Last day in Oregon - Adventure a Day 5

The origins of this image are nowhere near as hectic as some of my earlier tales.  This incredible sunrise over Portland actually came at the end of whirlwind 7-day loop trip around Oregon. I had started my travels by taking a delayed late night flight into PDX and immediately heading for The Gorge. As my trip continued I drove around the state stopping at Mt. Hood, Smith Rock State Park, Crater Lake NP, Redwoods NP, Bandon, and Cannon Beach.


After spending some time photographing Cannon Beach at night, I decided to head to Portland that to grab a morning run at Forest Park and possibly a sunrise.  I made my way east and stopped at the Sunset Rest Area for a couple hours sleep before arriving in town early that morning.  I had read about Pittock Mansion, and it seemed the best place for sunrise, but I couldn't find out whether the road would be open or I would have to walk in.

I was still pretty tired so I found a nearby parking lot to grab a couple more hours sleep and decided to try driving first.  Thankfully the road was open and I had the whole park to myself.  The overlook of the city sits right behind the mansion and access couldn't have been easier.  For once I had time to setup and take in the early morning view.

Most of Portland was covered in a blanket of clouds, but I could see a break towards the East. I had high hopes of a dramatic sunrise and was even more excited to see Mt. Hood was visible! Following the perfect setup by nature, the sun started to rise and intense color poured through the scene as I captured the dramatic light.  Just as the city lights were starting to go out with sun's first rays morning fog and mist still coalesced in the city.  I had a short but incredible moment of light beams and hanging shadows surrounding the buildings as I finished the last photos of my trip.

Full morning came soon after and a film crew showed up, which in my mind I'll hope was from Portlandia.  I made my way back to the car, drove to another nearby park, and had a relaxing run in the city side temperate rainforest.  Soon I was back at PDX and returning to the browns of early Denver spring.

Hiding from storms on a 14er - Adventure a Day 2

On the way to the summit of Mt. Evans sits a small 160 acre preserve of some of the world's oldest living trees. The Mount Goliath Natural Area protects a rare site of Bristlecone Pines that make excellent photographic subjects and I had been itching to photograph this particular tree in June of 2014.

I left Denver at night with plans for shooting the Milky Way as a background and arrived shortly after midnight.  I set up my tripod and camera, lined up the tree and stars, and fired off my first test shot. After the long exposure I noticed something missing from the shot, most of the stars!

Mt Goliath night storm

I was then suddenly hit by a blast of wind followed by an explosion of light and sound. A thunderstorm had snuck over Mt. Evans and descended in the short time I had walked to the tree. I immediately ran for my 4runner as another streak of lightning hit the mountain and fat drops of rain started flying. As I dove into my car the storm gained intensity and the rain turned to ice, then snow. I felt relatively safe in my parking spot, but the constant lightning and blowing white had me on edge; I was in a good 'ol ThunderSnice storm!

I decided to wait out the storm with some sleep in the back of the 4runner and luckily had my new puppy Koda with me for extra warmth and company. I quickly dozed off in the storm and didn't wake until the light of pre-dawn filled the sky. As I looked out in my groggy state I noticed everything was covered in a thin layer of clear ice and clouds were playing in the mountain peaks. It was only minutes from sunrise so I grabbed my camera and again ran out to the twisted bristlecone pine.

I almost ripped off my tripod legs in a hurry to catch the sunrise and just as I set up the sun blazed through the clouds and lit up the entire scene. The pinks and purples of misty clouds mixed with the golden grasses and wildflowers covered in ice. I had almost slept through one of the best sunrises I've seen in Colorado, but, fortunately, I captured the amazing scene of winter mixing with summer.