[/caption] There is a great viewpoint to witness Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and parts of Mt. Rainier. The viewpoint is just northwest of Mt. St. Helens and about 2 miles from near the Volcanic Monument area. However, during winter I would plan on running in to some snowy and possible icy conditions since the snow pack can get pretty high and the road conditions can be pretty dicey. If you go early enough during winter you may luck out but the snow pack in the mountains won’t be as good. I was fortunate to get this shot of the moon high above the mountains but unfortunately, the snow in the Cascades was late getting to the region. The area offers some great hiking and snow-shoeing all along the Volcanic Monument area. You are also guaranteed to see some herds of elk as well as bald eagle. You will have the opportunity to look right into the mouth of Mt. St. Helens and even the entire blast zone.
[/caption] Here is a shot that I took last July while hiking in the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I had visited the Park from the east, which is a long drive that takes you through Cougar and then north up the 131. The drive from Portland is very long and twisty but you are more likely to see herds of elk than people. This was my first trip along the east part of the mountain and I have to say that its one of the most scenic and peaceful parts of the wilderness. The Park reminded me of a National Park but minus the thousands of visitors and campsites. You can make it a day trip from Portland, during the longer days of summer, but I highly recommend you leave before sunrise and pack a lot of food since there are no places to eat. I took this shot with my Canon EOS T1i and my Tokina 12-24 wide angle lens. I was using my UV, warming and CIR-PL filter to bring out the colors and tame to intensity of the glaring sun. I took this shot looking south at about 6:35pm and the sun was just to the right. I had to set my ISO to 100 and the white balance to -2 due to the glare. The focal length was at 15mm and the shutter speed was 1/100 second. I was standing directly in the path of the explosion that destroyed all of the timber in its path. There were several pumice fields directly below where I was standing and you can see that some of the vegetation was just beginning to come back. I was amazed at the amount of pumice that littered the entire north side of the park. It was like walking through time and you could physically see the destruction from the wrath of the volcano. You can hike to Spirit lake and view the thousands of trees littering the lake and photograph dozens of species of wild flowers that grow among the pumice fields. I highly recommend visiting the park from the north east side. There are dozens of trails to hike and the park is very well kept and there are numerous areas to picnic. You are also guaranteed to see some wildlife. I startled a herd of elk while hiking on one of the trails and watched as they scurried up the mountain. This was truly an epic day.