Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Photos

Another year rides off into the sunset....

2016 has been full of ups and downs.  Fun ski trips with friends.  Great hikes to scenic places, both familiar and new.  Meeting five blogging friends, live and in person.  Watching both kids move farther away from home.  Old age claiming my faithful dog Bear.

Combing through my photo archives, I've once again compiled a year-end post featuring a favorite image from each month of 2016.  I find it very satisfying to look back at all the moments captured, relive the fun and the fascinating, and realize how much I've accomplished in 365 days.

Of all the articles I create for my blog, the annual "year in photos" post is by far my very favorite.  I hope it's become yours too.


Alpenglow on Mt Hood

Oh Mt favorite alpine playground.  Skiing down her slopes one late winter afternoon, I was lucky enough to witness this fantastic pink alpenglow blanketing the summit.


My skiing buds and I on a wet, snowy day

Ski bus days are the best days!  Whatever the weather, my die-hard ski buddy friends don't let a little wet snowstorm stop our fun.


Spring tulip

For some reason I don't have a lot of images from the month of March (too busy skiing and not taking many photos, I guess).  But our tulips bloomed early, and one morning I grabbed some fantastic shots of their rain-speckled petals.


Sunset on Bandon Beach

In September 2015, I made a swing through the southern Oregon coast and fell in love with the charming town of Bandon.  Not having much time to explore, I booked a return visit for April.  I spent a most excellent three days roaming this wonderful area, culminating with a capture of this stunning ocean sunset. 


Soggy Hardy Ridge

Wet weather kept me cooped up inside until I finally said "what the heck" and hiked in the rain anyway.  A trek up the blustery Hardy Ridge trail tested my resolve (and my raingear!), but I was handsomely rewarded with some of my best spring wildflower images.


Cody's priestly ordination

In June my son Cody realized a goal he's worked and studied 6 long years for, ordination to the priesthood.  A bittersweet moment - as a mom I'm so proud of Cody's accomplishment, and his happiness fills my heart.  But celebrating milestones always tugs at the heartstrings.  It's always a tiny bit sad to see your babies grow up and move far away.


Tipsoo Lake and Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier National Park is the closest National Park to Portland, but for some reason I hadn't visited since the 90s.  A late July weekend trip changed all that.  I was blown away by the fantastic scenery and plethora of hiking trails.  I'll certainly be back for more in 2017.


Iconic McNeil Point Shelter

In August the Cascade's high mountain meadows are bursting with wildflowers.  Despite the blazing hot August weather, I forced myself to get out and visit as many as possible.  So many great hikes, it was hard to choose a favorite.  But McNeil Point is always a classic trek, and this shot of it's iconic rock shelter finally won my vote.


No Name Lake

Two years ago, while hiking into Broken Top Mountain's crater, my brother mentioned existence of an unnamed glacial lake on the peak's north side.  Several spectacular images of this lake on social media sparked my interest, and in late September I finally visited the elusive "No Name Lake" for myself.


Coldwater Trail

Fall is hands-down my favorite hiking season.  Not only do I enjoy the cooler temperatures, brilliant autumn colors provide lots of material for my camera's memory card.  Again, there were so many great images to choose from, but the solo hike I made on Mt St Helens Coldwater Trail (where I unwittingly encountered an ultrarunning race) was by far the most spectacular.


Elowah Falls

Waterfalls and autumn colors make the best photographs.  And when the leaves turn, I have a long-standing tradition of touring the Columbia River Gorge in search of both.  Despite the rainy autumn weather I managed to fit in this annual trip, and was richly rewarded for my efforts.


Horsetail Falls sporting it's winter white

Long-time blog followers know how much I love to photograph waterfalls.  So when a mid-December cold snap turned the Gorge cascades icy, I grabbed for my camera.  I think Mother Nature does a mighty fine job of transforming moving water into a breathtaking winter wonderland.

Thanks to all of you for visiting, following, and commenting on my humble blog.  It's always gratifying to know someone out there actually reads what I post.  I love the online friendships I've established (blogging buddies are the best!) and it was truly wonderful to meet some of you in person this past summer.  Here's to another year of happy trails and beautiful places.

Wishing everyone a safe, prosperous, and peaceful 2017!

