[/caption] Finally, the first sunny day after 7 days of winter storms hammered the Cascades with fresh powder. I was expecting to be visiting the Cascades during white out conditions. However, the morning of my snow-shoe trip, I noticed that they had changed their report to sunny skies. The early morning saw some of the best weather since the sun was shining and there were only a limited number of clouds. However, just like clock work, the clouds began to white out parts of the sky by around 1:00 pm. I always find this frustrating since you only have a few hours of sunny weather during winter. I guess this proves that you really need to get lucky in order to find that epic shot that no one else will get. I started my day by photographing Mt. Hood from the west and then eventually moving to the east part of the mountain. I started my 8 mile snow-shoe adventure on the east part of Mt. Hood, which included traversing some very steep and tricky terrain. I’ve done this same snow-shoe trip before but this time the snow was particularly deep. There were several additional feet of snow that had drifted into the steep parts that I was climbing. I eventually ended up with cramps in my hamstrings but luckily I had plenty of water with me. Once I got to the top I found that the sun was getting lower and the clouds were moving in. The snow was absolutely epic and the scenery was even better. There is nothing more invigorating than fresh powder that is untouched and no sounds other than the wind and your snow shoes blazing through the snow. This is exactly why snow-shoeing is so awesome. I took this photo at 12:24 pm and that’s mostly why I chose this photo. The sky is still pretty clear and you can see the blue in the background. The sun is just to the left, which creates some really cool shadows from the trees in the left of the frame. I also wanted to show just how much powder was still resting in the trees as well as the untouched powder in the foreground. This day was unusually busy for a Thursday but I still found myself alone for 95% of the day. I didn’t bring my tripod since I didn’t want to carry the extra weight and I also wanted to cover as much terrain as I could without having to set my tripod. I normally use only one lens so I don’t have to take the risk of getting my sensor dirty. I also use a holster, which I attach to the front of my backpack. This way I can quickly take out my camera to take a photo and then quickly put it back in its holster. I find that this is the best and most effective way to take photos when snow-shoeing. I was using my Canon Rebel T1i and my Canon 18-55mm lens. I attached my UV, warming and CIR-PL filters and also used them throughout my entire trip. I had the setting at Program mode so the F stop was at F-9 and I had set the ISO to 100. The white balance was at -1.7 and the exposure speed was at 1/160 second.
[/caption] Who’s ready for the ski resorts in the Pacific Northwest to open already? After we received our first snow storm in late October we have been patiently waiting for the intense pounding of the fresh white stuff. However, we have been getting a mixed bag of rain and snow in the higher elevations. It’s only a matter of time before winter comes in full force but I’ve already completed my first snow-shoe journey and I’ve eagerly taken out my snow-board gear. I took this shot a few weeks ago while visiting Trillium lake. You can see Timberline lodge in the lower right side of the photo and you can see just how awesome Mt. Hood can look once it’s covered in snow. To get this shot I was standing on the far end of the lakes edge and made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any shake. I was using my Canon Rebel T1I and my Canon 55-250 telephoto lens. The focal length was set at 131mm in order to keep the mountain in the foreground without showing any of the green vegetation showing in the lower elevations. I was using my UV, warming and my CIR-PL filter since I took the photo at 11:20 am and the sun was fairly bright even though the edges of the lake were shadowed by the trees. The F-stop was at F-8 and the shutter speed was 1/400 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to 0. I again had the camera set in the Program mode. The best thing about this photo is that there are only a few shadow’s showing along the mountain. This allows you to see all of the crevices and little peaks near the higher elevations. You can see where the Palmer lift ends as well as the vapor vent in the upper right side of the photo.
[/caption] The Pacific Northwest received its first early winter storm of the year and I wanted to make sure and capture the aftermath. the weather service was calling for partially sunny skies on Wednesday so I decided that it would be the best day to try and get some great photos of the fresh snow along with untouched powder. I was pleasantly surprised to find out just how awesome the day was as well as surprised that the east side of Mt. Hood was completely untracked. The temperatures were rising as the day moved along but the snow was still hanging on to the trees and the snow was still pretty solid. Earlier in the day, the wind was howling near 50 mph on the west side of Mt. Hood and the snow was thick from Timberline to the summit. However, as the day progressed, the snow started to melt a little, which caused several of the jagged rocks on the volcano to show several bare spots. The morning was the best time to get shots of the mountain when it still looked like an ice cream cone. The snow was as low as Government Camp as well as Trillium Lake. The gate at the Trillium Lake entrance was open so we were able to drive right to the lakes edge. I felt as though I had cheated some great shots of Mt. Hood and Trillium Lake in the foreground since I normally have to make the 5 mile round trip trek from the sno-park. We later traveled east and found that the wind on the White River East trail was non existent and the conditions were epic. Fresh powder, snow covered trees and a great view of the mountain. Our tracks were pretty deep since the temperature was rising and we were the first to snow-shoe the area. As the day progressed, the clouds started to roll in and the winds started to pick up. We finished the day at Timberline lodge where we warmed up with some great strong hot drinks at the Ram’s Head Bar and watched most of the snow near the summit disappear. I hope that the next storm brings in even colder temperatures and more snow to the Cascades. I took this photo near the White River East Sno-Park at 1:05pm. The sun was fairly low in the background, which created a nice glare along with some shadow’s from the trees as well as the clouds just starting to approach. The snow is completely un-tracked and the trees are still pretty well covered by snow. I was using my Canon T1I Rebel along with my Canon 18-55mm lens. I was using my UV, warming and CIR-PL filters since the glare was pretty intense and the filters helped create a much softer image. I set the White Balance to -0.7 and the ISO at 100. The shutter speed was at 1/200 second and the F stop was at F-9. I also had the focal length at 27mm. I brought my tripod on my snow-shoe trek but I didn’t end up using it while snow-shoeing. Therefore, this photos was taken without a tripod. Nothing is worse than carrying your tripod on your pack while you’re snow-shoeing. I did lighten my load by only taking two of my lenses but I always end up with additional weight once I factor in all of the survival gear and additional clothes that you carry with you when snow-shoeing.
