Wandering Sole Photography: Blog http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog en-us (C) Wandering Sole Photography 2016 michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Mon, 04 Sep 2017 15:54:00 GMT Mon, 04 Sep 2017 15:54:00 GMT http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/img/s/v-5/u892356256-o126111615-50.jpg Wandering Sole Photography: Blog http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog 96 120 A Summer of Adventure http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2017/9/a-summer-of-adventure With summer drawing to a close and the leaves already starting to turn, I thought this would be a great time to recap some of the awesome adventures the past few months have brought. While there’s a long story to almost every one of these trips and experiences, I’ll use this post to share just the highlights. Comment if you want to know more about a particular trip and I’m happy to share!


A huge thank-you to everyone who was involved in making these adventures both happen and turn out awesome. The best memories are those that come from spending time in the mountains with close friends. And as always, thanks to everyone who has been following along, sharing beta, and motivating me to keep getting after it over on Instagram (@wanderingsolephotography)!


Earning turns into the summer

While it felt like the rain and snow in the Cascades never ceased last winter, the payoff came in the spring snowpack. I and a group of friends extended the ski season beyond lifts’ close first with a climb and mellow descent on the south side of Mount St. Helens. The snow was hardpack, having frozen over the night before, but the view from the top couldn’t be beat – edging up to a hanging cornice as close as we dared, the crater from the 1980 eruption spread out below us.

Mount Adams to the west as the sun rose over the Cascades.

Looking down on Mount St. Helens' caldera and Spirit Lake.


The snow lingered on into July, and so I headed south to Lassen Volcanic National Park in California to meet up with an old friend and grab some last turns on the mountain’s north face. It was warm – over 70o at the summit – so the approach was through slush and we were down to t-shirts for most of the climb. But catching the sunrise from the mountain and finding a steep line to ski on the way down made the trip well worth the wet feet.


Sunrise during our ascent of Lassen Peak.

Earning those turns. Almost to the summit of Lassen Peak.


Riding off into the sunset

10,000 feet of elevation gain at Mount Rainier. No, our trio wasn’t climbing the mountain – we were riding around it. The 150-mile ride started an hour before first light, and left us riding hours after the sun had set. In those well-lit hours in the middle: views of Mount Rainier from every angle; steep climbs and a series of passes ultimately leading to the top of the Cascades in central Washington; and 23 Clif bars devoured between the three of us.

The first climb around Mount Rainier, from the park entrance to Paradise.

The summit of our ride at Chinook Pass. From the top, we could see from Rainier all the way down the eastern Cascades to Yakima.

Racing across the PNW

This summer was also filled with triathlons, both racing and shooting. From views of the Olympics at Ironman 70.3 in Victoria, to riding next to South Sister at Pacific Crest Triathlon, to capping off the season with my first Ironman at Whistler, there was no shortage of mountains across these races. And in between all of these, I also shot the promo video for the Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove for my friends over at Best in the West Events!

Hanging with the Oregon State Triathlon Club just before the start of the Pacific Crest Long Course 72.3 Triathlon.

At the finish line of Ironman 70.3 Victoria.


Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove Promo Video

Not in Kansas anymore

This summer also brought a big change for me personally – I left the Willamette Valley and the Cascades for the wetlands of Delaware.  The first big shock came with the solar eclipse. The zone of totality passed right over Corvallis and central Oregon, where I had been planning for months to photograph the event, while Delaware saw only 80% eclipse. After seeing the images of totality, I’ve made a promise to myself to catch another eclipse in the next few years.

The partial eclipse, given an eerie quality thanks to passing clouds.

While I don’t expect the move to the East Coast to be permanent, I am looking forward to exploring Appalachia and the local landscapes over the next year or two. I’ve already gotten out to the local mountains, but I’ll save those stories for a blog post of their own to follow soon. And even more, I’m looking forward to planning adventures with friends back in the Pacific Northwest for next summer!

Sneak peek of my adventure in Shenandoah National Park - more on that soon!

Looking forward to the start of the fall, and with it a new set of adventures! Wishing

all of you a happy changing of the seasons.

michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) appalachia backcountry california cycling lassen mountaineering mountains oregon pacific northwest photography racing rainier ride skiing snow solar eclipse st. helens sunrise touring tri triathlon video videography washington http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2017/9/a-summer-of-adventure Mon, 04 Sep 2017 15:52:14 GMT
The Long Haul http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2017/4/the-long-haul  

33 miles over 3 days, on skis - we were expecting a pretty relaxed trip in our winter circumnavigation of Crater Lake.


From November to July each year, Crater Lake National Park’s rim road closes for snow and becomes a haven for cross country skiiers and snowshoers. When a window of sunny days popped up in the forecast after a seemingly never-ending snow season - which buried the rim road under drifts of up to 18 feet of snow! - friends and I jumped on the chance to complete the ultimate tour around the park.

The original, relaxed plan deteriorated faster than any of us could have foreseen, however. The friends I was meeting were driving up all the way from San Francisco, and due to work and life had to push back their arrival all the way to 2pm on Day 1. By the time Josh, Sarah, Tim, and I had swapped gear, completed a backcountry permit, and hitched a ride up the 3 miles and 700 vertical feet from the Visitor Center to the rim, it was after 4pm.

We started out clockwise around the lake at an easy pace, enjoying the late afternoon views. Despite the late hour, we were making good time - until we reached The Watchman, an imposing peak that stands right on the crater’s rim. Due to avalanche danger on the road, we had been advised to go over the peak rather than around it. The climb was exhausting, but the descent on the far side of the mountain was even worse - cross-country skis aren’t designed for steep descents, and they’re even harder to control with heavy packs on. Both Sarah and I, with rental equipment and limited experience on skinny skis, spent a frustrating amount of time falling into the snow and struggling to get up.

Sarah and Tim as we skied toward The Watchman.

We finally reached the road and the rim again after dark, and picked a spot to set up camp almost immediately. Of course, the wind picked that moment to start howling - and it didn’t stop all night. Setting up the tent was a difficult affair in the high winds and once we had it secured we huddled around the stove to keep the tiny flame from going out. Finally, bloated with warm, salty food, we crashed into bed for the night with plans for an early start.

