You may think that this photo was taken in July but I actually took it in November. You wouldn’t think that the Oregon coast could produce such awesome weather in November but fortunately we are blessed with some pretty amazing weather during Fall and Winter. However, the storms have rumbled back in and we are looking at about 2 to 3 weeks of rainy and unsettling weather. If you’re able to check the weather forecast on a daily basis you might be lucky enough to find that small window of opportunity and find a sunny day along the coast. This would be the best time to get an amazing sunset shot as well as have the ability to stroll along the beach like it was summer. I took this shot while visiting Ecola State Park and I was pleasantly surprised that there was absolutely no wind and no clouds. The temperatures were even descent. However, once the sun started to go down, the temperatures started to drop and the wind picked up. The photo from my previous post is what the sunset looked like. The colder months are much better at producing better sunsets, than at any other time during summer, and I would highly recommend visiting during Fall or Winter since you can also avoid the crowds and get a much better deal on a place to stay.
This photo may be the last clear sunset shot at the Oregon Coast for 2014. Oregonian’s know that Fall and Winter bring the most dynamic and amazing sunsets but unfortunately they are hard to come by and you have to ask for a little luck. One of my favorites reasons for going to the beach, during the cold months, is that sunset is between 4:30 and 5:00 pm but if you go on a day when the skies are clear you will wish that you had more time to explore and take in the sights. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. However, I didn’t bring my ND filter so I wasn’t really able to set the exposure time for more than two seconds. I did attach my CIR PL, warming filter and UV filter in order to take advantage of the warming tones as well as remove any unwanted noise. The one thing to remember is that when you are taking sunset shots, during the month of November, the sunset comes and goes lightning fast so you want to be sure and keep on your feet. Luckily, there are usually less people so you will normally have the opportunity to move about more freely without running into people or finding them standing in your way. The tides are also much more aggressive and the swells move in and out pretty quickly so you will want to keep that in mind since you may find yourself getting caught in a fast moving swell as you take that epic shot. The most important thing to remember is to think outside the box and stay creative since you can sometimes get that perfect shot when you least expect it. I was really impressed with the crashing waves moving left to right once they reached the beach so I waited for the best chance to get this particular shot. I really liked the way the water was dancing just above the beach but at a very fast pace. Even though I couldn’t set my camera to shutter priority, I was able to keep the aperture at only F-4, which allowed me to get the movements of the waves as well as the colors of the skies drenched in reds, yellows and orange. I also made sure to keep the ISO at 100, the WB at 0 and held the shutter speed at 1/60 second. I was using my Canon T1i and attached my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 42mm in order to frame each of the rocks in the shot. Since I only shoot in jpeg mode I was able to keep the photo at only 1.67mb, which keeps it from being too big. The next several days is calling for some pretty rainy weather but I would recommend checking the weather for the next sunny days and take advantage of sunset opportunities like this.
The weather in the Pacific Northwest has finally changed. This means that the weather is getting colder, wetter, stormier and very unpredictable. We can finally start to anticipate the changing colors of the leaves and the stormy clouds to appear. This will ultimately bring a lot of water to the waterfalls and snow to the higher elevations. Now is the perfect time to break out your camera and head to the Columbia River Gorge if you would like to take advantage of all the above. The waterfalls are amazing just as the rain arrives and the struggling foliage will come alive with the leaves falling from their high perch. You can also expect to witness some of the most amazing cloud formations as they move through the gorge like a freight train. I would recommend that you bring all of your rain gear as well as your best lens as well as your tripod, bubble level and remote switch. You may also want to choose the best trail since you will find yourself spending hours taking photos along the waterfalls. Sometimes I will just make a long road trip by starting out in Portland and driving to Hood River and stopping along the way. On my return trip, I will either back track or drive across the bridge of the gods, in Washington State and take some photos from the north side of the river. Either way, you can expect to get some pretty epic photos if you go on a day that is perfect for panoramic shots.
Cool shot at Silver Falls State Park, Oregon! Silver Falls State Park is a great place to get some really epic fall shots and it’s just an added bonus that there are 13 waterfalls that you can easily add into your photos. Since the area was carved out from a basalt outcropping, there are hundreds of carved out chasm’s that have several smaller waterfalls and whirl pools that collect leaves as they cling to the edges or get trapped in the swirling pools of water. The best time to visit, during the time the leaves are changing, are during the mid to end of October and towards the middle of November. However, you will want to keep an eye out for any changes of the weather since October can be very dry and unseasonable warm. This will cause the season to start later in the month and once the rains do arrive, your window of opportunity can be very small. The best thing to do is just pay attention to the weather and check the Silver Falls page in order to get any updates on the fall colors. The hikes around the park are amazing but you will want to be sure to bring your tripod, nd filters, remote switch and bubble level. I would also recommend that you bring plenty of food and water since you will find yourself hiking and snapping photos all day and before you know it you will be tired, hungry and very thirsty. If the weather is calling for rain, I would recommend that you bring rain gear since the rain can come without warning. I usually just pack a light rain jacket and extra socks in case I end up getting too close to the water or my shoes get too wet or muddy.
