If you’re gearing up for some great Mt. Hood hiking, this summer, I would highly recommend that you put the Gnarl Ridge hike on your list of things to do! The destination is actually just on the other side of Lamberson Butte but the Gnarl Ridge is located far below. You can also get to Cloud Cap from the same trail. The trail usually opens around late June but it really depends on how good or bad the snow season was. However, You can complete the hike if parts of the trail are still covered in snow but it can also be pretty tricky. You would also have to hike off trail and be comfortable with hiking in some steep snow covered terrain that can get pretty steep. This is on the north side of the ridge and this is the part that could be covered in snow and fairly steep towards the top. Most of the trail ascends from the southeast part of the ridge but the remaining part is on the east side and it can get pretty windy and can still have snow well into July. The photo posted in this blog post was taken from the back side of Lamberson Butte. The elevation is 6500 feet and the start of the hike is at an elevation of 4470 feet. This hike is pretty Difficult since it does have 2400 feet of elevation gain and the entire hike is 10.2 miles round trip. It’s also fairly strenuous and there are’t very many lulls along the hiking trail. However, this hike has it all…. Glacier access, views of the entire Oregon and parts of the Washington Cascades, foot bridges, river access as well as several small creeks that offer a great cooling off spot. You will also want to pack some mosquito repellent and lots of snacks and water. It can get pretty hot on the east side of the mountain but most of the trail is covered by the trees. There are also abundant wildlife and dozens of wildflowers to photograph. I took this shot with my Canon Rebel T1I.
Spring has officially arrived in the Pacific Northwest and if you live near Portland, Oregon, you know that Forest Park offers some of the best places to take in the lush green vegetation that surrounds the Northwest. There are still some dormant plants along the edges of the trails as well as the underbrush but you can still expect to see some amazing wild trillium’s blanketing the forest. The past few weeks have brought a lot of rain to the trails and forest canopy but we are looking at a pretty sunny and warm next few days. You can expect to be hiking on a very soft trail system as well as still enjoy the coolness surrounding the park. Summer can be really bad, with the trails as hard as a rock, stagnant air and lifeless vegetation. However, Spring offers the exact opposite, with the best hiking opportunities that the Pacific Northwest could ever create. The weekend’s can get pretty busy, so I would recommend that you go on a weekday. Early morning or later in the day can be the best time to go if you can’t get the time off, during the afternoon. If you plan on taking some photos, I would recommend that you attach your wide angle lens and plan on getting some great shots of the towering and lush trees overhead, like the photo that I just posted, You can also get some great shots of the trails, winding through the green canopy. You will also have the opportunity to get some shots of the creek since the previous rains have swollen the brooks and small creeks that wind throughout the park. However, you may want to bring a tripod in order to get the best shots. You will also have some great opportunities to see some of the woodpeckers that call Forest Park home.
The Cherry Blossom’s have made an early display in the Pacific Northwest and it looks like the recent rains have already closed down the show pretty early. Even though Spring just started, most of the blossom’s had started blooming several weeks ago. You can still find a few trees that bloom later than most but you will have to wait for a few days before the sun reappears in order to try to photograph any of the trees that are still in bloom. I was really surprised to find almost no bees swarming around the trees throughout the Willamette Valley. I only found one bee hive and usually I find myself immersed and surrounded by hundreds of hungry bees swarming along the trees. Maybe it’s because they bloomed well before spring or maybe it’s a sign that the bees are having a harder time that we thought. Most of the spring vegetation is still dormant or just barely starting to show their colors, so I expect that once it starts to dry out again and warm up the bees will be out in force. I would recommend that you get ready for some pretty spectacular spring flowers to make a rather awesome entry by early next week. Even though there are a lot of tulip’s and lily’s making an early arrival, I think that we should have a pretty spectacular display of flowers over the next several weeks.