The final obstacle on the north side of The Watchman - a road cut with avalanche terrain above and cliffs below. We moved through quickly!

Josh melting snow to cook dinner with as the wind howled around us.

“Early start” turned into 10am after the previous late night, and within a mile we were debating whether our plan to tour around the lake was still possible.  Ultimately, Sarah and Josh decided to turn back, while Tim and I decided to go for it - knowingly committing ourselves to cover at least 20 miles that day.

Headed towards Llao Rock, where the eastern section of the rim road breaks off and the isolation really begins.

It was grueling. The snow was melting fast, making for slow-going and drenched feet. Snowdrifts along the road created small hills to constantly climb and descend, each sucking physical and mental energy. To top it all off, by late afternoon, already 12 miles into the day, we began the long climb up to Cloudcap - the highest point of the rim road.

Tim at the summit of Cloudcap, with Mount Scott in the background.

Despite the difficulty, we agreed: the stunning beauty of the eastern rim, an area that can only be accessed by a long ski tour, was well worth it. In all, we covered over 20 miles in 8 hours, with almost no time spent for breaks.

We finally made camp below the rim just after sunset. In a stark contrast to our first night, the wind was nearly absent so we spent several hours melting snow for water to rehydrate and to prepare for an early start the next morning.  The final 10 miles flew by on our final morning. On the frosty morning snow, we glided downhill for several miles without any effort. Of course, we had to climb back towards the rim, but even this seemed relatively benign with the knowledge that we had only a few miles left on the day.  We ran into Josh just before reaching the Visitor Center, him travelling east along the road to find us and guide us home.

michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Crater Lake National Park Oregon Pacific Northwest backpacking cross country skiing mountains skiing snow water wilderness winter camping http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2017/4/the-long-haul Fri, 28 Apr 2017 14:37:48 GMT
Why Climate Change IS the National Park Service's Business http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2017/2/why-climate-change-is-the-national-park-services-business

[ Article on The Outbound Collective ]

--The National Park Service has been silenced on climate change - which threatens nearly every park the agency manages.

michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) NPS National Park Service National Parks climate change social media http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2017/2/why-climate-change-is-the-national-park-services-business Fri, 03 Feb 2017 22:28:51 GMT
Winter Wonderland on Mary's Peak http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/12/winter-wonderland-on-marys-peak Winter came and blanketed the Coast Range with snow this week! Unlike the Cascades, the Coast Range usually only sees snow at its highest elevations once or twice a year - but a significant drop in temperatures brought a dusting even to the low hills around Corvallis.  Knowing it wouldn’t last long, and that another storm was coming in 24 hours later, I took off for Mary’s Peak - the highest peak in the coast range at 4,000 feet.

The sun peaked through the trees as I drove up towards the summit.

Thankfully the road up Mary's Peak had been tracked out already.

Although there is a road to the top of the mountain, I had no idea just how much snow the road had received, or whether it would even be accessible from the highway.  Luckily, others had the same idea and made a few tracks in the foot-deep snow that I was able to follow without chaining up.  As soon as I got above the cloud layer, about halfway up the mountain, the afternoon sun was shining brightly. Seeing the heavy snow glinting on the dense Coast Range evergreens was especially exciting. I was aiming to reach the summit before sunset, but I caught a glimpse of sun beams glowing orange through the trees and braked hard into a slide to grab a picture.

Sun beams - with a little flare - breaking through the trees.

"Alpenglow" on the higher trees above this small waterfall.

I watched the sunset from just below the summit, wading through knee-deep snow with my camera and tripod to get the angle I wanted. Suddenly, I appreciated that same cloud layer that had blocked out the sun all morning in Corvallis.

Panorama of the sunset over the Coast Range from the top of Mary's Peak.

The conditions were unique enough, and the weather clear enough, that I couldn’t pass up a chance for some astrophotography. I left town at 3 am the next morning and followed the same tracks up the mountain road in the dark. The summit was bitterly cold - colder than anything I’ve experienced even in the Cascades. I was able to take about 30 minutes of star trails exposures before a cloud moved over the top of the mountain. The air was just warm enough to coat my lens with water, which promptly froze into a white film and ended my shooting. While I was hoping for longer trails, I’m pretty happy with the result - and I was certainly happy to get back to my car and blast the heat!

About 30 minutes' worth of star trails went into this image at the summit.

michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Coast Range Corvallis Mary's Peak Oregon Pacific Northwest astrophotography hiking mountains photography snow star trails stars sun star wilderness http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/12/winter-wonderland-on-marys-peak Sun, 11 Dec 2016 16:26:15 GMT
Sleeklens Landscape-Adventure Actions Review http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/11/sleeklens-landscape-adventure-actions-review Sleeklens, a company that makes Lightroom and Photoshop workflows for photographers, approached me a few days ago about reviewing their new Landscape Adventure Photoshop Actions set.  I usually do not use presets in my image processing, but after looking at what Sleeklens had to offer, some of the unique features in their Landscape Adventure package, and impressive reviews from other photographers, I agreed to give it a try.


There are lots of detail to follow, but the bottom line is that I am thoroughly impressed with Sleeklens’ product.  While it cannot replace good old attention to detail, it does get many images 80% of the way there in minutes versus hours with manual adjustments. This is a huge benefit for both professional photographers with large volumes of shots to process, not every one of which needs the diminishing returns that go into the last 20% for a print image, and amateurs looking to improve the final look of their landscape photos without spending hours or becoming a Photoshop guru. The only potential issue, which I will talk about more below, is that it can be difficult to step backwards in the editing process because of the need to flatten images between applying multiple actions.


The Landscape Adventure Photoshop Actions set from Sleeklens can be found here. Sleeklens also offers a similar product as a Lightroom workflow, as well as Photoshop action sets geared towards many other photographic niches. Finally, it is worth mentioning that Sleeklens offers a professional editing service that can be a great springboard for picking up editing tools and tricks.


Sleeklens got quite a few things right with their actions set, but what set it apart for me was the ease of use. Installation took seconds - open a photo in Photoshop (I am using the CC version), and double-click on the *.atn actions file that I downloaded from the site. To use it, simply click on an action and hit the play button.  If there were special instructions, a dialogue box conveniently opened up to tell me what I needed to do. While there was no specific instruction manual describing what each action does, the descriptive names and organization into categories (“Basic,” “Tone”, or “Enhance”, for example) made it easy to figure out as I went. Best of all, I could test out several different actions and see their effects almost instantaneously simply by toggling the adjustment layer visibility. It only took a few minutes with the software in my hands before I felt confident using it.


