Stock landscape and outdoor adventure photos from Oregon, Washington, and the Pacific Northwest

Posts Tagged ‘pacific crest stock’

Mt. Rainier and Paradise Park Road Trip

Years ago, as part of our honeymoon, my wife, Debbie and I passed through Mt. Rainier National park.  It was very early in the summer season and despite the fact that the road to Paradise visitors center was open, snow was absolutely everywhere.  The weather was dreary but the thing that most impressed me was the fact that Mt. Rainier is absolutely enormous.  I later read that Mt. Rainier has more glacial volume than all the mountains combined in any other state in the lower 48 .  I believe it!  At 14,410 vertical feet and with an enormous mass and the fact that it is one of the snowiest places on earth, it is an impressive sight.  Well, because I recently heard that the wildflowers at Mt. Rainier were very good this year and my wife has always wanted me to get some good images from Mt. Rainier, I made a  road trip.  Below is one of my best images from Mt. Rainier National Park.  This image was captured shortly after sunrise from near the Paradise Park visitor center.

Mt. Rainier and Wildflowers from Paradise Park

Mt. Rainier and Wildflowers from Paradise Park

The clouds you can see at the base of Mt. Rainier, quickly grew and completely covered the mountain.  Shortly thereafter, the rain and snow commenced!  I wasn’t able to capture any images with my large format camera because it was simply too windy.  I suppose this offers inspiration for a return visit to Mt. Rainier next summer!  Mt. Rainier Fine Art Photograph.  Below is an image I captured the night before at the tail end of the 6 hour drive to Mt. Rainier from Our Pacific Crest base camp of Bend, Oregon.

Sunset over the foothills of Mt. Rainier.

Sunset over the foothills of Mt. Rainier.

Great colors and textures made it well worth while to stop despite the fact that I was frantically looking for a camp site and I was almost out of daylight.

The morning of my Mt. Rainier visit I awoke before 4:00AM and began hiking.  I traversed the Mazama Ridge in the dark and along the way I saw two red foxes and countless deer.  Not finding any remarkable scenes along this part of Mt. Rainier National Park, I continued uphill back towards Paradise.  I passed through the Van Trump area and the Edith Creek Basin which is pictured below.

Edith Creek and Mt Rainier

Edith Creek and Mt Rainier

Weather reports from the visitor center predicted rain and heavy clouds for the next two full days in the Paradise area so I  hastily retreated to the Columbia River Gorge area where the weather forecast was more promising.  I got some great new stock photos from the Coulumbia River Gorge National Scenic area but they will have to wait for another blog entry.

Mt. Rainier National Park is truly amazing and offers much more than just the mountain.  There are countless waterfalls long the way as well as the gorgeous Tatoosh range, and the Grove of the Patriarchs and it’s 1,000 year old cedar and Douglas Fir trees.  Below is Sunbeam Falls, a whimsical little waterfall along the roadside near the Paradise area.

Sunbeam Falls in Mt. Rainier National Park

Sunbeam Falls in Mt. Rainier National Park

For more information about the remainder of my Mt. Rainier road trip, and some great images from the Columbia River Gorge, Double Mountain Brewery, and Elowah Falls, please check back soon!  Thanks for reading and if you would like to license any of the images in this blog entry, please visit our stock photography site, Pacific Crest Stock.

Happy Trails,

Mike Putnam


Troy “Desert Dog” McMullin has added some great new images to our High Desert Gallery!

Please check out the High Desert Gallery at our main Pacific Crest Stock website.  Troy recently uploaded some new images that are ripe for licensing.  He has been hard at work this spring and summer shooting some of the best desert scenery in the inter mountain west.  The following image is just one example of the amazing topography and rock formations that can be found in Oregon’s High Desert.  This particular image was captured in the “Blue Basin” which is located in the John Day Painted Hills area of Eastern Oregon.

Hiker in the "Blue Basin" located in the John Day area of Eastern Oregon

Hiker in the "Blue Basin" located in the John Day area of Eastern Oregon

Oregon's Painted Hills

Oregon's Painted Hills near the John Day Fossil Beds

Hiking into Oregon's Blue Basin

Hiking into Oregon's Blue Basin


Troy has been working particularly hard at capturing images from some of Central Oregon’s newer trails.  In the Crooked River Ranch area there are several great new trails worth checking out.  These new trails can be preview by visiting the following link to our Pacific Crest Stock website.  Pacific Crest Stock.  The following images were captured at a few of these new trails.  There are many more like it viewable at our website!

Mountain biking the Otter Bench Trail near Crooked River Ranch

Mountain biking the Otter Bench Trail near Crooked River Ranch

Cliffs along the Opal Pool Trail near Crooked River Ranch

Cliffs along the Opal Pool Trail near Crooked River Ranch

Hiking at Oregon's Scout Camp Canyon Trail

Hiking at Central Oregon's Scout Camp Trail Canyon

Hiking in Central Oregon's High Desert

Hiking in Central Oregon's High Desert

View from the Pink Trail as it drops into the Crooked River Canyon

View from the Pink Trail as it drops into the Crooked River Canyon

Hiker surrounded by Central Oregon's desert cliffs

Hiker surrounded by Central Oregon's desert cliffs

Troy has also been busy exploring around Smith Rock, which is Central Oregon’s most famous desert destination. We think these images are definitely ripe for licensing.

The Monument at Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, Oregon
The Monument at Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, Oregon
Hiker high on the cliffs of Oregon's Smith Rock State Park

Hiker high on the cliffs of Oregon's Smith Rock State Park

Dinner high on the cliffs above Central Oregon's Crooked River

Dinner high on the cliffs above Central Oregon's Crooked River

If any of our readers have suggestions as to where Troy should go for his next great High Desert image, please leave a message at the end of this blog entry!

Thanks for Reading,

Mike Putnam


New Oregon Landscape Photos from your favorite Bend Oregon Photographers.

We’ve recently uploaded some new landscape photographs to our Main Pacific Crest Stock Photography website.  Please visit the following link to visit our New Oregon Landscape Photography Gallery.  Below you can find a sampling of some of our newest additions.  Enjoy and please let us know which are your favorite landscape photographs in the comment section at the end of this entry.  Many of these Oregon Landscape Photographs are available as fine art prints at the following links.  Bend Oregon Photographer- Mike Putnam

Photo/picture of Oregon's Mt. Washington in Autumn

Photo/picture of Oregon’s Mt. Washington in Autumn

There are several different crops available for the above Mt. Washington Image including ones with plenty of text space if necessary.

Macro Photo of Autumn Ground cover in the Oregon Cascade

Macro Photo of Autumn Ground cover in the Oregon Cascade

The above macro image of swirling autumn ground cover  taken at high elevation in the Central Oregon Cascades offers a more intimate view of autumn in Oregon.

Sparks Lake Sunrise

Sparks Lake Sunrise

A more thorough description of how I captured the above Sparks Lake Sunrise Photograph is available at the following link. to Purchase this Sparks Lake photo, visit my personal site, Sparks Lake Photo.

Photo Picture of Oregon's Three Fingered Jack Mountain from Canyon Creek Meadow

Photo Picture of Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack Mountain from Canyon Creek Meadow

The above picture of Central Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack was taken at one of my favorite back country location at the peak of summer wildflower season.

Photo/image/picture of Bend Oregon's Shevlin Park in its autumn glory

Photo/image/picture of Bend Oregon’s Shevlin Park in its autumn glory

The above photo of Bend Oregon’s Shevlin Park can currently be seen in a fine art version at the Sage Cafe in Bend Oregon’s Northwest Crossing neighborhood. Finally one last image of Central Oregon’s beloved Three SIsters Mountains during a beautiful winter sunrise.

Winter Sunrise on Central Oregon's Three Sisters Mountains

Winter Sunrise on Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Mountains

The above photo of the Three Sisters Mountains near Bend Oregon, can be seen at the Mountain Gallery of our Main Pacific Crest Stock Photography site by visiting the following link.  Oregon Mountains.  Please do visit our site to see more of our new images.  Pacific Crest Stock Photography

As Always, Thanks for visiting,

Mike Putnam


New Outdoor Adventure Gallery at Pacific Crest Stock Photography

This is an announcement that we’ve have been waiting to make for quite some time.  Pacific Crest Stock has recently created a new Outdoor Adventure gallery that includes images of people interacting with the natural environment.  At this point, we’re limiting our collection to photos of people participating in human-powered sports, such as hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and fly fishing.  We’re working hard to expand our collection, and anticipate that we will be adding to the list of outdoor adventure sports in the near future.  Just to give you a hint of what you’ll find in the new gallery, we have posted some of our favorite new Oregon stock photos below.

Sample Backcountry Skiing Images from Pacific Crest Stock photography:

Hiking up the south face of Three Fingered Jack Mountain near Sisters, Oregon.  Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Hiking up the south face of Three Fingered Jack Mountain near Sisters, Oregon. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Backcountry skiing near the Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area.  Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Backcountry skiing near the Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Sample Mountain Biking Images from Pacific Crest Stock photography:

Mountain biking near Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area.  Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Mountain biking near Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Biking at Lookout Mountain in the Ochoco Mountains near Prineville, Oregon.  Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Biking at Lookout Mountain in the Ochoco Mountains near Prineville, Oregon. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Mountain biking above Tumalo Falls near Bend, Oregon.  Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Mountain biking above Tumalo Falls near Bend, Oregon. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Mountain biking in the Ochoco Mountains near Prineville, Oregon.  Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Mountain biking in the Ochoco Mountains near Prineville, Oregon. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Sample Backpacking Images from Pacific Crest Stock photography:

Backpacking in the Mount Hood Wilderness Area near Government Camp, Oregon.  Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Backpacking in the Mount Hood Wilderness Area near Government Camp, Oregon. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Backpacking near Mirror Lake in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area near Joseph, Oregon.  Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Backpacking near Mirror Lake in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area near Joseph, Oregon. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.


Backpacking near Camp Lake and South Sister in Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Backpacking near Camp Lake and South Sister in Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Sample Fly Fishing Images from Pacific Crest Stock photography:

 Fly fishing at Paulina Lake in Central Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument.  Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Fly fishing at Paulina Lake in Central Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Fly fishing at Aneroid Lake in Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains.  Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Fly fishing at Aneroid Lake in Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Sample Hiking Images from Pacific Crest Stock photography:

Hiking near the Crooked River at Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, Oregon.  Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Hiking near the Crooked River at Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, Oregon. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

 Hiking in Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area near Bend, Oregon. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

Hiking in Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area near Bend, Oregon. Image available at Pacific Crest Stock photography.

We’re very excited about our new collection of stock photos, and we hope that you will be too.  If you like what you see,  please bookmark the new Outdoor Adventure gallery and check back often as it will be updated frequently.  For licensing information, call us at 541-610-4815.


Photos from Three Fingered Jack and the Canyon Creek Meadow Trail

Three Fingered Jack has always been one of my favorite Central Oregon Mountains. Its accessibility, its interesting form, it’s location near to Bend, Oregon, and its sometimes stunning wildflower displays. Central Oregon’s easiest access point for Three Fingered Jack is through the Metolius Basin. For a more thorough trail write up for the Three Fingered Jack/ Canyon Creek Meadow trail visit the following link, Bend Wild.  When I visit Three Fingered Jack, we usually enter the high country through Canyon Creek Meadows and the Jack Lake Trail head. This particular trip was with my little family of Debbie(Mommy/Wife), Emma, and Me on one of our family backpacking trips/photography expeditions.

The Putnam Family eager to hike the Jack Lake Trail head into Canyon Creek Meadows

The Putnam Family eager to hike the Jack Lake Trail head into Canyon Creek Meadows

We quickly covered the two miles into the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow despite the many down lodgepole pines on the trail.  Sadly, this will probably be a recurring theme on this specific trail because of the recent fires and because of the mountain pine beetles which are devastating pine forests across the western United States.  We spent the night at the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow which was overflowing with wildflowers and has a couple beautiful streams flowing through it.  I spent most of the evening scouting in the upper meadow for the shots I’d work on the next morning.  I returned in time for the best freeze dried dinner(aren’t all meals in the backcountry the best ever?)  It was Chili Mac with beef made by Mountain House.  Delicious!  Fortunately, I also returned to the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow for a stunning sunset which is pictured below.

Photo of a stunning sunset from the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Are

Photo of a stunning sunset from the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area

Landscape photography was unrewarding the next morning because of the heavily overcast skies and the very flat light.  It’s the curse of the Oregon Landscape Photographer.  Great effort combined with poor light is a frustrating.  It was also very windy, making it impossible to shoot any of the amazing flower scenes in the upper meadow.  As the photography conditions were poor, the day was dedicated to family.  We moved to a great campsite in area of the Upper Canyon Creek Meadow(but not in the meadow)  and spent most of the day playing in the frigid waters of Canyon Creek.  Below is a picture of Emma balancing above Canyon Creek, an activity that entertained her for hours.

Photo of Emma balancing high above Canyon Creek and Three Fingered Jack

Photo of Emma balancing high above Canyon Creek and Three Fingered Jack

Between the activities of balance beam competitions, chasing frogs, swatting mosquitoes, and lounging in the Alpine glory of Three Fingered Jack, the day quickly passed.  The next morning started a little windy and overcast, but the clouds blew over and the wind died down making for a landscape photographer’s nirvana.  Amazing wildflowers at their seasonal peak with the awesome backdrop of  the towering Three Fingered Jack.  Below are a few of the Landscape photos I captured that morning.

Photo of a wildflower laden alpine stream with Three Fingered Jack in the background

Photo of a wildflower laden alpine stream with Three Fingered Jack in the background

I shot the above scene extensively with my large format camera in hopes of capturing a winning fine art print.  To see some of my finished large format photographs from this trip to Three fingered Jack hike Canyon Creek Meadow.  The film isn’t finished developing but I’m optimistic!  The Following scene, was a little simpler, but no less rewarding because of its interesting clouds, excellent textures, colors, and impact.

Picture of Central Oregon's Three Fingered Jack with a colorful foreground of Lupines and Red Indian Paintbrush.

Picture of Central Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack with a colorful foreground of Lupines and Red Indian Paintbrush.

I took dozens of other photos of the amazing lupine meadows in the Upper Meadow.  If you are interested in seeing more of those images, please visit my personal website by visiting, Bend, Oregon Photographer.   After I finished photographing the Upper Meadow, we reluctantly packed up camp and headed for home in Bend, Oregon.  Below is one last photo of our little family leaving our camp site and hiking back home.

The Putnam family leaving camp and the Upper Canyon Creek Meadow.

The Putnam family leaving camp and the Upper Canyon Creek Meadow.

The Canyon Creek Meadows are not always as flower filled as they were this year, but they are always a beautiful destination.  If you care to backpack into this wonderful alpine basin, please respect the meadow and wildflowers and do not camp directly in the meadows as they are very fragile and will quickly perish with the pressure of camping.  Instead camp in the hills located east of the upper meadow or in the Lower Meadow of Canyon Creek. To view another more recent photograph of  Three Fingered Jack, captured in autumn, visit, Three Fingered Jack.

