[/caption] Three pools is one of the best places to visit when hiking along the Little North Santiam River. The 9 mile round trip trail begins near Elkorn and ends at the Shady Cove campground. The trail follows the river the entire way and it’s located on the opposite side of the road. There are several swimming holes and small waterfalls throughout this hike. There are also several spring trillium’s and mossy old growth forests dotting the wilderness area. There is also a short hike to the top of adjacent 4650′ Henline mountain, which allow for great views of the foothills of the Cascades. On a rainy day I would recommend hiking along the rivers edge in order to get some great photographs of the swirling river. The water is so clear that you can easily see the bottom and the water gives off a neon green glow. This is one of the best places to maximize your shutter time and really capture the movement of a beautiful and scenic river if the day is well overcast. If the weather is clear or partly sunny I would recommend hiking to the summit of Henline mountain. The views are awesome and you can really see just how massive the foothills of the Cascades truly are. To get this shot I was lucky enough to be here when the weather was rainy and very overcast. The rain was coming down while I was taking this particular shot. However, I was still only able to set the shutter to 10.37 seconds since the glare from the river was high. I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch so I wouldn’t have any camera shake. I was also using my 18-55mm canon lens and had the focal length at 24mm. I attached several filters on my lens, which included my UV, warming, CIR-PL and my ND4 filter. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -2. Because I took this shot in September, the water level was pretty low. However, I was able to capture the edge of the river bank that otherwise would be submerged. On a warmer day, one could easily traverse more towards the center and really catch the personality of the river.
[/caption] The best place by far to really enjoy the scenic wonders of Mt. Jefferson is at Jefferson Park, which is about a 10.2 mile hike with 1800 feet of elevation gain. The trail starts on the west facing side of Mt. Jefferson and the last 8 miles of the drive are on a well maintained gravel road. The entire hike is loaded with amazing scenery and it’s probably the most pristine place in the state of Oregon. I never saw any clear cut, heard any automobiles, nor did I hear or see any planes flying overhead. The only thing I saw was an awesome forest with miles of trees, dozens of views of Mt. Jefferson, as well as dozens of different types of wildflowers and alpine lakes within Jefferson Park. You also hike over several small creeks that make for a perfect spot to rest and soak in the pristine cold water. The trail is well maintained but it’s not as clearly marked as I would have expected. With Jefferson Park being hailed as one of the busiest trails in Oregon I expected it to be more clearly marked. I hiked the trail the day after we had two days of heavy rain showers and the higher elevations of Mt. Jefferson had received a good little dusting of snow. Unfortunately I took a wrong turn near the top of the first 1.5 miles and headed towards Triangulation Peak trail and ended up hiking about 4 miles total in dense forest with the rain water and dew clinging to the shrubs that had lined the narrow trail. Within 1/4 of a mile my socks, shoes and my entire lower body were soaked. I had almost decided to cancel my quest to Jefferson Park but I actually ended up missing the switchback that headed back to the parking lot and then again found myself on the Jefferson Park Trail. I was informed by some backpackers that I was now only about 2 miles from the Park at that point. I will for now on always make a copy of the trail and have it with me. The mountain finally made its appearance later in the afternoon and I was amazed at how close I was to it. I was able to see where the mountain had repeatedly sent an avalanche of snow throughout the years which had created a swath of downed trees that looked like a smooth carpet of grass with trees that looked like snapped twigs on the outer banks. Once you get to Jefferson Park you will see dozens of alpine lakes, wildflowers and thousands of vantage points. I could spend months photographing from within the park. However, there were several closed parts due to heavy traffic that had destroyed many of the Park’s fragile vegetation. The Sentinal Hills and Park Butte surround the outer parts of the Park which really gave it a true alpine atmosphere. I took this shot right in the heart of Jefferson Park and the small pond in the foreground didn’t have a name. You can see the alpine grass in the pond and the Paintbrush wildflowers teaming all along the Park. To get this shot I was using my 12-24 wide angle lens and had the focal length at 15mm. I had the ISO set at 100 and the White Balance was at -1. I had the camera on Program Mode which allowed the shutter speed to run at 1/60 of a second. I was using my CIR-PL, warming filter and my UV filter in order to cut down on the glare and increase the warmth of the setting. I was using my tripod, bubble level and my remote switch in order to avoid any movement since I was concerned about losing some of my photos due to camera shake. I didn’t want to take any chances on this photo trip. I would highly recommend this hike and next time I hope to backpack here so I can have more time to really take in this amazing place. I can only imagine how beautiful the sunrise and sunsets are here.
