[/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] Friday was another great day to view the Falls in and around the Gorge. Most of the vegetation is out but there are still some vegetation that is just not ready yet. However, there were plenty of neon greens to create a great landscape with the creeks and waterfalls in the background. I decided to take as many pictures along the gorge in one day. I started my morning atop the Womens Forum State Scenic Viewpoint and eventually finished near Hood River atop Mitchel Point, a grueling but quick hike that overlooks the entire gorge. The day was filled with downpours, wind, sun, sprinkles and cold. The waterfalls are currently so thunderous that it’s almost impossible to get a pictures near the falls without ending up with water spots covering your lens. I was forced to delete most of my photos due to this. I was able to photograph over 10 of the waterfalls and visit three viewpoints that are high above the gorge. I decided to post this picture of Wahclella Falls since it shows just how green the vegetation is and how scenic the gorge is. There were several other smaller waterfalls pouring over the basalt cliffs as I was trying to take this picture high above the basalt grotto. This waterfall is one of the most difficult to photograph due to the speed and strength of the falls. The speed of the water coming out of Wahclella Falls is so great that it’s really hard to get the mirrored effect without distorting the rest of the falls and creek. To get this shot I hiked just above the main trail and used my tripod to steady my camera. The exposure mode was set at auto exposure and the exposure program was set at shutter priority. The shutter was set at .8 seconds and the focal length was set at 15mm. I was using my 12-24 wide angle lens and had attached my warming filter and my CIR-PL. I set the ISO to 100 and the F-stop was set at 18. The rain had just started again when I took this picture. The hike to Wahclella Falls is easy and very scenic. There are hundreds of areas to stop along the creek to take pictures of the vegetation clinging along the creek as well as the many moss covered rocks seemingly floating just above the water.
[/caption] One of the most majestic and massive waterfalls that I’ve seen in a long time. It isn’t nearly as tall as Multnomah Falls but this 3-tiered cascade starts with a hidden 50-foot falls, spreads across a 70-foot fan and finally drops 80 feet into a huge rock punchbowl. However, the last part of the waterfall isn’t within view due to the trees and the sheer drop next to the falls. The waterfall is so wide towards the top that you could park a semi from end to end and still not block the falls. The trail starts at about 15 miles north of Carson, WA at a primitive and quiet parking area. The last few miles are on a gravel/dirt road with some potholes. The best part of this hike isn’t just to the waterfall. If you backtrack about 1/2 mile there is another trail that takes you to the top of the falls. This puts you at 2370′ and right on top of the falls. There are several viewing areas at this elevation and the panoramic views are incredible. The forest is also especially beautiful and quiet. If you’re a fan on my business facebook page at PNW Photography LLC, you can see several more pictures from this hike. There is also another great little creek that flows down just before the main falls that a bridge crosses. I’m pretty sure that it’s a natural spring since the upper trail never crosses this same creek and it doesn’t seem like it forks from Falls Creek. This photo was taken at about 4:00 in the afternoon. I returned to the falls for a second time in order to avoid most of the glare from earlier in the morning. To get this shot I used my 12-24mm wide angle lens. I set the focal length at 16mm. I had my warming filter and CIR-PL attached to the lens. I set the ISO at 100 and the F-stop was at 16. I set the Exposure Program to Shutter Priority and set it at .5 seconds. I used my tripod in order to avoid camera shake. Again, a lot of the vegetation still wasn’t out which made for some of my shots to seem like there was some brown vegetation. Many of the wildflowers were starting to come out but I would give it another week or so before the rest of the neon greens break out. I’ll be returning once all of the colors are out.
[/caption] Friday was a great day to hike to the summit of Kings Mountain. However, the weather during the afternoon was much better than the morning. And I chose to hike to the 3226′ summit during the morning. It was cold, windy, rainy and very overcast for most of my hike. I was able to get this shot at a time when the sun was barely poking out for just a few minutes but for the most part it was pretty nasty. There was still some snow hovering around the higher elevations and it was a little slippery near the cliffs at the edges of the summit. This is the second time that I’ve hiked to the summit of Kings Mountain and it’s not for the fainted heart. It’s a grueling 2.5 mile hike straight up towards the summit with 2780 feet of elevation gain. This is probably one of the best vantage spots to gaze out towards the Coast Range with views in all directions. Some of the spring flowers were starting to come out but it was still a little bit early with very few wildflowers along the upper ridges. To get this shot I made sure that I was using my tripod since the wind was pretty bad. I used my 18-55mm lens and the focal length was set at 24mm. The F stop was set at 8 since it was pretty gray with limited light. I set the ISO to 200 and I used my warming filter as well as my CIR-PL. This is a great hike so I will be heading up again as soon as the weather improves and the wildflowers are at their peak. The Wilson River is also just below the trail with several other trails and picnic areas nearby. There are also several small to medium sized waterfalls close by.
[/caption] This hike along the Washington side of the Gorge is one of the best trails along the northern part of the gorge. There are two amazing waterfalls and the scenery from the top of the trail are stunning. You can see Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood as though you can almost touch them. The trail to the summit of Hamilton Mountain is a grueling 7.6 round trip hike and gains a total of 2,000 feet of elevation gain. There are several sure drop views along the trail and you are welcomed with some of the most stunning views of the gorge. I wouldn’t recommend this hike if you’re afraid of heights or get dizzy easily. You can sometimes hear the distant sounds of gun fire from the nearby shooting range and the Bonneville Dam can be somewhat of an eye soar. Though I still think that the views are still worthy of this challenging hike. Hardy creek is one of the most scenic creeks and I really enjoy photographing this area. On this hike, I decided to only hike to the bridge that crosses Hardy Falls since I was planning on an additional hike the following day. I had climbed down from the bridge and carefully navigated my down along the creeks edge. The rocks and moss made it challenging and I eventually found out that my hiking shoes still keep my feet dry when I slipped into the creek. I ended up planting both feet in the creek when one of the many rocks rolled as I stepped on it. The morning was mostly overcast and it rained periodically but the sun eventually came out as I settled on this photo to post on my blog. Again, the water was thundering from high above and the moss was just starting to show its neon green that makes it famous around the gorge. I had to set up my tripod on a very narrow rock and plant my feet at the very corner of the creek. I used my 18-55mm kit lens and set the range at 18mm. I set the shutter speed to 1 second and the F stop at 18 since the glare from the creek was pretty high. I set the ISO to 100 and kept the sensor at Program mode. I used my warming filter as well as my ND4 and CIR-PL filter. I have hiked this trail several times and I would recommend it to anyone that wants to get a grand view of the gorge as well as two volcanic mountains.
[/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.