If you  are interested in licensing any of the images in this blog entry, or you would like to see more images from Canyon Creek Meadows, please contact us through our Pacific Crest Stock Website.
Thanks For Visiting,

By: Mike Putnam


Photos from Eastern Oregon and the Wallowa Mountains

The stars recently aligned in a strange and unexpected way. My wife (Julie) and Mike Putnam’s wife (Debbie) both planned trips to take the kids out of town during the same time period, and in an unprecedented move, Mike and I actually got organized enough to plan a vacation of our own. It just so happened that one of our favorite musicians (Josh Ritter) was playing a concert at the Egyptian Theater in Boise so we talked a few more friends (Mike Croxford and Jake Bell) into joining us for a road trip across the Idaho border and then we all headed up north to the Wallowa Mountains in Eastern Oregon. The Wallowa Mountains—also known as the “Oregon Alps”—are quite different from the mountains we have in Central Oregon. While the Central Oregon Cascades are formed by a chain of distinct volcanoes, the Wallowa Mountains are an honest-to-goodness mountain range, like the Rocky Mountains, Sierras, or North Cascades.

Although we had some idea of where we wanted to go when we got there, we didn’t actually formulate a complete plan until we were a few miles outside of Joseph, Oregon. After looking at the map and several guide books, we decided that we would start the trip by heading into Aneroid Lake via the trail along the East Fork of the Wallowa River. We started hiking from near Wallowa Lake in the late afternoon and arrived at Aneroid Lake just before sunset. Mike and I quickly dropped our backpacks and started scouting for sunset pictures. Unfortunately, the light was a little quicker than us and it faded before we found a decent location. We spent the rest of night swatting at mosquitoes and watching Jake catch trout with his newly purchased Snoopy Zebco fishing rod.

Fisherman extraordinaire, Jake Bell with lunker Brook Trout caught at Aneroid Lake in the Wallowa Mountains

Fisherman extraordinaire, Jake Bell with lunker Brook Trout caught at Aneroid Lake in the Wallowa Mountains

The next morning, Mike and I rolled out of the tent about 5 a.m. and headed off in opposite directions in hopes of finding good locations for sunrise photos.

Photo of sunrise over the meadow at the south end of Aneroid Basin in the Wallowa Mountains of Northeast Oregon

Photo of sunrise over the meadow at the south end of Aneroid Basin in the Wallowa Mountains of Northeast Oregon

Mike started circling the lake in a clockwise direction and I took the counter-clockwise approach. Mike shot the image above in a nice big meadow at the south end of Aneroid Lake and I took the image below from the north shore.

Sunrise reflection on Aneroid Lake in Eastern Oregon’s Wallow Mountain Range.

Sunrise reflection on Aneroid Lake in Eastern Oregon’s Wallow Mountain Range.

After the sun got higher, we spent a few more hours fly fishing and then we packed up camp and started heading for Tenderfoot Pass. The hike up and over Tenderfoot Pass went without a hitch, and after a short break at the top, we continued along the trail toward the top of Polaris Pass. I’ve been to a lot of pretty places in Oregon, but I think the view from Polaris Pass is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. The entire Wallowa Mountain range spreads out before you, with Cusik Mountain and Glacier Lake off to the left and Eagle Cap Mountain and the Lakes Basin off to the right.

Photo from the summit of Polaris Pass in Eastern Oregon’s Wallow Mountain Range.

Photo from the summit of Polaris Pass in Eastern Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness

It’s a spectacular sight, and one that is relatively easy to stay and stare at because, as it turns out, there isn’t really a trail down the back side of Polaris Pass. Oh sure, it looks like there’s a trail on the map and the guide books talk as if there’s a trail there, but don’t be fooled. There is nothing even closely resembling a trail, at least not at the very top. You can see that a trail starts several hundred vertical feet below the summit, but unfortunately there’s no obvious way to get down to it. Determined to find a route, the four of us started precariously making our way down the steep rocky slope, taking short careful steps and always keeping an eye downhill at the edge of the cliffs that were sure to be our death should we slip. We slowly zigzagged our way down the rock slides for the better part of an hour before we finally got to solid ground and were able to remove the handfuls of boulder-sized rocks that had collected inside our boots. The grade eased considerably once we got below the rock slides, but the trail was still fairly spotty and was frequently overgrown with bushes and a huge display of wildflowers. There were meadows clearly visible in the base of the valley a few thousand feet below us, but even after several additional hours of hiking, it seemed as if we weren’t getting any closer to them. The trail would run the entire width of the ridge, and then drop by maybe two or three inches with each switchback. It was unlike anything I have ever seen, and we all started thinking that we were never going to get to the bottom.

Photo of Mike Putnam, Jake Bell and Troy McMullin hiking down the back side of Polaris Pass.  Photo by Mike Croxford.

Photo of Mike Putnam, Jake Bell and Troy McMullin hiking down the back side of Polaris Pass. Photo by Mike Croxford.

After more than 10 miles of parched hiking with no fresh water source, we finally arrived at a stream and were able to re-stock our water bottles. Everyone soaked their sore feet in the stream for a while, and then we continued down the evil, never-ending collection of switchbacks until we eventually made it to Six Mile Meadow and set up camp for the night. The next morning, our group took a short hike up to Horseshoe Lake and while the rest of the guys hung out swimming and fishing, I decided to forge ahead for another 11 miles of hiking so that I could see the other parts of the Lakes Basin. I have wanted to see Mirror Lake and the Lostine Valley ever since I moved out to Oregon, and even though I was fairly exhausted from the prior day’s adventure on Polaris Pass, I felt like my trip wouldn’t have quite been complete if I didn’t’ get to visit this part of the Wallowa Wilderness Area.

 Photo of the author, Troy McMullin, backpacking near Mirror Lake and Eagle Cap Mountain in Eastern Oregon.

Photo of the author, Troy McMullin, backpacking near Mirror Lake and Eagle Cap Mountain in Eastern Oregon.

The Lakes Basin definitely held up to the hype. The area contains a beautiful collection of granite-lined lakes and meadows, all set up against the base of Eagle Cap Mountain. Just past Mirror Lake, the trail either drops down into the classic U-shaped, glacier-carved Lostine Valley or returns via the Hurricane Creek drainage. I spent some time exploring each of these areas, and I’m not really sure which one is prettier. They are both fantastic.

Image of Eagle Cap Mountain from the Lostine Valley in Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa Mountain Range.

Image of Eagle Cap Mountain from the Lostine Valley in Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa Mountain Range.

After several hours of backcountry bliss, I started making my way back to Horseshoe Lake. I drug myself into camp just before sunset, and just in time to try out some of Mike’s freshly-caught (and Cajun-spiced) trout. While I was gone, Mike apparently set the world record for the most trout ever caught in a single day . . . while Jake’s Zebco was not quite as prolific this time around. Luckily, someone in camp stayed focused on our photography mission and Croxford was able to document the entire experience with his trusty camera.

hoto of Mike Putnam landing a lunker at Horseshoe Lake in Oregon’s Wallowa Mountain Range.  Photo by Mike Croxford.

hoto of Mike Putnam landing a lunker at Horseshoe Lake in Oregon’s Wallowa Mountain Range. Photo by Mike Croxford.

We all turned in early that night, and then Mike and I got up the first thing the next morning to scout for sunrise photos around Horseshoe Lake. We split up again so that we could cover more ground. Mike set his sights on a nearby pond that had a nice collection of lily pads and I stayed along the main shore side trail. There’s no shortage of scenery in any direction within the Lakes Basin so it didn’t take too long for us to capture a handful of new stock photos for the Pacific Crest Stock site.

Photo of the Wallowa Mountains in the Eagle Cap Wilderness at sunrise

Photo of the Wallowa Mountains in the Eagle Cap Wilderness at sunrise

Sunrise reflection on Horseshoe Lake in the Lakes Basin of Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa Mountain Range.

Sunrise reflection on Horseshoe Lake in the Lakes Basin of Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa Mountain Range.

Then, we packed up camp and started heading back out to Jake’s truck via the long dusty trail that follows the Western Fork of the Wallowa River. Having covered more than 40 miles in 4 days, it’s probably no surprise that we talked incessantly that morning about what kind of food and beer we were going to have when we finally got out of the woods, and sure enough, our first stop involved a pitcher of Red Chair IPA and a couple of half-pound hamburgers from the Embers Brewhouse in downtown Joseph. We then made our way over to Terminal Gravity Brewery in Enterprise, Oregon and finally to Barley Brown’s Brew Pub in Baker City, Oregon. After that, we did a little breaking-and-entering (not really, but we definitely surprised an unsuspecting house-sitter in one of our friend’s houses in Baker City), and then we headed back home the next day . . . putting an end to one of the best road trips I’ve had in a long time.

Posted by Troy McMullin


Elk Lake, Sparks Lake, and Todd Lake. Stock photos from the Cascade Lakes Highway

I made several trips to the Cascade Lakes Highway this spring, as I do every spring.  For those of you who haven’t made this short drive(about 20 miles from Bend, Oregon) you should do it.  The highway is lined with beautiful lakes such as Todd Lake(the highest of the Cascade Lakes), the famed and very photogenic Sparks Lake, and the often under appreciated Elk Lake.  While my father in-law, Kenny Scholz was in Bend earlier this spring, I coerced him to join me in an evening photo shoot which involved Sparks Lake and Elk Lake.  One of the earliest and best photography scenes to develop along the Cascade Lakes Highway, is along the exposed shores of Sparks Lake.  This area gets lots of sun and in its marshy areas, it usually has a profusion of yellow buttercups covering that area.  Well, I think that is changing.  This particular marshy area along Sparks Lake is changing rapidly.  The buttercups are being replaced by grasses which I assume is part of an evolutionary process.  Regardless, I didn’t get my yellow buttercup flowers this year!

Photo/picture of Mt. Bachelor as seen from along the Cascade Lakes Highway

Photo/picture of Mt. Bachelor as seen from along the Cascade Lakes Highway

While I didn’t have great flowers for this shot, I did have nice clouds, making this photo worthy of this beautiful area of Central Oregon.  Mt. Bachelor with a fair amount of snow makes for a pleasant backdrop for this photograph.      Next up for Kenny and I was a quick stop at Elk Lake where, years ago , I shot the following photo with my 4X5 camera.  To read more about this beautiful image captured along the Cascade Lake Scenic Byway, Visit, Elk Lake  Photo.

Photo of Elk Lake with South Sister in the background, along Central Oregon's Cascade Lakes Highway.

Photo of Elk Lake with South Sister in the background, along Central Oregon’s Cascade Lakes Highway.

Unfortunately, this scene no longer exists, as this particular flower meadow has largely been replaced with non-flowering grasses.  Instead of visiting this changing meadow, I took Kenny to the Elk Lake Resort.  Elk Lake has a long history of boating and particularly sailing, which I understand my photo partner, Troy has taken up since his recent housing move.  Below is a photo of the marina at Elk Lake with Mount Bachelor in the background.  As you can see, Mount Bachelor was well covered with a rapidly changing cloud cap.

Photo of the Elk Lake resort and marina, along the Cascade Lakes Highway

Photo of the Elk Lake resort and marina, along the Cascade Lakes Highway

I like the texture and color that the canoes and kayaks lend to the foreground of this Elk Lake photo.  The sail boats in the mid-ground also add another attractive element.  I’m not sure which sail boat is Troy’s.  Kenny and I thoroughly enjoyed our stop at the marina which is a great place to visit for kids and families when driving the Cascade Lakes Highway.

Another of my favorite locations along the Cascade Lakes Highway is Todd Lake.  Todd lake is the highest of the Cascade Lakes at 6,150 feet of elevation.  It requires a short and non strenuous 1/4 mile hike to view its 29 acres of alpine beauty.  It is stocked with Brook Trout and can offer some exciting fishing for 8-10 inch fish.  My most recent visit to Todd Lake was made with my daughter and hiking buddy, Emma.  She and most kids are fond of Todd Lake because of it’s many streams, and the proliferation of small toads along it’s shore line which I believe are referred to as “Western Toads”.  Not a terribly exciting name but they are cute and fun for kids.

Me holding a small Western toad along the shores of Todd Lake.

Me holding a small Western toad along the shores of Todd Lake.

Regardless of photographic conditions along Todd Lake, it is a beautiful and simple Lake to explore.  During our visit, we found some pleasant clouds hovering about Mt. Bachelor, so that was the object of much of my photo efforts.  While were there, it was still fairly early in the wildflower season, so some of the species we saw blooming included Marsh marigolds Jeffrey’s Shooting Stars, and lots of buttercups.

Photo of a small stream meandering through the meadow adjacent to Todd Lake, with Mt. Bachelor in the background

Photo of a small stream meandering through the meadow adjacent to Todd Lake, with Mt. Bachelor in the background

Along the southern edges of Todd Lake, there are often thick stands of marsh marigolds, an early indicator of spring in the Oregon Cascades.

Picture of marsh marigolds along the shores of Todd Lake

Picture of marsh marigolds along the shores of Todd Lake

Marsh Marigolds are one of my favorite early spring flowers because of their delicate appearance and because they suggest that dramatic alpine flower meadows will soon start to bloom.  If anyone knows what kind of bug is in the above photo, please let me know.  After cavorting around along Todd Lake’s shores, Emma and I hiked upward for an overview of Todd Lake.  Because of the large number of dead lodgepole pine trees  around Todd Lake and all of the Cascade Lakes, it is becoming more and more difficult to capture great photos in this area.  These pine trees are being killed by the mountain pine beetle which bore through and under the pine tree’s bark, weakening the tree’s natural defenses.  These beetles are considered to be part of the natural life cycle of the lodgepole pine.  They are not considered to be part of the life cycle of the ponderosa pine and we are beginning to see a few ponderosa trees killed by this destructive creature.  This is a huge concern for foresters and any outdoor advocates that enjoy healthy stands of native trees.  Below is a photo largely devoid of any dying or infested lodgepoles.  Unfortunately, I anticipate that this rather pristine scene will become less common in the next couple years as the mountain pine beetle continues to infest a wider area.

Photo of Todd Lake and Mt. Bachelor in the Central Oregon Cascades.

Photo of Todd Lake and Mt. Bachelor in the Central Oregon Cascades.

The following set of photos was captured at Sparks Lake while I was being swarmed by flesh ripping mosquitoes.  If you go to Sparks Lake or any of the Cascade Lakes, bring some heavy duty mosquito repellent as they are horrendous this year.  The following image of Broken Top Mountain has a foreground of Jeffrey’s shooting stars in the foreground.  I’m fond of their vibrant colors and distinctive shapes.

Photo of Central Oregon's Broken Top Mountain with a foreground of Jeffrey's shooting stars near Sparks Lake

Photo of Central Oregon’s Broken Top Mountain with a foreground of Jeffrey’s shooting stars near Sparks Lake

Part of the beauty of exploring Sparks Lake is that one can make a new discovery with every new visit.  I had intended to shoot from the Ray Atkeson memorial trail on this particular evening but it was somewhat windy, eliminating any chance of a reflection in Sparks Lake, and there were no clouds around South Sister to lend interest to the scene.  Extensive exploring and wading through very cold waters eventually led me to this scene, one I wasn’t expecting but that I enjoyed very much, despite the ongoing mosquito assault on my DEET covered skin.  Wading through some of these streams did take some commitment.  As any man can attest, wading in cold water beyond a certain depth can become acutely uncomfortable.  Well I exceeded that depth!  In other words, I earned these shots with some level of physical suffering.  The following shot of Mt. Bachelor was captured from the same general area of Sparks Lake. To view a gorgeous sunrise shot that I captured from the shores of Sparks Lake, visit my personal website, Bend Oregon Photographer.

Photo of Mt. Bachelor at sunset along the shores of Sparks Lake

Photo of Mt. Bachelor at sunset along the shores of Sparks Lake

If you have any interest in licensing these or any of our many other images from the Cascade Lakes Highway area, please visit our primary stock photography website at Pacific Crest Stock .

