[/caption] Jefferson Park is considered one of the best areas to hike in the state of Oregon and I can pretty much attest to that. This is my second trip, in the last two years, to hike into Jefferson Park during the month of September and I have never been to a more magical place than this. Early fall guarantees small crowds, beautiful fall foliage, the chance to see some wildlife and some truly amazing peace and quiet. After arriving at the Park I spent the rest of the day hiking throughout the park boundaries as I photographed everything and anything that I could. I hiked around Russel lake twice and crouched along the vegetation in order to photograph the fall foliage with Mt. Jefferson in the background. There is such an abundance of water, even in late September, that you have ample enough water to cool yourself off. One of the best places to hike, in order to get some amazing panoramic shots of the park, is to hike up the PCT towards Park Butte which is north and overlooks the park. Unless you’re planning on camping, you will find it difficult to hike to the top since it will make it a 15 mile round trip hike and over 2300 feet of elevation gain. I ended up hiking about 1/16th of a mile which put me just high enough to get some awesome photos looking down on the park with Russel lake and Mt. Jefferson. You can hike around the many small alpine ponds and lakes that dot the park and you will be lucky enough to see the numerous bear, elk and deer prints imprinted in the soft mud near the water. I was lucky enough to even spot a very rare and otherwise nonexistent SNOW OWL. I had to do a double take and even questioned what I think I saw but after I got home my wife went online and verified that there have been rare sightings in Oregon. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a photo and only got a quick view of it. I took this particular shot while using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic photo as possible as well as get a large field of view so there wouldn’t be any blur. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-5.7 and the shutter speed at 1/128 second. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3 due to the glare from the sun and snow on the mountain. I took this photo at 3:48pm and the saturation and brightness of the sun was perfect. The sun was at about a 90 degree angle and the sky was saturated perfectly. Fall always offers the best pictures late in the afternoon and this was no exception.
[/caption] Dry Creek Falls is known to be one of the most seldom visited waterfalls within the Columbia River Gorge scenic area. This is the main reason that I had never took the time to make the 5.5 round trip hike to the waterfall. However, I am very glad that I finally decided to make the hike to this spectacular and very secluded and seldom visited gem. Sometimes you need to decide for yourself before you let someone else decide whether something is worth visiting or not. I was totally amazed at this scenic hike along the PCT, especially with the canopy of neon green trees and vegetation that littered the area. There are plenty of wildflowers along the trail and you also follow along the creek just before ending at the falls. I also happened along a deer that had been grazing just above the hiking trail. Parts of the trail do cut through some power lines but its only for a few hundred yards and once you get far enough on the trail you will no longer hear the busy I-84 traffic. Unfortunately, because the waterfall was used as a diversion dam back in the day, parts of the falls below the water is littered with iron and old concrete along with an old pipe just below the falls which is hard to keep out of your photos. However, I was able to take many photos as well as this one shown that doesn’t show any remnants of the dam. I took this shot while using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I was standing just behind the old dam so I could set the focal length at 28mm and then frame the huge walls surrounding the area. I made sure to attach my ND8, warming filter and CIR-PL so I could have the camera in Shutter Priority. I set the shutter speed at 4 seconds and the aperture was at F-16. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3. Because the falls are in such a secluded area which get only limited light I was able to take this shot at 12:00pm even though the sun was directly behind the falls. It’s hard to imagine that there is probably even a bigger waterfall in the cliffs behind dry creek falls. This is a hike definitely worth making and you will really enjoy the solitude of the area.