Elusive Mount Hood

I spent a lot of time driving around Mount Hood on my recent trip but not a lot of time actually SEEING it. This first photo came about during my attempt to reach the Top Spur trail head. The winter snowpack still were lingering so I was turned around by snow about a half mile from the trail head. At the point of my turnaround, however, the road is located very near the spine of a ridgeline. I bushwhacked up to the top of the ridge to take a look around. Once on the ridge, I didn’t find a viewpoint of Mount Hood like I had hoped. Actually, the forest here was creepy with no understory and lots of dead limbs on the lower sections of each tree. I was all packed up and ready to head back down when the sun broke free from the persistent clouds and presented me with beautiful god rays. As fast as I could, I got all my gear out of my backpack just in time for the sun faded away before I could snap even one picture. I figured that if it happened once, it would happen again. I waited patiently and, sure enough, another outburst of god rays appeared. This time I was ready! I stayed around long enough for a third episode of god rays before feeling satisfied that I had captured the moment.
God Rays, Mount Hood National Forest (Black and White conversion)
God Rays, Mount Hood National Forest
Earlier in the day, I poked around Lolo Pass Road and encountered some really dynamic conditions. Valley clouds were lifting quickly up and across the road from time to time. This was also occurring throughout the Sandy River valley. Perfect conditions for a timelapse! Here it is:

On the last full day of my time down around Mount Hood, the weather looked like it might be breaking up as sunset drew closer. I saw the summit for the first time on my trip from near the Mount Hood Meadows Ski Area. I decided to hang out and retreated to the Bennett Pass Snow Park. I shot this peek-a-boo of Mount Hood from there:
Mount Hood framed by storm clouds from the Bennett Pass Snow Park
I had set up my GoPro for another timelapse and everything was going great until the clouds walled up and swallowed Mount Hood once again. Time to relocate! Here’s my abbreviated timelapse:

Hoping to take advantage of the lee side effect, I headed north on Highway 35 and turned off on Brooks Meadow Road (FS Road 44). A few years ago, I stumbled across an old clearcut that offered a great view of Mount Hood. I arrived but still had no mountain. Nonetheless, it was quiet and peaceful so I watched sunset while my GoPro snapped off another timelapse. The mountain never appeared but the clouds sure put on an entertaining show:

I packed up and headed back down to Hood River to make my way back to my motel. While I was driving through Parkdale, I looked up at my rear view mirror and, despite the darkness, there was Mount Hood clear as could be! I immediately pulled over and pulled out my camera and telephoto lens. This was happening during “blue hour” (the hour immediately after sunset) so while I could still see the mountain, it wasn’t possible to use autofocus. Using my Liveview setting, I dialed in focus as best as I could and then began taking several shots. After 15 minutes or so, sporadic clouds began popping up between my location and the mountain. This was a great way to end my day.
Mount Hood during the blue hour from Parkdale, Oregon

One Response to Elusive Mount Hood
  1. Paul Zizka

    Beautiful work Steve! What a stunning peak. Glad you finally got your chance to photograph it.