“God’s hand bestows beauty on the advancing trial of winter”

Yesterday was one of the best days I have ever had in the mountains with a camera in my hand and two companions, Dave Hill and Paula Goodbar, to share the outing with.   Early morning with bagel and coffee and piling into my car with silent doubts about the day as the rain came down and the temperature dipped to the low 40’s  —  and we were headed to higher elevations.  All of that silent worry proved to be unfounded.

As we turned off the main highway and headed up the South Fork of the McKenzie River it was clear that we had hit upon a day that was simply going to be outstanding.  The color is at its peak and the yellow hardwoods contrasted so nicely with the deep green of the evergreens.  The further we drove up the river the better the color got.   Our first stop was at Frissel Crossing.  I have shot here before and had an idea of where I wanted to go and I still have images to process from this portion of the trip so perhaps if I did not mess it up I will post some of them later.  We moved up toward Box Canyon and almost immediately came upon the snow line, ~3,500 feet. It was so beautiful.  We went down into a small meadow and were shocked to see the tire tracks of another visitor – I think it was from a hunting camp that we noted in the trees.    I noticed a grouping of small conifers at the edge of the meadow and they just seemed to define the area for me.  Stripped and ready for winter and putting on a new coat.

It was barely 9 AM when we headed back down the highway with many more stops in mind.  As we came across the bridge at the upper end of Cougar Reservoir I stopped the car as I noticed the sun and clouds playing on the landscape.  I think both Dave and Paula were wondering what in the world I was up to but both of them were likewise captured by this scene.

Heading further up into the mountains we pointed to the car toward Proxy Falls – certainly a place I have visited many times and Dave and I shot last autumn. I think Paula said she had not been in this area  for 6 years so it was a nice treat for them to revisit.  More shots from this area to work up – IIDNMIU.

A few miles up the road we came across serious amounts of snow.  The road was basically clear and ODOT had sanded the curves and steeper sections so travel was very easy and the forest was beautiful.  The access into Scott Lake was problematic so we opted to move on to small pond that Dave and I had shot last year and were really looking forward to seeing again.  We were not disappointed – this was treat!!  The grand landscape shots are wonderful in themselves but there can be an intimacy and grace in the details in nature that is right up there with  the big views.  We were all just charmed by the beauty of the detail we found in this pond.   Lot’s of shutter clicks and OOO’s and AHH’s.   I love the S-curve of the snow on the ice in this next shot.

I have so many of these to process and while they may never end up in a post I am sure they will find their way to a print.

We stomped the snow off our boots, piled into the car and headed to the top of the pass at ~5,300 feet.  There was about 6-8 inches of snow up there with a stiff wind blowing.  It was cold as I got out of the car but all of that was quickly forgotten as I saw a sun break lighting the top Black Butte – with the snags, snow and lava —  close to a grand landscape.

The light did not last long and we headed down the east side of the pass with lunch on our mind but there was one more stop that held some possibilities for aspen in color.  We pulled into the campground and I droned on about not getting much the last time I shot there and not holding much hope for this trip either.  We parked and Paula lead the way – such optimism.  I am grateful that she did because I got what for me was a terrific shot – IMHO.  This shot just seems to define eastside Ponderosa pine and aspen forests for me.

Finally, lunch in Sisters – it was 3PM and we were hungry.  The plan was to pay a quick visit to Wizard Falls on the Metolius River prior to heading home.  This was a place that neither Dave or Paula had been but I am sure will come back to after yesterday.  By the time we ate and got to the parking area the light was dropping off but there was still wonderful reflections in the water and we spent about an hour wandering the banks of the river.

On the way back to the car I once again found that bit of intimacy that nature can present if you look and captured the lacy winter bones of this shoreline plant.

So many more images to process but I just wanted to share these few with y’all and to thank again my companions for a lovely day.  Hope you will all stay with me as I post some more from yesterday.