2012 Mount Hood National Park Calendar

Each year at about this time I assemble the Mount Hood National Park Scenic Calendar. The proceeds are modest, but do help support the Mount Hood National Park Campaign website and related project expenses. The main purpose is simply to promote the project, and make the case for the campaign with pictures.

I’ve published the calendars since 2004, and the photos in each calendar are from trips and trails I’ve explored in the previous year. Thus, the 2012 calendar features photos I’ve taken on my weekly outings throughout 2011.

I get a surprising number of questions about the photos, so in addition to simply announcing the 2012 calendar, I thought I would dedicate this article to the story behind the images.

The 2012 Scenes

The cover image for the 2012 calendar is a world-class favorite: Punchbowl Falls on Eagle Creek (below), one of our iconic local scenes that is recognized around the world. The Eagle Creek trail is busy year-round, so I picked a Wednesday morning in June to slip in between the crowds, and had Punchbowl Falls to myself for nearly an hour.

Cover: Punchbowl Falls on Eagle Creek

In spring, this view requires wet feet — or waders — to shoot, as I was standing in about a foot of water and 30 feet from the stream bank to capture this image. I chose wet feet over waders, and to say they were numb afterward would be an understatement!

For the January calendar image, I picked this view (below) of the southeast face of Mount Hood, as seen from the slopes of Gunsight Butte. This was taken on a very cold afternoon last January on a snowshoe trip in the Pocket Creek area. This image benefited from some Photoshop editing, as I removed my own boot prints from the otherwise pristine snow in the foreground!

January: Mount Hood from near Pocket Creek

I try to reflect the seasons with the monthly photos as best I can, but the February image (below) of the Sandy Headwall in the new calendar is an example where the scene could be in mid-winter, but was really captured just a few days ago, with the first blanket of snow transforming the summit of Mount Hood.

February: The Sandy Headwall in early autumn

This close-up photo was taken from the slopes of Bald Mountain, near Lolo Pass on a brilliant autumn afternoon. It features a new camera toy I picked up this year, too — a 70-300mm telephoto lens that replaced my older, less powerful version.

For March, the calendar image (below) is from a June hike along the Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash River. The stream is known to many (incorrectly) as “Bagby Creek”, as it is home to the historic guard station and rustic bath houses at Bagby Hot Springs.

March: The Hot Springs Fork of the Collowash River

The Bagby area has been in the news this year because of an ill-conceived and controversial Forest Service plan to privatize the operations, but I hiked the trail for the beauty of the stream, itself. It’s a beautiful forest hike through old-growth forests and past lovely stream views, albeit very well traveled by the hordes of hot-spring seekers!

The April calendar scene (below) is one that few will ever see in person, as it features an off-trail view across little-known Brooks Meadow, on the high slopes of Lookout Mountain, east of Mount Hood. The day was especially memorable for the wildlife all around me as I shot the scene — elk bugling in the forest margins, hummingbirds moving through the acres of wildflowers and several hawks prowling the meadow from the big trees that surround it.

April: Brooks Meadow and Mount Hood

I featured Brooks Meadow in this article earlier this year, and was later disappointed to see closure signs posted at the public access points. So, until the policy changes, this view is officially off-limits to the public.

For the month of May, I picked a much-photographed view of Metlako Falls from along the Eagle Creek Trail (below). This view was captured on the same day as the Punchbowl Falls scene on the calendar cover.

May: Metlako Falls on Eagle Creek

A little secret among photographers is that a clean shot of Metlako Falls requires you to plant at least one foot on the scary side of the cable fence that otherwise keeps hikers from slipping over a 200 foot cliff. It’s perfectly safe… as long as you don’t fall! My main goal was to capture the scene with the spring flowers that appear in the lower left, something I’d admired in other photos.

2011 was a wet year with a persistent snowpack in the Oregon high country, so June hiking was still focused on the lowlands, and especially on waterfalls, which benefited from the runoff. In early June, I made a trip along the Clackamas River Trail to beautiful Pup Creek Falls (below), an impressive, lesser-known cascade tucked into a hidden side canyon, just off the main stem of the Clackamas. I profiled the hike in this WyEast Blog article.

June: Pup Creek Falls

For July, the scene is another familiar view — the sweeping panorama of Crown Point and the Columbia Gorge from Chanticleer Point, at Women’s Forum State Park (below).

In a typical year, this might have been a day for hiking in the mountains, but in 2011, the lingering snowpack persisted until the end of July. This image shows the resulting swollen, flooded Columbia, with spring levels of runoff continuing well into the summer.

