[/caption] Beautiful sunny afternoon after a huge snow storm blanketed the Cascades with fresh powder. A great time to head out into the Cascades is just after a huge snow storm covers the forest with fresh powder. You will want to make sure that you bring some snow-shoes or cross country skis if you want to take advantage of the solitude that the forest offers. I usually don’t bring a tripod with me since it can really weigh me down and cause me to lose valuable time while photographing the area. However, sometimes I will bring it along just in case I need it or if I don’t have too much gear with me. I’ve learned that you don’t have to bring along a tripod if the skies are completely clear and the sun is at it’s highest point. However, once the clouds come over and the light starts to decrease, you are pretty much done for the day unless you plan on increasing your ISO, turn on your IS and increase the white balance. I can especially get more creative whenever I’m not attached to my tripod while snow-shoeing since I can get into some really precarious positions in order to get the best photo. Attaching your CIR-PL also allows you to saturate the sky no matter if it’s blue or overcast. You just want to make sure that you always check your histogram after every shot to ensure that it’s not too over saturated or over exposed. The snow can cause your shot to be either over exposed or under exposed so you want to make sure that you review each shot that you take and then adjust your settings accordingly. This will allow you to delete the bad ones and ensure that you only keep the very best. I’ve also learned that you will want to invest in a front camera harness so you can protect your camera from the elements as well as give you quick access to your camera without having to take off your camera bag every time you want to take a shot. Sometimes I don’t even bring my poles, which can slow me down when I’m grabbing for my camera.
[/caption] The White River snow park trail system offers an opportunity to walk through an ancient forest as well as experience some pretty awesome views of Mt. Hood as well as Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters in the distance. However, you will need to prepare yourself for a very strenuous climb since it’s very steep and long. If you go to the top you will end up with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain. they only thing that stops you is a huge cornice with a 500 feet drop off on both sides. You end up on the edge of a cliff with nothing but an eroded moraine below. Since you will have to navigate through the forest as well as climb some pretty steep areas, you will want to bring plenty of snacks and water. The trail is pretty much right in the middle between Timberline ski lodge and Mt. Hood Meadows. There are several different routes that you can take but snow shoeing through the forest is the most peaceful and rewarding way to go. During the summer months you can hike on some of the more popular trails but during winter you have the opportunity to make your own trails.
[/caption] A rare view of the snow covered trees with its reflection from the lake. Normally the Fanning is completely frozen after a good winter with only a few spots where the creeks meander along the lake. I was surprised by this opportunity to get a photograph like this. I normally end up trying to get some panoramic shots of the snow covered lake with the creeks slicing through the snow. However, this scene gave me a great opportunity and I ended up noticing that the trees were being reflected from the lake and luckily it was calm enough to get a pretty descent reflection since the water wasn’t moving too much. I’ve actually very gingerly snow-shoed over this very same area and never saw any openings like this. This is especially surprising since this winter has seen way more snow and cooler temperatures than the last two years. You can actually snow-shoe around the entire perimeter of the lake as well as cut through parts of it only if it’s covered with enough snow. Since the light was very unbalanced I made sure to use my tripod and bubble level in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. I was shaded from the sun by the forest but the lake was sun drenched. This created a really nice opportunity.
[/caption] Picture perfect day after a huge snow storm dropped several inches of snow at Mt. Hood Ski Bowl. While resting near one of their chair lifts I decided to take a few photos of the snow flocked trees standing over the massive cliffs looking down at me. I framed the powder in the foreground and tried to create the best panoramic view possible. I ended up having to tilt my camera and tripod at about a 70 degree angle to get this shot. I was lucky that the clouds had passed over and was able to get this photo with only a few clouds. I actually took about 50 different photos from this same spot as well as several more in different locations but this one stands out really well.
[/caption] The easiest and shortest drive to get an amazing view of Mt. Hood is the Crosstown snow park trail. The snow park is before you even get to the west Mt. Hood ski Bowl parking lot off of Hwy 26 and the trek to Enid Lake is only about 1/4 mile from the parking lot. The only drawback from this snow park is that Enid Lake is one of the only viewpoints that you can get of Mt. Hood. Unfortunately, the rest of the snow park is buried in towering trees and you won’t have much luck getting a view of the summit unless you hike your way towards the summit. There aren’t any designated viewpoints and I’ve spent several hours trying to find a viewpoint without any luck. However, you can find them but you just have to be adventurous and make sure you have a compass so you don’t get lost. And trust me, you will probably get lost during some part of you trek. I took this photo of Mt. Hood while standing on the other side of Enid Lake. The lake was completely frozen and covered by 5 feet of snow. Even though you’re only a short distance from the Hwy and Government Camp it’s surprisingly quiet and peaceful. You probably won’t hear any traffic noise and you will be amazed by the towering trees. The Crosstown Trail is actually best for trekking through the massive forest that towers over the area. There are also several small creeks and streams with snow bridges that allow you to cross. It’s better snow-shoeing terrain than x-country skiing due to the fact that it can get pretty steep and you will be trekking around huge trees as you venture the area.