Sharing with:  Through My Lens

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Have you heard of the "Opt Outside" movement?  It's a campaign created in 2015 by outdoor retailer REI.  Instead of spending time at the mall, the company wanted people to recreate outdoors on the day after Thanksgiving.  To show they practiced what they preached, REI boldly closed all their stores and suspended online sales for the busiest shopping day of the year.  Not just shuttering stores, REI also encouraged their employees to participate by giving them a paid day off.

My guys at the Rattlesnake Trailhead

When I first heard of REI's plan, of course I was all for it.  But that year, my bargain-hunting family wanted to hit the malls.  I grudgingly gave in and followed my loved ones through the crowded stores on their quest for doorbuster deals.  And totally regretted every minute.

The Opt Outside campaign was so successful, REI planned an encore for Black Friday 2016.  With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, I put my foot down.  No shopping this year - my family was going on a hike!

And...they're off!

This Thanksgiving, my hubby and I journeyed to Missoula, Montana to spend the holiday weekend with our son Cody.  I had a lovely time - and even got a break from cooking as my son prepared the entire meal.  However, I made it made it clear that the next day we were going to get outside and work off our turkey dinner.

Unique white berries

Missoula is a huge outdoor town.  Boasting miles of trails inside the city limits, and several nearby recreation areas, our only question wasn't if we were opting outside, but where.

Lots of trail choices

My son suggested Rattlesnake Canyon.  Located north of Missoula, the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness was a short drive from downtown.  Known for it's miles of hiking and mountain biking trails "the Rattlesnake," as the locals call it, sounded perfect. 

Vibrant green lichen

Cody chose a flat trail that followed Rattlesnake Creek.  We planned to hike in about three miles, turn around, and retrace our steps.  A nice mellow ramble, I decided not to bring my big backpack and just carry my camera.  Thinking we'd only be out for a couple of hours, I didn't even bring so much as a water bottle.  (Big mistake!)

Intricate patterns in a frozen puddle

Although it was late morning, temperatures still hovered near the freezing mark when my hubby, son and I began our hike.  The trailhead had a large parking area and bathroom facility, was well signed, and the kiosk was even fully stocked with paper trail maps.  Luckily, Cody thought to grab one!

Skiff of snow on this fallen tree

After making the men pose for a couple of photos by the trailhead sign, my hubby and son rocketed away, leaving me in the dust.  Both are fast walkers, and knowing there was no chance of keeping up, I lingered in the rear, stopping to snap photos of anything interesting that caught my eye.

Consulting the map

Luckily, the guys did stop occasionally and wait (I think they wanted to make sure I was ok).  But I wasn't worried about getting lost.  The trail followed a wide roadbed through the forest.  Nearly flat, it was an easy ramble.  Side trails and junctions were well-marked.

River glimpse

So many interesting photo subjects!  Lichen-draped Ponderosa pines, frozen puddles displaying interesting patterns, and fallen logs dusted with tiny snow pellets.  And every once and awhile, the forest would clear to produce a teaser glimpse of the creek far below.

Cute little 'shroom

Since this road was shared with mountain bikers, an occasional bike would pass by.  The riders were all very courteous, calling out warnings before they overtook hikers.  I noticed a couple of bikers with rifles strapped to their backs.  I'm not sure if they'd been out target shooting or merely carried them for protection (Cody mentioned that bears and mountain lions lived in the hills just outside of Missoula and sometimes wandered into town).

Surrounded by green

At the 3-mile mark, we passed a restroom.  Totally impressed me to see one so far down the trail!  (Of course, I took the opportunity to use it.)

Pause at the riverbank

Although the scenery was lovely, and the trail flat and gentle, I was a bit disappointed it didn't follow the creek at water level.  Instead, the path remained high above or just far enough away that we only got glimpses through the trees, and teasing sounds of rushing water.

River bottom patterns

Just beyond the restroom we came upon a trail junction.  Consulting the map, Cody pointed to a side trail that would lead us to the creek.  To follow or not to follow?  It was a quick decision which way to go.

Trails were well-marked

A short path through a meadow led my family and I directly to Rattlesnake Creek.  The stream was quite picturesque, lined with large pine trees, it's bed a collage of colorful rock.

Enjoying the river views

The men hung out on the banks and looked for fish in the water.  I, on the other hand, put my camera to good use!

Gnarled trees

We'd reached our 3-mile turn around point.  But the day was still young, and my guys weren't ready to head back quite yet.

