth forest. You may even want to bring a book since the view and solitude is so amazing that you really won’t want to leave.
[/caption] This is a view near the summit region of Mt. Jefferson when hiking up the Jefferson Park trail. You are actually looking due south but you’re northwest of the mountain so the mountain seems much narrower than when viewed from the Park area. This is because the mountain is much larger and longer when viewed from north or south but you need to be standing directly north while in the Jefferson Park area. I think that’s one of the most unique things about the Cascade mountain volcanoes. Each mountain looks completely different when viewed from different geographical areas. This is especially true since most of the volcanoes are surrounded by much smaller lava buttes or lava domes that were created by the volcano. Each mountain has its own diverse wilderness with forests, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, rock outcroppings, canyons and most importantly it’s own weather pattern due to their enormous size. The climate and vegetation on the east part of the mountains are much different than the west and even the type of snow is different.
[/caption] Early Fall at Jefferson Park is sure to provide the best photography opportunities since the late Summer wildflowers are still in bloom as well as the red huckleberry leaves blanketing the alpine carpet. Since many of the trails have been closed in order to try and restore the park, you have to really look for opportunities to photograph Mt. Jefferson with the foliage in the foreground. There are still dozens of trails to suite your needs but you do want to stay focused since its easy to miss a terrific photo opportunity. It’s especially true since you will find yourself immersed in the sheer beauty of the area. I almost missed the opportunity to take this photo since I was heading towards the opposite part of the park in order to hike above the alpine lakes and I was worrying about running out of daylight. This photo was taken between Russell Lake and the mountain and I really liked the view of Mt. Jefferson with the foliage, trees and rocks in the foreground. I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch but placed it low to the ground in order to get as much foliage in the photo without reducing the field of view. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the focal length at 17mm in order to get a panoramic shot so I could include as much of the mountain and foliage as I could. Since I had attached my CIR-PL and warming filter as well as set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -1.3 the aperture was at F-5.7 and the shutter speed at 1/128 second since the camera mode was in Program/Normal. The photo was taken at about 1:20pm and the sun was at about a 90 degree angle above the mountain so the saturation was nice.