[/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’ve been posting so many photos from my recent hikes along waterfalls that I decided to dig deep into my bag and post one of my all-time favorite pictures. Since I’ll be taking many more photos of the green vegetation and waterfalls this Spring, I wanted to include something just the opposite. This photo was taken last October and was taken in the late part of the afternoon. Lost Lake is about 25 miles south of Hood River and follows a windy but well maintained paved road. There are several views of Mt. Hood along the way as well as some of the best Fall colors available. There is an awesome hiking trail that goes around the lake, which is about 3.4 miles. Three are several viewing areas along the lake. Since you aren’t allowed to have motorized boats on the lake, it mostly stays calm. There is also a great hike that takes you to Lost Lake Butte, with an elevation of 4468′. It has an elevation gain of 1300′ and is about 3.8 miles round trip. I believe that most of the trees in the area are old growth. The summit includes some of the most spectacular views of Mt. Hood and provides an absolute clear view of the mountain. This shot was taken on 10/21/09 and I used my auto exposure without using a tripod. I used my 18-55mm lens and set the focal length at 41mm. The F-stop was at 5 and the ISO was at 100. I was using my warming filter and my CIR-PL filter as well. Lost Lake has a very nice day use area as well as a very clean and well kept campground. They also rent cabins and I believe it also has a lodge. There is a general store and showers. They also rent canoes that you can take out on the lake. I hope to get a chance to visit Lost Lake before the end of May so I can get some great shots of Mt. Hood and all of its snow from our recent snow accumulations this Spring.