Thanks for Visiting,

By:  Mike Putnam


Stock Photos from Oregon’s Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area: Forever Young

Henry David Thoreau once said, “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” If Thoreau was correct, then I think Oregon’s Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area could be considered a virtual fountain of youth, because in my experience, it is almost impossible to visit this area without being overwhelmed with enthusiasm. In fact, anyone who peruses our photo galleries on Pacific Crest Stock probably can’t help but notice that Mike Putnam and I have a great deal of enthusiasm for the meadows and valleys surrounding Mount Jefferson. It really doesn’t matter if you are hiking into Jefferson Park, Coffin Mountain, or the Cathedral Rocks Canyon, there is almost no way to go wrong . . . as long as your camera works when you get there.

Pacific Crest Stock photo of Oregon's Mount Jefferson and purple lupine overlooking the Cathedral Rocks Canyon

Pacific Crest Stock photo of Oregon's Mount Jefferson and purple lupine overlooking the Cathedral Rocks Canyon

Pacific Crest Stock photo of Oregon's Mount Jefferson and the big bear grass bloom near Coffin Mountain

Pacific Crest Stock photo of Oregon's Mount Jefferson and the big bear grass bloom near Coffin Mountain

A few years ago, I was hurrying around in preparation for a day hike into Jefferson Park. It was mid-August and I knew that the meadows around Russell Lake would be overflowing with flowers. As I ran frantically from room to room in the house gathering up all of my equipment, I set my camera backpack on the kitchen counter. On one of my passes back through the kitchen, I quickly filled a Nalgene bottle, and slid it into the mesh pocket on the side of my backpack. The weight of the water bottle immediately caused my backpack to shift and tumble from the counter top down to the hard slate floor. I lunged to catch the pack, but by the time I had a grasp on its top strap, the bottom of the bag had already crashed into the ground. I said a few choice words and then gave my camera a quick inspection. Everything looked fine. Whew!

I loaded my gear into the Jeep and started making my way to the Whitewater trailhead just up the road from Detroit Lake. I ended up starting the 10-mile round trip hike later than anticipated and after a steep climb to the top of the first ridge, I realized that I needed to run if I wanted to make it to the meadows and still have time to get out of the woods before dark. NOTE: Now is probably a good time to mention that I really despise running. Many of my friends are exceptional runners; they actually claim to love it. But me, I’m just not a runner. Give me a bike or some skate skis, but please never ask me to run.

I reluctantly jogged a few hundred yards up the trail and then I temporarily slowed to a brisk hike as I contemplated whether or not I really had enough time to cover all of the ground in front of me even if I was able to run the whole way. But then, images of Jefferson Park in full bloom consumed my thoughts and convinced me that I could definitely make it . . . as long as I would be willing to run. And with that, I picked up my trekking poles and started the very miserable task of trail running up 1800 vertical feet of backcountry trails with a heavy backpack and worn out boots. Up over the ridges; around the corners; and through the creek crossings. I ran the whole way into Jefferson Park.

 Pacific Crest Stock photo of purple lupine wildflowers blooming in Jefferson Park with Mount Jefferson looming in the background.

Pacific Crest Stock photo of purple lupine wildflowers blooming in Jefferson Park with Mount Jefferson looming in the background.

As soon as I got to the meadows in Jefferson Park, I could see that my timing was perfect. The purple lupine and Indian paintbrush were in their most glorious states. I rushed through the maze of flower-filled trails that lead to Russell Lake and found the perfect spot along one its tributaries. Mount Jefferson was being gently lit by the westerly sun, and with that majestic mountain looming directly overhead, I carefully set up my tripod, composed the shot, and pressed the shutter button. But nothing happened. I checked the power button; the camera was on. I took the camera off of the tripod and checked the battery compartment; the battery was where it belonged. I took the battery in and out and turned the power switch on and off multiple times, but nothing could bring my camera back to life. Then, as I was spinning the camera around, I noticed that one of the bottom corners was badly dented and I remembered how my camera had fallen off the kitchen counter earlier in the day. Realizing that the camera had been ruined and that I jogged all of the way into Jefferson Park for nothing, I took my cell phone out of my pocket, pointed it at the mountain, hung my head in disgrace and clicked a single low-resolution digital phone picture.

Then, I started walking—not running—back to my Jeep.

The author, Troy McMullin, feeling rather youthful while hiking in Oregon's Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area.

The author, Troy McMullin, feeling rather youthful while hiking in Oregon's Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area.

NOTE: If you want to see additional images from the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area, you can browse our pictures in the Mountain gallery on Pacific Crest Stock or search the site for “Mount Jefferson.”


Stock Photos from Oregon’s Yaquina Head Lighthouse: Lucky, Lucky, Lucky.

As I try to find new locations to add to my photography collection on Pacific Crest Stock, I’ve begun to realize that careful preparation and a good working knowledge of cameras and compositions can only help a nature photographer so much. Really great landscape photography seems to rely just as heavily on steadfast persistence (i.e., going back to the same location over and over again until the conditions are perfect) and/or a whole lot of luck (i.e., having great conditions on the first trip to a new location). On one recent trip to Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport Oregon, I got very lucky.

Stock photo of Oregon's Yaquina Head Lighthouse surrounded by cumulus clouds.  Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock.

Stock photo of Oregon's Yaquina Head Lighthouse surrounded by cumulus clouds. Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock.

While driving over to the Oregon Coast, I mentioned to Julie (my loving wife) that I had been hoping to get some photographs of Yaquina Head Lighthouse for the last year or so, but that my timing had not worked out yet. I told her that the images I was hoping to capture would have a warmly lit lighthouse with big fields of flowers in the foreground and interesting cloud formations in the sky. I knew that capturing these images would require me to be there in early summer (when the flowers are peaking) at either sunrise or sunset (to have the proper lighting) on a day with no wind (so the flowers aren’t blowing around during long exposures) and great clouds (to fill up what would otherwise be dead space in the sky). I could easily prepare for the first two components, but the rest of it was really up to luck. Because Julie and I live in Bend, Oregon (a high elevation mountain town more than 3 hours away), there was really no way for me to know if the flowers along the coast were even blooming yet (much less, peaking), and there was absolutely no way that I could control other key factors, such as the wind and clouds. All I could really do was hope for the best and try to be prepared to take advantage of any opportunity that presented itself.

On our first day at the beach house, I woke up early and stepped outside to check sunrise conditions. There were great cloud formations all around and no winds blowing. These were seemingly perfect conditions, except for the fact that I was standing outside our place in Pacific City and the lighthouse is located in Newport, which is about 45 minutes away. Although I really had no way of predicting what the conditions were going to be like that far way, I was fairly excited at the possibility of getting the lighthouse pictures that I had wanted and I quickly started weighing my options. As I contemplated whether or not to make the trip, I remembered that our kids had been very excited the night before and that they had stayed up much later than normal. I also saw that Julie was still sleeping on the couch with our 18-month-old daughter, and that neither of them moved a muscle as I clumsily banged around in the kitchen trying to fill up as many coffee cups as I could carry. All signs pointed to a late and lazy morning for the McMullin family, which was great for me because it meant that I should be able to get down to the lighthouse and back to the beach house before anyone even noticed that I was gone. I packed up my coffee and camera gear and started my sunrise drive down the Pacific Coast Highway.

As I left Pacific City, I noticed that the streams and fields were incredibly still (which confirmed there was no wind blowing), but that the cloud formations I had seen earlier were already beginning to change. By the time I drove through Lincoln City (about 20 minutes later), the skies had lost most of their big fluffy clouds, and I started to wonder whether it was going to be worth it to keep driving. Then, I figured I was already hopped up on coffee and that the worst thing that could happen to me was that I would end up taking a peaceful, quiet drive down the coast to a beautiful cliff-side lighthouse where the sun would end up rising in a cloudless sky. With that in mind, it seemed sort of ridiculous for me to turn around at this point, so I continued driving up and over the cliffs surrounding Devil’s Punchbowl toward Newport, Oregon.

As the highway dropped back down to sea level, I could see Yaquina Head Lighthouse off in the distance. The lighthouse appeared to be shrouded in fog and there were no signs of the cumulus clouds that I had seen earlier in the morning. That sight was a bit disappointing, but I’ve been around long enough to know that you just can’t predict what the weather is going to be like on the Oregon Coast, so I kept driving with the hopes of at least scouting out the flower scenes around the lighthouse. In my mind, I was thinking that if the flowers were in good shape, then I would see if Julie and the kids wanted to come back to the lighthouse around sunset so I could try again (NOTE: This is the persistence part of the equation that I was talking about earlier).

I arrived at the lighthouse shortly after sunrise and found exactly what I was hoping for . . . huge stands of wildflowers all around, great clouds overhead, and no wind. Pulsing with excitement (and perhaps a little too much coffee), I jumped out of the Jeep and started running around in circles trying to find as many interesting compositions as I could before the sun warmed the skies and the clouds faded away.

Stock photo of Oregon's Yaquina Head Lighthouse surrounded by cumulus clouds.  Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock.

Stock photo of Oregon's Yaquina Head Lighthouse surrounded by cumulus clouds. Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock.

 

I had never been to Yaquina Head Lighthouse before, so I wasn’t exactly sure where to go first. I shot the images above within a few minutes of arriving, and then I backtracked and started scouting for more distant shots of the lighthouse.

Wildflowers along the cliffs at Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon.  Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock.

Wildflowers along the cliffs at Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon. Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock.

Because Yaquina Head Lighthouse is a very special and popular place, there are only certain areas around the lighthouse where visitors are allowed to go. Most of the really great photographs would require one to climb over a fence and ignore numerous signs pleading with people to stay on the designated paths and cleverly pointing out things like “Our wildflowers grow by the inch, but they are killed by the foot.” As badly as I wanted to scout around on the other side of the fences for a unique composition, I knew that I couldn’t do it with a clear conscious and that I didn’t want to damage any of the wildflowers that were blooming so happily along the cliff tops.

Wildflowers blooming along the cliffs near the Pacific Ocean.

Wildflowers blooming along the cliffs near the Pacific Ocean.

I stayed on my side of the fences and shot a few more pictures of the lighthouse before venturing down to the rocky beach below. I quickly scouted a few hundred yards up the beach, but unfortunately, the clouds had already started migrating out to sea by the time that I found a scene interesting enough to photograph. Oh well, I have never been one to complain, and I certainly wasn’t going to do it on a day in which I had already been blessed with tremendous luck. The following picture doesn’t benefit from the great cloud formations that the others have, but I’m still drawn to it because I think it does a nice job of capturing the enormity of the scene and I like the way the ocean waves, cliffs, and lighthouse provide a nicely balanced composition.

Stock photo of the beach and cliffs below Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon.  Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock.

Stock photo of the beach and cliffs below Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon. Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock.

Satisfied that I had successfully captured Yaquina Head Lighthouse in all of its glory, I hiked back up the cliffs and started my return trip. I glanced at my watch as I was climbing in the Jeep and noticed that I was running quite a bit later than expected. That’s also when it occurred to me that I had left in such a hurry that morning that I forgot to leave Julie a note letting her know where I was going or when I would be back. Julie and I have been married long enough that I figured she could easily guess that I was out somewhere on a photography mission, but I didn’t want her to be worried (or mad), so I figured that I better check in with her to see how things were going with the kids and to let her know that I would be home as soon as possible. When I called her, she wasn’t the least bit upset. In fact, Julie was genuinely excited for me. She told me that she couldn’t wait to see my pictures, but that everything was running smoothly at the beach house, and for me not to feel like I needed to hurry home.

I hung up the phone thinking “How did I get this lucky?” Although it’s always nice to have fortuitous photography conditions, my phone conversation with Julie reminded me once again that none of it would be possible without the unwavering and loving support of family. Nature photographers spend a tremendous amount of time out in the field, and our families are often either left behind or reluctant participants in all sorts of crazy adventures. We couldn’t possibly thank them enough for their contributions or tell them frequently enough that they are truly one of the best kept secrets of our success. Like I said earlier, luck is one of the key ingredients to good landscape photography, and perhaps “lucky in love” is one of the best types of luck that any photographer can hope for. In this regard, I’m a lucky, lucky, lucky man.

Posted by Troy McMullin


Oregon Stock Photo Success, PremierWest Bank’s Annual Report!

I feel the need to write this blog entry because my friend and partner in Pacific Crest Stock , Troy McMullin, is shy.  OK, maybe not shy but he is humble.  If you’ve read any of his blog entries here on the Pacific Crest Stock Photography Blog, you’ll notice a theme of self-deprecating humor.  Despite his many talents, Troy has always been humble almost to a fault yet his passion for Oregon stock photos drives him to continue to improve his photography.  Despite being one of the smartest people I know, very quick witted, a dedicated family man, a home improvement wiz(this might be an exaggeration, but he did repaint some of his house last weekend!), and a remarkable endurance athlete (he’s consistently finished well in the Central Oregon Pole Pedal Paddle race in the individual men’s category), he is also an excellent photographer.  It’s been fun watching Troy’s progression from a tiny point and shoot camera to the Pro-Canon 5D that he currently shoots.  His work has improved accordingly to the point that he is a highly talented Professional Photographer.  It’s pretty Cool!  To support my argument that Troy, despite his arguments to the contrary, has become an excellent photographer, I give you the following evidence!

Premier West Bank Annual Report front cover.  Strawberry Mountains in the background Photo by Troy McMullin!

Premier West Bank Annual Report front cover. Strawberry Mountains in the background Photo by Troy McMullin!

Yeah, that is Troy’s photo on the cover of the newly released annual report for PremierWest Bank.  The shot looks great, the cover looks great, and the graphics are great.  The back cover(which I might like even better) is also pretty exceptional.  It is seen below.

Premier West Bank Annual Report Back Cover.  Oregon Stock Photo by Troy McMullin!

Premier West Bank Annual Report Back Cover. Oregon Stock Photo by Troy McMullin!

I love how the fence on the back cover draws me into the image.  When the annual report is opened up you can see the entire image, which doubles the effect of this Oregon Stock Photo.  Troy took this image while on a photography journey in the Strawberry Mountain area of Eastern Oregon, which he recently documented in a Blog entry and which can be found here, Eastern Oregon Gems.  Please visit that link to read Troy’s story about capturing this excellent stock photo.  Troy will argue that this image is a result of an impulsive reaction to an attractive cloud formation but I beg to differ.  I think that this is the sort of shot that only a great stock photographer captures.  He recognized great photographic subject matter that was not his target for the day.  He then temporarily changed his plans, and worked with what was available (great field, great fence, great clouds and great mountains) to capture a great stock photo.  Frankly, this is one of the best Eastern Oregon photos I’ve ever seen!

  A special thanks goes out to the good people at PremierWest Bank for licensing our image.  Kaleene Connelly and the rest of the PremierWest team were great to work with as they were professional and personable throughout the whole licensing process.  Thank You PremierWest Bank!

Incidentally, I’d like to thank another contact at PremierWest, Deanna Crouser. She is the Manager of the Redmond, Oregon branch of PremierWest, another very professional, organized and likable PremierWest employee.  I’m not sure if she had any influence on the good people in the PremierWest graphics and marketing department finding us at Pacific Crest Stock but if she did, Thanks to her too!  A couple of years ago I negotiated with Deanna regarding some Fine art prints for their Redmond branch.  The Prints did not work out but Deanna did buy a print for her personal fine art collection.  Thanks to Deanna for that and thanks for the possible referral!  

Finally, congratulations to Troy for a great cover shot and another great Oregon Stock photo in his collection.  Troy, don’t be so humble!  To see more of Troy’s excellent photos, please visit his portfolio on our Pacific Crest Stock website.  Troy’s Portfolio


Visit Bend Tourism Guide now available, Go see our Photo!

