Since we were coming from Colorado, Oregon trails greeted us with a very pleasant surprise, a green blanket of moss alongside the trails, illuminated by sprays of light streaming through the dense trees. With the ever-present Mt. Hood watching us, we felt comfortably at ease, at home, in these mountains. The night we arrived in the Mt. Hood area, we drove to Timberline Lodge and found the sun low in the sky, highlighting the wild flowers that displayed a magical array of hues. Within the hour after arriving, a storm rolled in over the summit, creating a picture show of rolling images. We watched in amazement as lightening scattered the surrounding region, but the peak became more and more alive with dazzling colors. What utter joy it feels to be amidst nature's wonder in moments like these.
Photographing Arches National Park is like trying to capture the essence of Monet on film. Quite a task to say the least. Such beauty and grandeur around every bend. It was late spring when we ventured into Arches and the weather was quite dramatic; wind, rain, hail, snow and even a little sun. The weather provided us with very little visitor traffic, lots of opportunity to hike the back country undisturbed, and reflective pools dotting the desert landscape that added to Arches unique drama.
Since we experienced rain, storms, and sunshine,
we were able to capture the whole range of moods and lighting patterns. When the weather is rainy and no one else is out, we are pleased that we can get some of the most dramatic and moody photos.
Scouting is essential to making a photo. After KoKoPhoto members saw internet photos of spring thaw at Dream Lake, we knew that was a shot we wanted to make. In order to get the shot we envisioned, we would need to schedule our dawn hike for some time after the lake began to thaw, but with icy ledges still resting in the waters. We scouted the lake on April 28 and again on June 5. With record-breaking amounts of snow in Rocky Mountain National Park, the spring thaw was several weeks behind normal. Finally, on June 12, we left Boulder, CO at 3:30 a.m. to make the drive to the Bear Lake parking lot. Our cramp ons were appreciated as we made our way up the icy trail in the dark. When we arrived, we were astounded to see that the melted ice was in perfect condition for the photos that we wanted to capture. And, we were greeted by a surprise at the base of the trail, a bull moose enjoying morning refreshment in the creek before sauntering across the parking lot, a rare thing to see on the east side of the park.
"If at first you don't succeed try, try again."
The Mt Hood Ranger said, "Ramona Falls Trail goes up the Sandy River, smooth incline, pleasant hike." These words kept ringing in my ears as we traversed the jagged granite and lava rock, straight up the Sandy River basin toward Mt. Hood. It struck us strangely that there were very few signs of life, no bugs, no birds. Each of us fell a couple of times, Kerry's wrist sliced by the unstable lava rock. We were reassured by the bicycle track that appeared occasionally, the only reminder that someone had been up this rugged riverbed once before. Assurance turned to bleak fear as we saw bear tracks enter our path. Almost immediately, the bike tracks disappeared. Did the bear get the bicycler? Hmmm, has anyone ever made it to Ramona Falls on this trail? The answer was, "No." When we eventually did find the correct trail, we returned the next day with adequate provisions and renewed energy, and guess what? We found the trail to have a "smooth incline, a very pleasant hike." And what a reward we received when we reached the cool (shady with lower temperatures), magnificent waterfalls.
Hiking through the Firery Furnace provided a surreal experience in color and light. Those who have traveled this maze of ridges and switchbacks know that it creates an erie quiet transcending an almost spiritual quality. I found myself getting emotionally hypnotized by the spires, arches, pools and color of this magical land. I hope that you will find our images from Arches National Park equally inspiring.
As we approached Dream Lake, crepuscular urgency was in the air as the darkness showed signs of fading. Kerry and I split up on the snowy trail, while seeking different vantage points for our individual shots. The sounds of the melting creek resonated from somewhere under the 6 feet of snow. Suddenly, I heard an explosion, very much like the sound made for dynamite-triggered avalanches. When looking in the direction of the sound, I detect, to my immediate right, snow spray evaporating in the darkness. When I hollered to Kerry, "What was THAT, Did you hear that EXPLOSION?" he kept walking, unable to hear me due to the roaring creek beneath him. Later, as we returned from the shoot, we saw a 30 ft. crack in the snow on the trail and realized, just 10 feet off the trail, a cornice had given away and fallen 20 ft. into the pond below. I shuttered to think how close I was to taking an icy bath in the morning darkness, without Kerry's awareness