Beautiful photo of downtown Portland, Oregon in early Fall. Portland, Oregon offers some of the best fall colors, weather and temperatures on the planet and if you don’t believe me, check the local weather and you will see that the first week of October offers clear and sunny skies with temperatures reaching the high 70’s to low 80’s. You can almost guarantee some of the best fall weather anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. The awesome fall colors are just an added bonus but also offers visitors some of the most spectacular colors on the planet. I’m beginning to believe that the term “Indian Summer” was started in the Pacific Northwest since we experience that exact type of season perfectly. We experience early frost in the morning with cool temperatures that can dip down into the high 30’s to low 40’s. The morning’s can sometimes be a little foggy but by afternoon, the temperatures reach well into the 70’s with nothing but blue skies overhead. Almost anywhere in the Pacific Northwest offers the same Indian Summer season during September and October. Again, the fall foliage is an added bonus and it can hold it’s own to almost anywhere on the planet. It’s also nice to know that you can have a massive waterfall, river or snow capped mountain as your backdrop. One of the great things about visiting Portland, Oregon during this season, is that the tourists are gone and the days are perfect. There are still several festivals celebrating the fall season and you can get a much cheaper hotel as well as avoid the massive crowds at the best drinking holes and eating establishments. The Willamette Valley also boasts some of the world’s best wineries and wines. You are only a few miles from many of the best wineries, near downtown Portland, and I would recommend that you take advantage of them since the harvest season is at the same time.
The Pittock Mansion is located in Portland, Oregon and is one of the best sites to get some great shots of downtown Portland with Mt. Hood in the background. The Pittock Mansion is a French Renaissance-style Château and it was built in 1909 and sits on 46 acres of beautiful and scenic land. The mansion has gone through many upgrades and renovations but recently the city of Portland took out many of the vegetation around the building. Now you can get a better view of the mansion while standing on the lawn. They city also took out several of the tall trees that blocked the view of downtown Portland. It was kind of a double edged sward since I hated to see the trees taken out but they really blocked the panoramic view of the city. Now you can get the most epic views of the city without having anything blocking your view. However, those of us that had taken photos in the past are pretty much needing to throw most of them out and start taking advantage of the views available now. I’m pretty sure that I recently added a panoramic photo of Portland with the new view. The site surrounding the Pittock mansion is a must stop for travelers or photography junkies visiting the area. There are several hiking trails in the area as well as dozens of flowers and rare vegetation that several volunteers maintain year round. You also have the opportunity to view bald eagles, osprey, hawks, turkey vultures and other birds soaring above. On a clear day you can see Mt. St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood and just the tip of Mt. Jefferson. It’s also a great place to bring a lunch and sit on the manicured lawn or sit along the small bleachers that face towards the city.
One of the most grueling hikes in the Mt. Hood National Forest is a hike called Devils Peak Lookout. It provides over 3200 feet of elevation gain and is a 8.2 mile round trip hike. The hike is pretty much straight up and straight down. It’s also like doing heavy squats up and then heavy lunges down. The only rest time available is when you decide that you need to take a break. You can also expect to feel like you have 50 charlie horse running through your legs for at least 5 days. You literally won’t be able to walk normally for almost 5 straight days. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and make the hike and then you will. By the time you get half way down from the trail, you will start to really feel the pain shooting through your knees and quads. You can rest anytime you want but unfortunately, you are only putting off the inevitable. I usually rest about every mile or so and then snack a little bit in order to recharge. The hike itself is amazing with fantastic views along the way as well as spectacular old growth forest the entire length of the hike. The photo that I posted is just one of the millions of photo opportunities that you will find throughout the entire hike. There are several areas where you will be able to walk across some really small trickles of water but the best part is it provides the opportunity to cool down. I normally drench myself as much as possible since I’m usually sweating like a pig even though 90 percent of the trail is completely shaded from the sun. The name of the trail is actually called Cool Creek Trail but you don’t actually hike along or near a creek. I don’t think any of the small brooks that you will see actually pass as a creek. This is especially true since they pretty much dry up during the summer months. However, it did rain the morning I made the hike so I was able to find some trickling water at one of the spots. There is also a creek where you park but it’s called Still Creek. If you’re training for a serious climb, I would highly recommend this hike but if you’re only looking for a easy or moderate hike, I would recommend that you avoid this trail. There are plenty of other hikes available within the Mt. Hood Wilderness area. However, this hike has it all! Awesome views of Mt. Hood and Jefferson, salmon berries, Oregon grape and rhododendrons. You may also see several different species of alpine birds.
Just another beautiful and sun drenched day along the Northern Oregon Coast. September is the best month to expect warm to hot temperatures and you’re almost guaranteed to miss any rain or fog. You may find yourself immersed in mid to upper 80 degree temperatures with even warmer ocean temperatures. Since the days are a bit shorter, you will really enjoy the cool down during the early morning and late evenings. Sunbathers swarm to the coast on weekends since the weather is almost guaranteed to offer the perfect late summer experience. It’s more like a Mediterranean type of climate with loads of beaches to comb and hundreds of trails to conquer. I would also highly recommend visiting during September since the crowds are gone and the hotel rates are more reasonable. However, many of the nicer hotel’s don’t lower their rates until mid to late October due to the excellent weather fall offers. I would suggest that you try to plan your stay during the mid week but expect to get a much better rate during the weekend.
