[/caption] Here is a shot that I took last July while hiking in the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I had visited the Park from the east, which is a long drive that takes you through Cougar and then north up the 131. The drive from Portland is very long and twisty but you are more likely to see herds of elk than people. This was my first trip along the east part of the mountain and I have to say that its one of the most scenic and peaceful parts of the wilderness. The Park reminded me of a National Park but minus the thousands of visitors and campsites. You can make it a day trip from Portland, during the longer days of summer, but I highly recommend you leave before sunrise and pack a lot of food since there are no places to eat. I took this shot with my Canon EOS T1i and my Tokina 12-24 wide angle lens. I was using my UV, warming and CIR-PL filter to bring out the colors and tame to intensity of the glaring sun. I took this shot looking south at about 6:35pm and the sun was just to the right. I had to set my ISO to 100 and the white balance to -2 due to the glare. The focal length was at 15mm and the shutter speed was 1/100 second. I was standing directly in the path of the explosion that destroyed all of the timber in its path. There were several pumice fields directly below where I was standing and you can see that some of the vegetation was just beginning to come back. I was amazed at the amount of pumice that littered the entire north side of the park. It was like walking through time and you could physically see the destruction from the wrath of the volcano. You can hike to Spirit lake and view the thousands of trees littering the lake and photograph dozens of species of wild flowers that grow among the pumice fields. I highly recommend visiting the park from the north east side. There are dozens of trails to hike and the park is very well kept and there are numerous areas to picnic. You are also guaranteed to see some wildlife. I startled a herd of elk while hiking on one of the trails and watched as they scurried up the mountain. This was truly an epic day.
[/caption] Newberry Crater is one of the best places to visit in Oregon if you want to get the most of everything in one park. Paulina Creek spills from one of the the Caldera lakes and eventually spills over an impressive waterfall. There are two huge Caldera lakes that were formed when the volcano erupted and then several other eruption’s also created the Big Obsidian Flow and other historical features throughout the park. There is also a lakeshore hot springs, the gigantic flow of obsidian glass and a miniature cinder cone crater. There are several hiking and mt. biking trails throughout the park as well as the steep trail that takes you to the summit of 7,984 Paulina Peak. Paulina Peak is the dominant peak that’s left of the Caldera when it exploded. Most of the crater’s edges around the volcano were mostly leveled by the force of the explosion. There are two Caldera Lakes which are Paulina Lake and East Lake. Each lake is teaming with trout and salmon. As you drive towards the summit area you are within a 17 square mile caldera at the summit of a 500 square mile volcano, a volcano that remains very active to this day. Newberry is both seismically and geothermally active. Geologists believe the caldera sits over a shallow magma body only 2 to 5 kilometers deep. Newberry Crater is considered an active volcano that is expected to erupt again. It’s made up of ash, pumice, lava, cinders and mudflows and contains about 100 cubic miles of volcanic material. There are several campsites and several small cabins that you can rent. The great thing about this place is that you will eventually learn a lot about geology without even realizing it. This shot was taken from the summit of Newberry Crater. There are several short hiking trails at the summit and there is a fairly short but very rough gravel road that takes you to the summit. On a clear day you can see several cinder cones dotting the Central Oregon landscape as well as several of the Cascade Mountains. However, there was a large forest fire that caused the forest below to be covered in haze as well as the sky. I decided to use this photo since it shows both lakes and the Big Obsidian Flow below. You can also see the giant cinder cone separating the two lakes. To get this shot I used my 12-24mm wide-angle lens and had the focal length at 13mm. I wasn’t using my tripod since there was limited shadows and full light. I had the camera in Program mode and I was using my CIR-PL, warming filter and my UV filter to cut down on the brightness of the sky and field of view. The F stop was at 7 and the ISO was at 100. I set the white balance to 0 since I was facing directly away from the sun but there was a strong haze that created too much darkness when I trial to reduce the white balance. The exposure time was 1/100 of a second. Having some clouds helped give it some personality but the hazy sky really made this shot difficult and there really isn’t much you can do when there is a forest fire nearby and lots of haze to contend with.