[/caption] Spending only one day at Crater Lake National Park creates a very sad situation since I could spend over a week hiking, photographing and most importantly seeking out all of it’s treasures. I haven’t been to Crater Lake since 1993 but this time was especially awesome. There was plenty of snow surrounding it’s north facing banks and the entire Southern Oregon Cascades had well above 75% of their average. However, this did mean that only half of the Rim drive was open. As soon as I got out of my car at Merriam Point, I was quickly photographing the lake. I couldn’t believe how blue the lake was and how clear the skies were. I could see Mt. Shasta and Mt. McLoughlin to the south and Mt. Thielsen, Baily, Diamond Peak and two of the Sisters in the north. Mt. Scott, which is the tallest mountain in the Park, standing at 8929 ft, had a lot of snow on it’s north side but hardly any on its south side. There were also several other smaller mountains still covered in the snowy white stuff. This truly showed just how much colder and shadier the northern flanks of the Cascades can hold their snow but how soon their south flanks lose their snow pack. Crater Lake had also fallen victim to this vicious cycle since the northern rim, which was facing south was bare but the southern rim, facing north had snow reaching all the way to the lakes edge. The rim drive road was open north from the Cleetwood Trail and eventually ended south at the Crater Lake Lodge. We took the hike down the Cleetwood Trail and I was tempted to go for a swim but eventually I decided that my shorts wouldn’t dry fast enough. Going up to my knees was good enough at the time. We also hiked up towards 8,054 ft Garfield Peak but eventually had to turn back due to the snow on the trail. Maybe it was better that this was only a day trip since most of the trails were closed as well as half the drive around the lake. However, if I had brought my snow-shoes I could have again spent over a week here. I took this shot while hiking on the Garfield Trail. I made sure and lowered my camera enough so I could get the snow in the foreground. This picture truly shows how much snow was on the north side and how much less was on the side facing south. You can clearly see Wizard Island and Llao Rock standing behind it at 8,049 ft. You can just barely see Mt. Thielsen just to the right of Llao Rock. To get this shot I had the exposure at auto and set the ISO to 100. I never had to use my tripod all day since I was there during daylight and there were limited shady areas. However, I did set my white balance to around -1 for most of the day. The F stop was at 6.4 and the shutter speed was at 1/83 second. I was using my ultra wide-angle lens and had the focal length at 21mm. It was impossible for me to get the entire lake in view even when using my 12mm wide-angle lens. This place clearly shows just how limiting any type of lens is when trying to capture the entire lake in its view. Crater Lake NP is a must see for any photographer as well as any hiker or nature lover. I am all three so I won’t wait another 17 years before returning again.
[/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] 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.
[/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] This was another great day in the Cascades. I was able to get some really great shots of Mt. St. Helens, viewed from the south as well as Mt. Adams. This was another great sunny and scary warm day in early February. The morning started out pretty cold but by the afternoon, the snow was as soft as ice cream. I first set out to snow-shoe towards the Pine Martin trail but I decided to turn around after a 4 mile, uneventful hike. The snow was too hard and sparse to warrant me to wear my snow-shoes, so I just hiked along the trail before turning back. I decided to drive back to a large clear cut area to get some photos of the volcano before re-grouping. I finally decided to hike up Climbers Bivouac as far as I could before having to call it a day. I didn’t start until around 2:00 so I knew I wouldn’t be able to go as far as I would like to. I had just met a couple that had just returned from the summit. They stated that the snow was easy to hike through and could get above the treeline within an hour. They mentioned that they barely used their snow-shoes so I figured I would give it a shot. I had been near the winter climbing route of Climbers Bivouac before but that was during the summer. I have never hiked so fast in my life. My hiking shoes got soaked from all of the wet snow and I wished that I had worn my gators. The view turned out to be spectacular and the weather was even better. My time was limited but it was worth it. The day may have started out as a bust but the end of the day proved to be perfect.
The Pine trees in Central Oregon, during winter, make for great photo opportunities when the snow is falling and the clouds are overcast but bright. One this day, it was snowing pretty hard and several inches had accumulated on the trees. The glare was pretty high, so I used a lower exposure and several filters. I had my cir-p as well as an NDx4 that I used. Good thing I had my tripod with me. The wind was pretty fierce, so I had only seconds to get off some shots before having to clean my lens.
It’s still sunny and the snow is great in the Oregon Cascades. It hasn’t snowed in a while but the clear skies make for some really good views of the mountains. The trees especially look good in the foreground of the blue sky. However, I’m counting down the days until we get our next big snow storm.
Went on a beautiful snow-shoe trip to Trillium Lake yesterday. The lake is completely frozen over and covered with snow. Most of the many creeks were also covered with snow, which made it easy to snow-shoe across. However, there were plenty of creeks bubbling through the lake region. Another perfect Winter day in the Oregon Cascades.
The snow if falling in the Oregon Cascades and I’m counting the days before I can start snow-shoeing and taking some awesome pictures.