[/caption] We are enjoying the last few days of sunny and warm weather in Oregon but I can’t wait for some snow to fall in the Cascades. The farmers almanac is predicting a snowy season in the higher elevations and colder temperatures in the lower elevations. Compared to our winter last year, I’m not going to argue with that. I’m hoping for snow during Christmas and some really good snow in the mountains by this Sunday. Snow-shoeing is by far the best way for me to travel to areas throughout the Cascades in order to get some really awesome photos. However, sometimes you can find some great photo opportunities in places that you would least expect. The photo in this article is a perfect example. I took this photo from the shoulder of Hwy 26, just before you get to Government Camp, OR. This spot offers some of the best views of Mt. Hood, looking from the west. Normally you find cars stopped at the shoulder putting on their chains or you may find the occasional tourist posing for pictures. I took this photo back in January 2009, after a huge blizzard. I was lucky enough to have the day off on the day the storm had broke just the morning before it snowed for 14 days straight. The mountain looks like a giant ice cream cone with no real visible bare spots. I ended up taking a 6 hour snow-shoe journey near one of the lakes that is surrounded by the presence of the mountain. Other than maybe x-country skiing, I can’t see anything better than snow-shoeing when trying to have an epic photography session after a massive snow storm. You may be able to go faster and cover more distance x-country skiing but you can go places on snow shoes that are impossible with x-country skis. I was using my 8 mp Panasonic DMC-FZ30 point and shoot digital camera. This was my first camera that I bought before purchasing my Canon T1i DSLR. I still have this camera and I’ve taken some great photos with it. I had the focal length set at 36mm and the ISO was at 80 and the white balance was at 0 step. I had the camera in landscape mode while in Program mode. The exposure time was 1/160 second and the F stop was at F-5. I don’t believe I was using my tripod but I was using my UV, warming and CIR-PL filters. I took several great shots on this day and I can only hope that this winter is half as good as the winter of 2009. I’m already dusting off my snow-shoes and going through my photos that I took during that winter.
[/caption] Ramona Falls is a great 7.1 mile hike within the Mt. Hood National Forest. I have meant to hike this trail for several years but I always chose to hike in an area that gave me a grand view of Mt. Hood. I finally chose to hike to Ramona Falls on one of the busiest days of the year…Labor Day! However, it was a great time to hike to the falls since it was overcast and rather chilly. You couldn’t see the mountain so the hike made perfect sense. However, the water level was rather low and all of the summer flowers were long gone at this point. The Ramona Falls loop is about 7.1 miles and the elevation gain is about 1,000 feet. The trail starts out through a mossy forest of small alders and hemlocks and parallels the Sandy river and Ramona Creek. The most scenic of the trail loop follows the mossy bank of Ramona Creek which also passes the huge granite cliffs just east of the trail. You can jump across the creek and look up at the immense granite facade and walk along the many fallen granite rocks resting on the floor of the cliffs. Most of them are covered by moss but many seem to have just broken from the cliffs and tumbled near your feet. This is a great spot to take some photos of the granite rock wall and the trees hanging along the cliff edge. There are many spots to take of the creek’s many small water falls that parallel the trail. The forest floor is teaming with mossy areas that create a very scenic and tranquil setting. Though my main goal was to photograph the falls, most of my photos that I took were mostly from the forest, the cliff’s, the creek and the forest high above the Sandy River. However, I was able to take several photos of the falls since it’s a very photogenic waterfall. However, I could only imagine how much water passes down the waterfall in early Spring. To get this shot, I was using my 18-55mm canon lens and had the focal length at 24mm. I was using my tripod along with my bubble level and remote switch. I was using the shutter mode and had the shutter at 3.22 seconds. The glare was too intense to increase the shutter time. The ISO was at 100 and the White Balance was at -2 due to the glare from the waterfall. The lens aperture was at F-22 since I was using my CIR-PL and my warming filter. I would highly recommend this trail since it’s a great area to get several different types of photos as well as offering a very scenic and calming environment.