Moon over Cannon Beach, Oregon is one of the best photo opportunities that I can experience while shooting sunset shots in the Pacific Northwest. However, I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing a large moon but even if it’s as small as the one in this photo, I’ll take it any day. The weather is showing that the summer weather throughout the entire Pacific Northwest will hang around for another week or so and the Oregon coast will again be in the 60’s. I would recommend that you grab your camera, tripod and head out to the coast and hope for another epic sunset. I will be heading out again and I can only hope that my last journey to the coast can be half as good this time. This photo was taken just after sunset and you can see the nuclear colors along the horizon. The tide was very low so I was able to get several other rocks in the photo that normally would be under water. The seabirds were pretty active since that tide was so low and they were scavenging along the exposed rocks, which either hindered my long exposures or gave me the opportunity to get some action shots with moving wildlife. Late winter and early Spring can really create some great sunset shots and my last outing didn’t disappoint. To get this shot I made sure to attach my ND4 filter as well as my UV filter and warming filter. I also made sure to use a tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I set the shutter priority to 5 seconds and increased the ISO to 200. The crowds were pretty small so I was able to move around much easier than other times. I was also fortunate that there weren’t many people walking out near the tide so I didn’t have to worry too much about trying to avoid having someone walk in front of me.
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.
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.
One of the most grueling hikes in the Mt. Hood National Forest is a hike called Devils Peak Lookout. It provides over 3200 feet of elevation gain and is a 8.2 mile round trip hike. The hike is pretty much straight up and straight down. It’s also like doing heavy squats up and then heavy lunges down. The only rest time available is when you decide that you need to take a break. You can also expect to feel like you have 50 charlie horse running through your legs for at least 5 days. You literally won’t be able to walk normally for almost 5 straight days. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and make the hike and then you will. By the time you get half way down from the trail, you will start to really feel the pain shooting through your knees and quads. You can rest anytime you want but unfortunately, you are only putting off the inevitable. I usually rest about every mile or so and then snack a little bit in order to recharge. The hike itself is amazing with fantastic views along the way as well as spectacular old growth forest the entire length of the hike. The photo that I posted is just one of the millions of photo opportunities that you will find throughout the entire hike. There are several areas where you will be able to walk across some really small trickles of water but the best part is it provides the opportunity to cool down. I normally drench myself as much as possible since I’m usually sweating like a pig even though 90 percent of the trail is completely shaded from the sun. The name of the trail is actually called Cool Creek Trail but you don’t actually hike along or near a creek. I don’t think any of the small brooks that you will see actually pass as a creek. This is especially true since they pretty much dry up during the summer months. However, it did rain the morning I made the hike so I was able to find some trickling water at one of the spots. There is also a creek where you park but it’s called Still Creek. If you’re training for a serious climb, I would highly recommend this hike but if you’re only looking for a easy or moderate hike, I would recommend that you avoid this trail. There are plenty of other hikes available within the Mt. Hood Wilderness area. However, this hike has it all! Awesome views of Mt. Hood and Jefferson, salmon berries, Oregon grape and rhododendrons. You may also see several different species of alpine birds.
Mt. Rainier is one of the West’s most visible and prolific volcanic mountains and if you’re planning a visit during the month of September you can be sure to have the time of your life. The best thing about visiting is having the opportunity to watch some of the most awesome displays of Mt. Rainier devouring clouds that venture too close to it’s summit. The mountain can literally suck in a cloud and completely disperse its energy. As you can see from this photo, the cloud is spinning around the summit like a flushed toilet bowl and it’s just about to be consumed. I first noticed the cloud when it was over 10 miles away but as the morning turned into afternoon the cloud was beginning to get sucked into the mountain. It literally spun the cloud around until it was literally consumed. It was very entertaining and awe inspiring to watch this phenomenon. I would highly recommend a visit during the month of September since school has started and the peak summer season is over. The crowds are almost non existent, which is in itself the most important reason to go in September. You will also almost be guaranteed sunny and warm temperatures with lots of sunshine. You will also have a great opportunity to see black bears foraging for food as well as elk and deer. The late summer foliage is in full display and the wildlife is unbelievable. Also, since the mornings and evenings are much cooler than during summer, most of the wildfires are mostly contained or completely out. This will allow for cleaner air, skies and longer views of the wilderness.