July: Crown Point and the Columbia from Chanticleer Point

The high country trails finally opened in early August, and I followed one of my summer rituals with a hike to Cooper Spur, high above Cloud Cap Inn on the east slopes of Mount Hood. This view (below) is from the south Eliot Glacier moraine, just below the spur. I profiled a proposal for improving the Cooper Spur trail in this WyEast Blog article.

Not visible at this scale are the ice climbers who were exploring the lower Eliot Glacier icefall that day, in the right center of the photo.

August: Eliot Glacier and Mount Hood from the slopes of Cooper Spur

In September I was doing research on historic Silcox Hut, located about a mile and a thousand vertical feet above Timberline Lodge. The venerable structure was built in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration for a mere $80,000, and served for many years as the upper terminal of the original Magic Mile chairlift. The Friends of Silcox Hut restored the structure in the 1980s, and it was reopened for overnight guests in 1994.

Though I rarely include man-made structures in the calendar, this view of Silcox Hut (below) shows how the structure seems to rise up as part of the mountain, itself, in a triumph in architectural design. The worker on the ladder is part of a 2011 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) project to further restore the building for generations to come.

September: Historic Silcox Hut

In October, I usually scramble to capture early fall foliage images for the calendar. Mount Hood and a group of vine maples obliged this year in this view from Lolo Pass Road (below), captured just a few days ago on a beautiful Indian Summer day.

October: Mount Hood in Autumn from Lolo Pass Road

The November calendar scene (below) is from Lolo Pass, proper, taken in late October on a crisp evening just before sunset. The scene includes all of the ingredients that make autumn on Mount Hood so rewarding for photographers: the first blanket of snow had fallen at the highest elevations, while the meadows above timberline have turned to shades of read and gold. The mountain, itself, is wrapped in swirling autumn clouds. Spectacular!

November: Mount Hood at sunset from Lolo Pass

The final image in the new calendar is of Tamanawas Falls in winter (below). The falls are located on Cold Spring Creek, a major tributary to the East Fork Hood River, and this scene was captured last January while on a hike with an old friend visiting from Nevada. In this scene, rays of intermittent sunshine were lightening up mist from the falls, creating what can only be described as a “winter wonderland”! The hike to Tamanawas Falls is described in this 2008 WyEast Blog article.

December: Tamanawas Falls on Cold Spring Creek in winter

The thirteen images I chose for the 2012 Mount Hood National Park Calendar were narrowed from 117 images that I had set aside over the course of 2011. These were the “best” of several thousand images taken on something upward of 50 outings to Mount Hood and the Gorge. As always, these adventures took me to new places and discoveries, as well as my old haunts.

And as always, the magnificent scenery further confirmed my conviction that Mount Hood should be set aside as our next National Park! Hopefully, the calendar makes that case, as well.

Where can I get one?

The 2012 calendars are available now at the Mount Hood National Park Campaign store. They are large and functional, measuring 17” across by 22” tall, with plenty of room for writing notes and scheduling activities. They sell for $24.99, with about 25% of the proceeds going to support the Mount Hood National Park Campaign.

Thanks for your support!

20:1 Odds

As part of their August 2010 feature on National Parks, Sunset Magazine gave a nod (of sorts) to the Mount Hood National Park Campaign! The surprise article explained a mysterious round of phone tag that I played with a Sunset writer in late July (though I never actually connected with her). As part of the cover story, Sunset gave odds on “Our Next National Park?” Here’s what they had to say:

3:2 – Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico – in a bill for full park status

4:1 – San Gabriel Mountains, California – under study by the National Park Service

7:1 – Pinnacles National Monument, California – another monument proposed for promotion to full park status

8:1 – Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington – also under study, in this case by a citizens committee that may recommend bumping it from failed USFS management to National Park Service protection

20:1 – Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon – “A labor of love by a Portland city planner, this campaign faces a couple of roadblocks, the main one being it’s similar to what’s already in the NPS portfolio (hello, Mt. Rainier!)

100:1 – “Ancient Forest”, Northern California/Southern Oregon – “Another quixotic cause from a lone visionary, this 3.8 million-acres swatch would link ecosystems to help preserve species… but it’s a long shot.”

Twenty-to-one? I like those odds! The article also included a link to the campaign website, so kudos to Sunset for the free publicity, skeptical as they may be!

Of interest to me in this bit of lighthearted journalism is the old “parks as museum samples” canard that comes through — we’ve already got Mount Rainer, and it’s interchangeable with any other volcano in the Cascades. Next!