[/caption] One of my favorite places to hike within the Mt. Hood National Forest is where this photo was taken. There are only gravel roads that take you to this part of the mountain, which eliminates most of the crowds and reduces any road noise far below the trails. Another great reason is due to the fact that there are no signs of any clear cutting of the forest and there are over 7 trails zigzagging throughout the National Forest. The PCT cuts right through the trail systems and there are several other trails that take you in any direction. As you can see, this is also one of the best areas to get the best view of Mt. Hood. Mt. Hoods personality really shines from many of the vantage points. You can see its glaciers, the carving of the huge canyon below and also the birth of the Sandy River. Wildflowers grow along the creeks, the trails edges and along the many cairns exposed to the elements. This is truly a magical place that can really calm the senses and create an epic adventure. There are also many photo opportunities as well. if you decide to hike down to the muddy creek area, you can witness several towering waterfalls and almost hear the echoing of the alpine glaciers. However, the bridge across muddy creek which connect to Romona Falls is still out and has been for a several years. Unfortunately this means that you have to turn back once you get to the creek. However, you can hike back up and then hike along a different section of the timberline trail towards McNeil Point. This part of the trail opens up to some spectacular views. I took this shot posted on my blog at Bald Mountain. This is a very popular spot to photograph Mt. Hood and for good reason. It allows you a great panoramic view of the mountain, the forest and the forest below that was carved out by the elements. For most of the day I was using my tripod but when I took this shot I wasn’t using it. The morning started out a little hazy and the sun was fairly bright. I had the camera set on Program mode and I was using my CIR-PL, warming filter and UV protector. This helped cut down on the harsh light created by the sun and haze. The exposure time was 1/125 second, the F stop was at F8 and the ISO was at 100. I set the white balance at -2 since there were no shadows and I was in an open area with too much exposure. I was using my 12-24mm wide-angle lens and the focal length was at 20mm. I’ve made this hike three times now and it’s one of my favorite places to hike.
[/caption] One of my more grueling hikes that I’ve done so far this summer. In fact, this was one of my most difficult and longest hikes I’ve ever done. I’ve done this hike before but I stopped near Lamerson Butte which is at 6500′ and there wasn’t any snow covering the trail. This time I hiked to about 8500′ and had to use my poles since the last 3500′ were covered in snow with only some bare spots along the trail. Even the main trail disappeared at about 5500′. This made it more difficult when I was coming down since I had to find the trail through the spotty snow trails made from myself and some other hikers. The last 1500′ feet was especially tiresome since I had to go off the trail and blaze up the snow banks. However, I always enjoy hiking in the snow during the month of July. Especially when its 80 degrees at the start of the trail. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun was pretty relentless. I could see several pockets of water growing from the many snow banks around the mountain. At least the snow was solid enough to make my hike much easier. The hike is pretty much straight up and then straight down, when returning to the bottom of the trail. I probably hiked between 12.5 and 13 miles total and ended with about 3500′ elevation gain. To make this hike, its best to start near the Mt. Hood nordic center parking area. The trail starts just before you get to the nordic center and there is a parking area right at the head of the trail. It’s best to follow the Elk Meadow trail and then veer left at a trail junction towards the Gnarl Ridge trail. You can actually hike all the way to Cloud Cap and Cooper Spur but that would make for a really long day hike. You hike across several creeks, which makes for some really good stations to cool down. There is plenty of shade for most of the hike and you have some spectacular views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier to the north as well as Mt. Jefferson and parts of the Three Sisters to the south. I was standing just up from Lamberson Butte when I took this shot. You can see where Newton Creek is born in this photo. You can also witness many of the boulders rumbling down Gnarl Ridge and then crashing down to the bottom. Usually it starts with an echoing sound and then you just have to look for the dust high in the distance. The best part is watching the boulders cascade at high speeds and then crashing to a halt. There are several wildflowers at the high elevations. Once you get above the tree line, the vegetation takes on a whole knew personality. Lichen grows on the rocks and all kinds of crazy but colorful plants and flowers grow in the volcanic soil. To get this shot I had to be especially wary of the glare since there were no clouds and the sun was high in the sky which caused a lot of sun glare. I was using my 12-24mm wide-angle lens in order to capture as much of the panoramic scene as possible. The focal length was at 15mm and the F stop was at 8. I set the ISO at 100 and the exposure compensation/white balance was at -1. the shutter speed was at 1/125 second. I had my CIR-PL, warming filter and UV filter attached. Since the field of view was so vast and there were no shadows, I knew that I wouldn’t be needing my tripod. Which is a good thing since I didn’t bring it with me. This hike is a must if you really want to test your stamina and leg strength. It’s a very grueling hike but you could go even further if you have the ability. Sometimes having to carry all of my camera equipment along with my supplies makes these types of hikes especially difficult. However, I will do it again next summer for sure.
[/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.
[/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.
[/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.