Yesterday was a great day at the White River East snow park. As I drove from Portland, the entire west side of mt. hood was blanketed in clouds. However, as I neared closer to the Trillium lake snow park, I noticed that the trees in the higher elevations had a dusting of snow on them. I realized that the south and east part of the mountain had accumulated a few inches of snow. I quickly headed to the east snow parks. The day seemed like a spring morning….Sunny and 39 degrees. As I ascended towards the mountain, I again didn’t need my snow-shoes until about 1/2 mile up. The snow finally started to get deep and I could see several x-country and snow-shoe tracks. Once I got to the main lookout area, above the power lines, I noticed that the smaller creek just below was still covered. I decided to snow-shoe towards the higher elevations of the glacier on the south east side of Mt. Hood. I was able to shoe up the moraine, until I was met my a sheer drop from both sides and only about 2 feet of walking space. I decided to stop at that point. The day was epic. The mountain showed itself several times and the storm clouds continued to move north at light speed. The sun never left since the clouds were at a very low altitude. I would recommend this trip since it gives a much better perspective of the volcano and the sheer magnitude of the snow drifts on both sides of the mountain gave me some great photo opportunities.
The 2014-2015 winter may be a total waste in the Pacific Northwest as well as the Western Rockies but at least we can still hope for a descent spring in the Pacific Northwest. I am totally convinced that this winter will go down as the worst snow pack ever recorded from every Western State, including Alaska and even Western Canada. Looking at the current snow totals, from around the western part of North America, I can confidently predict that we will break all recorded totals in history. This is bad news for ski resorts, the economy, water tables, fire season and countless others. However, since the Pacific Northwest is still getting plenty of rain I can only hope that we will still enjoy a good spring. We may not have the thunderous waterfalls rolling down from the snow covered mountains but we may be blessed with lots of rain totals where snow would otherwise dominant the landscape. We may even be able to venture out along the western slopes of the Cascade mountains earlier than normal and bask in the glory of extreme beauty of the colorful vegetation and warmer temperatures. Unfortunately it’s to the dismay of the bankrupt ski resorts and broken economies that rely on the heavy snow totals. I know that we have recouped a lot of snow totals in late February and March but it seems that this pineapple express is pretty ruthless this time and it isn’t looking good for a comeback. I’m not going to put away my snow shoes and remove my snow tires just yet but I am already getting ready for some sweet waterfall shots earlier than expected.
There is a secret spot, along the Oregon coast, that offers some of the most spectacular views and photography opportunities that you can ever imagine. I won’t tell you where it’s located but I will tell you that it’s between Manzanita and Cannon Beach. You will find yourself standing on the top of a cliff that is about 100 feet above the Pacific Ocean and you can view the treacherous rocks below as the pounding surf crashing along the rocks. However, if you go on a calm summer day you may find yourself experiencing one of the most calming and tranquil days of your life. There is ample space to set up your tripod as well as all of your equipment. However, you will want to watch your footing since one wrong move and it could be your last. You would literally fall to your death since the rocks are jagged and it’s pretty much a straight shot to the pounding surf and rocks. There is also a small creek that crosses through the trail and spills into the Ocean, so you have the ability to cool off a little bit if you get too hot while basking in the summer heat. Hundreds of sea birds hover above as well as rest along the rocks protruding out of the surf and also nesting along the high and rocky cliffs. if you’re lucky you may be able to spot a whale during their annual migration. I took this photo during summer so you can see just how calm it can be but if you visit during fall or winter you can expect to witness the surf pounding the rocks below and sometimes the salt spray can reach just below from where you are standing.