I will start out using my image of a rainbow over Eagle Creek in the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon as a detailed example of just how effective these actions are. This image took me several days, plus more than one test print, to get right working in Lightroom and Photoshop.  To test Sleeklens, I started from the original Raw file and went straight to Photoshop. Obviously, the image at this stage could use a lot of work to reach print quality.


The original, unprocessed RAW file.


I started off playing with the “Basic” actions, running each and then simply hiding the applied layers to quickly assess which I liked best. After simply applying the “Dramatic Contrast” and “Clarity” actions (which took seconds), the image was already closer to how I envisioned the final product than it had after an hour in Lightroom spent fidgeting with the tone curve.


The "Dramatic Contrast" action alone did wonders for this image, and took seconds to apply.


I was initially less enamored with the “Tone” actions, since they come on extremely strong and make the entire image look blue or orange - effectively the opposite of using White Balance sliders. I found, though, that if I turned down the opacity to around 25% before judging an action, I was much happier with the results. From there, it was easy enough to use the included layer mask to fine-tune the effect - in this case isolating the “Dark and Stormy” tone action to the background trees blending into the mist.


At this point the fore- and mid-ground were close to what I wanted, but the mist still was not defined enough for my taste. Of course, Sleeklens was prepared for that with the “Enhance” actions. In fact, “Sky Enhancer” is basically dark photoshop magic for the natural-looking dehazing it seamlessly performed around the edges of the mist. I finished it off with “Dark Dreams,” which in addition to adding some shadow back into the image provided a nice Orton effect for the background - something I had not included in the original edit of this image.


Here are the manual and Sleeklens-edited versions side-by-side:


Manual version, which took several hours.   Sleeklens version, which took about 20 minutes.


There are two critical differences in these images as far as Sleeklens is concerned. First, the one on the left took days to edit, while the one on the right took about 15 minutes from start to finish. There are still some manual edits to be made - the rainbow requires manual brushing, for example, and it could use some local contrast adjustments - but it has come a long way in a short time. Second, the one on the right has blown-out highlights in the upper right sky. I did not notice the blown highlights until several actions into the edit. At that point, the image had been flattened with the action adjustment layers several times over, so to undo - or simply mask over - whichever action had caused the blow highlights would have meant starting the editing process from scratch. 


This was a recurring issue in the other images I edited with Sleeklens actions, since the interaction of several actions can have unintended effects on the image. And, the image must be flattened between actions since many actions have specific adjustments that will only work on individual layers, not layer groups (for example, adjustments that use Camera Raw). In the scene below the saturation in the sky and snow was somewhat overdone, but by the time I decided that the color was too much for me it was difficult to undo even with a Saturation mask.


Fuji Mountain SunriseManual version (HDR in Photomatix, Lightroom, and Photoshop), which took around 3 hours before lens flare cleanup.

Sleeklens version, which took 15 minutes.


There is a solution to this, although it is somewhat messy and makes staying organized within Photoshop much more tedious. Before flattening each layer with the action adjustments, group them and make a copy of the group. Then you can hide that group and come back to it later in case you need to make any changes (to opacity, masking, etc.). However, this is still an imperfect solution since Sleeklens actions are being applied based on the image it "sees" when you apply the action. So, if you drastically change the mask on one action in your backup layers, the actions that were applied on top of that layer may not function as you would expect unless you re-run them on the updated image.


With that one caveat in mind though, I will get back to being blown away by how capable the Sleeklens actions are. The image above was originally edited using a 4-image HDR stack via Photomatix before being pulled into Photoshop for detailed adjustments - all of which took 2-3 hours without removing the lens flare spots. With Sleeklens, I used a RAW single image (the +1 EV of the HDR stack) and reached this level of polishing within 15 minutes.


Finally, I wanted to try a more adventure-oriented photo rather than a landscape. Adding human elements in, especially in this case a glowing tent and stove, present very different elements than the usual landscape image. Sleeklens performed above my expectations again, with the “Enhance Dynamic Range” action giving the night landscape a huge boost.  Even better was the “Details Enhancer,” which I could mask to only affect the tent and my friend Michelle - making them appear crisp and slightly illuminated as the clear focal point of the image. Minus a few manual edits around the Whisperlite, the two images are extremely similar.


Manual version, edited mostly in Lightroom.

Sleeklens version. Indistinguishable in many areas in half the time.


As I have said throughout this review, I am extremely impressed with Sleeklens’ Landscape Adventure Photoshop Actions set. Will it replace my whole editing process? Probably not, but it will certainly supplement it - and it may be my go-to tool when I have a large number of images to edit in a short period of time. Is it worth it? That depends on your personal style and goals, but after giving these actions a try I would definitely say they are a valuable tool to add to your image processing workflow. Still not sure? Sleeklens offers a free “Starter Kit” workflow for Lightroom - give it a try, and if you are as enamored as I am the Photoshop actions set may be the next step for you!


P.S. Here are two more images from recent trips that I decided to go ahead with editing using the Sleeklens actions. I may have had a little too much fun with the actions, but since these aren't going to print or for clients I wanted to see how far I could push the photos. Again, each took only about 5-10 minutes starting with the RAW file.




michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Actions Adventure Client Editing Landscape Photography Photoshop Review Sleeklens http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/11/sleeklens-landscape-adventure-actions-review Wed, 23 Nov 2016 20:30:42 GMT
Biking through Mud http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/11/biking-through-mud Being friends with a lot of triathletes, I find myself constantly under pressure to expand my road cycling into cross and mountain biking. Living in Oregon doesn’t make resisting buying another bike or two any easier, either - cyclocross and mountain biking go hand in hand with the flannel and beard culture. I’ve managed to hold out through another fall season, but my interest was piqued enough to go watch friends compete in the local Corvallis Cross Classic race series.



