Chasing the Northern Lights on Mount Hood

“It was the possibility of darkness that made the day seem so bright.” – Stephen King

Okay, I have a confession to make. I have NEVER done any night photography. with word that the Northern Lights may be making an appearance in Oregon, I decided to head out with my camera and give it a try.

My intention had been to shoot from one of my favorite spots, Trillium Lake. Alas, at least what seemed like 100 other people had the same idea so we moved on to the east side of the mountain, and managed to find a spot without another soul.

While I didn’t have much luck catching the aurora, the big dipper was out brightly above Mount Hood.

While I am a total novice at this type of photography, I am pretty happy with this shot from some of my first attempts. Now that we are starting to slowly approach that time of year when we have more hours of night than daylight, I am looking forward to getting out and practicing this more.

What do you think?


Categories: "7 Wonders of Oregon", Mount Hood, Mountains, Oregon, Oregon's Mount Hood Territory, Random Photos | Leave a comment

Smith Rock Deer

This picture is from my recent visit to Central Oregon. As my daughters and I were driving through the park, they excitedly pointed out a group of three deer that were grazing.

I quickly pulled the car over, and jumped out to grab a few shots of them. (The only way I ever shoot deer is with a camera.)

I figured as soon as I walked up I would spook them and they would run away. They seemed just as interested in what I was doing there as I was in them. They watched me with ears perked up for quite a while.


Eventually, I was the one to run off while they continued to happily chomp on Spring greens in the field.


Categories: Central Oregon, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Road to Trillium Lake Open for the Season!

“Even places you know well can take on a touch of the unknown when you arrive there from a different direction.”
― Kate Milford

The road to Trillium Lake is open for the season!

Trillium Lake never  really closes. It’s a VERY popular snowshoe and cross country ski trail during the winter months. When he snow finally melts from the pavement and the gates open to vehicle traffic, there is no better sign that Spring has arrived on Mount Hood, and summer is just around the corner.


It is no secret that my family spends a lot of time up here during the warmer weather months. As the lake is a short 15 minute drive from my home in the foothills, we can often be found here fishing from the shore or paddling our canoe through the reflection of Mount Hood. When I heard that the gates had once again been opened, and the mercury was pushing 90 in town, I had to take a drive up to confirm the good news for myself.


Apparently, the secret was already out. Even on a Wednesday evening, the parking lot was full and the shores were dotted with families fishing, photographers setting up their tripods in anticipation of the sunset to come, and a group of friends playing guitars and serenading the rest of us up there to enjoy the cool mountain breezes.

Even with the “crowds”, my daughters and I were able to find a spot to ourselves to enjoy our picnic dinner.


It didn’t take long before my youngest, Odessa, had stripped down to her swimsuit and was swimming in the lake. Yes, it may seem a bit crazy to swim in an alpine lake this early in May, but, to her the water is never too cold and it was just too much to resist.


Soon, my oldest, Sage, was wading in the lake and catching salamanders while I snapped pictures of the lake and mountain.


“Fishing” for salamanders


Run salamander! Run!

After such a wonderful night at the lake, it was REALLY hard to pack up and say farewell – but – this was just the first of many visits until the snow falls and the gates to the road are locked once again.

Sage saying "Good Night" to the lake.

Sage saying “Good Night” to the lake.

Plan Your Own Visit:

At the time of my visit the campground was not yet open for the season. It’s a safe bet that it will be by the time the Memorial Day holiday weekend rolls around. This is one of the most popular campgrounds on Mount Hood, so either plan to get here early on a busy weekend, or make reservations.

Not into camping but want to enjoy this billion dollar view of Mount Hood yourself? There are many lodging options available in the Villages of Mount Hood – among them The Resort at the Mountain a short drive away in Welches, iconic Timberline Lodge “up the hill”, or even a cabin in the national forest from Mount Hood Vacation Rentals.

About an hour from Portland, it makes for an easy day trip. There is a large picnic area, easy fishing from the shore, a two mile trail around the lake, and many gravel roads for mountain biking. There is a $5.00 day use fee, so bring cash for the pay box.

Categories: "7 Wonders of Oregon", Ask Oregon, Mount Hood, Mountains, Oregon, Oregon's Mount Hood Territory, Spring | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Contrail Bouncing On Mount Hood

“It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.” – Robert W. Service

Last weekend I traveled to Central Oregon to spend some time playing with the camera in the high desert, and to also attend the Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

I had a great time meeting so many people I have only interacted with on the interwebs, as well as making some new friends. What a great feeling to be surrounded by so many people who are also passionately in love with the beautiful state we all come home.

As much fun as I had exploring the high desert (more on that to come soon), there is no place like home in the mountains. When my husband and I passed the “Entering Mount Hood National Forest” sign on Highway 26, we both let out a sigh of relief and inhaled big lung fulls of sweet mountain air.

Just after we passed the Frog Lake Campground, Mount Hood filled our windshield, with a beautiful alpenglow had just started. I didn’t have to tell him to pull over. Before the request could escape my lips, the SUV was stopped on the shoulder and he urged me to “go get it.”

I snapped several pictures, with both my phone and DSLR. Traffic was very light, and I managed to get several shots with no traffic on the road. As a photographer, Instagram is instant gratification with me. I couldn’t wait to share the incredible roadside view. Later, someone commented that it appeared the contrail was bouncing off the mountain, which I had not noticed in all my enthusiasm of capturing the mountain welcoming me home.

What do you think? Does it look like a huge “check marks the spot”, as if the collaboration between man and Mother Nature is telling me that this is where I belong? Sort of a “Welcome Home” we missed you?


Contrail bouncing off Mount Hood or “Check Marks the spot?”

Note: This is the version of the scene I captured with my DSLR. Follow my @wahkeenaphotos profile on Instagram to see the “phone” version, as well as follow all my photography adventures in real time.


Categories: "7 Wonders of Oregon", Mount Hood, Mountains, Oregon's Mount Hood Territory, Random Photos, Spring | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Easter – Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Happy Easter from our neck of the woods to yours! Wishing everyone a wonderful day filled with friends, family, and chocolate bunnies.


This flower is balsamroot, which is blooming prolifically in the eastern reaches of the Columbia Gorge right now. The wind was blowing pretty hard last weekend when this was taken. I think it almost looks like the petals are waving at me.

Categories: Flowers, Spring, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments