[/caption] The best thing about snow-shoeing in fresh powder is that you can always find some great photo opportunities. I always try to include the snow covered trees, the untracked fresh powder and a mountain or hill in the distance. It’s also beneficial if you have a sky with a great personality in the background of the mountain. The is a great shot since it includes everything that I just mentioned. The sky is really cool since the blue sky had just given way to some high clouds that were moving in from the north. I was snow-shoeing up near Mt. Hood when I turned around to see this great view of the snow and clouds. I was lucky enough to not have tracked through this scene and was very impressed with the color of the clouds moving in. I’ve been to this spot several times but I’ve always been disappointed with the clouds in the background. However, this time I was very impressed. To get this shot I was using my 18-55mm Canon lens along with my Canon T1i Rebel. I wasn’t using my tripod since the lighting was pretty good. I had the camera in Program mode with the ISO set at 100 and the white balance at -1.3. The F stop was at F-9 and the shutter speed was at 1/160 second. I was using my UV, warming and CIR-PL filter and the focal length was at 55mm. The snow was so awesome that I could have spent all day photographing within just a 1/4 mile radius of where I parked. There is something magical about being the first person to snow-shoe during the first snow storm of the year. There is nothing better that knowing that you can just point your camera in any direction and know that you don’t have to worry about finding unwanted snow-shoe prints in your scene. Unless of course it’s of your own snow-shoe tracks.
[/caption] One of the best things about the Pacific Northwest Cascades is that you can always find a great place to view the volcanoes that span the Cascade mountain range, as well as the enormous stands of forest. Some of the best things to do when taking in the views is to gaze out across the enormous span of forest and look down and try to find some of the meadows and alpine lakes. The geology is so diverse and complicated that it’s hard to imaging just how violent the Cascades were during their earliest days. It’s also hard to imagine that some of the only alpine glaciers, within the lower 48 states, are found in the Cascade range. 97% of them are found in the North Cascades National Park alone. It’s well worth taking the time to hike some of the trails that they offer and take advantage of it diverse geology and awesome splendors. I took this shot of mt. Jefferson in the distance using my ultra-wide angle lens in order to show just how impressive the forest and the foothills are. The focal length of my 12-24 wide angle lens was at 14mm. I set the ISO at 100 and the F stop was at F-6.4. The exposure time was at 1/100 second and I didn’t use my tripod to take this shot. The clouds helped create some great pictures as well as provide some great personality of the forest. I had to have the F-stop below 7 since the sun was hidden behind the clouds during this photo. I have some shots with more sun but it caused too much glare and also the photo to be somewhat over-exposed. Having clouds in your shots always creates a much need personality of the Cascades. This is especially true if the sun is too bright and the sky is somewhat hazy.
[/caption] This is one of my favorite spots to cast a view of 5 of the Cascade Volcanoes. You can see Mt. St. Helen’s, Rainier, Adams, Hood and Mt. Jefferson from the crest of this old Fire lookout site. You can also see the tops of Mt. Washington, North and Middle Sister’s. You can see just how spectacular the forest surrounding the Cascades is as well as the intense greenery and solitude that it provides. It’s hard to believe that the forest service was paid to look out from this spot several years ago. The only thing remaining are the concrete steps and a small plaque. During July and August, several summer flowers grow along the crags and cliff’s surrounding the Western Cascades. This trail is only about an hour drive from Portland but you would never think that it’s that close to civilization. Since the forest road is so remote and the trail is somewhat poorly marked, I have never seen anyone on this trail. This is surely a place to have some peace and quiet. I hiked the trail over the weekend in order to take advantage of the beautiful weather in the Pacific Northwest. I was a little nervous about the sun glare so I started the hike in the later part of the morning, which put me on the top of the summit by about 4:00. The trail to the ridge is only about 4 miles round trip but there are several other trails that zigzag through the Cascades and also to some of the nicest meadows and natural spring lakes. I also ran into several feet of snow along the trail, which really slowed me down. I haven’t seen that much snow during the middle of June since 2007. I was forced to scramble through the snow when the trail was impassable as well as rummage through the thickets. I ended up with some descent scrapes but it was well worth it. I took this shot from near the concrete steps in order to get the crags and fir trees in the foreground and give it more personality. I was using my wide angle lens and had the focal length at 15mm. I had the camera mode set at auto exposure and the ISO at 100. Since I was facing away from the sun, I had to keep the white balance at 0 and the F-stop at 8. I was using my tripod to stabilize the camera since there was just a slight breeze. This is one of those hikes that you could do several times a year without ever getting bored.