[/caption] After two days of champagne like snow that fell in the Oregon Cascades near Mt. Hood, the clouds gave way and there was an abundant of sun to go around on Wednesday. After several weeks of dismal weather that brought very little snow, we had experienced a truly epic day in the Cascades. There is a great snow-shoe/x-country ski trail that is just 65 miles east of Portland. It’s a quick and easy drive from the city. The Enid lake loop is a very pleasant and easy 2.7 mile loop. You can also continue on the Crosstown trail if your eager to go further since there are miles of trails that zigzag throughout the wilderness. Unfortunately, you will have little luck finding a vantage point to get a clear view of Mt. Hood. Enid lake is one of the only places that opens to a view of the mountain. You can also blaze your own trail if your looking for some fresh powder void of any markings. The morning started out sunny and crisp but unfortunately the afternoon gave way to much warmer temperatures. I guess all things must come to an end. As the day went on the temperatures started to melt the snow from the trees which made it seem as though the forest was being inundated with rain drops the size of pennies. I took this particular shot around 11:00am, just as the sun was peeking through the tallest trees. Frozen Enid lake is in the foreground with Mt. Hood looming in the background. I spent most of my trip photographing the trees that had been blanketed by the snow. This particular photo was taken without a tripod since I decided that I wouldn’t need it. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. I set the focal length at 18mm and since the camera was set in Program/Normal mode the aperture was at F-7.1 and the shutter at 1/125 second. Due to the sun gaining in intensity I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.3. I was also using my warming filter and my CIR-PL due to the blue skies blanketing the backdrop. I saw several rabbit tracks in the snow as well as a small creek that followed many parts of the trail. I’ve hiked and mt. biked some of these trails during summer and they are simply awesome. You can’t beat a short drive from Portland to revel in some of the most spectacular scenery in the Cascades.
[/caption] Finally, the first sunny day after 7 days of winter storms hammered the Cascades with fresh powder. I was expecting to be visiting the Cascades during white out conditions. However, the morning of my snow-shoe trip, I noticed that they had changed their report to sunny skies. The early morning saw some of the best weather since the sun was shining and there were only a limited number of clouds. However, just like clock work, the clouds began to white out parts of the sky by around 1:00 pm. I always find this frustrating since you only have a few hours of sunny weather during winter. I guess this proves that you really need to get lucky in order to find that epic shot that no one else will get. I started my day by photographing Mt. Hood from the west and then eventually moving to the east part of the mountain. I started my 8 mile snow-shoe adventure on the east part of Mt. Hood, which included traversing some very steep and tricky terrain. I’ve done this same snow-shoe trip before but this time the snow was particularly deep. There were several additional feet of snow that had drifted into the steep parts that I was climbing. I eventually ended up with cramps in my hamstrings but luckily I had plenty of water with me. Once I got to the top I found that the sun was getting lower and the clouds were moving in. The snow was absolutely epic and the scenery was even better. There is nothing more invigorating than fresh powder that is untouched and no sounds other than the wind and your snow shoes blazing through the snow. This is exactly why snow-shoeing is so awesome. I took this photo at 12:24 pm and that’s mostly why I chose this photo. The sky is still pretty clear and you can see the blue in the background. The sun is just to the left, which creates some really cool shadows from the trees in the left of the frame. I also wanted to show just how much powder was still resting in the trees as well as the untouched powder in the foreground. This day was unusually busy for a Thursday but I still found myself alone for 95% of the day. I didn’t bring my tripod since I didn’t want to carry the extra weight and I also wanted to cover as much terrain as I could without having to set my tripod. I normally use only one lens so I don’t have to take the risk of getting my sensor dirty. I also use a holster, which I attach to the front of my backpack. This way I can quickly take out my camera to take a photo and then quickly put it back in its holster. I find that this is the best and most effective way to take photos when snow-shoeing. I was using my Canon Rebel T1i and my Canon 18-55mm lens. I attached my UV, warming and CIR-PL filters and also used them throughout my entire trip. I had the setting at Program mode so the F stop was at F-9 and I had set the ISO to 100. The white balance was at -1.7 and the exposure speed was at 1/160 second.