|Lupine at sunrise|
Although arriving in plenty of time for sunrise, cloudless skies made for a less-than-impressive dawn. I wasn't satisfied with any of my images (of course, that might have been due to the photographer.....) The only shot that I felt really turned out well was this backlit cluster of lupine.
|Lovely morning light on the Columbia River|
Once the sun crested over the hills, I wandered around the Rowena Plateau, enjoying fantastic early morning light on the wildflowers and Columbia River.
I ran into a professional photographer from the East Coast, out scouting locations for future photo workshops. He had lots of questions about photogenic spots in Oregon. The guy asked about some of the well-known and photographed spots on the coast and I was able to tell him "I was just there last weekend!"
|Riot of color on Tom McCall Trail|
After the photographer and I parted ways, I decided to hike up Tom McCall Point. Rumor had it the wildflowers were at peak on top. The hike started out well - not far from the trailhead I ran into this technicolor meadow.
|Breathtaking Mt Hood view on top|
The 1.7-mile climb to the top was a pure delight. Wildflowers bloomed profusely on the grassy slopes. I even spotted a few deer happily grazing in the meadows. With so many photography subjects, let's just say I wasn't a speedy hiker.
|Mt Adams peeping over the hills|
Visitors making the 1100 foot climb to the very top are rewarded with stellar views. Mt Hood rises from the southern skyline, while Mt Adams peeps over the Washington side of the Columbia River.
And down low before you, the Columbia River and it's steep banks spread out east and west, as far as the eye can see.
|Columbia River view looking west|
This wonderful preserve is owned by the Nature Conservancy, who maintains the trails, studies the rare plants, and keeps this area as pristine as possible. The name of Tom McCall honors a past Oregon governor, who was committed to conserving Oregon's natural treasures.
|Another grand view from Tom McCall Point|
Once on the summit, of course I got busy with my camera trying my best to capture all this floral beauty.
The morning was still early, so I shared the summit with just a couple other people. I chatted briefly with one lady who'd trekked up solo. After snapping a few images, I turned around and she was abruptly gone. A few minutes later, I located her lying in the middle of the flower fields, apparently taking a nap. Going off trail is a big no-no here, as people can trample the plants (not to mention ticks live in the grassy areas).
That's the problem with the onslaught of social media. Although I love to share my photos of these special places, it does bring more people to visit. And not everyone is aware of the damage that occurs when you start walking through delicate flower fields. My message to those reading my blog is this - if you visit, please stay on marked trails and be respectful of nature. Don't pick flowers, leave litter, or stand in the middle of flower fields for your Instagram shot.
|Amazing spring wildflower bloom|
Before departing from the summit, I switched to my 60 mm macro lens, hoping to get some close-up flower images on my way down. Imagine my surprise when a deer bounded across the trail, not 10 feet in front of me. Only having my macro lens, I did the best that I could trying to capture it. (Story of my life - I never have the proper lens on my camera at the right time!)
|Caught this deer running by|
Despite the bungled photo op, I still had a lovely hike down, capturing all the flowers I missed on the way up (or thought I missed!)
These purple penstemon were especially fetching.
And I even found a few stems of chocolate lilies. One of my favorites!
|More amazing lupine|
Lower down, the lupine was a lovely deep shade of purple.
|Caught one butterfly|
I was even able to capture a blue butterfly as it paused atop a flower.
|Mother Nature's bouquet|
But by far my favorite spring flower is the balsamroot. It's bright sunny yellow petals make me smile.
As I descended back to the parking lot, I met group after group of people, all climbing to the flower fields. The advantage of going early, I had the trail and summit nearly all to myself. I arrived back to an overflowing parking area. Time to get the heck outta Dodge!
|Best way to spend a spring morning!|
No better way to spend a sunny spring morning than chasing wildflowers in the Columbia River Gorge.