Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow and Ice

Mt. Hood as seen from Trillium Lake

Last Monday and Tuesday were my first real opportunities to get out and play in the snow. I started Monday snowshoeing around Trillium lake about sunrise. That morning it was about 4 degrees and -16 with the wind chill, cold for sure but a nice day to be out. The shot above was pretty much the only time I saw the mountain that morning. I hadn't ever been around the backside of the lake, let alone on snowshoes. At 14" the snow was a bit shallow for my taste in winter photo ops but certainly deep enough to provide a nice workout. I couldn't really tell how thick the ice was, clearly thick in some places and looking thin in others so I wasn't about to venture out on it. Besides, I was the only person there that morning, making safety a primary concern. On the way out I did pass a couple cross-country skiers going into the lake and someone snowshoeing into the cabins nearby.

Following a much needed brunch in Government Camp I snowshoed about a mile into Sahale Falls which is near Mt. Hood Meadows. It was actually so froze over that the photos really didn't show anything. The snow was about 2 1/2 feet deep with no broke trail, hard going for sure but I'm sure everyone that comes after will appreciate me breaking trail for them.

Late that afternoon and the next day were spent in the Columbia Gorge. The waterfalls and icefall were spectacular even though there wasn't much snow. If you've never seen it iced up then I'd suggest making the trip, photos really don't do it justice. The roads can be a bit difficult (like now), but when I was there they were nearly clear so driving was a non-event. Unfortunately I'm on-call through 12/26 so chances are I won't get back to see the gorge with all this fresh snow in the wintery mix but I'm sure January will bring more opportunities to see the Gorge in all its winter glory. I'll try to get my web page updated with the balance of the set. In addition to some documentary style ones I took in Oneonta Gorge of various ice formations, there's a couple other nice ones from the Women's overlook and from Vista House looking east just after sunset.

Below are Multnomah Falls (with walk bridge) and Horsetail Falls.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Last weekend and next

Racing into the warmth of late day sun.

Last weekend I shot USGP Cyclocross racing at PIR (see website). It was my first time shooting bicycles and an interesting experience. The turnout for this event was huge, both in contestants and spectators.

You're probably wondering why I would do that and it's a fair question. I found shooting sports really helps hone my skills for catching the action. Comes in quite handy when trying to capture wildlife, especially the skiddish ones. I only shot Saturday although originally there were plans to shoot Sunday too.

Sunday started out at sunrise with a couple hours at work, but not wanting to spend all day at the track shooting cyclists I headed off to Smith and Bybee Lakes nature area for what proved to a an uneventful and increasingly wet morning. Clearly shooting at the track that afternoon would be wet and miserable so I finally gave it up for the day after a couple hours of pouring rain and elusive subjects.

Fast forward...

If you hadn't noticed the weather report for this weekend is calling for some rather cold and nasty conditions, especially in the Columbia Gorge. Up high there should be fresh snow Friday-Sunday, with some clearing Monday and sunshine expected Tuesday. Exactly the kind of weather I've been waiting for so I booked some vacation time and plan to spend Saturday-Tuesday in the Gorge and up high too, around Mt. Hood or Jefferson. I'm hoping for some snow or maybe even waterfall ice in the gorge and lots of deep fresh show up high. Perfect for some snowshoeing with the ol camera in tow. Should make for a fun time :-)

So... I might have some nice winter photos to post later next week!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Starvation Creek State Park

Today's hike took me to Starvation Falls (top-right) and Warren Falls (bottom-right). Sorry, I neglected to adjust the white balance on one of the photos, that's why the greens are off. You can decide which you like the best ;-)

Lancaster Falls is a bit further but I decided to hike the Mt. Defiance cut-off trail to Starvation ridge and didn't make it to that waterfall.

The hiking here is steep, very steep and I wouldn't recommend the cut-off trail if it were raining or icy, you'd just be getting back up all the time and there's just enough rock that falling on one might cause some serious damage. I'll check out the main trail when I visit Lancaster falls but my guess is it's a better grade.
I only made it up to the first good overlook (see photos right) The views from the ridge are impressive to say the least and I'm looking forward to hiking this area more.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone actually reads my blog but I suppose at least one person does, well I'm hoping that's the case. If not, well... at least I'm amused!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hiking Wahkeena & Fairy falls trail

I had the day off Monday so after a lazy morning around the house I headed out to the Columbia River Gorge for some much needed hiking. Photography wasn't my focus so I just packed my day pack with the ol Nikon D200, some filters and of course an extra battery. I knew waterfalls were in the mix so my trusty tripod was a must.

I ended up at Wahkeena Falls parking lot where I had photographed a few times but had never hiked the trail. That was good enough reason for me and off I went. There were a dozen cars or so in the parking lot but only a few people. This really is a great time in the gorge, few tourists and very light traffic.

Stopping at the bottom of the waterfall I took a few photos and continued up the trail. A bit further up is where it gets really interesting, lots of switchbacks and nearly 1100ft of elevation gain in about a mile! Felt more like climbing up the face of the gorge than hiking but it really is a nicely graded trail that most anyone can hike.

Upon coming around the point just above Wahkeena Falls there's a nice viewpoint but unfortunately you really can't see the waterfall. The trail and creek climb steeply from this point and make for a spectacular view all along the trail. Up the trail a few more switchbacks you come to Fairy Falls (shown right). This is a really nice little waterfall and other than the difficult hike, it's one of the best I've found for model shoots. Further up the trail there's a turnoff to a view point which is on my list for the next time I'm up there. The main trail continues up about as far as you'd like to go, essentially to Larch mountain and beyond. Nearing the top I was running short on daylight so that's about all there was to this day.

It's a great hike but one best shared with your favorite hiking partner, unfortunately mine wasn't there but then she wasn't there to harass me either! ;-)

I plan to make this hike many more times and once the snow is at least a foot deep I'll pack up all my photo gear for what should be some fantastic photos in the canyon above the waterfall.

Ok, I'm done rambling for another day...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why start a blog?

Well I don't really have anything on my web page ( that talks about me or what I'm doing so I thought why not maintain a blog. It not only allows me to have a fairly static profile but also a means to keep folks current with events and activities. This fall I decided to focus on Nature photography again. I'm currently focusing on shoots in the Columbia River Gorge to get a few entries for a December photo contest with that area as the subject. Nearing year-end I'll be looking for opportunities to shoot at Crater Lake as well as other areas of the cascades. Yellowstone in the winter has been on my mind so maybe a week there. I've been toying with the idea of some time in Hawaii too, but mostly to get away to somewhere warm and just reflect on all the changes I'll be experiencing through the spring. I have long time friends there so... Well for what it's worth, there's my latest ramblings... Jeff