The course was laid out innocuously through a local farm’s fields and greenhouses (it actually runs through the greenhouses - how cool is that!), but the previous night’s rain storm combined with a few small hills made it anything but relaxing.  What I thought were already massive puddles when the day started turned to bike-sucking swamps by the time the elite racers lined up to race in the afternoon, and finding traction on the small hills even in my hiking boots was proving difficult.



Although I had come just for fun and to watch friends race through the muck, I couldn’t help but bring my camera along. My favorite spot, not surprisingly, turned out to be the deepest and longest mud puddle of them all.  Racers would hit the water at full speed before grinding almost instantly to a halt, their tires lost under inches of viscous mud, and jumping off their bikes to push forward on foot. By the end of the first lap, almost everyone was covered with mud from head to toe and several riders had to stop and remove muck from their forks before they could begin moving again. Of course, I didn’t come out unscathed myself after setting up inside the splash zone.



Meanwhile, the remainder of the course was lined with spectators and the whole event felt like a party.  Almost everyone had a beer in hand as they screamed encouragement at passing cyclists, and several had extra beers to pass out to any riders in need of mid-race “aid.”



I don’t think the race inspired me to take up cyclocross myself - although I wouldn’t rule it out - but I am certainly sold on following friends to more of these events in the future!




michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Best in the West Events Corvallis Corvallis Cross Classic Oregon Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Pacific Northwest Willamette Valley bicycle course cross cycling cyclocross mud photo photography puddle racing rain splash http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/11/biking-through-mud Mon, 21 Nov 2016 01:02:09 GMT
An evening with Mount Hood http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/11/an-evening-with-mount-hood I figured Lookout Mountain got its name just because it had big views of nearby Mount Hood. Turns out, it offers that and a whole lot more.

I’ve had this mountaintop on my radar for over a year, but somehow I never did stop there as an addendum to hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. Instead, it came to mind while I was thinking of options for a half-day trip before a storm rolled in last weekend.  I was sold once a check of PhotoPills (my go-to planning app) indicated that the sunset and the Milky Way would fall into line just to the south of Mount Hood.


Heading up the trail to the summit, it wasn't Hood that caught my attention but rather the views of the central Oregon Cascades.


I spent the entire week glued to weather reports, ultimately pushing the trip back a day to go from a “mostly cloudy” to “partly cloudy” forecast and increase my odds of catching the night sky.  The last-minute change left me without a hiking partner, but I was pleasantly surprised when my friend Colette agreed to make the trip with me on only an hour’s notice.  We left Corvallis under sunny skies and arrived at the Lookout Mountain trailhead - an easy 1.5 miles from the summit - two hours before sunset.


Colette taking in the blue hour views of Mounts Adams and St. Helens


What we found at the top was enough to rocket this minor summit into my list of favorite places in Oregon.  From the top, Mount Hood was seemingly close enough to reach out and touch and the remainder of the Cascades from Mount Rainier to the Three Sisters were easily visible against the horizon to the north and south. Not to mention the clear views over eastern Oregon and of the sunset on the western horizon.


Colette used the time while I was taking pictures to build this cairn, which I co-opted when the light over Mount Jefferson turned orange.


As the afternoon progressed into evening, we were treated to a nonstop show of changing colors from radiant sunset oranges over Mount Jefferson, to fading blue light in the lower valleys, to the flashing reds of the wind turbine lights that dot the eastern wheat fields, and finally to yellow glow from the lights of Government Camp and Portland.


The image I had in mind when I planned this excursion - albeit with a few more clouds than expected thanks to the approaching storm


As I was taking my final photos - the one I had originally envisioned of the Milky Way over Mount Hood - the approaching storm became increasingly evident.  By the time we packed up our gear and began the hike down, clouds had covered most of the mountains west of Hood. The rain began in earnest during the drive home, around midnight.  But that was okay with me - I had plenty of photo editing to keep me busy during a rainy day.

More info on this hike at The Outbound Collective.





michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Cascades Milky Way Mount Adams Mount Hood Mount Jefferson Mount St. Helens NEMO Oregon Pacific Northwest Portland The Outbound Collective Three Sisters Washington astrophotography autumn cairn hiking mountains night nightscape northwest photographer photography star trails stars storm sunset tent wilderness http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/11/an-evening-with-mount-hood Thu, 17 Nov 2016 03:27:49 GMT
Obsidian and Sleet http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/11/obsidian-and-sleet The weather forecast was ugly, but I was determined to get outside. Although I’ve gotten plenty of day hikes in, travel and races have kept me from knocking any new spots off my backcountry destination list since my trip to the Olympics in August.  And with more travel for the Philadelphia Marathon and the holidays coming up fast, I have the feeling that I need to capitalize on every opportunity to get back into the Cascades right now.


Unfortunately, an unusually wet October has been keeping conditions in the Cascades variable and unwelcoming. There’s already snow on the ground - a sign of a great ski season in the making! But it has also been warm enough that several rainstorms have passed through, creating wet and sticky conditions and making any snow travel difficult at best. Between that and a high probability of another storm rolling through, I decided to bag my plan to tackle the so-called “Knife Edge” ridge in Washington’s Goat Rocks Wilderness for a more modest expedition.


As I walked through the main arm of the obsidian flow, skies to the west were almost sunny.


Having given up on that plan only the day before I was supposed to leave, I was scrambling for ideas when I realized that the McKenzie Pass Highway was still open for another few days before closing for the winter. I knew that the road offers easy access to mid-elevation terrain on the west side of the Three Sisters, so it didn’t take long before I rearranged my plans to head out towards the obsidian flows in that area for a quick and rainy overnight.


As it turned out, the forecast was all wrong - at least, in the morning. As I reached the trailhead, the sun peeked intermittently through the heavy clouds and North Sister itself was visible to the east. The first few miles of the hike wound upward through moss-draped firs, creating a sense of walking underwater in the shadowy light.


Taking a snack break in the forest before emerging onto the obsidian flow.


After a few miles, I reached the obsidian flow that cuts across the trail. Glassy boulders were strewn in a river of rock that flowed downhill towards the now sunny western horizon.  From outcrops of solid ground between tongues of the flow, North Sister stood prominently over the landscape.


I was happy to get any views of North Sister, given the forecast for the day.