I just made a trip down to the Visit Bend Office in downtown Bend, Oregon to pick up a copy of their new Bend, Oregon visitor’s guide.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, one of our photographs graces the cover of this year’s guide and the whole thing looks great!  To visit the previous blog entry regarding the cover shot which is of Mt. Jefferson and a gorgeous meadow of alpine wildflowers high up in the Mt. Jefferson wilderness area please click here.  Mt. Jefferson cover shot .  A sincere thanks goes out to Doug, Lynnette, Laurel, and the rest of the team at Visit Bend for selecting our image for their cover shot and for being great people to work with during this project.  They have all proven to be personable, efficient, and talented people to work with and to know.  I also mentioned in a previous blog entry that this cover is a special honor because both Troy and myself are both such big boosters of Bend and the entire Central Oregon area.  For people like us who love the outdoors, there is no finer place to live and to represent the area we love in some small way is a huge honor.  

Visit Bend Mt. Jefferson Cover Shot, now in visitor centers near you!

Visit Bend Mt. Jefferson Cover Shot, now in visitor centers near you!

The Visit Bend offices are located at 917 NW Harriman St. in Downtown Bend Oregon.  They are a great resource for information about the whole Central Oregon Area so stop by say hello to their friendly staff, view some of their beautiful art work (My Fine art prints are displayed there!) and grab a copy of their new bend area tourism guide with one of our Pacific Crest Stock images on the cover.  We hope they are as excited about the cover as we are.  Also you can visit their very attractive website at Visit Bend.  to see more of our grat landscape images, please also visit our main stock photography site at Pacific Crest Stock.   Thanks for visiting!

Posted by 

Mike Putnam


The Pinball Wizard Hits the Slopes of Three Fingered Jack . . . Literally

It was a simple plan, really.  Backpack into the base of Three Fingered Jack for a little snow camping, and hopefully get some good sunrise photos.  What could possibly go wrong?  Well, a bloody tree-riddled ride down an icy slope for one.  Hmmm . . . I didn’t really see that coming.

Summer had arrived early in Bend, Oregon and I had the itch to go exploring in the backcountry.  From a photography perspective, it is always tempting to get into the high alpine areas in early summer while there is still a lot of snow on the mountains, so I did a little scouting along the forest service roads outside of Sisters, Oregon and determined that I could drive most of the way into Jack Lake, which is the primary access point for Canyon Creek Meadows and Three Fingered Jack Mountain.  The southeast-facing road leading up to Jack Lake is usually one of the first to melt off every year, and in early summer, hikers can usually drive up to the last big north-facing curve in the road– which is only a mile or two short of the trailhead.  While going early in the year adds a few extra miles to the total hiking distance, it’s not a bad trade off for the added solitude that it provides.  Plus, it’s always kind of fun knowing that you are one of the first to make it into the area for the year.

Late Summer Photo of Three Fingered Jack and Indian Paintbrush Blooming in Canyon Creek Meadows.

Late Summer Photo of Three Fingered Jack and Indian Paintbrush Blooming in Canyon Creek Meadows.

 

 

I parked the Jeep at the curve where snow was still drifting across the road, creating a steep ramp that sloped off the edge of the hill.  I contemplated trying to 4-wheel it through the corner, but the sloping angle of snow and ice just looked a little too intimidating and I could easily picture the back of my truck loosing grip and sliding off the edge of the cliff and down into the valley below.  It didn’t seem worth the risk just to save a few extra miles of hiking so I strapped on my snowshoes and started hiking toward Jack Lake.  There’s a nice view of Three Fingered Jack from the lake, after which, the trail climbs gradually through a relatively dense forest of Fir trees and into the meadows near the base of the mountain.  Although the trail was completely snow-covered, I have been fortunate to make this hike many times in the past and I have several waypoints saved in my GPS, which makes it very easy to find my way into the meadows. 

I arrived in the lower meadow a few hours before sunset, but while I was hiking through the forest, thick clouds had moved in from the east and completely obstructed my view of the mountain.  The clouds were hanging just a few hundred feet off of the valley floor, and as I started trying to formulate a backup photography plan that accounted for the possibility of morning clouds (i.e., no sunrise picture opportunities from the meadows), I remembered that the Pacific Crest Trail runs along the top of the ridge to my immediate right and that there were some really interesting views of Jack’s pinnacles from up on that ridge.  I have a waypoint saved in my GPS of a “secret” climbers trail that traverses from the far end of the upper meadow to the ridge top, but this time of year, I knew that there was no way I would be able to make it up the steep climb and I was a little worried that I might trigger an avalanche if I attempted that route.  Rather than taking the route from the upper meadow, I decided to try to find an easier way to the top by approaching the ridge from the lower meadow.

Within a few minutes of leaving the lower elevation meadow, I had climbed my way into the overhanging clouds.  The temperature dropped precipitously inside the cloud bank, and I soon found myself covered with a fine, frozen mist.  Fortunately, the heat that I generated while struggling to climb up the steep pitch with a 40-pound backpack more than offset the drop in external temperature.  I picked and chose my way to the summit, hiking in and out of woods and rock slides until I finally made it to the top of the ridge.  With virtually no visibility on top, I started hiking blindly west along the ridge top, sometimes following a knife-like cliff band that dropped several hundred feet on both sides.  Given the steep exposure on each side of the cliff, I was frequently forced to take off my backpack and heave it up and over various ledges rather than attempting to awkwardly navigate the rocky scramble with it on my back.  I finally arrived to an area that I recognized, and just before sunset, the clouds parted around Three Fingered Jack long enough for me to capture the following image.

Winter sunset photo of Three Fingered Jack draped in clouds and fog.

Winter sunset photo of Three Fingered Jack draped in clouds and fog.

 

 

Soaking wet and exhausted from the climb, I searched around the edge of the ridge until I found a small, fairly level snow-free area for me to set up my tent and then I crawled in and immediately crashed for the night.   It seemed like I had just fallen asleep when my watch started beeping–alarming me that it was time to peak outside to check sunrise conditions.  It was a bitterly cold morning, but fortunately, the prior night’s clouds were completely cleared out and the mountain was rising above me in all of its glory.  I reluctantly crawled out of my toasty warm sleeping bag and into ice cold boots to start scouting the area for the best sunrise compositions.  I was barely awake, so I collected up some coffee and my backpacking stove, Java Press, and camera gear and then stumbled toward the mountain until I found an attractive composition.  I had just begun trying to warm my hands around a fresh cup of coffee when the first light of the day landed on the pinnacles of Three Fingered Jack.

Alpenglow on the pinnacles of Three Fingered Jack from the ridge above Canyon Creek Meadows.

Alpenglow on the pinnacles of Three Fingered Jack from the ridge above Canyon Creek Meadows.

 

 

It was the perfect morning for taking pictures.  I hiked back and forth along the ridge line shooting the mountain from every conceivable angle until I felt as if I had done all I could with my current location.  Then, I went back to camp, loaded up the rest of my gear and started mentally planning my return trip.  I wasn’t too excited about trying to re-negotiate my way along the knife-thin ridge that I had followed the previous night, and after seeing the hard-packed snow on the slopes closer to the mountain, I was much less concerned about triggering an avalanche there, so I decided that I would make my way down the westerly route and into Canyon Creek Meadows for a few final photographs and then back out to the Jeep. 

My plan worked fine for about 5 or 10 minutes until I lost focus, and accidentally stepped onto the back of my own snowshoe while descending the steep slope.  That little misstep immediately sent me hurling head first down the hill.  My water bottle shot out of the side pocket on my backpack and rocketed past my head and down the slope in front of me.  As I watched it ricochet off of the trees a few hundred feet below, I fought to roll myself over to my side and dug in the edges of my snowshoes to stop my sliding.  Both forearms were bleeding from scraping along the ice, but otherwise, I had escaped without any serious injury.  Still, I was in no hurry to repeat that episode, so I left my water bottle to fend for itself and started traversing across the slope, using short careful steps.  Traversing the steep, icy slope was much easier said than done, and less than half away across the open snow field, my left snowshoe lost purchase and I again found myself sliding uncontrollably.  I shifted all of my weight uphill as I started to slide and between the force of losing my balance and the added weight of my backpack, the hiking pole in my right hand dug into the snow just enough to bend it at nearly a 90 degree angle. 

Within seconds, I had slid into the tree line below, bouncing feet-first off the trees like a pinball.  As I bounced off of the trees, my eyes quickly took turns between focusing on the next tree in my path and shielding themselves from the tip of my newly bent, L-shaped aluminum hiking pole, which kept flirting dangerously close to my retina with each impact.  I pin-balled off of four or five smaller trees until gravity eventually deposited me into a deep snowy tree well.  Bloody, but relieved that I had survived without breaking my leg or piercing an eyeball, I strapped my snowshoes onto the back of my pack and eased my way down the rest of the slope . . . this time, staying in the trees and using them for balance as I worked my way down reaching from one branch to the next.  I followed my GPS coordinates to the bottom of the climbers trail and then limped out to the upper meadows. 

As I stared at the mountain from its base, I could see the southern ridge on the opposite side where I had almost died on a previous hike (see previous blog entry) and then I re-played the events in my mind that occurred to me that morning.  I just sort of smiled and shook my head in disbelief as I thought about myself pin-balling down the slope in the distance, and then I hiked out to the Jeep singing ““Always gets a replay, never see him fall, [the pinball wizard] sure plays a mean pinball.”

Posted by Troy McMullin


Eastern Oregon Gems: Painted Hills, Blue Basin, and Strawberry Lake Photos

Bend, Oregon is perfectly situated in the middle of the state where the Cascade Mountains transition into the High Desert.  In addition to having great mountains, streams, alpine lakes, and desert rock formations right here in our own backyard, we are also amazingly close to some of the country’s most scenic waterfalls, old growth rain forests, and coastline.  A short drive to the west over Santiam Pass, McKenzie Pass, or Willamette Pass offers a mind-boggling range of outdoor activities, including hundreds of miles of rugged alpine and ocean-front parks.  With so many gorgeous opportunities for exploration to the west, it is often easy to forget about all of the wonderful and unique geography that lies out in the valleys to our east.

If you want to see Eastern Oregon at its best, I would suggest planning a trip in early spring when the deserts and hills come alive with fresh color.  I was fortunate enough to make such a trip last year during a short period of unexpected bachelorhood.  My wife and I were planning to go see family in St. Louis, but the flights worked out in such a way that she and the kids ended up flying out a few days before me.  Armed with a guilt-free hall pass, I knew there was no time to waste.  I kissed her and the kids good-bye at the airport, and then I raced home, launched Google Earth, and began taking a virtual tour around the state in hopes of planning the perfect get away.  I knew it was too early in the year for most of my favorite Central Oregon locations because snow drifts were still blocking access to most of our backcountry regions, and after checking the forecast, it looked like the weather was going to be too unpredictable to plan anything off to the west.  Then it dawned on me that it had been awhile since I ventured out into Eastern Oregon, so I loaded up my gear and started driving out into the deserts and rolling farmland near the John Day River and Strawberry Lake.

Just past the historic town of Prineville, Oregon, I started climbing up through the Ochoco National Forest on highway 26.  This is one of my favorite stretches of road in the state.  The narrow two-lane highway winds along a small meandering stream that is surrounded by nice groves of aspen trees and huge, perfectly spaced ponderosa pines.  It is an idyllic drive up to the 5,000 foot pass, at which point, the geography immediately transforms from lush open meadows and alpine forests to arid deserted hills.  I was fortunate enough to be there on a blue bird day, which means that I was greeted with stunning southerly views of the Ochoco Mountains as I made my way over the summit and dropped down toward the tiny town of Mitchell, Oregon and the Painted Hills.  The Painted Hills are part of the John Day Fossil Beds, and without a doubt, they are some of the most unique and colorful formations in the country. As a photographer, it is practically impossible to drive past the Painted Hills without stopping, and my trip was no exception. 

Fortunately, I had visited the Painted Hills several times in the past and I knew that Mike Putnam and I already had a fairly large collection of photos from this area available on our Pacific Crest Stock photography site.  While the Hills are always spectacular to visit, they are best photographed at sunset or when there are interesting cloud formations off to the east.  I didn’t really have either of those conditions to work with at the time, and since I knew I couldn’t add anything meaningful to our existing collection, I just got out and walked around for awhile and then drove back out to the highway.  If you’d like to purchase a beautiful fine art photograph of the Painted Hills, visit, Bend Oregon photographer.

 

Sunset photo of the Painted Hills in the John Day Fossil Beds.  One of several pictures of the Painted Hills that is available on our Pacific Crest Stock photography site.

Sunset photo of the Painted Hills in the John Day Fossil Beds. One of several pictures of the Painted Hills that is available on our Pacific Crest Stock photography site.

 

 

 

Just a few miles down the highway, there is another interesting collection of fossils and strange geologic formations called the Blue Basin.  I had only visited the Blue Basin once before, so I was fairly excited to explore this area in a little more detail.  I decided to hike around the 3-mile Overlook Trail, which climbs up and around the rim of Blue Basin and provides nice views into the canyon and its surrounding valley.  After circling around the higher cliffs, the trail drops down into a valley where it joins the “Island in Time” interpretive trail for awhile before dead-ending at the base of the blue-green canyon.  Standing at the end of the trail, staring at these strange hoodoo-like formations, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported to a different place in time—if not to a completely different planet.

 

Photo of the Blue Basin in the John Day Fossil Beds.  Several additional pictures of Blue Basin are available on our Pacific Crest Stock photography site.

Photo of the Blue Basin in the John Day Fossil Beds. Several additional pictures of Blue Basin are available on our Pacific Crest Stock photography site.

  

 

 

I had a lot of fun exploring the Painted Hills and the Blue Basin, but as I turned back onto the highway, I recognized that it was getting late and that I wasn’t going to be able to stop at any more trails if I wanted to make it to the Strawberry Mountains before dark.  I cranked up the music, and hustled down the highway, through Picture Gorge and past the farmland towns of Dayville, Mount Vernon, and John Day until I finally made it to the charming little town of Prairie City, Oregon.  Prairie City is one of my favorite towns in Eastern Oregon–not only because it is close to the Strawberry Mountains, but also because it has one of the neatest little Mom-and-Pop restaurants I’ve ever seen.  The Oxbow Coffee House and Restaurant is almost a destination of its own.  In addition to the bar and restaurant, the old stone building also happens to be home to the North West Big Game Museum.  They have a ton of trophy-sized deer, elk, ram, and other big-game heads hanging on their walls and a beautiful 130-year-old mahogany and rosewood bar.  Knowing that the bar usually has at least one beer on tap from Deschutes Brewery, I couldn’t help but stop in for a quick drink. 

I ordered a Mirror Pond Pale Ale and then sat down at the bar next to a big, burly, and long-bearded gentleman. Within a few seconds, I pretty much figured out that he was a “local” and he quickly surmised that I was not.  I told him that I was planning on hiking into Strawberry Lake that night and asked him if the road to the trailhead was open yet. He quickly scanned me over from cap-to-boot with his eyes as if he was trying to figure out whether or not I was capable of making the trip, and then in a rugged smoker’s voice he said “Well, that depends. . . What are you driving?”  I explained that I had a four-wheel drive Jeep and that I had brought snowshoes in case the road was still blocked with snow.  He told me that I could probably make it to the lake, but that I had better finish my beer quickly because the sun was going to be setting soon and there was a good chance that I was going to need my snowshoes. I took his advice, bought his next round, and then hopped back in my Jeep.

