Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spring Beauty at Tom McCall Point

This past Friday, I had a day off of work.  Not wanting to waste a good day off, I decided to go for a hike.  I 'd heard the flowers were in bloom at Tom McCall Point, so I decided to check it out.  Tom McCall Point is located in the Gorge, east of Hood River, near the town of Mosier.  I visited this place many years ago on a mother's day hike, but only hiked around the lower plateau.  I'd always wanted to check out the trail up to Tom McCall Point.

Wanting to get some good light, and also beat the crowds, I got up really early Friday morning, and headed out of town. The forecast was for warm and sunny weather, so I was hoping to be able to see the mountains.

My destination!

I arrived at the parking area around 7:30.  I got out my camera and immediatly started clicking photos of some of the flowers that were blooming nearby.

Flowers carpet the lower plateau overlooking the Columbia River.

The balsamroot flowers were like a yellow carpet, covering the lower trails.  I shouldered by backpack and began my climb up to Tom McCall Point.  I didn't go far, and was stopped by a beautiful bunch of flowers beside the trail. After many photo ops, I again started out.  But I didn't get much further, and --oh-- another great view to capture!  I must've spent a half hour in the lower meadow before I began my climb up.

The views just kept getting better the higher I climbed.  The Columbia River and lower plateau spread out before me.  The trail led me through some nice oak groves and then cleared out into pretty meadows.  There was some poison oak in the treed sections of the trail, so I had to be really careful.  A poison oak rash is no fun!

Rowena Crest plateau.

Flowers were blooming in abundance!  There were balsamroot, lupine and orange paintbrush adding lots of color to the trail.  The flowers made a pretty foreground for my photos.

This balsamroot blossom was especially nice.

I came upon some of the local wildlife.  I think being on the trail so early was why I got to see these guys.  I only saw one other person the whole time I was climbing up the trail  (and he was coming down).

I was almost to the top, when I came upon this killer view of Mt. Hood.  Wow! 

Mt. Adams and the Gorge from the top of Tom McCall Point

After taking about an hour and a half to travel to the top (approx. 1.5 miles and 1100' up) I finally arrived at my destination.  Yes, I usually travel faster than that - but there were so many wonderful scenic things to photograph, that it took me much longer to travel the distance!

I had no more than began to set up my tripod, when another guy came up the trail behind me.  He was also a photographer and immediatly set up his tripod and began clicking away.

Mt. Hood view from the top of Tom McCall Point.

Up on  top of Tom McCall Point, all I could say was "wow!"  The flowers were incredible and the views outstanding!  My camera was buzzing away, trying to capture it all.

Luscius lupine.

A fine example of some of the wonderful flowers that were blooming on Tom McCall Point.  This little patch of lupine was especially vibrant.

Amazing yellow balsamroot!

Not only did I have clear skies for great mountain views, but I also had great light for photography.  The sun was at an angle that lit up the flowers so they were glowing with color.

Mt. Hood overlooks the flower fest.

I must have taken at least 200 photographs while I was on the summit.  You don't get such perfect conditions like this everyday.  I felt really lucky to have chosen this particular day to visit.

Looking west down the Gorge.

The other photographer told me he'd been up here yesterday and the conditions were not as good.  It was cloudy and he could not see much of Mt. Hood.  When he heard today's weather forecast, he decided to come back again.  It was paying off for him!  Apparently this guy comes up to Tom McCall Point quite often in the springtime, and was knew lots about the area.  He gave me some tips on where to set up my camera to get some good shots.

Mt. Hood framed by lupine.

Another couple came up the trail during the time I was on the summit.  But they didn't stay long.  The guy photographer took lots of photos (and he was shooting film!) but finally he packed up and left.  I now had the whole place to myself.

Looking north across the Columbia River.

After enjoying the solitude for awhile, I realized I needed to be heading back.  The sky was beginning to cloud over to the north, and I had taken enough photos to keep me busy sorting and editing for a long while!  It was such a nice day, and perfect light, that I really hated to leave.

One last lupine photo - because it is so lovely!

Once I started back down the trail, I met lots of people on their way up.  The farther down I traveled, the more people I ran into.  By the time I was nearing the parking lot, there were several large groups heading out.  Looks like I came down at the right time!

I don't know why I waited so long to hike this trail.  What a gem!  It will definitely be on my list of "must-do" spring hikes for next year.  What a great way to spend a sunny day off!

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