Things took a turn for the worse when I reached snow level, around the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail. The clouds that had been building and receding all day suddenly moved in decisively, turning the entire landscape a dark and dull grey. On the ground, the slush that I knew I would eventually find slowed me to a crawl - I was limited to either postholing or stopping to clean balled-up slush out of the crampons of my snowshoes every few steps.


It became easier to rock-hop up the creek than to continue fighting my way through the slushy snow.


Soon after, I reached the lake that was my destination for the night, only to find it half-frozen in the same unwieldy slush. North Sister had disappeared behind a cloud, and just as I dropped my pack it began sleeting. I stood there in the grey landscape for a few minutes, freezing rain pelting my jacket, before hoisting my pack and heading back down the trail following the postholes I had made.


The morning had been great, and I got to spend the day in the mountains - there was no need to ruin a perfectly good trip just to say I had sat out the rain in my tent all night before slogging back down-trail in the morning. I’ll save that for another trip.



michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Cascades McKenzie Pass Obsidian Trail Oregon Pacific Northwest Three Sisters backpacking fall mountains obsidian rain sleet snow volcano winter http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/11/obsidian-and-sleet Fri, 04 Nov 2016 02:07:28 GMT
Beaver Fever Triathlon http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/11/beaver-fever-triathlon Over the course of the summer and fall, I have been working on several projects with the Oregon State University Triathlon Club. The latest of these was shooting the bike course for their Beaver Fever Triathlon.  This sprint triathlon is one of the major fundraisers for the club and, for triathletes in the Pacific Northwest, one of the last opportunities to race for the year.



As the name suggests, most years have seen warm, sunny race days. Not this year! As I drove the bike course to find photo spots, raindrops poured down at a rate that challenged even my windshield wipers. The downpour stopped by the time I arrived at transition, but it was impossible to tell whether the sun had even risen.  Thick clouds greyed out the sky, threatening more rain, and puddles from the previous day’s multiple inches of rain lined the transition area. All the volunteers could do was sweep the water to spread it more evenly around transition.



On the bright side, the rain did hold off until mid-race - which meant setup for many of the athletes could be done without getting soaked.  It was still dry when I set up 10 miles into the bike course, convincing me to leave my warm layers in the car - a big mistake!


The rain started just after the first cyclist passed by me, and only increased in intensity as the day went on.  Water was pooling up on the road and spinning off of the racers’ wheels, making the roads slippery on descents. With water soaking my hands and face - I needed to keep some parts of myself uncovered to keep shooting - I spent the last hour of the race shivering. I can only imagine how cold the racers were, but they persevered - most who passed seemed to be excited to be out there despite the conditions. 



Congratulations to everyone who raced - especially first time triathletes - and a huge thanks to the OSU Triathlon Club for having me out on the course!




michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Beaver Fever Corvallis OSU TriClub Oregon Pacific Northwest athletes cycling race running transition triathlon http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/11/beaver-fever-triathlon Tue, 01 Nov 2016 15:19:08 GMT
Finding Autumn on the Umpqua http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/10/finding-autumn-on-the-umpqua I simply couldn’t let October pass by without getting out into the Cascades to enjoy the fall colors. Which meant putting aside hiking into alpine terrain for a few days to explore the river valleys, where maples and oak trees shine orange amongst the sea of evergreens.  In past years, I have bee-lined for the Columbia River Gorge - after all, it has waterfalls, amazing foliage, and views of Hood and Adams. But being a regular visitor to that area in all seasons, I wanted to try somewhere new for my autumn road trip this year.

I settled on a grand loop tour of the Umpqua and Willamette Rivers.  I had driven the road along the Willamette several times, usually heading towards Diamond Peak, but never slowed down to really appreciate the twists of the river and the surrounding forest.  The Umpqua is often cited as the best drive in Oregon - the “highway of waterfalls” - but I had only done it once on a tight schedule.


My travel buddy, Pete, taking in the scenery of the Umpqua.


So, in early October a buddy and I set off for the Umpqua Highway with gloomy skies and an ominous forecast.  We didn’t let the rain stop us, though (it is Oregon, after all!), taking every turn-off along the highway as a chance to get down to the river and explore the huge boulders and rock walls that make it so special among Oregon’s big rivers. We weren’t alone, despite the rain - fly fishermen were out in force along the river looking to land chinook salmon.


Fly fishermen calling it a day after spending the morning on the river.


The gorge of Toketee Creek, just a hundred feet upstream of the famous waterfall.


By the end of the day, we had climbed the highway all the way to the Cascade crest around Diamond Lake and were treated to an autumn scene that could only happen in the mountains.  Across the lake, a snowstorm over Mount Bailey was illuminated by a brilliant sunset, while looking further east Mount Thielson was swept by clouds with only its summit peeking into view.


Mount Bailey's summit was covered in clouds while the sun set over the western Cascades.


When we set out the following morning, the snow started again in earnest. I couldn’t resist spending nearly an hour at a dock on the lake, abandoned for the winter and accumulating snowflakes. Of course, it didn’t take long for my fingers to start hurting from the cold and I was cursing myself for not thinking to bring a pair of gloves.

The drive through the Cascade crest, just outside Crater Lake National Park, was almost eerie. On the arrow-straight road, we could see the headlights of the few oncoming cars from miles away, while a glow from the sunrise backlit the grey-blue clouds to the east. As we crossed into pine forest, the snow stopped as suddenly as it began - a pretty stark example of the Cascades’ rain shadow effect!


Looking east down Highway 138 as the snow fell heavily around us.


After heading north through the high desert, we turned back into the mountains to make our way down the Willamette River.  I stopped for a short time along Crescent Creek, following the footpath of fishermen towards the creek before sinking into the surrounding marsh. As we began to head downhill, spectacular orange maple leaves once again dotted the fir forest lining the road.  The most notable part of the day was spent exploring the railroad line that leads up to Pengra Pass - just as we arrived at the tracks, we heard the unmistakable rumble of a train climbing up the line.


A wheat train rumbled slowly up the tracks towards Pengra Pass with the help of 7 locomotive cars.