The road from Prairie City to Strawberry Lake winds along open farmland for about 5 or 6 miles, and then it climbs more than 1,500 vertical feet up through a dense forest of pine, spruce, and fir trees for another 5 or 6 miles until it eventually dead-ends at the trailhead.  As I started driving toward the lake, I noticed a nice collection of cumulus clouds starting to form over the Strawberry Mountain range, and even though I knew I was running short on time, I couldn’t resist the temptation to take a few shots.

 

 Photo of Cumulus clouds over the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness Area in Eastern Oregon.

Photo of Cumulus clouds over the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness Area in Eastern Oregon.

 

 

 

Given the great collection of clouds that was forming, it was tough not to stay down low and explore the farm roads for longer, but I still wasn’t exactly sure what kind of adventure was waiting for me ahead, so I hopped back in the Jeep and continued up the gravel road.  Within a mile or so of entering the thick forested section, I noticed that there was much more snow starting to accumulate along the sides of the road and before long I got to the point where the road was completely blocked by snow.  I parked the Jeep, loaded my gear onto my back, and started snowshoeing in the general direction of the trailhead.  Although the road winds around quite a bit as it climbs up to its end, I was able to follow the general direction of the road fairly easily and before long I reached the sign marking the beginning of the trail. 

By this time, the sun had started its final descent and the cumulus clouds that I had taken pictures of earlier were just beginning to catch their color for the night.  I knew that I was only about a mile or so from Strawberry Lake, but I also knew that I was going to need to find my own way into the lake because the trail was still under several feet of hard-packed snow and ice.  I raced past the trailhead sign and forced my way up the steep, slippery hillside following my best guess for where the lake might be located.  As I struggled to navigate through the thick and cold forest with a 40-pound backpack, two things dawned on me.  First, I was quickly running out of daylight which meant that I might not be able to make it to the lake before the sunlight faded off of the clouds, and second, there was a very good chance that the lake was still going to be frozen from the winter.  The latter thought had not occurred to me when I was planning my trip, and since my primary mission was to photograph the mountainous headwall reflecting in Strawberry Lake, an ice-covered lake would be completely devastating.

With these two competing realizations, my mind started fighting with my legs and lungs about whether or not it was really worth it for me to hurry.  My mind was basically saying “Look, it’s a really tough climb up to the lake, and you’re going to need to work very hard if you expect to have any chance at all of making it there before dark” . . .  and my legs and lungs were countering by saying “But if the lake is frozen, there’s really no reason to push that hard because it will all be for naught anyway.”  In the end, I took the optimistic approach and pushed up the steep climb as quickly as I could.  I made it to the top of the ridge just as the clouds had started to brighten with shades of red and orange and I found a fully-thawed . . . but ripple-filled . . . lake. My legs and lungs were not at all happy that my mind had not anticipated the chance for a windy, reflection-killing night.  But, there was nothing they could do about it now.  Since the wind was not cooperating with my plans for a reflection, I dropped my backpack, watched the sun set behind Strawberry Mountain, and then set up camp for the night. 

After a cold night of snow camping and listening to the wind howl through the walls of my tent, I awoke the next morning and looked outside to find a perfectly calm lake.  I laced up my frozen boots and hiked to the lake shore where I took the following photo.

 

Picture of Spring sunrise on the Headwall at Strawberry Lake near Prairie City, Oregon.

Picture of Spring sunrise on the Headwall at Strawberry Lake near Prairie City, Oregon.

 

 

 

Knowing that I had completely lucked out and accomplished my goal of capturing the Strawberry Lake reflection, I took it easy the rest of the morning and then I leisurely hiked back down the canyon to my Jeep.  I stopped back by the Oxbow Coffee House and Restaurant for brunch and a celebratory beer and then drove back into Bend with a rejuvenated appreciation for all that Eastern Oregon has to offer.

Posted by Troy McMullin

NOTE: Special thanks go out to PremierWest Bancorp, which recently licensed one of my photos from this trip to use on the cover of their annual report.


A Few Photos for Jewel: Paulina Creek Falls, Paulina Lake and the Newberry Crater Area

The Pacific Crest Stock photography team recently received a very special request from one of our biggest fans, Mrs. Jewel Carmody. Jewel is a wonderfully nice 85-year-old lady who used to live in Bend, Oregon many years ago. Although she now lives in Arkansas, she still has a great love and admiration for all of the wilderness areas in Central Oregon and she frequently visits our blog site and main gallery pages in an effort to stay connected to the area. Jewel has sent us several complimentary messages over the last few months, and in a recent correspondence, she mentioned that she would like to see some photos from Paulina Lake and the Newberry Crater area, which was one of her favorite places to visit when she and her husband, Dewey, lived here in the late 1950’s.

For those of you who are not familiar with Central Oregon, Paulina Lake and the Newberry National Volcanic Monument are located just a few miles south of Bend and Sunriver. Although lesser known than nearby Crater Lake National Park, the Newberry Crater area actually shares many similar features with Crater Lake and was also once considered a leading candidate for National Park status. This geological wonderland was formed thousands of years ago when the 500-square-mile Newberry Volcano erupted and collapsed on itself, creating a huge caldera. Today, the caldera contains two incredibly deep and beautiful snow-fed lakes, a scenic creek with dozens of drops and waterfalls, and one of the largest obsidian flows in the North America. Despite its unique characteristics and the fact that I have hiked, biked and camped in the Newberry Crater area many times in the past, I have rarely gone there specifically for photography purposes, and unfortunately, I have a surprisingly small collection of pictures from this area to share with Jewel.

One of the lower waterfalls along Paulina Creek and the Peter Skene Ogden Trail in Central Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

One of the lower waterfalls along Paulina Creek and the Peter Skene Ogden Trail in Central Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

One of my favorite destinations in the Newberry Crater Area is the Peter Skene Ogden Trail. This wonderfully scenic trail is open to hiking, mountain biking (uphill only), and cross-country skiing. It climbs rather steeply for about 8 or 9 miles along the north side of Paulina Creek, passing many small waterfalls and natural rock waterslides (including the famous “Paulina Plunge” slide and swimming hole). The photo above was taken last year on one of the rare occasions that I happened to have my camera with me. In order to capture this photo, I had to take off my boots and wade out across the slippery rocks with bare feet through a thigh-deep, ice-cold creek. I’m not really sure what compelled me to carry my non-waterproof camera out into the middle of the creek, but I can tell you that I definitely second guessed myself—and the general soundness of my decision-making skills—several times as I was standing in the middle of the frigid water, fighting to prevent the current from sweeping me, my tripod, and camera downstream with it. After a handful of awkward and wobbly shots, I quickly decided that it would be wisest for me to take my camera back to the safety of dry land.

The Peter Skene Ogden Trail passes many impressive waterfalls along its path, but none of the others quite compare to Paulina Creek Falls, which is the final waterfall at the top of the trail. Paulina Creek Falls has an impressive 100-foot drop that comes off the ledge in two different spots creating a “double falls.” The photo of Paulina Creek Falls that is posted below was taken the same evening as the lower falls photo above. When photographing, I always like to find new and unique compositions that no one else has shot before. In this case, I happened to arrive while the fireweed was blooming and so I fought my way across the stream and up along the far edge of the waterfall to create this Pacific Crest Stock “original.” I like the composition of this photo a lot, but I’m not entirely happy with the lighting in the scene. Since we always strive to capture the “best possible” images for our Pacific Crest Stock galleries, I’ll probably go back later this year and try to re-capture this scene when the lighting is a little softer.

Fireweed blooming near Paulina Creek Falls in Central Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Fireweed blooming near Paulina Creek Falls in Central Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Just past Paulina Creek Falls, the Peter Skene Ogden Trail reaches the outlet from Paulina Lake. From here, hikers can enjoy a nice breakfast or lunch at the rustic Paulina Lake Lodge or continue hiking along the 7.5-mile trail that circles Paulina Lake. The mostly-level Paulina Lake Trail is a popular place for trail running and/or hiking. Despite its popularity, the trail can provide some well-earned solitude in the more remote areas of the lake and it frequently offers great shore-side views of Paulina Peak toward the south. There is also a natural hot springs located half way around the lake, which is the perfect place for a short break or a relaxing soak.

The Paulina Lake Trail is also a great place to take the kids for an easy out-and-back family hike. My wife, Julie, and I took our oldest daughter here for a hike when she was a toddler. Ella fell asleep while she was riding on my back in a Kelty Kid Carrier and when she woke up, we realized that Ella’s pacifier had fallen out of her mouth while she was napping. Ella was very distraught at losing her favorite thing in the entire world, and so we quickly diffused the situation my telling her this long convoluted story about how we saw a mother squirrel pick up something from the trail and climb up to her baby, which was sitting on a high branch in one of the trees overhanging the lake. We thought the mother squirrel had a nut in her mouth, but as she got closer to her baby, we could see that the mother squirrel had actually picked up Ella’s pacifier and was trying to give it to her baby. During the transfer, the baby squirrel dropped the pacifier, which landed in the lake and was then immediately swept up by a huge rainbow trout. The trout sucked the pacifier into his mouth . . . smiled . . . and then swam away with it. To this day, Ella makes us tell her that story every time that we hike at Paulina Lake and she asks every fisherman she sees whether they have caught any fish with a pacifier in its mouth. So far, no one has caught that magical fish, but one day we’ll get Ella’s grandpa to bring his fishing gear out here with him. Ella is absolutely convinced that her Poppa can catch that fish because he is the best fisherman in the whole world.

Photo of a Central Oregon sunset on Paulina Peak and Paulina Lake.

Photo of a Central Oregon sunset on Paulina Peak and Paulina Lake.

Mountain biking is not allowed on the Paulina Lake Trail, but there are also plenty of biking opportunities in the Newberry Crater area. For the more adventurous types, I would recommend biking from the lake up to the top of 8,000-foot Paulina Peak. The views into the 250-foot deep, azure-colored Paulina Lake below and out toward the Three Sisters Mountains can’t be beat. On a clear day, you can see all the way across Oregon and into California to the south and Washington to the north. If you still have lots of energy in your tank after climbing to the top of Paulina Peak, drop back down a few hundred feet and turn left onto the Crater Rim Loop Trail. This 25-mile single-track trail circumnavigates the entire caldera, including Paulina Lake, East Lake, and the Big Obsidian Flow. The Crater Rim Loop Trail can be fairly exhausting (especially if you started at the Peter Skene Ogden trailhead more than 10 miles below), but this trail provides an absolutely epic day of Central Oregon mountain biking and the final descent back to Paulina Lake is one of the best down-hilling experiences in the entire area.

Sunset photo from the top of Paulina Peak, overlooking Paulina Lake, Newberry Caldera, and the Crater Rim Loop Trail.

Sunset photo from the top of Paulina Peak, overlooking Paulina Lake, Newberry Caldera, and the Crater Rim Loop Trail.

Well, that’s just about the extent of my photo collection from Paulina Lake and the Newberry Crater Area. I’m not really sure why I haven’t taken more photos from this area in the past, but thanks to Jewel’s request, I think I will try to focus more on this part of the region in the coming year. I guess that illustrates one of the reasons why Jewel loved living in Central Oregon so much. There’s just so much to do here, it seems like you couldn’t possibly cover everything this area has to offer, even if you had two lifetimes to do it.

Posted by Troy McMullin

NOTE: To really experience Paulina Lake at its best or to learn more about the history and geology of this area, I would highly recommend scheduling a day trip through Wanderlust Tours. Their excellent tour guides provide a wealth of fun information and a unique perspective that will leave you with a much greater appreciation for the area than what you would have been able to otherwise experience on your own. I have heard many families say that the day they spent here with Wanderlust Tours was the best day of their entire vacation.


The Magic of Smith Rock: A Memorable Mountain Biking and Photography Mission

As I peered out of my window at the cumulus clouds that were beginning to stack up in the skies overhead, I realized that this might be the day that I needed to finally capture one of the photographs that I had been hoping to get at Smith Rock State Park.  There had been a string of brilliant red and orange sunsets earlier in the week, and I was optimistically hoping that the pattern would repeat itself again tonight as I was perched on the cliffs along the northern ridge of the park.  I hurried to pack up my Canon EOS 5D camera, loaded my mountain bike on the top of the Jeep, and headed out for another trip to the world renowned rock climbing destination a few miles away in Terrebonne, Oregon.

As I got closer to the park, the clouds seemed to be arranged in a perfectly orchestrated position with just the right amount of spacing above the park’s rock spires.  Based on the sun’s position, I decided to ride into the park from the Canyon Trail on the south side of the Crooked River, not realizing just how steep and difficult that descent was going to be with a full-sized backpack.  As I dropped into the rocky and rutted trail, the pitch immediately forced me backward, but as I was attempting to get my weight adjusted to the rear, the bottom of my backpack got wedged against the bike saddle and me and my camera equipment were promptly ejected over the handlebars.  Fortunately, the trail was steep enough that as I went over the bars I was able to simply step forward and land on my feet in a running escape while I watched my Yeti spiral down the hill without anyone attached.

I was in no hurry to repeat that episode, so I chose to walk my bike for a while until the trail leveled out.  As I neared the bottom, I noticed that the sunlight coming in over my left shoulder was warming the cliffs on the opposite side of the river so I unloaded the tripod and wandered out through a clearing to get a better view.  Happy that the view toward the Christian Brothers formations was a relatively unique one, I set up the camera and shot a few images.  It was also at this point that I had two revelations.  First, the sun was setting quicker than expected and I needed to cover about 5 more miles in a hurry or I wasn’t going to get to where I needed to be for the photograph that I had been planning, and second, my perfectly arranged cloud formations had already begun to thin out.

 

Stock photo of the Christian Brothers rock formations in Smith Rock State Park.

Stock photo of the Christian Brothers rock formations in Smith Rock State Park.

 

After re-packing my equipment, I hustled along the rest of the Canyon Trail, crossed the footbridge to the other side of the river, and pedaled as quickly as I could toward the Mesa Verde Trail on the opposite side of the park.  As the trail steepened, I peeked at the sun behind me and realized that I was not going to make it to my planned destination in time.  Rather than leaving empty handed, I dismounted my bike and set up the tripod right there.  Although not quite the scene that I had anticipated, it was a beautiful sight looking back toward Monkey Face and Asterisk Pass with the rocks reflecting in the Crooked River below.  I took a few pictures and then sat there for awhile enjoying a peaceful (if cloudless and non-red/non-orange) sunset.

Sunset photo of Monkey Face and Asterisk Pass in Smith Rock State Park. One of several Smith Rock stock photos of that is available on our Pacific Crest Stock photography site.

Sunset photo of Monkey Face and Asterisk Pass in Smith Rock State Park. One of several Smith Rock stock photos of that is available on our Pacific Crest Stock photography site.

With the light fading and the temperature dropping, I started my return trip back along the edge of the river, frequently dodging rabbits as they darted from the bushes just inches away from of my front wheel.  Worried that one of these little games of “chicken” with the rabbits was going to launch me over the handlebars again, I slowed my cadence and began to focus more on the trail in front of me.  In fact, I became so focused on the ground that I almost forgot to look around and enjoy what was becoming an almost mystic riding experience.  Here I was . . .  all alone in Smith Rock State Park, after dark, riding next to a meandering river under towering cliffs and rock formations.  It dawned on me that this was perhaps one of the most memorable mountain bike rides I had ever taken, and then to make things even better, I glanced up and found a full moon rising above the Morning Glory wall.  I don’t know for sure whether it was the cool air coming off of the river or the scenery itself, but I suddenly felt chills go up and down my spine.  I got off my bike, and in an almost trance-like manner, I set up the camera, took a few deep breaths, and then waited for the shutter to close.

