[/caption] Massive storm clouds hovering over the Three Sisters! This photo was taken from Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon and there was a massive and impressive storm system that had been hovering over the Oregon Cascades for several day’s. Usually, the storm are held back by the Cascade mountains but this storm was no match for the mountains. This massive storm was worming it’s way through the snow capped mountains as well as around them and above them. To get this shot I hiked near the highest elevation in the Smith Rock Park and zoomed in to a focal length of 135mm in order to frame the entire storm clouds and mountains but still keep a descent field of view. I didn’t use a tripod and had the CIR-PL attached as well. I just made sure to change the white balance to 0 in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. I also set the ISO at 100 and the shutter speed was at 1/250 seconds. Normally I make sure to use a tripod whenever I max out the focal length of the lens I’m using but since I had hiked over 8.5 miles and was pretty well set with good light and plenty of sunshine, I decided to take a chance.
[/caption] An epic view of Mt. Hood and the Cascade wilderness from the summit of 4484′ SHEEPSHEAD ROCK. A great hike and a great view of the Cascades can be found along one of the many trails rooted in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. The best way to get to some of these views are to combine several trails and plan on a long hike. However, you won’t be disappointed in this awesome journey that allows some spectacular views of five mountain peaks. You will have to drive a few miles outside Estacada and wind your way through a bunch of clear cut but the drive is very easy and well marked. Along the trail there are several viewpoints and several 4,000′ plus summits that you can hike to but if you really want to stay on task and go as far as possible without wasting too much time, I would recommend hiking to the summit of Squaw Peak and then make the additional 3 mile hike to Sheepshead rock. If you have the additional energy, food, water and time, I would then recommend making the additional 3.5 mile one-way hike from sheepshead rock to the final viewpoint. However, you will end up hiking over 15 miles and you may be a little tired by the end of they day. This shot was taken from the top of sheepshead rock and I was facing southeast.
[/caption] This is the view from the top of Devils Peak with the pristine forest far below and as far as the eye can see. You can read about the trail and the area from my previous blog post. I wanted to include this photo since it’s the view you have from the summit of Devils Peak. You’re looking due south with great views of Mt. Jefferson as well as the top portion of Mt. Washington. However, I didn’t include the photo with the mountains since there are a lot of clear cut spots just below the mountains. I think that it really ruins part of the view as well as the serenity and solitude but at least the majority of the views are pristine for now. Unfortunately, the weather started to turn sower and the clouds really started to create too much glare. However, there were some sun breaks and it really created a nice look around the hilly forest. To get to this viewing spot you will need to hike past the lookout tower and walk a few hundred feet to the edge of a massive cliff. You really want to watch your footing and if you have a dog you may want to leash them since the fall would be fatal. If you stay at the edge of the cliff long enough, you may witness a bald eagle or a clan of Turkey Vultures soaring through the skies.
[/caption] A long and difficult trail takes you to the top of 5,045′ Devils Peak but the 3,200′ of elevation gain will really take a toll on you! The trail that takes you to the summit of Devils Peak is 8.2 miles round trip but the trail pretty much goes straight up without many even patches. However, even though the trail is steep and long, there is a spot where a very cool and refreshing creek runs over the trail. However, if you wait too long during the summer months, the creek may dry up. The forest service lookout tower is still standing but it’s no longer used for spotting forest fires. Backpackers or hikers are more likely to enter the worn down building. The views are stunning and offer some great views of the pristine forest that lies just to the south and west of Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Washington that loom in the distance. If you’re truly looking for a very demanding and strenuous hike, I would recommend this hike since you will destroy your hams and quads going up and destroy your knees going down. Plan on at least two days of recovery time and make sure to bring plenty of food and water since you will want to spend as much time at the top taking in the views. This shot was taken from about .3 miles below the summit and looking east. There is a great vantage point to view Mt. Hood and there are several small alpine wildflowers that dot the craggy basalt rocks. However, watch out for the ants because they’re everywhere.
[/caption] Another day in Paradise in the Pacific Northwest. This is one of the views you get when you hike to the summit of 4,971 foot East Zig Zag mountain. The hike is a grueling 9.6 mile round trip hike and provides 2,370 feet of elevation gain. However, you will encounter a pristine wilderness, raging waterfall, dozens of creek and stream crossings to cool off in, a picture perfect alpine lake and last but not least you will have endless views of Mt. Hood, Jefferson, Adams, Rainier and Mt. St. Helen’s. You may even spot some wildlife along the way. There are several spots where you can rest along the top of the mountain and rest beneath some trees and nap in the shade. During mid summer, the wildflowers come out in droves and the butterflies are everywhere. there are also several marked campgrounds near Burnt Lake, which I’m sure can get pretty busy during the summer weekends. I just finished this hike on a weekday and I didn’t see a single hiker the entire day or even see a car parked at the trailhead parking lot. I did encounter quite a bit of snow above Burnt Lake, 4,100 feet, but I was able to navigate the trail without much trouble.
[/caption] One of the best and easiest places to get some great shots of the Central Oregon Cascades is right in the middle of the small town of Sisters. You don’t need to even get your shoes dirty of break a sweat. However, you do want to make sure and pick the right time of day to take advantage of the lighting. Normally, early morning or early evening is the best time since the sun passes towards the south of Broken Top and the Three Sisters and if it’s during mid afternoon it can look washed out. I took this photo at about 11:41am and you can see that the photo is fairly washed out and there is very little personality in the shot. The trees look pretty cool but unfortunately the mountains seem a little lifeless. However, I could have picked a worse time to get this shot. I was using my Canon T1i and attached my Canon 23-135mm lens and made sure to attach my CIR-PL, warming and UV filter. I set the ISO at 100 and kept the white balance at 0. The aperture was at F-7 and the shutter speed was at 1/250 seconds since I had the camera mode in Program/Normal.