Two days on these rivers was hardly enough, but thankfully there’s still time left to catch some color before the mountains settle into winter.






michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Cascades Diamond Lake Highway 138 Highway 58 Mount Bailey Mount Thielson Oregon Pacific Northwest Pengra Pass Toketee Falls Umpqua River Willamette Pass color creek dock lake leaf leaves mountains railroad rain river road trip snow snowstorm trees waterfall http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/10/finding-autumn-on-the-umpqua Sat, 22 Oct 2016 03:13:40 GMT
The Royal Traverse http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/8/the-royal-traverse My latest trip, to Royal Basin in Olympic National Park, was a wild one! I’ve been to Olympic several times over the past two years, exploring the coast and the road-accessible park highlights, but this was my first time into the park’s wild, mountainous interior. My plan was ambitious - a high traverse on the ridge above Royal Basin, followed by climbing a series of untrailed passes to cross from Royal Basin to Constance Pass before descending back to the Dungeness River. In all, the route called for 27 miles covering more than 11,000 feet of elevation gain, most of it without trails to guide the way.


Royal Lake

This trip had been a long time in the making.  I ordered topo maps and the climbing guide for Olympic National park back in February, giving myself several weeks to choose a route before the park began accepting permit reservations in March. It wasn’t until May that I received a permit, but the park couldn’t have assigned me better dates - a three day weekend in August, when my planned route would likely be fully cleared of snow.  Best of all, going through the reservation process saved me from having to wait in line at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles on the first day of my trip (where I’ve previously spent hours waiting in line for backcountry permits…).


I arrived at the Dungeness River trailhead just after noon, and after a peaceful walk through lush old-growth forest I turned off-trail to start my traverse of Gray Wolf Ridge.  Calling the route “steep” doesn’t adequately capture the slope to the top of the ridge - I gained 4,000 feet in just three miles, forcing my feet flat onto the ground to prevent straining my calves.  The view from the top was worth the effort, though.  The entire North Cascades, Vancouver Island, and Mount Olympus were all unobscured - a panorama showcasing the best of the Pacific Northwest. 


The view of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands from the top of Gray Wolf Ridge. Mount Baker and the Picket Range of the North Cascades stood out in the distance.


The route ahead. I made it over the first peak, but decided to drop back into Royal Basin before climbing the highest summit on the ridge.

It was around this time that the problem that would derail my trip became noticeable.  I was drenched in sweat and had nearly run through my water (2.5 liters!) by the time I reached the ridge - and there was no water, not even snow, anywhere in sight. The guidebook had said nothing about packing extra water, but I found myself with several miles of steep descents and re-ascents between the peaks along the shade-less ridge in the heat of the afternoon.  It was clear that going forward would be put me dangerously at risk of becoming severely dehydrated, so I made the difficult decision to drop off the ridge.  I spent the next three hours descending steep terrain, sliding on rocks and climbing through downed trees, before reaching the trail to Royal Basin and a creek to replenish my water.  By the time I reached my campsite at Royal Lake at 9 pm, I had covered gained almost 8,000 feet of elevation and lost 5,000 feet in a single day and my quads were screaming in pain.


The route to the upper reaches of Royal Basin was spectacularly beautiful.


One of the many marmots that chirped out a warning as I crossed through their meadow.

Already exhausted from the difficulty of the unexpected detour the day before, my difficult route on day 2 - which involved making three off-trail passes with significant descents between each - was doomed from the start.  I struggled up to the summit of my first pass, over the shoulder of Mount Deception, moving slowly enough from the pain in my legs that it was nearly noon by the time I reached the summit. Staring down at the descent into Deception Basin below me and Mount Mystery ahead, which my route involved skirting, I knew that I couldn’t safely continue. The route would have been challenging on fresh legs - with my quads already shaking, it seemed almost certain I would run out of gas well before making Constance Pass.


Looking back at Royal Basin from the top of Deception pass.


Looking down on the meadows above Royal Lake.

Looking regretfully at Mount Mystery, I descended back into Royal Basin for a second night.  The steep terrain of the Olympic Mountains proved too much for me on this trip, but it was certainly a tremendous experience nonetheless!


Standing atop Deception Pass, it was clear that traversing around Mount Mystery would be extremely difficult.


Another group of hikers had attempted my route that morning, but also turned back into Royal Basin after difficulty ascending the Mystery Glacier.


Spending a second night in Royal Basin at least gave me plenty of time to explore the upper basin.

michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Gray Wolf Ridge Mount Deception National Park Olympic Royal Basin Washington alpine backcountry backpacking creek glacier high traverse hiking lakes marmot mountains pass rock summer wilderness http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/8/the-royal-traverse Sun, 21 Aug 2016 14:52:10 GMT
Exploring Mount Rainier's Sourdough Mountains http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/7/exploring-mount-rainiers-sourdough-mountains Kyle and I were pretty optimistic as we made the short drive from his place in Tacoma to the White River Entrance of Mount Rainier National Park.  The weather was unseasonably grey for July, with ominous-looking thick clouds overhead, and the park was on a first-come first-serve permit system for this year only.  We figured we had a good chance to score one of the top backcountry spots along the park’s famed Northern Loop.


Upper Palisades Lake, in the Sourdough Mountains.


Our dreams were shattered as soon as we reached the ranger station.  Almost no backcountry sites were left anywhere, and certainly none along the Northern Loop.  When I asked about Rainier’s dispersed backcountry camping permits, the ranger immediately shot me down - the next several minutes were spent being told that we weren’t able to practice Leave No Trace, or that we would be eaten by a decaying snow bridge, or that we’d simply get lost in the quarter mile of off-trail travel that the permit requires. (Apparently, Kyle and I had catastrophically failed her sizing-up of our backcountry experience when we showed up to the ranger station beardless and wearing jeans).


The overcast sky made for some very cool reflections in the many lakes along the Palisades Trail.



Still determined to go backpacking in the park, we accepted one of the last remaining permits to spend the night at Dick Lake in the Sourdough Range.  I’ll admit this was more than a little disappointing - our planned 30 mile epic on the Northern Loop had turned into a 3-mile out-and-back. We reached the lake early in the day, lightening our packs before heading up to Mirror Lake to see how high up along the ridge of Marcus Peak we could reach. Turns out, pretty high!


Kyle on the use-trail that runs nearly vertically uphill from Mirror Lake to a saddle along the ridge of Marcus Peak.