 

Stock photo of the moon rising over the Morning Glory Wall in Smith Rock State Park.

Stock photo of the moon rising over the Morning Glory Wall in Smith Rock State Park.

 

Looking back, this was definitely one of my favorite photographic experiences of all time.  It also demonstrates how you might not always capture the images that you are hoping for, but if you keep your eyes open, you can sometimes find an even better opportunity just around the corner.  Photographers often say,”The key to good landscape photography is getting there,” and in this case, I feel very grateful that I was able to be there.

Posted by Troy McMullin

NOTE: I would like to thank Matt Lathrop of FOCUS Realty for licensing one of the images from this day for his new website.  If you are interested in seeing other images from Smith Rock, you can browse our High Desert Gallery on the main Pacific Crest Stock photography site or search the site for “Smith Rock.” 


Three Sisters Sunrise Photos and a Frigid Winter Morning on Tumalo Mountain

     It’s been quite some time since I visited one of my favorite winter photo locations, Tumalo Mountain near Mt. Bachelor off of the Cascade Lakes Highway.  Tumalo Mountain has long been a favorite of  backcountry skiers and snowshoers for winter time fun and it’s also no secret amongst photographers.  It’s location is key for all of these outdoor enthusiasts in that is located right next to Dutchman Flat snow park which incidentally is very close to the Mt. Bachelor ski area.   Because Tumalo Mountain is very accessible by backcountry standards there is a common perception that it is an easy hike to the top and therefore a pleasant little stroll to the summit.  For my purposes, this could not have been more wrong.  Because I’m naturally an optimist my mind always manages to block out all the difficulties associated with stock photography in this or any winter location.  I’ll walk you through what I consider to be a successful winter landscape photography outing and start off with the first image I captured last weekend.

 

Image of Broken Top and the Three Sisters at sunrise as seen from Tumalo Mountain

Image of Broken Top and the Three Sisters at sunrise as seen from Tumalo Mountain

It all starts the night before with checking my film supplies, laying out lots of extra layers of clothing, checking batteries, hand warmers, and most importantly setting the coffee maker timer to start brewing at 3:00 AM.  I had been following the weather patterns for over a week and this appeared to be the only clear day in the immediate future so if I over slept, there would be no re-shoot for quite some time.  This is why coffee was so important.  I find that having the aroma of coffee emanating from my kitchen, I’m much more likely to get out of bed in a timely fashion.  I call this an “Alpine Coffee Start”.

The wake-up went as well as can be expected with a 3:00AM alarm.  I woke, embraced my favorite mug full of heavenly Java roasted by the good people at Strictly Organic Coffee right here in Bend and checked the weather. Yikes, it was Zero degrees at the base of Mount Bachelor where I’d start snowshoeing up Tumalo Mountain.  I fought the urge to hop back in bed and drove to Dutchman’s Flat and started my climb.  I knew it was cold when I climbed with all my layers, a fourty pound camera pack through 25 inches of cold,dry,fresh powder up hill and still couldn’t get warm until I put on my Down Jacket which is usually held in reserve until I stop climbing and start getting cold.  I also activated three different handwarmers which were almost as pleasant as my coffee from 20 minutes before.  I huffed and puffed and eventually sweated, perhaps cursed and kept climbing until the snow on the trees got better, making for an eye catching foreground.  Luckily I’d given myself 90 minutes to climb and scout a location and set up my first shot of the day.  It took every one of those 90 minutes to find my first and only photo location of the day which is not too bad for an 87 year old man in those difficult and frigid climbing conditions.  The embarrassment lies in the fact that I’m not 87 years old!    Below is probably my favorite composition from that morning on Tumalo Mountain.

 

Alpenglow warming the summits of the Three Sisters and Broken Top Mountain as viewed from Central Oregon's Tumalo Mountain.

Alpenglow warming the summits of the Three Sisters and Broken Top Mountain as viewed from Central Oregon's Tumalo Mountain.

 

 

 I like how the sunlight had changed to a warmer, more yellow color between the first and second images from this morning.  I also prefer this second image because of how nicely the snow flocked tree frame the distant mountains but most of all I like the trees themselves.  A secret of winter photography is good snow.  I know this sounds obvious but it is very true.  Anyone can take a winter photo but it takes work and planning or lots of luck to get a great winter photograph.  Most great images need a foreground of some sort.  Winter images need a winter foreground.  If the snow has melted off or blown off of the trees then you lose much of the punch in any winter image.  This means that your best chance of a great winter image is probably immediately after a winter storm and hopefully not too windy of a storm.  It should also be at sunrise or before as the sun will quickly warm the trees and melt off the snow that helped complete the image.  

     Minutes after I composed and captured this landscape image a heavy cloud bank began to swirl around Tumalo Mountain and obscure my view of both Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters.  With the clouds came a stiff, frigid wind and rime ice began forming all over my outer layers of clothing.  An already cold outing developed into what my in-laws from New England would call a “Wicked -Cold” outing.  I quickly snapped the following image of Broken Top in between cloud swirls and retreated down the mountain as I began loosing the feeling in both my fingers and toes.

 

Snowy picture of Central Oregon's Broken Top Mountain filtered through swirling clouds in the Oregon Cascades

Snowy picture of Central Oregon's Broken Top Mountain filtered through swirling clouds in the Oregon Cascades

I had hoped to capture a few photos of Mt. Bachelor that morning but it was not meant to be as the only cloud in Central Oregon was positioned between Tumalo Mountain and Mt. Bachelor, completely obscuring my view.  As I descended the hand warmers brought a tingle back to my fingers but my toes continued to be lifeless bricks.  At that point I vowed to get some warmer boots for snowshoeing.  I made the parking lot as the first few backcountry skiers of the day were pulling into Dutchman Flat snow park.  With my photo day complete, I headed home excited about the images I’d just captured and about getting the feeling back in my toes!

To view more Central Oregon Mountain Images, please visit our Stock photography Website, and check out the mountain Gallery at Pacific Crest Stock.

By Mike Putnam


Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City, Oregon: The Perfect Beach Vacation

Without a doubt, Pacific City is one of my favorite spots on the Oregon coast.  Not only is it home to the Pelican Pub’s perfectly hoppy, awarding-winning India Pelican Ale (IPA), but it also has one of the most diverse and scenic landscapes in the state.  A strenuous climb up and around Cape Kiwanda can reveal many gems that are otherwise hidden from those who are more “reclined” than “inclined.”

If you have only one day to explore this area, I would recommend getting up early, grabbing a hot cup of Joe from one of the beachfront coffee shops and taking a sunrise stroll down to the tide pools near the big sand dune at the north end of the beach.  As the sun climbs up and over the hills surrounding the Nestucca River Valley, the light will often produce beautiful colors as it reflects off of the seaward clouds. 

 

Sunrise photo of Haystack Rock from the tide pools at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon.

Sunrise photo of Haystack Rock from the tide pools at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon.

 

After you’ve explored around the tide pools for awhile (and hopefully after the coffee kicks in), point your toes up the steep sandy hill and start climbing over the left-hand shoulder of the dune.  You will find a protective fence at the top of the shoulder; however, many people consider this barrier to be more of a suggestion than an actual obstruction, so if you’re in an exploring mood—and you’re not hiking with small children—you might want to take a gamble and head out to the far end of the Cape.  Just don’t get too close to the edge of the cliff because the sandstone can break away without warning, and falling a few hundred feet down onto a rocky shore probably won’t be much fun.  It’s also important to stay on the main trails leading to the overlooks so that you don’t add any further damage to the eroding trails leading down to the water. 

If you prefer to stay on the safer side of the fence, I would recommend continuing the hike by climbing up the western face of the dune where you can get a nice gull’s eye view of the waves crashing into the Cape and Haystack Rock. 

Photo of Haystack Rock and Cape Kiwanda from the Big Sand Dune in Pacific City, Oregon.

Photo of Haystack Rock and Cape Kiwanda from the Big Sand Dune in Pacific City, Oregon.

 

 

Continuing up and over the steep sand dune will provide even more breath-taking views (literally), and a peek into the canyon on the other side.  Here, the rocky cliffs jet straight skyward from the tide line.  A keen eye will also spot a natural tunnel that has been carved through the sandstone bluffs.

 

Photo of the Cliffs and Canyon on the North Face of Cape Kiwanda.

Photo of the Cliffs and Canyon on the North Face of Cape Kiwanda.

 

Now that your heart is pumping at the summit of the dune, skirt around the eastern slope and drop down to the beach on the other side (the “Secret Beach” as my kids call it). This beach tends to be much more secluded than the one on the main side of the dune, and it has another nice collection of tide pools and a big natural sandstone bridge that you can walk under during low tide.  I’ve also seen bald eagles and sea lions fishing over on this side of the Cape, which is always a fascinating experience.

If it happens to be low tide, you can easily spend an hour or so at the Secret Beach looking at all of the starfish, hermit crabs, and anemones that are hiding in the various tide pools. 

 

Dancing Starfish in the Tide Pools near the Secret Beach in Pacific City, Oregon.

Dancing Starfish in the Tide Pools near the Secret Beach in Pacific City, Oregon.

 

After an invigorating morning of exploring around Cape Kiwanda, you can sit out on the Pelican Pub’s oceanfront patio and replenish yourself with a couple of pints or a wide variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches while you watch surfers riding the waves coming in from Haystack Rock.  If time allows, you might also choose to take a short drive north along the Three Capes Scenic Loop to Cape Lookout and Cape Meares or south to the charming little beach towns of Neskowin or Newport (home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Oregon State Marine Center, Yaquina Head Lighthouse, and Rogue–another wonderful Oregon brewery).  Just don’t stay away too long, because Pacific City also has amazing sunsets.

 

Sunset photo from the Cliffs of Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon.

Sunset photo from the Cliffs of Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon.

 

These are just some of the reasons that I enjoy vacationing in Pacific City.  If you go for a visit, I would highly recommend staying in one of the Cape Cod-style cottages at Shorepine Village. These fully-furnished vacation homes offer a much more relaxing way to enjoy the coast than a standard hotel room, and if you’re traveling with small children, they can set you up in one of their kid-friendly units which are stocked full of toys for your little ones to enjoy.  Shorepine Village is an idyllic little beach community complete with a few families of wondering bunnies, and some nice flat bike paths that meander around the grounds and through two old-timey covered bridges.  Between the ales at the pub and the scenes along Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City is a truly unbeatable beach get away.

 

Sunset photo of Haystack Rock and Cape Kiwanda from the beach at Pacific City, Oregon.

Sunset photo of Haystack Rock and Cape Kiwanda from the beach at Pacific City, Oregon.

 

Posted by Troy McMullin

NOTE: If you want to see additional pictures from Pacific City, you can browse the Pacific Coast Gallery on our Pacific Crest Stock photography site or search the site for “Pacific City.”


Early Success in the Central Oregon Photo Market!

     I have genuinely loved Bend and the Central Oregon area ever since moving here more than 10 years ago.  I enjoy our Central Oregon mountains, the Deschutes River, the high desert, old growth ponderosas, Drake Park, the local trail systems, Downtown Bend, the restaurants,  and the breweries (not necessarily in that order).   The natural beauty of Central Oregon is what inspired me to take up photography on a professional level.  To have so much geographical diversity in the same region is truly wondrous.  My partner in Pacific Crest Stock, Troy, is also a big fan of Bend.  Many friends have suggested that we should be on the payroll for the Bend Chamber of Commerce or one of the tourism boards because we are both such big boosters of Bend and the whole Central Oregon area.

     When we first conceived of Pacific Crest Stock, we both thought it would be a tremendous honor to have one of our stock photos appear in one of the Central Oregon tourism publications because it would be an honor to represent the area in print.  Well, with that thought in mind, we have a big announcement to make.  It has recently been formalized and one of our landscape images will grace the cover of the Visit Bend‘s tourism  publication, which is due to be released this spring.  The exposure of having the cover shot will be great, the link on Visit Bend’s very attractive website which has been promised will certainly be helpful, but most of all, it is an honor to represent Bend and Central Oregon in a more formal way.  Having met with Lynnette and Laurel at Visit Bend several times, I can confidently say that it is a well run, personable and efficient organization.  Lynnette is clearly a skilled Web master, and graphic designer.  She was courteous enough to provide me with the following image file, which will be the cover of their glossy magazine style publication.

Our Mt Jefferson Photo on the cover of the soon to be released Visit Bend Publication.

Our Mt Jefferson Photo on the cover of the soon to be released Visit Bend Publication.

Yeah that’s my Mt. Jefferson Photo and yeah I’m pretty excited!  

Mt Jefferson is one of the most photogenic mountains anywhere and because it is visible from much of the city of Bend, it has long been one of my favorite photography destinations.  This image, like most great images, required lots of work.  I’ve been to Jefferson Park and the Mt Jefferson Wilderness many times before and have always been moved by its beauty, but. I had often been frustrated in that I always thought there was a shot I was missing in this beautiful area.  The year I shot this photo, Troy and I went backpacking in the Jefferson Park area and we captured lots of good Stock photos including the following shot of Troy’s ,which is a fan favorite on Panoramio and Google Earth.

Troy's photo of Mt Jefferson from Jefferson Park with red Indian Paintbrush in the foreground.

Troy's photo of Mt Jefferson from Jefferson Park with red Indian Paintbrush in the foreground.

It is clearly a great shot. Mt Jefferson towering high above the mid-ground clouds with a stunning foreground of Troy’s favorite flower and the only one he knows the name of, the Red Indian Paintbrush.  During our trip, we scouted and shot on and off trail from many different locations including the one that will serve as Visit Bend’s Cover shot.  When we arrived at the “cover location”  the light was harsh and the alpine wildflowers hadn’t quite peaked for the year but the location was clearly special and I knew I had to return in a few days so I did.  To see more great Mount Jefferson images, please visit our stock site’s Mountain Gallery.

     On my return trip, I made a day trip of the outing carrying my heavy pack nearly 10 miles and several thousand feet of vertical gain to the same location as a few days before.  I quickly set up my tripod and my 4×5 camera and composed a beautiful scene at a stunning location when something unexpected happened.  A small wisp of clouds appeared over Mount Jefferson’s summit and it gradually evolved into the awesome lenticular cloud cap that you see in my cover shot from that second day. The scene went from a great one to one of the best fine art landscape shots I’ve ever taken.  It is one of my favorite images because Mount Jefferson’s amazing presence, the outstanding wildflower combinations (the equal of which I’ve yet to find in Oregon) and the mystical cloud cap which really brings the whole image together. I hiked out the last six miles with my headlamp beaming and my mind reeling with excitement about the great shots I’d just captured.   Without the cloud cap it’s a great stock photo, but with the cloud cap,  it becomes a great fine art print.  So I worked hard and I got Lucky.  I’ll take that combination any time!

    My thanks go out to Lynette at Visit Bend for the image file and to my loving wife for letting me go out and take photos in places I love.

To view my fine art prints, including the soon to be cover shot, please visit my fine art site at Mike Putnam Photography where you’ll see this lucky Mt. Jefferson Photograph and many others. 

Mike Putnam


North Sister Adventure: Mountain Lions, Pure Panic, and the Attack of “Wer Sprecht That?”

Sometimes, strange things pop into my head when I think I’m about to die.  On one recent close encounter, I muttered the words “Wer sprecht that,” which was a phrase I had not used in more than a decade.  This poorly composed German-English hybrid-of-a-phrase was originally coined many years earlier by Eric Poynter–one of my very best friends in college. 