Beautiful view of the Olympic Mountains from Hansville, WA. The water in the foreground of the Olympic Mountains is Hood Canal and Driftwood Key. Hansville, WA is a small unincorporated community with no more than 3,000 full time residents but the geography offers some of the best views within the entire United States. You can see the sky scrapers of downtown Seattle, the Olympic mountains and the Cascade mountains. Hansville is only one of the many small towns that are within Kitsap Peninsula and each of them all offer some pretty spectacular views of the Sound and/or of the mountains. One of the best thing about the area is that it’s mostly protected by its small inlets and harbors. This allows the water to be pretty calm and offers several opportunities to swim, fish, kayak or sail. While visiting, I noticed that most of the people in the area were tourists, so you will want yo plan on dealing with a lot of traffic during the summertime and especially during the weekends. However, it’s easy to drive throughout the Peninsula in order to visit the many small towns and harbors dotting the county. There are several hiking trails along either the beaches or within the expansive forests. You will also have the opportunity to see a lot of birds of prey like, osprey, eagle and hawks. There are also a few fresh water lakes and camping spots that offer visitors to really take in the outdoors.
Beautiful photo of Oneonta Falls and bridge in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon. This particular trail will take you to four spectacular waterfalls and provide you some of the most awesome views of the Columbia River as well as views of the thick forest and lava cut gorge. One of the best hiking destinations is above Triple Falls and if you continue past the falls, you can expect to hike alongside the creek that feeds the waterfalls. There are thousands of photo opportunities and if you’re up to a really long and strenuous hike, you can continue for another 7.7 mile to reach Multnomah Falls. On this particular hike, to Triple Falls, I was sadly turned away due to the fact that there was a mud slide that took out a portion of the trail just a few hundred feet from the waterfall. The forest service was working on the trail but it was a mud soaked mess and I wasn’t interested in slogging through three feet of mud. The trail was still open and passable but it was pretty muddy and you can expect to endure a very muddy mess for at least another month before it dries out. I decided to turn back and head towards Oneonta Falls to see if I could get some descent shots. The switchback that continues past the bridge was also damaged, so you can expect to get pretty muddy as well. However, if you park on the other side of Horsetail Falls parking lot, you can come in from the west and avoid the muddy part of the trail. Because the snow in the mountains are melting and with all of the rain that we have received lately, you can expect the waterfalls to be at their peak. The water is thundering through the gorge and you will find yourself immersed in fresh water chaos. The vegetation is at it’s peak and the rivers, streams and creeks are swollen to their brim. Now is the absolute best time to visit the gorge, if you want to see the gorge at its best as well as having the best opportunities to get some great shots. To get this shot, I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. I set the camera mode to shutter priority and set it at 2.5 seconds in order to get the flowing motion of the waterfall. The water was moving so fast that I never set the shutter priority past four seconds all day. The waterfalls were literally moving at light speed and anything over four seconds washed out the water. I set the ISO at 100, white balance at -1.3 and the aperture was at F-4. The skies were completely overcast and it was sprinkling all day. However, since the water was moving so fast, it caused the pictures to become too bright, so I had to reduce the white balance to offset the highlights. If you have a descent telephoto lens you can get some great opportunities to get some shots of the raptors flying around the gorge. While hiking near the main trail I saw two juvenile bald eagles jump from their perch and start hovering just above where I was standing. I also saw several bald eagles and osprey flying near the Columbia River gorge. The gorge is a raptor gold mine due to all of the fish in the river. If you have the patience, you can expect to get some great photos of them.