We made a plan to cover the 3 miles back to the car quickly the next morning so that we could get another hike in before heading back to Tacoma.  Unfortunately, that speed-walking meant scaring off a few elk on the trail before I could snap a shot of them. But it worked out in the end when Kyle and I ended up on the moraine of the Emmons Glacier and even found a glowing emerald lake that wasn’t marked on any of the official park maps.


Emmons Glacier and Little Tahoma Peak. Mount Rainier, on the right, was obscured by clouds almost our entire trip.


The Emmons Glacier. The melt water coming out of the ice cavern feeds the White River.


This emerald lake isn't found on any map!

Best of all, the rain that had threatened all weekend held off until we were safely in the car on our way back to town.

michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Mirror Lake Mount Rainier National Park Sourdough Mountains Sourdough Range Sunrise Sunrise Visitor Center Washington alpine backcountry backpacking glacier hiking lakes summer wilderness http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/7/exploring-mount-rainiers-sourdough-mountains Sat, 30 Jul 2016 15:55:26 GMT
Lakes and Granite - Exploring the Trinity Alps http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/7/lakes-and-granite-exploring-the-trinity-alps I took advantage of the July 4th weekend to tackle a big trip off the top of my list - the Trinity Alps. This range has been on my list since I first drove south into California about a year ago, when the snowy, jagged peaks sticking above the horizon across from Shasta grabbed my attention. While I was researching the trip, most of the information available was not trail descriptions, but rather clipped accounts of off-trail scrambles and ascents of snowy peaks - my kind of trip!


Sunset over Lower Caribou Lake and the Klamath Mountains


After reading through a number of these, I decided on heading into the Caribou Lakes basin in the heart of the wilderness area. To make the trip even better, it didn’t take much convincing - just a few pictures from Google - to get a buddy from Sacramento to meet me at the trailhead. It was a long drive down from Corvallis to Northern California (6 hours!), but even the trip along Interstate 5 was beautiful as I passed through the Siskiyous and dipped down into the Shasta valley, the massif of Mount Shasta straight ahead.  I knew I was finally getting close to my destination when I turned off the interstate onto the rugged California Hwy 3, a narrow, twisting road that allows entry into the Klamath Mountains.


After meeting my buddy Peter on the highway, we headed up a gravel forest road and finally began our hike in to the Caribou Lakes.  The first 6-7 miles was a trying ascent, with seemingly never-ending switchbacks leading up to the shoulder of Caribou Mountain.  The California sun was brutal, especially on the open granite slopes of the mountainside.  With every snowmelt stream we passed along the way, we splashed water on our faces and dipped our hats to keep cool.  More than anything else, thoughts of swimming when we reached the lakes kept us going.


The granite-filled trail to the lakes.


The scenery when we finally reached the lakes, late in the afternoon, was nothing short of spectacular.  Three large lakes sat in a granite cirque below the toothy wall of Sawtooth Divide, the Klamath Mountains sprawling out endlessly to our west.  The lakes themselves were perfectly clear, revealing the granite slabs beneath the water's surface. Best of all, Caribou Lake was as refreshing as we’d imagined when we dove in!


Our first view of the Caribou Lakes basin as we approached along the trail.


Peter getting ready for a second jump into the lake.


The remainder of the evening was somewhat more eventful than anticipated when we suddenly ran out of fuel (more on that here), but the long day was entirely forgotten when the sun set and the Milky Way popped out over the divide.




The next day, Peter and I took on the challenge of summiting the Sawtooth Divide - a 1,200 foot gain in about 2 miles from Caribou Lake, with a nearly 2,000 foot drop on the other side.  The trail was buried under snow, leaving us to scramble up through the steep sections near the top of the divide.  Reaching the top was well worth the effort, though, as most peaks don’t boast nearly as expansive a view as the Sawtooth Divide!


Peter climbing the last hundred (nearly vertical!) feet to the Sawtooth Divide.


Looking down at Caribou Lake from atop Sawtooth Divide.


Parting ways with Peter the next day as we left the Trinity Alps, I was already thinking of how soon I could head back for another adventure.


michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Backpacking California Caribou Lakes Milky Way Trinity Alps flowers granite lakes mountains summer sunset trail wilderness wildflowers http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/7/lakes-and-granite-exploring-the-trinity-alps Thu, 21 Jul 2016 03:02:46 GMT
Running on Empty: Improvising when the Fuel Runs Out http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/7/running-on-empty-improvising-when-the-fuel-runs-out

Running on Empty: Improvising when the Fuel Runs Out

This article was originally written for The Outbound Collective.

The dubious look on my hiking partner’s face as he shook the fuel canister was not an encouraging sign. Peter turned to me. “I think it’s empty. Weird, that’s never happened to me before.”

It was the first night of our trip.

My usual Whisperlite setup, along with the same 2L pot I carried into the Trinity Alps. The Whisperlite has never had trouble boiling large volumes of icy mountain water.

The Whisperlite die-hard in me should have seen this coming from the trailhead. For the first time in years, I agreed to leave my tried-and-true liquid fuel stove at home and carry the much lighter no-brand-name canister stove that Peter got off Amazon for $10. Of course, for two people attempting pseudo-gourmet meals in the backcountry, I still insisted on my 2L pot - which we proceeded to fill with water from the snow-fed lake next to our campsite.

After waiting at least a half an hour - the phrase “a watched pot never boils” takes on new meaning when cooking over tiny flames in the backcountry - the water still hadn’t boiled and the stove was making an ominous “putt-putt-putt” sound.  Sure enough, a minute later it gave up entirely and we found ourselves 9 miles into the Trinity Alps with less-than-boiled water and several nights’ worth of dehydrated food. (In retrospect, it seems obvious that a stove the size of my thumb was never going to produce enough of a flame to boil all that cold water.)

The Whisperlite showing off again, this time in winter conditions at Diamond View Lake. Running out of fuel in below-freezing conditions is much more likely to be a trip-killer than in the balmy 60 degrees of the Trinity Alps in July.

I immediately took off running down to the lake to retrieve my water filter, and with only a few minor burns to the hands we were able to salvage the hot water for the night’s dinner. The partially cooked beans in our tortilla soup added an unintended flair of texture to the meal, but otherwise our dinner was remarkable only for its salty goodness after hiking all day under the California sun. Disaster averted, at least for one night.