Eric was just shy of 6’3.”  He had curly red hair and freckles, and he almost always had a big giant smile draped across his face.  When I first met him, he was wearing a somewhat undersized baby blue sweatshirt with bright yellow iron-on letters arching across its chest that read “Yo Mamma!”  He was the unique kind of guy who could wear a shirt like that through the inner city neighborhoods where our school was located, and actually get away with it.  He was also one of those crazy college kids who would chew and swallow plastic beer cups, press his tongue against frozen flag poles, or put a mound of mousse on his head and light it on fire just for laughs.  Eric had a ton of hilarious one-liners and in many socially awkward moments (e.g., when certain bodily sounds escaped anonymously from a crowd), I remember him just openly and honestly asking “Wer sprecht that?”  Loosely translated, it means “Who said that?”

 

After graduating as a pharmacist, Eric began to miss his days on the catwalk, and he eventually chose to go back into modeling.

After graduating as a pharmacist, Eric began to miss his days on the catwalk, and he eventually chose to go back into modeling.

 

Before attempting to explain the attack that I survived near North Sister in Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area, I feel like I should warn you upfront that this frightening experience is going to be somewhat difficult for me to put into words.  Not for emotional reasons, but mostly because I’m not exactly sure which letters best represent the sound of a huge mountain lion.  To adequately follow this story, you will need to do your best to imagine the meanest growl you’ve ever heard in your life every time that I type the letters “GRRROOOOWWWWL.”

OK, now that we’ve established the rules for reading, I’ll get on with it.  This experience started late one winter when my wife made the mistake of leaving me home alone for a week while she visited family in St Louis.  After a few days of living like a drunken bachelor, I decided that I was ready for a little winter photo adventure.  I have always had a hefty dose of affection (some might call it an affliction) for North Sister, and so I decided that I would try to do some exploring around the Millican Crater area.  I had been off trail in this area once before, and I remembered thinking that there were some pretty wide open views of North Sister along one of the ridges to the East.  I figured I could probably find my way back to that general area and get some nice stock photos of the mountain around sunset.  It was still wintertime up in the higher elevations of the Cascade Mountains, so I packed up the camera and snowshoes and headed out for a solo exploration. 

 

 Photo of Oregon's Three Sisters Mountains reflecting in Scott Lake.  From left to right: North Sister, Middle Sister, and South Sister.

Photo of Oregon's Three Sisters Mountains reflecting in Scott Lake. From left to right: North Sister, Middle Sister, and South Sister.

 

Not long after leaving the Jeep on snowshoes, I found the ridge line and started trekking cross-country into the forest of Ponderosa and Lodge Pole pines.  I climbed along the cliff band, zigzagging over downed trees and in and out of snow for about an hour or so before I was finally forced to admit that the mountain views were not as open as I had remembered.  I was very close to the mountain, but I couldn’t find a photo composition that wasn’t at least partially obstructed by tree branches.  Determined to find an open spot along the ridgeline, I continued deeper into the woods until I realized that the weather was beginning to turn on me. 

The light was fading quickly and the wind had started to pick up.  As the wind whispered through the trees, it would occasionally release an eerie, screeching sound as the taller pine tops rubbed against one another. The screeching sounds were kind of creeping me out, and the farther I went into the forest, the more nervous I got about whether or not I was going to be able to find my way back to the Jeep in the dark because the patchy snow melt meant that I was not going to be able to simply follow my snowshoe tracks out of the woods as I had originally planned.  With darkness settling into the trees and the air getting noticeably colder, I decided that it was probably safest for me to abandon my photo expedition and head back home.

 

Photo of North Sister in Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

Photo of North Sister in Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

 

Just then, as I started to reverse direction, I heard the loud “GRRROOOOWWWWL” of a mountain lion standing directly behind me.  I spun around as quickly as I could, and with eyes the size of ping pong balls, I began frantically scanning the woods for the source of the sound.  Finding no hairy beasts behind me, my mind jolted to a story that I had recently heard about some people who spotted a cougar perched in the trees while hiking on Pilot Butte.  I jerked my neck toward the sky, focusing my gaze from branch to branch in the trees overhead but I still couldn’t make eye contact with whatever it was that had just growled at me.  The fear was now pulsing through my bloodstream, and as I started mentally re-tracing my actions, I came to the realization that I had made several fatal mistakes.  With my wife out of town, I had gone into the woods alone without telling anyone where I was going or when to expect me back.  Even if I was to survive the imminent attack, I figured there was very little chance for rescue. 

I decided there was no time to waste.  I picked up my hiking poles and held them like two aluminum spears as I started making my way back to the truck.  Panicked, and panting very loudly, I moved slowly through the dark woods using a sort of spinning motion every few steps to make sure that nothing could sneak up on me from behind.  Unfortunately, with all of the spinning, I didn’t notice that I was approaching the edge of a nearby embankment.  My snowshoe slipped off of its edge, and in a split second, I was sliding helplessly down the slope.  To make matters worse, the lion let out another fierce “GRRROOOOWWWWL” at the exact moment that my weight slid out from under me.  I rolled to the bottom of the hill and landed in a fetal position.  Laying there, curled up in the snow, I knew that I probably looked like a small child to whatever huge creature was stalking me, and having just heard the second ““GRRROOOOWWWWL,” I fully expected to feel the weight of the cougar pouncing onto my back at any moment.  I quickly rolled over, and as I fought to get back onto my feet, my snowshoe broke through the crusty snow below me releasing an eerily familiar “growling” sound.  I paused for a second, and then I twisted my other snowshoe through the crust . . . again simulating a “growl.”   

And that’s when it occurred to me that there never was a mountain lion. It was simply my mind playing tricks on me.   The entire episode was just a by-product of my imagination, and probably at least partially related to the fact that subconsciously, I must have been a little panicked about being so far back in the woods alone after dark without any back up disaster plan.  As I re-played the episode in my head, I realized that the first growl occurred as I shifted directions in the snow and the second happened as my foot slipped down the slope.  Convinced that the all of the sounds had simply come from my snowshoes breaking though the crusty snow (and not from a huge hungry cat), I let out a nervous chuckle and thought to myself, “Wer sprecht that?”

Posted by Troy McMullin

NOTE: If you want to see additional pictures of North Sister, you can browse the Mountain gallery on Pacific Crest Stock or search the site for “Three Sisters.”  If you want to see pictures of the stalking mountain lion, you can visit the Atlas Snowshoe site.


McKenzie River Photos: The Summer’s Life

I was driving around the other day scouting for some new winter photographs and listening to my iPod when a song shuffled on by The Shaky Hands, one of my favorite local bands from Portland, Oregon.  The song is called “Summer’s Life.”  It is a happy little tune that leads off with simple strumming, some well-timed handclaps, and the following lyrics:

The summer’s life is good . . . We ran down on the path in the woods . . .

To that old swimming hole . . . where we laugh and sing . . .  and stories are told.

We lived like children do . . . . kind  . . . . and so brand new.

With my thumbs drumming along on the steering wheel, I started thinking back to last October when I hiked into Tamolitch Pool, perhaps the most scenic swimming hole in all of Oregon.  It’s also the day that I met Jim Blanchard, an older retired photographer who was genuinely living a youthful “summer’s life.” 

That day, I had checked online and saw that it was raining in the Willamette Valley.  Knowing that the fall foliage always looks best when it’s saturated with rain, I loaded up my camera gear and headed over to the McKenzie highway hoping to get some new fall-time pictures.  Mike Putnam and I usually make this trip at least once each year.  If you look at Mike’s collection on Pacific Crest Stock, you can see that he has been quite prolific at capturing Autumn’s colors—some might even say he’s a little bit obsessed with it.  In fact, Mike has so many colorful shots from previous years that I could probably just slip my name onto some of his cull shots rather than worrying about getting any photos of my own. 

 

One of Mike Putnam’s autumn photos that I plan on stealing when he’s not looking.

One of Mike Putnam’s autumn photos that I plan on stealing when he’s not looking.

 

The rain was flooding off my windshield wipers as I veered onto Highway 126.  It was raining so hard that I could barely see well enough to drive–much less effectively scout for stock photos.  I could tell that tons of color had started to emerge along the roadside, but I couldn’t really make out any of the shapes or textures through my fogged up windows, so I decided to pull off the highway and take a closer look at one of the lava flows just north of Clear Lake.  This particular lava flow has a nice smattering of vine maples and lichen-covered Fir trees, and while it normally has plenty of potential this time of year, the rain was coming down so hard that I opted to not even take my camera outside with me as I scouted around. 

 

A great autumn photo of vine maples and lichen-covered trees.  This photo is temporarily credited to Mike Putnam, but if all goes well, it will soon have my name attached to it.

A great autumn photo of vine maples and lichen-covered trees. This photo is temporarily credited to Mike Putnam, but if all goes well, it will soon have my name attached to it.

 

Cold and soaking wet, I climbed back into the Jeep, and drove another mile or so down the road until I spotted another potential shot along the bank where the McKenzie River crosses under the highway. I got back outside and braved the weather for awhile, but after scouting the scene closer, I decided that the bank’s pitch was going to be too steep and slippery to get to where I needed to be for a satisfactory shot. As I started back toward my truck, I spotted an older gray-haired gentleman hiking out from the other side of the highway.  He had a heavy backpack and a big, bright yellow umbrella and I thought to myself, “Wow, this guy is hardcore.”  We had a brief conversation outside in the rain and then I offered him a ride down the road.  Given the current downpour, he accepted my offer.

In the dry confines of the Jeep, we started talking about the weather outside and at some point, it became obvious that we both happened to be there on photography missions.  That is when Jim introduced himself, and told me that although he is partially retired, he still occasionally teaches photography through Oregon University’s Outdoor Pursuits Program.  In addition to decades of experience working as an outdoor photographer, Jim tells me that he also teaches a variety of backcountry survival and mountain rescue classes, and in the summertime, he leads tours though the Alps.  I remember thinking, “Holy Cow! I want THIS guy’s job.”

Given all of his years of experience in photography Jim asked me my name (as if he was going to recognize it).  I kind of laughed and explained that I was actually just an amateur hack of a photographer, but that I did occasionally hang out with some non-posers like Bruce Jackson and Mike Putnam.  He knew Mike’s work and explained that Mike’s fine art website is one of the sites that he references in his Outdoor Photography class.  I then mentioned the fact that Mike and I were hoping to start Pacific Crest Stock, and I explained our general mission of trying to offer only the highest quality images—rather than uploading thousands of mediocre shots like most stock agencies.  He offered me some good advice about the stock business and gave me a few helpful hints about how to effectively photograph in adverse weather conditions (e.g., to keep one of those little hand warmer packs in your bag next to your camera so that your lens doesn’t fog up every time you remove the cap).

It was a fascinating conversation, and before I knew it, I had driven many miles farther than anticipated.  I think Jim started to feel a little bit bad about me abandoning my goal of shooting that day, and with the rain letting up a bit, he politely offered to hike the rest of the way downstream.  We shook hands and wished each other luck.  Then, I turned around and backtracked up the road to a place where the McKenzie River Trail bisects one of the forest service roads.  I knew that Tamolitch Pool was a just a few miles upstream from this spot so I finally got out of the truck and started hiking.

Tamolitch Pool, which is also known as the “Blue Pool,” is one of the most unique places in all of Oregon.  After cascading over several famous waterfalls (Koosah Falls, Sahalie Falls), the McKenzie River actually disappears and runs underground for awhile before finally re-surfacing at this spot.  I suspected there would be good color around the shores of the pool, and with it overcast and raining hard all day, I knew that the blue water and fall colors would be completely saturated.  However, as optimistic as I was about the picture, I was also quite worried that the rain was going to be hammering down into the pool, keeping me from getting a decent reflection of the trees that surround the pool.  Without the reflection, I knew the picture would be incomplete.  But still, I started hiking through the drizzle hoping for the best. 

Within a few minutes of leaving the Jeep, the drizzle turned to downpour, and my hopes for Tamolitch Pool began to fade.  There were many other pretty spots along the trail, but with the heavy rain, I was reluctant to even pull my camera out of the backpack.  I continued along the waterlogged trail, trudging through ankle-deep puddles and over slippery roots and rocks until I finally made it to the pool.  I was sitting on the cliffs above the pool, catching water on my tongue as it dropped off the brim of my cap and wondering how much longer it was going to rain when the magical moment finally arrived.  The rain stopped and the trees’ reflection began to take shape in the pool. 

 

Tamolitch Pool (aka: The Blue Pool) on the McKenzie River

Tamolitch Pool (aka: The Blue Pool) on the McKenzie River

 

Altogether, I had less than 5 minutes of dry time, and then, the rain started again just as quickly as it had stopped.   But that was enough of a break.  I captured the image above and grinned all of the way back to my vehicle. 

I was still feeling fortunate about my timing at Tamolitch Pool when a few miles down the highway, I looked over at the trail and noticed that big, bright yellow umbrella again.  I swung the Jeep around and saved Jim from another cold, soaking rain.  We talked about the photos we had taken in the last few hours and then I dropped him off at the McKenzie Ranger Station.  I drove away inspired, thinking about what a lucky life Jim was living.  He was in the golden years of retirement, and even on this rainy October day, he was out taking pictures and living the “summer’s life.” I can only hope that I am lucky enough to have someone rescuing me from rain on this same hike another 30 years from now.

Posted by Troy McMullin

NOTE: If you want to see additional images from the McKenzie River area, you can browse the pictures in the Trees gallery on our Pacific Crest Stock photography site or search the site for “fall foliage.”


Mt. Hood, Hood River and seasonal photo vacations

As winter starts to drag in the High Desert area of Central Oregon around Bend, I tend to day dream about photo trips elsewhere in Oregon where the winter season doesn’t seem to extend quite so long.  Don’t get me wrong, I love living in Bend but our relatively high elevation make for consistently cold nights which seems to extend our winters longer than my perpetually cold wife would prefer.  One of our favorite getaways involves visiting our friends, the Reitzs in Hood River, Oregon.  Hood River tends to be more gray than Bend in the winter but spring comes considerably earlier there and the wildflowers in the Hood River are often stunning.  The Hood River area simply has a better climate for spring flowers.  One of my favorite Hood River Photography locations is the East Hills area of the Hood river Valley.  The wildflowers in the east hills vary from year to year, they don’t last very long but they are absolutely phenomenal in some years.  The first year My good friend, Max insisted that I consider taking some photos from the east hills area, I reluctantly obliged.  I initially felt that I would have already been familiar with the location if the wildflowers were as attractive as Max suggested.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  They were simply amazing.  I drove into the ill defined parking area for sunrise and I was so impressed that when I returned to our home away from home at the Reitz home I insisted that we all go back for a hike in the East Hills where I’d just returned from. For another adventure that we shared with Max and Chris Reitz, check out our Italian Adventure photos. The following image is one of my favorites from that morning photographing in the East Hills of the Hood River Valley.  Mt. Hood is seen in the background the flowers in the foreground include balsamroot, Indian paintbrush, and lupines.  Doesn’t it seem like this wouldd be a perfect cover photo for a Columbia River Gorge tourism brochure?

