[/caption] I can’t believe it but it seems like I took this photo many years ago. This winter has got to be one of the warmest winters that I can ever remember in the Pacific Northwest. This shot was taken near Johnston ridge just across from Mt. St. Helens. It took me several hours to hike to this spot from Coldwater Lake but I never had much snow to contend with. My snow-shoes weren’t required. I hope to hike hear again one more time before most of the snow melts. On my next trip, I hope to see more of Mt. Adams since it was mostly shrowded in clouds when I was here last time. I never used a tripod to get this photo since the wind was pretty strong and I was just as comfortable lying on my stomach while I rested my elbow in the snow. The view in the crater is awesome from this spot. I could see all of the volcano as well as the vicinity where Mt. Adams is. I used my warming filter and my CIR-POL filter to separate the blue sky from the snow and exposed rocks. The warming filter also helped bring out some of the personality of the rock. I used my 50-250mm telephoto lens at about 190mm. This is a great place to view the blast zone and all of the destruction that was caused when Mt. St. Helen’s erupted.
[/caption]I was able to take some really great shots of Mt. Washington and Big Lake once the fog lifted and revealed the mountain. This is one of those snow-show trips that I had to find myself since neither my Oregon snow-show book or any of my hiking books had this trip anywhere. I started my trip at the Benson snow park, near Hoodo Ski hill. There is a church camp at the lake. For the most part it looked pretty well closed. However, it looked as though they were renting out several of the A-frame cabins to anyone that could get to the camp. I never saw a single person but I did see a few snow mobiles and two barking dogs that seemed to enjoy following me for a few yards. the trek from the snow park to the lake is about 5 miles. The trek around the lake was about 3.5 miles. I went past several picnic areas as I plowed the wet snow. There are two camping areas on the Western side of the lake. The sun was so bright and the temperatures got so warm that it felt like summer and the snow eventually was like play dough. The lake was still completely frozen but I only hiked across near the edges. However, there were several snowmobile tracks covering the frozen lake. As the day wore on, I could see several edges of the lake turn to slush. I did eventually step in a slushy part which soaked through my shoe. By the end of the day, both of my feet were soaked and nearly frozen. Since there were no clear maps of the trip, I first found myself going the opposite direction of the lake and straight up mt. Washington. After about 2 miles of a grueling climb I decided to head back towards the lake. After the day was done, I probably covered about 12 miles in about 8 hours. I only stopped long enough to eat and make some changes to my lenses. I also broke my sunglasses which was not good since the glare from the sun, lake and snow was absolutely blinding. I would highly suggest a snow-shoe trip around Big Lake since the views are awesome and you will surely burn some calories. I didn’t see any hiking trails around the lake, so snow-shoeing may be the only way to go around the lake. You can also get a good glimpse of Three Fingered Jack at several points along the trek around the lake.
[/caption] I finally made a trip to Mt. St. Helens while the sun was out. When I left Portland, the entire Valley was covered in heavy fog, which made me nervous about the conditions of the Cascades. However, once I drove past the first view point, the sun started showing itself. Mt. Adams and the rest of the Cascade foothills kept the storm clouds at bay. However, Mt. St. Helens was engulfed by the sun. This gave me the opportunity to hike from Coldwater lake to the Johnston Ridge Observatory view point. I hiked along the Hummocks loop and then connected to the Johnston Ridge loop . I brought my snow-shoes thinking that there would be plenty of snow but the trail was almost entirely bare. I only had to scale about 1/4 of a mile through the snow. Most of the Johnston Ridge was void of snow. However, the view from across the blast zone was awesome. It felt more like early spring than winter. The snow level was high but at least it made my hiking trip easier. Mt. Adams rarely made itself visible. I was able to capture several sunset shots and the moon also made an entrance. I’ll be going back as soon as the snow re-appears.
[/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.