Crater Lake lodge is located at Crater Lake National Park and offers the best views of the lake. Not only is the lodge one of the most spectacular built lodges throughout the entire National Park system but it provides visitors the opportunity to view the entire lake. Most National Park lodges are tucked away and don’t really show the splendor and beauty of the park that made the lodges famous. However, Crater Lake lodge is perched on the best real estate surrounding the lake and is located in the best geographical location throughout the entire park system. There aren’t a lot of lodges that are built upon a caldera that erupted over 7,000 years ago and provide views of the nations deepest lake. The average snow fall at Crater Lake can exceed 533 inches, which made construction of the lodge very challenging. The lodge was constructed in 1915 and throughout the years, several additional building were built just below the lodge in order to provide additional amenities. This photo was taken from within the grand lodge and you can see that the views are spectacular from within the building. There are several rustic but comfortable chairs lining the very large deck that offers visitors the opportunity to lounge and take in the splendor of the views. Half of the rooms face towards the lake and you will be amazed of the views looking across the lake and into some of the mountains that sit just north and east of the park. The lodge is open year round but due to the snow pack, only the south entrance is open and plowed during the winter season. The north entrance normally doesn’t open until July and even parts of the rim road doesn’t open until July. I’ve visited the park during the first week of July and wasn’t able to drive via the north entrance near Diamond Lake. I ended up having to make that additional 50 mile drive but was able to avoid some of the traffic due to the fact that only the south entrance was open. I also brought my snow shoes and ended up being able to snow shoe through gobs of snow and even had the chance to trail blaze in areas that would normally be closed during peak summer. About 99% of the visitors only take the time to glance at the lake so you will have the opportunity to experience some great solitude as well as work on your tan since the sun in this part of the Southern Oregon Cascades is most epic. If you’re planning a visit to Oregon, Crater Lake National Park is a must.
When the temperatures are hot in the valley, you are better off heading towards the higher elevations in the Cascade mountains. However, you have to be sure to lather a lot of sun screen and carry lots of water when heading out into the wilderness. You can pretty much lose 10-15 degrees in the higher elevations but you will find yourself immersed in the sun and breathing pretty hard while you climb towards the sky. You are guaranteed to find nothing but sunshine in the Cascade mountains during the summer months, so I always look for a hike that will be a challenge, offer the best views and allow me to beat the heat. The Gnarl Ridge hike is no exception since you will climb 2400 feet of elevation gain and you will be standing just below Mt. Hood with lots of cool winds blowing through your hair. You will also be able to hike along an ancient forest and have the opportunity to still get a little bit of sun on your pale body. The absolute best thing about the hike is that you cross several creeks, large and small, as well as several opportunities to hike across several snowy patches on the north side of the trail. The water temperatures are freezing and it provides a great opportunity to cool yourself down by dipping your feet in the frigid water as well as splashing the rest of your body. The temps are literally just above freezing along Newton Creek since it’s glacial melt and the numerous creeks along the trail are cold enough to drop your core body temperature pretty fast. The only downside about making this difficult hike is that you will need to bring a lot of water and snacks and that can really add weight to your day pack. However, you’re load will gradually start to lose weight as you consume your water and food. The round trip hike to Gnarl Ridge and back is 10.2 miles but if you have enough energy, you can continue up the trail and hike to some of the alpine glaciers that are just above Gnarl Ridge. The trail will take you to Cloud Cap and several mountain climbers take this very trail when they’re wanting to climb the summit from the north. This photo was taken while standing at the Gnarl Ridge viewpoint and it’s looking southeast. Mt. Jefferson is just to the right but out of the picture and the horizon is a little hazy due to the sun being so bright and just above me when I took the shot. Lamberson Butte is on the left and it looks pretty steep so I have never climbed it. The rock formations are epic and you will find yourself taking hundreds of photos while trying to depict the rocks as objects from an alien planet. There are dozens of small alpine flowers dotting the landscape and you will want to tread lightly so you don’t kill or damage the fragile flowers. You can also hike to a huge waterfall that is fed by the glaciers and eventually makes the 1,000 foot drop towards Newton Creek. Just before you get to Gnarl Ridge you will get a great view of Mt. Adams in the north but unfortunately a fire had destroyed parts of the forest that is just in front of the view. However, if you wait just before you get to the level part of the trail, you can get a great shot of the mountain without the dead trees in the foreground. This is also the part of the trail that you will most likely find snow covering the trail and unfortunately it’s a very steep part of the hike and it’s at about a 65 degree angle. If you’re afraid of heights or just afraid of falling and sliding a few hundred feet, you may want to wait until late summer when the snow has completely melted. Since this part of the trail is on the north side of Lamverson Butte, the snow hangs around a bit longer and the trail cuts along the butte, which makes it more treacherous if the snow is still covering the trail. However, if you bring some snow-shoe poles you won’t have any problems navigating through the snow.