Well, that mindset actually dates back to Gifford Pinchot, and a few other early conservationists, who had no way of knowing that by the end of the 1900s most of the forests of the Pacific Northwest would be laid low, or that 10 million people would live within a few hours drive of the big Cascade peaks, looking for recreation, drinking water and a piece of what once was in America’s rainforest region.

Fortunately, the new national parks movement is redefining why we need more parks, and helping move beyond a museum collection mindset and toward a more holistic vision of ecosystem protection and restoration for all sites of national significance. With a little luck, Sunset Magazine will be featuring a new Mount Hood National Park on its cover in a few years, too.

Mount Hood National Park on Hike Yeah

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of meeting Alex Head, host of the weekly Hike Yeah program. We recorded a two-part podcast that covers all aspect of the Mount Hood National Park Campaign, and you can stream or download the first 30-minute segment (Podcast 40) from the Hike Yeah website now:

Hike Yeah | Podcast 40 | Mount Hood National Park Campaign

The second segment will air next Friday at 2 PM, and will appear as Podcast 41 on the Hike Yeah website. Alex is a fine interviewer, and had really done his research into the MHNP project before the show, so we were able to jump right in to the questions that people are most curious about: how would National Park management differ from the Forest Service? Would there be additional entry fees? What about my dog..?? Those questions, and many more are covered in the interview.

The second segment airing next week is a bit more expansive, as Alex focused more on things that I’m doing outside the MHNP Campaign, but I did manage to bring it back to the cause I care about most! Alex provides a terrific service with this program, so if you’re a hiker be sure to subscribe and catch his show every week.
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Edited to add in the link to the second part – rambles onto other subjects like waterfall hunts, restoring old trails and the birth of Trailkeepers of Oregon, but does get back to the main theme of Mount Hood National Park toward the end:

Hike Yeah | Podcast 41 | Mount Hood National Park Campaign

Thanks for the opportunity, Alex – it was fun!

2010 Campaign Calendar

Since founding the Mount Hood National Park Campaign in 2004, I have published an annual scenic calendar that features my best photos of “our next national park” taken during the course of the previous year. While there are familiar spots featured each year, I also include lesser-known scenes, and a number of secret locations that you won’t find in other calendars, and further illustrate why Mount Hood needs more protection.

The 2010 calendar features Elk Cove on the cover, photographed early last August on my annual pilgrimage, during the peak of the summer wildflower show. The snowy January scene was captured on a snowshoe trip up the White River last winter. February’s image is also wintry, with a frozen Rock Cove in the foreground, and the snowy, white cliffs on the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge rising above mists in the background, and catching the last bit of evening light.

The March scene features the first flowers of the season in the eastern Columbia Gorge, at Rowena Crest. Look closely, and you can pick out both a hiker (and fellow photographer) and a grain barge in the river, far below. The town of Lyle, Washington is in the distance. The April scene features a little-known lily pond near Cascade Locks in brilliant shades of vibrant spring green. The May image is another lesser-known spot, the Mazama Tarn. This tranquil pond is located on the northwest side of Mount Hood, and for some reason, rarely photographed.

June takes us back to the Columbia Gorge, with a golden-hued sunset as viewed from the bluffs above Mosier. The July and August images are both from the McNeil Point area, first at the reflective McNeil Tarn, then higher up on the shoulder of Mount Hood, near the Sandy Glacier. The August image was captured on perhaps the most magical visit I have made to this beautiful spot over the years, with a mid-summer coat of snow on the mountain and dramatic clouds blowing in, ahead of another storm.

For September, another lesser-known location is pictured — one of several unmapped waterfalls along beautiful Heather Creek, on the southeast shoulder of Mount Hood. Lovely Emerald Falls in the Gorge follows in October, and autumn colors are showing along Gorton Creek in the November scene. The final image for December is a misty morning view of the East Fork Hood River and Mount Hood after a heavy winter snowstorm.

The early Mount Hood National Park calendars were in a smaller format, and thus somewhat forgiving of my photographic efforts. But for the past several years, I’ve used a more popular, oversized 11×17″ format, and the switch has pushed me to assemble a set of images that show off at that larger size. Above all, the images I include are intended to underscore the message: Mount Hood SHOULD be America’s next national park!

You can preview all of the images in the calendar and purchase copies for $24.99 from the Mount Hood National Park store at CafePress. Here’s the link:

MHNP Campaign Store: 2010 Calendar

A portion of each calendar sale goes to the Mount Hood National Park Campaign, and I use all of the proceeds to defray costs of maintaining the website, post office box and other logistics. Thanks to all of you who have purchased them over the years, and supported the campaign in the process!