In the midst of discussing the merits of cold oatmeal for breakfast, Peter stopped short and gave me a wild look. “How are we going to make coffee?” Apparently, going without coffee for a few days was not an option for Peter. The solution: backcountry cold brew.  Before heading to bed, we combined grounds and filtered lake water in the pot and sealed it against curious critters by covering it in a rock cairn.  Coming back in the morning, we deemed the concoction a success. Our brew was at least as flavorful as any coffee shop’s, although I’ll be the first to say I still prefer curling up in my sleeping bag in the morning with a steaming mug.

Filtering water at the foot of Mount Jefferson earlier in the summer.

Finding ourselves in an area of California that somehow escaped fire restrictions, we were thankfully able to serve the remainder of our meals hot. Peter proved adept at building fires - which was especially helpful since we extinguished more than one while failing to balance a pot of water over the flames.

Find yourself without fuel? Try these ideas:

  • If you have partially heated water, either from the last of your fuel or from a fire that got unintentionally doused, filter it immediately and use it. (Sorry, aquamira users - that water is going to be pretty lukewarm by the time your 20 minute incubation is finished.) 
  • Most dehydrated foods work similarly to the cold brew coffee idea - rehydrating with cold water will take longer, but it will work.  If you’re base camping, set up your dinner before you go out exploring for the day (and cover it in rocks or hang it from a bear bag to protect it).  If you’re moving camp, rehydrate the food in a Ziploc bag or, if you don’t have anything else that will seal, a water bottle.
  • Talk to other backpackers on the trail or in the vicinity of your camp. If you can offer some food in return, many backpackers will be willing to help you cook it!
  • Know when running out of fuel is a trip-ender.  In cold conditions, when hot food provides warmth as well as calories, or when you are planning on melting snow as a water source, finding yourself without fuel can lead to a dangerous situation if conditions deterioriate.
michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) California Caribou Lake Trinity Alps backpacking backpacking stove canister stove dehydrated empty fire food meals tips treatment water http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/7/running-on-empty-improvising-when-the-fuel-runs-out Sun, 10 Jul 2016 19:28:02 GMT
Chasing Wildflowers at Dog Mountain http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/5/chasing-wildflowers-at-dog-mountain I found myself back in the Columbia River Gorge this past weekend for another spring wildflower hunt - this time aiming for some of the higher elevation blooms on the south-facing slopes of Dog Mountain, on the Washington side of river.  I shared the hike with my roommate, her fiancé, and their two very adorable and energetic canine companions - who were absolutely certain that we must have been headed to the dog park along the Sandy River when we headed out from Portland on I-84. Thankfully, I don’t think we disappointed them too badly in the end.

Unlike my last trip to the gorge, the weather was anything but picture-perfect.  We left Portland in a rainstorm, transitioning to merely threatening grey skies by the time we reached the base of the mountain.  Looking up, the summit of Dog Mountain - our goal - was entirely obscured in clouds.  Which, in retrospect, explains extremely clearly why the wildflowers in the upper meadows of Dog Mountain bloom almost a month later than at Rowena Crest.

As we hiked up through trees, I had the sinking feeling that we had come too late for the wildflowers - after all, they’ve been so early this year! Of course, the dogs didn’t mind - they were busy picking up sticks along the trail for us to throw (including trying to pull up some large roots).  All my fears evaporated suddenly, though, when we emerged onto the upper meadow. 

The mountainside was covered in yellow with flashes of red and purple where fireweed was interspersed. The blooms, combined with the spectacular views of the gorge and the heavy clouds flying around us, made for a pretty intense scene.  And, just as we approached the summit, a group of trail runners came up the trail (absolutely crushing the climb!) and I was able to capture a few images of them against the mountainside as they ran by.  Best of all, I connected with them through Instagram a few days later (#DogMountain) and was able to surprise them with some photos of them running!


We didn’t stay on the summit long considering how cold it was sitting in the clouds.  Instead, we headed back down to the car - where the dogs happily collapsed in the backseat - and drove the few minutes over to Backwoods Brewery to celebrate the hike with beer and pizza.

michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Cascades Columbia Columbia River Gorge Dog Mountain Gorge Hood River Oregon Pacific Northwest River Running Trail Running bloom dogs flowers mountain wildflower http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/5/chasing-wildflowers-at-dog-mountain Sat, 28 May 2016 05:45:19 GMT
Wildflowers at Rowena Crest http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/4/wildflowers-at-rowena-crest This past weekend, I made a trip up to Rowena Crest in the Columbia River Gorge to capture the annual wildflower bloom.  This is a spring pilgrimage for many photographers (as a quick Google Images search will attest to) but I’ll admit it was too hard for me to resist the chance to photograph it myself.

I was originally planning to backpack around the Painted Hills and adjacent Sutton Mountain, but early last week I saw spectacular wildflower images streaming in from several Hood River photographers whose work I follow.  The wildflowers don’t stick around for long - only two to three weeks - so I knew this would have to be my chance.  To make the most of it, I did my homework: a quick check of the astro forecast indicated that the skies would be clear all night, and there was a solid hour or so between moonset and sunrise.  Scenes of bright yellow and purple wildflowers set against the Milky Way weighed in my mind against getting up at 3am - and easily won out. I'd say it was worth it.

Unfortunately, with only an hour of truly dark skies, I was limited to a single composition.  But I made the most of it by throwing myself in for a self-portrait!

In the rush to get all the shots I needed before the sky got any lighter, I hadn’t even noticed how many cars had appeared at Rowena Crest as sunrise approached.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to have gotten word that the wildflowers are blooming.  As I set up to capture the sunrise, I found myself in a line of four other photographers all clustered around the same patch of blooms - a culture shock for me since most of my photography takes place deep in the backcountry!

This was a sunrise well worth sharing, though.


michaelgraw@gmail.com (Wandering Sole Photography) Columbia Columbia River Gorge Gorge Hood River River Rowena Rowena Crest astro astrophotography bloom crest flowers milky way night oregon photography purple sky spring sunflowers sunrise wandering sole wildflowers yellow http://www.wanderingsolephotography.com/blog/2016/4/wildflowers-at-rowena-crest Wed, 20 Apr 2016 05:18:48 GMT