[/caption] One of my favorite places to hike within the Mt. Hood National Forest is where this photo was taken. There are only gravel roads that take you to this part of the mountain, which eliminates most of the crowds and reduces any road noise far below the trails. Another great reason is due to the fact that there are no signs of any clear cutting of the forest and there are over 7 trails zigzagging throughout the National Forest. The PCT cuts right through the trail systems and there are several other trails that take you in any direction. As you can see, this is also one of the best areas to get the best view of Mt. Hood. Mt. Hoods personality really shines from many of the vantage points. You can see its glaciers, the carving of the huge canyon below and also the birth of the Sandy River. Wildflowers grow along the creeks, the trails edges and along the many cairns exposed to the elements. This is truly a magical place that can really calm the senses and create an epic adventure. There are also many photo opportunities as well. if you decide to hike down to the muddy creek area, you can witness several towering waterfalls and almost hear the echoing of the alpine glaciers. However, the bridge across muddy creek which connect to Romona Falls is still out and has been for a several years. Unfortunately this means that you have to turn back once you get to the creek. However, you can hike back up and then hike along a different section of the timberline trail towards McNeil Point. This part of the trail opens up to some spectacular views. I took this shot posted on my blog at Bald Mountain. This is a very popular spot to photograph Mt. Hood and for good reason. It allows you a great panoramic view of the mountain, the forest and the forest below that was carved out by the elements. For most of the day I was using my tripod but when I took this shot I wasn’t using it. The morning started out a little hazy and the sun was fairly bright. I had the camera set on Program mode and I was using my CIR-PL, warming filter and UV protector. This helped cut down on the harsh light created by the sun and haze. The exposure time was 1/125 second, the F stop was at F8 and the ISO was at 100. I set the white balance at -2 since there were no shadows and I was in an open area with too much exposure. I was using my 12-24mm wide-angle lens and the focal length was at 20mm. I’ve made this hike three times now and it’s one of my favorite places to hike.
[/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] This is one of my favorite spots to cast a view of 5 of the Cascade Volcanoes. You can see Mt. St. Helen’s, Rainier, Adams, Hood and Mt. Jefferson from the crest of this old Fire lookout site. You can also see the tops of Mt. Washington, North and Middle Sister’s. You can see just how spectacular the forest surrounding the Cascades is as well as the intense greenery and solitude that it provides. It’s hard to believe that the forest service was paid to look out from this spot several years ago. The only thing remaining are the concrete steps and a small plaque. During July and August, several summer flowers grow along the crags and cliff’s surrounding the Western Cascades. This trail is only about an hour drive from Portland but you would never think that it’s that close to civilization. Since the forest road is so remote and the trail is somewhat poorly marked, I have never seen anyone on this trail. This is surely a place to have some peace and quiet. I hiked the trail over the weekend in order to take advantage of the beautiful weather in the Pacific Northwest. I was a little nervous about the sun glare so I started the hike in the later part of the morning, which put me on the top of the summit by about 4:00. The trail to the ridge is only about 4 miles round trip but there are several other trails that zigzag through the Cascades and also to some of the nicest meadows and natural spring lakes. I also ran into several feet of snow along the trail, which really slowed me down. I haven’t seen that much snow during the middle of June since 2007. I was forced to scramble through the snow when the trail was impassable as well as rummage through the thickets. I ended up with some descent scrapes but it was well worth it. I took this shot from near the concrete steps in order to get the crags and fir trees in the foreground and give it more personality. I was using my wide angle lens and had the focal length at 15mm. I had the camera mode set at auto exposure and the ISO at 100. Since I was facing away from the sun, I had to keep the white balance at 0 and the F-stop at 8. I was using my tripod to stabilize the camera since there was just a slight breeze. This is one of those hikes that you could do several times a year without ever getting bored.
[/caption] It’s been raining a lot this Spring so I decided to take advantage of the one dry day which was of course last Monday. It seemed that the best weather in the Pacific Northwest was along the gorge, so I again headed east of Portland. I have to admit that I’m getting somewhat tired of waterfalls about now. I have been itching to get some panoramic views of the Cascades. Who am I kidding, I love waterfalls. I could photograph them 365 days a year. Gotta love the Northwest. Since the rain clouds were kind of settling just east of the Bonneville dam I stopped at the Multnomah Falls parking area and again hiked above the falls towards Larch Mountain. I was able to ditch the crowds once I got to the top of the falls as I made my way towards the higher elevations. Monday’s are always a great time to avoid the masses. I set out to take advantage of the overcast sky’s so I could test my luck on setting my shutter between 10 and 12 seconds and I wasn’t disappointed. I was able to get this shot while setting my shutter speed to 10.37 seconds. You can really see the complete path of the water as it heads downstream. Every nook and cranny can bee seen, along with the neon greens of the vegetation. To avoid too much unwanted light, due to the long shutter exposure, I attached my ND4 along with my warming filter and my CIR-PL. Using my ND8 would have been overkill since the sun was perfectly blocked by the overcast sky’s most of the time. I was like a kid in a candy store on this day. You couldn’t have taken a bad picture. Most of the vegetation is out, along with the many spring flowers. I set my camera to shutter priority and had the ISO at 200 since it was a little dark on the trail. The F stop was at 25.8 and I was using my 18-55mm lens which was at 34mm focal length. I used my tripod on this shot as well as the entire day. Now is the time to hit the trails if you want to take advantage of the spring light around the Western slopes of the Cascades and the gorge. The rivers and creeks are cranking out their best right now and pretty soon the heat will be upon us and many of the smaller creeks will be mostly dried up.
[/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]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.