More lovely mushrooms

Consulting the map, Cody noticed a trail that would connect with a parallel trail, enabling use to travel in a loop, rather than an out-and-back hike.  The connector trail was only supposed to be 2 miles in length.  Adding 2 miles to our planned 6-mile journey didn't seem like a big deal.

Forest patterns

But then I glanced at the map and noticed the connector trail was drawn with several tight zig-zagged lines.  Pointing this out to Cody, I told him it looked like we were in for some climbing.

Climbing up and over the ridge

Oh, and was I right!  Leaving the main trail our path dived upwards almost immediately.  Huffing and puffing up this steep grade quickly warmed my body.

My view looking back

But looking back, scenery like this rewarded us for our efforts.

Creek crossing

A trail sign at the main junction had stated this connector trail was 2 miles in length.  After climbing for the better part of 1.5 miles, I began to look for our next junction.  The map noted we'd cross a creek before reaching the next trail.  But we kept climbing....two miles came and went with nary a creek in sight.  As a matter of fact, we were on the top of a long ridge.  To reach the creek, we'd have to climb back down the other side.

Cutting through the bushes

I was getting tired, hot and thirsty.  Cursing myself for not bringing my backpack (which would've contained food and water) I begged Cody for a sip from his water bottle.  My gps watch was noting we'd covered 2.5 miles since the last junction.  I kept asking Cody if we were on the right path, and he insisted it was.

Red berries

After three miles, I was beginning to worry.  I didn't really want to retrace our steps back up that ridge, but I was starting to think we were lost.  Then a passing mountain biker told us the creek was right around the bend.  And sure enough it was - and just beyond was the trail junction.  Hallelujah! 

Late afternoon light on the guys

The final leg of our now much longer hike took us past a lovely little creeklet, lined with tall bushes of red and white berries.  By far the most scenic of the day's three paths, I struggled to capture a few photographs and keep up with the men, who by now were nursing a bad case of "horse in the barn" syndrome.

Stately Ponderosa pines

Our trail passed through a zone of stately Ponderosa pines, and a lovely meadow boasting killer views of nearby snow-dusted peaks before finally connecting back to the main trail/road where we'd begun the day's trek.

Snow-capped peaks

By the time we finally reached Cody's car, my gps noted we'd logged 10.5 miles and estimated at least 1500 feet of climbing.  So much for a flat, mellow hike!  Now late afternoon, the sun was beginning to sink below the mountaintops, and my tummy was ready for some turkey dinner leftovers!

Best way to spend Black Friday!

So that's the story from my first #OptOutside Black Friday adventure.  Despite the unexpected additional distance, I enjoyed hiking in a totally new area and spending time with my favorite guys.

( family doesn't know it yet, but I think opting outside will become a new holiday tradition.)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Winter Waterfalls

Winter arrived suddenly in here in Oregon.  The past two weeks we've battled cold temperatures, freezing rain, and even two snowstorms!  This past Sunday I was tempted to head up skiing on Mt Hood.  But then I heard reports of freezing waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. 

Frozen waterfalls are an uncommon occurrence here.  And many times when these cascades freeze, the roads are too icy to attempt driving.  So when a chance to photograph these lovely works of nature comes around, I take it.

Multnomah Falls

That's why I spent the final Sunday before Christmas not shopping, not skiing, not hiking (although I considered visiting the ornament trail).  No, I took advantage of the rare frigid conditions to travel through the Gorge and capture nature's incredible works of beauty.

And so, dear readers, I present my Christmas gift to you.  No words, just a collection of beautiful winter scenes. 

Lower Multnomah Falls

Benson Bridge, Multnomah Falls

Ice coated tree branches

Icy rock wall below Multnomah Falls

Horsetail Falls

Horsetail Falls

Icy splash pool below Horsetail Falls

Horsetail Falls close-up

Icy shoreline

Wintry creek

Ponytail Falls

Icicles behind Ponytail Falls

Frozen vegetation from the waterfalls' spray makes interesting patterns

Another view of Ponytail Falls

Behind Ponytail Falls

Wide angle view behind Ponytail Falls

Creek below Ponytail Falls (with one cold photographer!)

Ponytail Falls parting view

To all my readers, Merry Christmas!  May you have a wonderful holiday.  Enjoy this special time with your loved ones.