Thursday, August 16, 2012

After the Storm

After hearing that thunderstorms were predicted for the Central Oregon Cascades, I packed my bags and headed up to Broken Top Peak. I brought my 8 x 10 gear with me, hoping to photograph some lightning strikes over the striated northern face of Broken Top and the Bend Glacier. It was my first time to this area of the mountain. While no trails led to where I was going, I'd seen the lush basin the year before from high up on Tam McArther Rim and knew where to go. I made it to the high basin by late afternoon and set up camp next to a stream running gray with glacial silt. Wildflowers were beginning to emerge as the last bit of snow melted into the rushing waters below Bend Glacier. As the clouds slowly thickened, thin iridescent veils of magenta, yellow and green drifted in front of the sun. I began to hear the first rumbles of the approaching storm. Within an hour thunder was crackling, followed up by some really close lightning bolts. It was the most intense lightning storm I'd ever been in. I was set up next the the creek with my 8 x 10 doing the best I could to get a shot off but the rain and wind made it impossible. Not wishing to get struck by lightning I retreated to the trees and watched the show from there. It was pretty amazing. The storm cleared overnight and by the next day there was no sign it even occurred. The sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I awoke early and set my 8 x 10 up once again. I waited until first light brushed Broken Top to make my first exposure.

Here is a sneak peek at my original 8 x 10 film, exposed the morning after the storm. I included a 35mm slide for scale. I still need to make a high resolution drumscan and edit the file for print.
With the whole day ahead of me I decided to soak up the summer sun with a run around Broken Top. It started with a quick ascent of a couple snowfields and some scrambling over loose rock until I was on top of Tam McArther Rim.

Wildflowers, Middle and South Sister as seen from the top of Tam McArther Rim. Olympus E-PM1, Olympus 14-42 @ 20mm, F14, ISO 200

Looking down towards the Bend Glacier from the top of Tam McArther Rim. South, Middle and North Sister to the north. Olympus E-PM1, Olympus 14-42 @ 14mm, F13, ISO 200
Though smoke from a distant wildfire was beginning to limit visibility, the views were still pretty amazing.  Several feet of snow still clung to the red volcanic rock along the 8000 foot rim.

Broken Top and Bend Glacier as seen from Tam McArther Rim. Olympus E-PM1, Olympus 14-42 @ 14mm, F8, ISO 200
Broken Top and Bend Glacier as seen from Tam McArther Rim. I set my camera to a 10 second timer and jumped into the scene to give it some scale. Olympus E-PM1, Olympus 14-42 @ 14mm, F22, ISO 200
 I then descended over snow to a glacial lake below the northeast flank of the volcano.

Surrounded by moraines, a glacial lake below Broken Top slowly thaws out. In the distance is Broken Top. Olympus E-PM1, Olympus 14-42 @ 24mm, F8, ISO 200
 After descending a feint trail I ran over open slopes and then dropped down onto the eastern aspect of Broken Top. From here I followed a nice trail into the popular Green Lakes area. Beyond Green Lakes I ventured off trail trying to stay as high as possible. I was pleasantly surprised with how great the footing was through this section. I had no problem at all maintaining a running pace. Far below I could see Golden Lake and its surrounding meadow. It was a sparkling jewel of blue and green amidst the broken volcanic landscape. Shortly before I arrived back at my base camp I came across a beautiful display of mountain heather. The angle of the late afternoon light gave the pink and purple flowers a special glow. Despite being thirsty and sunburned, I spent over an hour photographing this scene.
As clouds danced over the distant peaks of Middle and North Sister, I found this arrangement of layered color. This was my favorite shot of the run. Olympus E-PM1, Olympus 14-42 @ 38mm, F10, ISO 320