Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Awesome views from Mt. Defiance, Oregon

For the past week or so, Hood River has had a strange weather phenomenon called a "thermal inversion". Typically, it's always colder in the mountains and the lower in elevation you go, the warmer it gets. Well not right now. Down in Hood River (elevation about 100 feet) it's been bone chilling cold and cloudy... pretty darn miserable to be honest! But you go up in elevation (to around 5,000 feet) and break through the cloud layer, and it's like a totally different world! Sun is shining, temperatures in the 50's... amazing.
I've been snowboarding a few times during the inversion and it's amazing... the snow is like slushy spring snow that you only get in May and June, and the sun feels sooo good.

The other day I had the idea to try and go to the top of Mt. Defiance to see if it would be above the cloud layer. Normally during the winter this is totally impossible without a snowmobile, or lots and lots of snowshoeing. Well I wanted to do it on my dirtbike, so I gave it a try. Amazingly the snow was just hard enough that my tires could get some grip! Of course it was pretty slick still and I took a few bad falls, but I managed to stay alive. :)

All I can say is WOW, that view was incredible! From the peak of Mt. Defiance I could see views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Saint Helens, all towering above the cloud layer! I could even see the Columbia River down below too!

Of course I brought my camera up to try and capture the view. The photos aren't as good as they could be, because the light was pretty harsh still from the time of day. But I plan on going back up and possibly camping out up there, so I can shoot the sunset, then star trails, then the sunrise... we'll if my wife lets me... :)

Onto the pics:
My dirtbike looking great in all the white. This was in the middle of the cloud layer, the fog was thick! All the white is actually not snow, it's "freezing fog" that has covered everything in sight. Pretty cool looking!

This is the road to the top. There was tracks of a few snowmobiles and a snow cat tractor thing. Just around that corner is a super steep hill that my dirtbike couldn't quite make it up because of the snow, so I just walked the last part.

Beautiful Mt. Hood towering out of the clouds-

Mt. Saint Helens with it's flat top from it's eruption on May 18, 1980-

Mt. Adams-

Mt. Rainier in the distance-

Even a section of the Columbia River was viewable through the clouds!

This is a long exposure shot (20 seconds) of the clouds rolling though, with Mt. Saint Helens in the background.


Blogger Holloway said...

May I once again say that I love the Mt. Defiance area. I have great memories from trips up there. These pics are incredible. Thanks for bringing that to me in Moscow, Blaine. Very cool.

1/21/2009 1:50 PM  
Blogger blaine said...

Hey Nick,
Thanks for the comments. Mt. Defiance is an awesome place, I love it too. Of course in the pics I'm not showing the handful of radio towers that exist up there, but hey, whatever! :)
I like to think I'm quite the explorer being up there but all those towers and little buildings sometimes ruin that feeling a bit... haha.


1/21/2009 2:13 PM  
Blogger Mellimage said...

Beautiful pics. And hey, I hope your wife let's you go up there again, I really would be interested seeing the pics.

1/22/2009 2:39 AM  
Blogger Holloway said...

The towers are a bit of a blight, but it's easy to turn your back on 'em once you're up there. I also love the Rainy Lake and Black Lakes on the southwest side of Defiance. A buddy and I ran from Rainy Lake to the top of Mt. Defiance one afternoon. (Running is such a subjective word, don't ya think?) NO ONE for miles and miles. Awesome. Get some winter photos of Black and Rainy and I will call you the winter motorbike king cause that would be a difficult haul to get there. If you want to be the explorer, take the trail around Rainy to the top of the bluff on the west side. Just watch for cougars. Bring a weapon other than your camera or jiu-jitsu wife. ;-)

1/23/2009 3:55 PM  
Blogger jennib said...

Thanks for posting pics - I hail from the Olympia, WA area and have just recently turned my hiking interests from Rainier, Adams, and St. Helens to the Gorge area. WOW! Attempted Nesmith Point a couple weeks ago, but the trail markers played out and the snow was deep enough to turn our least-experienced hiker back. Wondering what Mt. Defiance looks like in early May?? Not much useful info found online - the ranger station just says vaguely "lots of snow." What does that mean? Like not passable? Bring your skis? Or just not the easy hiker kind of conditions? Anyway, your photos are absolutely inspiring - I am looking forward to seeing it myself in the near future. Thanks again!

5/05/2009 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Angela said...

These are absolutely beautiful pictures. We are planning a hike up there tomorrow and I doubt we will have such gorgous weather but I will keep the visions of your pictures in my head. :)

11/21/2009 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

now I stay in touch!

12/11/2009 10:08 AM  

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