This is what a sparse looking Mt. Hood looks like during the month of January. This photo was taken from about 5,000 feet and the date of the photo was January 13th, 2015. If you have ever visited Mt. Hood or anywhere else along the Cascade mountain range, during January, you would expect to see about 10 feet of snow blanketing the surrounding area. However, with the current climate collapse, you are looking at a very bare bones view of what the Cascade range currently looks like. I never thought that I would be experiencing a winter that was worse than last year. This winter is so bad that last years winter looked twice as good. That’s taking it pretty far since last year I thought that it was the worst on record. If we don’t start getting some snow the ski resorts will be lucky to avoid bankruptcy and our alpine glaciers will soon be a thing of the past. I also really hate to think that this summer may be more dangerous than last year. Normally, the photo that you see in this post would look like a photo from May, not January. I still want to think that it’s not all doom and gloom but I’m seriously getting nervous about the impact of another horrible snow pack. It’s hard to imagine that I could have hiked to nearly 9,000 feet without even needing my snowshoes. I ended up stopping at about the 7,000 mark and I was surprised to find even more loose gravel and dirt blanketing the higher elevations. I could see and hear several rocks cascading down the steep slopes that otherwise would be mostly snow covered until late April. It’s hard to imagine that the exposed rocks and soil nearly doubles the rate of erosion.
One of the best places to snow shoe inside the Mt. Hood forest is along the Barlow Trail. There is a small ski park just off of Hwy 35 and it offers some of the best terrain within the area. You can cross country ski, snow shoe or if you feel up to the task, you can carry your snow board or skis to one of the many higher elevations and make some fresh tracks. The trail system will take you as far east as you can go but if you plan on heading west, you will find yourself standing along Hwy 35. However, you won’t have any problem getting some great shots of Mt. Hood as long as you can work your way to an open clearing or higher elevation. You will pretty much be engulfed inside the forest so you can expect to be standing below some pretty spectacular trees. There are also hundreds of small creeks that wind throughout the area so you will want to be prepared to cross a few of them as well as navigating through some of the underbrush that grows along the creeks. However, if the snow pack is deep enough, you may not have to worry about any of the creeks or underbrush since they could be several feet below the snow pack. If you plan on taking some photos you will want to keep in mind that you are directly south east of Mt. Hood and since the sun will most likely be at about a 90 degree angle from the mountain, you will want to be sure and attach your CIR-PL and plan on looking for ways to avoid too much glare. This is especially true if you encounter clear blue skies like the one I posted. The direct sun along with the intense glare from the mountain and snow can really make it difficult to get a good quality shot without too much overexposure. Normally I would bring my tripod on days like this but since the trek is so strenuous and difficult due to the trees, you would be better served if you leave the tripod in the car and just plan on taking a lot of photos and utilizing your histogram as much as possible. Since I took a lot of photos of the trees, covered in snow inside the park, I made sure to remove my Cir-PL in order to maximize the limited light penetrating the forest. You can end up passing some pretty spectacular shots without even knowing it while trekking through the snowy forest if you’re not careful. I try to remember to look up as much as possible in order to take advantage of every opportunity. Because the snow park if pretty small you can expect it to fill up on weekends but if you get a spot you can expect limited crowds. The best thing about the Barlow snow park are the views of Mt. Hood and the forested trees so you may want to pick a day when the skies are clear and just after a big snow storm blankets the trees.
This is a photo of sparsely snow capped Broken Top with Sparks Lake in the foreground. Things again are looking pretty grim for parts of North America as far as snow pack goes. You know it’s bad when it’s December and it’s warmer in Utah than in parts of Florida and it’s even more dire when Washington’s Northern Cascade mountains get over 10 inches of rain in December. If this pattern continues, 2015 may be even warmer and worse than 2014. That’s pretty hard to imagine but by looking at statistics and witnessing the current climate, it’s looking more like reality. I personally wouldn’t want to be an owner or an investor in a ski resort or even have any type of business that relies on tourist traffic in the mountains. Currently, the entire Pacific Northwest is experiencing a pineapple express and it’s bringing over a foot of rain, which is very scary since it’s melting all of the snow that we did receive earlier and it should be coming down in the form of snow rather than rain in the higher elevations. Last years winter was so bad that I didn’t even put my snow tires on until almost February and I can’t imagine having a winter that bad again but unfortunately, we already are having an even crappier start than last year. I’m still pretty hopeful that I will be able to make some new snow shoe tracks but I am getting very anxious and pretty depressed about another crummy start to winter.
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.
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.
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.