WyEast Blog: First Year Reflections

Mount Hood on a magical afternoon above McNeil Point last August, one of my photo-trek highlights of the year

November marks the one-year anniversary of the WyEast Blog, so I will indulge with a few reflections on the blog and how I intend to carry it forward as part of the larger Mount Hood National Park Campaign.

The unifying theme is the national park campaign, and blog has, indeed, had a significant impact on traffic at the main website (which was also revamped in late 2008, in tandem with the start-up of the blog). This was the primary objective in starting the blog, so I’m pleased with the response thus far.

For the first several months, I didn’t advertise the blog at all — but it slowly picked up readers as the scope of articles became evident. From the beginning, the blog was designed in a magazine format, with lots of images and topics ranging from science, history and recreation to politics and commentary.

By mid-year, the site was logging about 200 views per month, but in July I posted a link to the site from my PortlandHikers.org signature, and the resulting boost in traffic is evident (see chart, above). The blog has been recording more than 300 views per month since. I was a bit anxious about taking this step, since I have been fairly low-key about the Mount Hood National Park project in my work with Portland Hikers, but the response has been very positive.

I had planned to write 3-4 articles per month when I started the blog, and have settled closer to three per month, with a total of 34 articles published since the first post. One surprise has been the response to individual articles. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to the topics that are interesting to others (all of them are interesting to me, naturally!), though the most popular topics are an encouraging mix of natural and cultural history topics and more challenging policy critiques that I didn’t expect to resonate with readers.

The top article on the list was the Parkdale Lava Flow piece, and I admit, this comes as a bit of a surprise. As a geoscientist by training, the lava flow is of great interest to me, but I’m excited to find that others are equally intrigued by this little-known spectacle. That bodes well for its protection, and perhaps even improved public access for adventuresome visitors.

The many visits to the two-part article on the Boundary Clear Cut were also a pleasant surprise, and underscore the ongoing interest in federal forest policy — the Fire Forests of the Cascades article also ranked well in views, for example.

The article that drew the most commentary was a bold call to decommission The Dalles Dam and restore Celilo Falls. The contributors were particularly thoughtful and articulate in sharing their own ideas for realizing this vision, and they reaffirmed my own belief that big ideas are a necessary avenue to achieving environmental reforms and building public consensus for change (and thus the Mount Hood National Park Campaign).

Things to Come

In the coming year, I will continue to publish topical articles related to Mount Hood and the Columbia Gorge, and have at least 50 topics in various states of research and development. My early concern that I would somehow run out of new and interesting topics is no longer, as each article I’ve written has spawned a couple others.

I will also be spotlighting some of the Mount Hood National Park concepts a bit more in the coming year, in the spirit of getting those “big ideas” out there, and stimulating an outside-the-box look at an area we all love and want to protect and restore.

Thanks to all for reading the blog over the past year — thanks for putting up with my periodic typos and run-on sentences, and thanks for the personal comments and encouragement along the way. I’ll do my best to continue to improve the site in the years to come!

Tom Kloster
WyEast Blog

Campaign Website Overhaul

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This is a departure from the usual topical posts (and a bit of an explanation on the recent draught in this blog), but I want to finally announce that I’ve completed a massive overhaul of the Mount Hood National Park Campaign web site!

The new look (shown above) is retro, and largely drawn from the 1930s heyday of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) efforts that brought many of the “national park” elements to Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. Some of the imagery is even more evocative, going back to the great landscape artists of the 1800s. The goal with the retro look was to enhance the sense of possibility — that it’s never to late to think big for Mount Hood and the Gorge.

The site content is also greatly expanded, with a new “proposals” area that includes ambitious concepts for greatly expanded hiking and bike trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, byways and lodges. The details on these concepts can be browsed in a series of indexed maps in the “proposals” section. Hopefully, these will be fun and inspiring for those with a detailed knowledge of the area to explore.

The “how you can help” section has also been greatly updated, reflecting new elected officials, our new political paradigm (hooray!) and some improved tools for crafting a letter to Congress in support of the national park idea. This includes a handy “national parks compared” page, with Q&A for those inclined to read the details.

But above all, the overhaul of the site represents a new direction for the campaign as an “idea campaign.” That’s my way of saying that visitors won’t be asked for contributions, and that I won’t be forming a non-profit anytime soon. Instead, the goal is simply to keep the big ideas alive, and our collective hopes for a Mount Hood National Park intact and inspired — and ready for action when the time comes to make the dream a reality.

Here’s the link to the new website.