 

Photo/picture of Mt. Hood and spring wildflowers high above the Hood River Valley in the Columbia River Gorge

Photo/picture of Mt. Hood and spring wildflowers high above the Hood River Valley in the Columbia River Gorge

I like the contrast between the agricultural Hood River valley and the wild and beautiful east hills wildflower display which were pretty amazing during that year.  Mt. Hood is always a photo worthy mountain, especially when snow covered as in this image.  Part of what makes the Hood River valley so scenic is the fact that it is near sea level and that Mt. Hood is visible high above at 11,240 offering some very impressive vertical relief.  The following photo is one I’ll include simply because it makes me happy.  It is of my daughter, Emma and JoJo Reitz .  I love their laughing and smiling faces and all the happy wildflowers surrounding them.  I took many family photos this morning but this one seemed especially playful and captured the feeling of spring the best.

 

JoJo and Emma giggling in the wildflowers high above the Hood River Valley

JoJo and Emma giggling in the wildflowers high above the Hood River Valley

     Another one of my favorite photo locations lies slightly east of Hood River in an undisclosed location.  It has a slightly different photo appeal to me because it is distinctly less developed than the Hood River area.  I tend to avoid man made structures in my landscape images but that can be very difficult in Hood River because of its famed agricultural production.  The following photo is also of Mt. Hood.  I find the vast flower meadow with little indication of farming or agriculture makes for an attractive picture.  

Photo/picture ofMt. Hood and wildflower meadow in the Columbia River Gorge

Photo/picture ofMt. Hood and wildflower meadow in the Columbia River Gorge

This Image and the previous photo were both taken with my large format 4×5 camera which necessitated fairly long exposures that can be frustrating because of the famed Columbia River Winds which can wreak havoc on a large format landscape photograph.  I was fortunate to avoid the winds on both of these photo outings.  The next image is one of the first I ever took as a professional photographer.  I also captured this image with my 4×5 camera on a rare windless day.  At the time I was still struggling with focus, perspective control and exposure balance associated with using my old Wista 4×5.  Most of the images from this morning ended up in my circular file but this one photo came out nicely and is still a part of our Pacific Crest Stock Wildflower Gallery

photo/picture of Lupines and Balsamroot in the Columbia River Gorge

photo/picture of Lupines and Balsamroot in the Columbia River Gorge

This last image takes me back to the Hood River Valley.  The wildflowers are a little ragged in this image but I still love it because of the sweet expression on the face of my favorite model, Emma.  

Emma on a sunny spring day in the Hood River Valley

Emma on a sunny spring day in the Hood River Valley

If  you would like to see more images from our many visits to the Hood River area of Oregon, please visit our stock photography site, Pacific Crest Stock . To get licensing information about any of our images, please contact us through email   mike@pacificcreststock.com or call (541) 610-4815

Posted by Mike Putnam

All images are copyrighted and exclusively the property of Mike Putnam/Pacific Crest Stock


Three Fingered Jack: Beware of the Greener Grass

Everyone has heard the saying about how “The grass is always greener on the other side.”  Well, this overly optimistic outlook is one of the problems that I often struggle with when I’m out scouting for pictures.  On one recent expedition, it almost cost me my life.   

 I wanted to do some scouting around Three Fingered Jack in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area, so I hiked into Canyon Creek Meadows (alone).  When I arrived in the upper meadow, it was absolutely gorgeous. 

 

Sunrise photo of Three Fingered Jack mountain with the wildflowers of Canyon Creek Meadows in full bloom.

Sunrise photo of Three Fingered Jack mountain with the wildflowers of Canyon Creek Meadows in full bloom.

 But for some reason, that wasn’t enough.  Despite standing in one of the most spectacular spots in the whole world, I couldn’t help but wonder what the views were like on the ridge to my immediate left.   I just knew that if I could find a way to get up on that ridge, I was going to find some unique and dramatic landscape shot that would be better than any that I have ever taken before.  The urge to climb that ridge was just overwhelming, and so I threw my camera gear into the backpack and started trekking toward the tree line.

As I approached the base of the ridge, the pine trees grew more and more dense until they became almost impassable.  The trees were only about 10 or 12 feet tall, but they had grown so close together that it was almost impossible for anything bigger than a rabbit to walk between them.  I began grabbing low hanging branches and with as much strength as I could muster, I started pulling myself through the wall of trees.  My backpack and tripod must have gotten hooked around a thousand different branches, and I swore that there was no way I would ever go back through this part of the forest again.  A few hundred vertical feet later, I finally popped out of the trees and found myself standing on a steep rocky slope. I attempted to traverse the slope, only to find that the boulders were incredibly unstable.  As they slipped and rolled under my feet, I started scrambling on all fours until I eventually made my way up to more solid ground.  From there, I could see a rock tunnel that spiraled up to what appeared to be an easy route to the top, so I did my best spider-man impression and wedged myself up through the winding rock tunnel.     

  

Winter photo of Three Fingered Jack. The ridge where I almost died is just out of frame to the left.

Winter photo of Three Fingered Jack. The ridge where I almost died is just out of frame to the left.

 It was at this point that I should have remembered the other saying about how “appearances can be deceiving” because once I made it through the tunnel, that apparently easy route to the top completely disappeared.  I was now standing on a ledge that was a little more than one-square foot around.  The ledge was too small to turn around on; the way down was much too steep to go back; and the only way up was via another ledge that was sticking out about 5 feet away.  In a bit of a panicked haste, I decided that my only option was to jump up and over to the other ledge.    

To lighten my load for the leap, I took off my backpack and tossed it and my hiking poles up to the ledge above me.  I then took another look at the distance, and this is when I began to have some serious doubts about whether or not I could actually make the gap, especially since the fear running through my body was causing my legs to grow weaker and weaker by the minute. On level ground, I wouldn’t have thought twice about jumping up and over to the other ledge, but with a few hundred feet of vertical relief below me, the whole idea of it was becoming rather unsettling. 

I stood there, trembling on the tiny ledge for several excruciating minutes trying to find another way out of the situation.  I looked down at the route I had taken up to this spot and started to imagine what it would feel like to have my body ricocheting down through the rocks.  I even remember staring down at the rock slide below me trying to calculate where my body might stop rolling if I couldn’t hold on to the ledge after jumping.  None of these thoughts were all that comforting, and as I started contemplating calling for an emergency rescue rather than attempting to make the jump over to the other ledge, I realized that a rescue call was no longer an option because my cell phone was already resting comfortably in my backpack on the other ledge.  That was the final straw and when I realized that I really had no choice at this point but to jump.  I focused my eyes on the exact spot where I thought I needed to land, and then I crouched down and quickly lunged across the gap reaching out as far as I possibly could.  I didn’t breathe for a few seconds until I finally realized that my fingers had firmly grasped onto the ledge above me and that my feet had found a hold on the side of the rocks.  Immensely relieved, I scrambled on to the top of the rocks, rolled over to my back, and swore that I would never again climb up something that I couldn’t safely climb back down.

The trip was rather uneventful from this point.  After a few more relatively easy scrambles, I made it to the top of the ridge.  The views from the top certainly weren’t worth dying for, but they were pretty spectacular–with the pinnacles of Three Fingered Jack towering directly overhead and wide open views of Mount Jefferson to the north, and Mount Washington and the Three Sisters Mountains to the south.  I found several interesting compositions up on the ridgeline, but unfortunately, the light was too harsh by the time I arrived to really do them justice with a camera.  Plus, to be honest, I felt like I had kind of lost my appetite for exploring any more on that particular day.  After 4 hours of hiking and climbing up to this spot, I probably spent less than 10 minutes on the top of the ridge, and then I turned around; found an easy way back down to the meadow; and hiked out to my truck—just happy to be alive.

  

Happy to be alive! Three Fingered Jack high in the Central Oregon Cascades.

Happy to be alive! Three Fingered Jack high in the Central Oregon Cascades.

 

Posted by Troy McMullin  

PS: Although I haven’t returned to the ridge since nearly being stranded on that ledge, I have a photograph in mind that I hope to capture later this Spring.  With any luck at all, it will soon be posted on our Pacific Crest Stock photography website.   We’ll keep you updated.


Oregon Coast Photos: Oceanside Escape

The Oregon coast is an absolutely extraordinary place, especially if you happen to enjoy taking pictures.  With a tide table and a little bit of luck, a photographer can find endless opportunities to capture that perfect shot.  I recently had one such opportunity while visiting the quaint little town of Oceanside, Oregon.  

Oceanside, which is located along the Three Capes Scenic Loop just west of Tillamook, has one of the most unique beaches on the coast.  While it may seem relatively ordinary from the main parking area, a short walk reveals a rock tunnel that cuts through the huge headwall at the northern end of the beach.  On the other side of the tunnel, photographers are greeted with gorgeous views of the Three Arches Rocks and another big collection of sea stacks that are part of the Oregon Islands.  If the tide is low enough, you can also climb around the northern-most part of the Islands to another hidden beach that is normally blocked by the tide line.

 

Seastacks in Oceanside, Oregon

Seastacks in Oceanside, Oregon

 

 

I’ve been to Oceanside many times in the past, and although I’ve made it to the hidden beach a few times before, I’ve never had the timing that I needed to really get the photo that I was wanting—until recently.  On my last trip to the coast, I checked the tide tables and noticed that there was going to be a negative tide (-2 feet) occurring in Oceanside around the time that the sun would be setting.  If everything worked out well, I knew that I should be able to get around to the hidden beach and shoot the sea stacks as they were silhouetted against the setting sun.

 

My mother happened to be out visiting from St Louis, Missouri and since she had never been to Oceanside before, I thought it would be a nice place to take her.  She and I packed up my two older kids and we made the short trek from our beach house in Pacific City up to Oceanside.  As we arrived, I noticed that the clouds had started to form out at sea and I became very optimistic that I was finally going to get the photo that I had wanted since the first time that I set foot on this beach a few years earlier. 

 

There was about an hour remaining before sunset, so I spent a little bit of time playing with the kids and taking pictures of them as they splashed around the tide pools  . . .

 

 

My 6 year old daughter, Ella helping me scout for pictures.

My 6 year old daughter, Ella helping me scout for pictures.

 

 

 

 

My 4 year old son Jacob, having fun on the beach

My 4 year old son Jacob, having fun on the beach

 

 

 . . . and then I put on my “serious photographer” hat and went to work.  I grabbed the tripod, and in a very organized fashion, I began methodically moving my way up the beach looking for interesting ways to frame the ocean and the various rock formations. 

 

As the sun got lower and lower, I got farther and farther up the beach until I had finally reached a spot where all of the sea stacks lined up in a way that gave me a nice balanced composition.  I positioned my tripod in the sinking sand and tried to steady it as best as I could for what I knew was going to be a very long exposure.  I clicked the shutter button and waited patiently until the image was finally revealed on my camera’s LCD panel. I looked at the image and then let out a big smile and a sigh of relief, satisfied that I had finally captured my long-awaited image. 

 

Sunset on the Oregon Islands in Oceanside

Sunset on the Oregon Islands in Oceanside

 

 

Not long after looking at the image above, a wave came up and tickled my toes.  It kind of caught me by surprise and when I looked back along the shoreline, I noticed that the tide had started coming back in.  My previously wide open beach was getting progressively narrower and narrower and I realized that if I didn’t start making my way back toward the tunnel, I was going to get trapped on this side of the rocks.  But as I hustled back down the beach, the sunset was getting more and more dramatic, and I just couldn’t resist the temptation to take a few more photographs.  At one point, I climbed up on a rock with the intent of using it as foreground material when a sneaker wave rushed in and completely surrounded me with water.  I was now standing on a rock, thirty feet out into the ocean, with thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment and a rising tide.  Slightly panicked, I stood my ground and watched as several more waves rushed in and swirled around my little island of a rock.  The waves would come in, crash up against the shoreline, and then just as one wave was about to subside, another would come in to take its place.  I was trapped.

 

 

Caption: Picture of Oceanside Sea Stacks that I took while being stranded on my “island.”

Picture of Oceanside Sea Stacks that I took while being stranded on my “island.”

 

Eventually, I began to recognize the timing of the wave pattern.  I waited for the right moment, and with a big breath, I leaped out into the receding water and then high-stepped it back to dry land while holding my camera and tripod over my head.  That little episode was enough of a wake-up call for me, and without any further ado, I packed up my camera and jogged around the rock wall and back through the pitch-black tunnel. 

 

The sun was completely under water by the time that I made it back to the parking area, and as I approached the Jeep, I could see my mother waiting there and two tiny shadows racing toward me on the beach yelling “Daddy, Daddy!”  My children have started doing this every time that they see me returning from a photo expedition, and it always brings a huge smile to my face and reminds me of just how lucky I am. As happy as I was to have gotten some beautiful photos on that night–and to have escaped the rock incident without soaking any of my camera gear–neither of those compared to the joy that I felt when I saw my children running up with excitement as I returned. Without a doubt, that was the most rewarding part of the entire experience, and the one that I will remember long after the photo files have faded.

 

Posted by Troy McMullin

NOTE: If you want to see additional pictures from Oceanside, you can browse our Pacific Coast gallery on the Pacific Crest Stock photography site or search the site for “Oceanside.”


Mount Washington Photography: The Trail Less Traveled

I’m amazed that I don’t see more pictures from the Mount Washington Wilderness Area, which is located just outside of Sisters, Oregon.  It is one of my favorite places in Central Oregon; a virtual Mecca of possible explorations. 

 

 

 Central Oregon's Mt. Washington in fall with a fresh autumn snow fall

Central Oregon's Mt. Washington in fall with a fresh autumn snow fall

 

Perhaps one of the reasons that few photographers have experience with Mount Washington is that there are almost no trails leading into its base.  To get to the cover shots, it takes a moderately good fitness level, some very good navigation skills, and a ton of patience.  For example, two of my favorite approaches into Mount Washington require 10-mile cross-country slogs through a maze of beetle-downed lodge pole pine trees.  To say that the terrain is “littered” with downfall is a gross understatement.  There are sections where you literally hike for an hour on nothing but downed trees.  With every exhausting stride, you are either stepping up onto a fallen tree or down off of a fallen tree.  One gap in concentration, and you run the risk of twisting a knee and being stranded in the very dense (and non-cell-phone- friendly) forest.  

 

 

But still, the rewards are totally worth it. In all of my trips into the backcountry surrounding Mount Washington, I have never seen another soul.  I’ve occasionally heard the voices of climbers on the upper slopes, but I’ve never run into anyone.  I think it is one of the most isolated and beautiful settings in all of Oregon.

 

 

Mt. Washington and pasque flowers high in the Mt. washington Wilderness area

Mt. Washington and pasque flowers high in the Mt. washington Wilderness area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo ofMt. Washington, Indian Paintbrush, mountain heather in the Central Oregon cascades

photo ofMt. Washington, Indian Paintbrush, mountain heather in the Central Oregon cascades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In some ways, this area is even more inviting and easier to access in the winter or early spring because huge snow drifts cover most of the fallen trees.  Each year, I like to wait for the forest service roads to melt off a little (so I can drive in as far as possible), and then I snowshoe or ski into the Eastern or Northern faces of Mount Washington.  This time of year, snow and ice still cling to the mountain’s huge rocky face giving it an even greater sense of awe.  Standing at its base, the Teton-esque vertical rise from the valley below is nothing short of spectacular. 

 

 

Winter snow scene of Mt. Washington, in the Central Oregon Cascades

Winter snow scene of Mt. Washington, in the Central Oregon Cascades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter image of Central Oregon's Mt. Washington in winter under sunny blue skies.

Winter image of Central Oregon's Mt. Washington in winter under sunny blue skies.

 

Posted by Troy McMullin

 

 

NOTE: If you want to see additional images from the Mount Washington Wilderness Area, you can browse the pictures in the Mountain Gallery on our Pacific Crest Stock photography site or search the site for “Mount Washington.”