Saturday in The Gorge

On the 14th I spent an impromptu day in the Columbia River Gorge watching trains and hanging out with some friends.  I decided to make a full day of it so I was up at 4 and on the road at 5.  My goal was to be at tunnel 2 east of Cooks when the sun came up and my timing was impeccable as I was able to sit on the shore of the mighty Columbia and watch the sun pop over the mountains to the east.   It was a beautiful morning…as long as you could stay out of the wind.  I fought hard to keep everything on the ground while perched up on the rock just east of the tunnel.  Brutal.

I captured three trains there but I’m not quite ready to share those images just yet.

I followed the last eastbound to Bingen where it met a manifest.  A 10mph slow order and the slow down for the meet allowed me to get ahead to capture the image above of the train winding around the rocks and across the Locke Lake fill.  These guys were in a hurry to get to Lyle to meet the Builder so I let them go about their business and found a place to photograph 27.

More about the day in my next post…

 

Hold On

We are struggling mightily to get out of winter in the Northwest.  It snowed yesterday in Vancouver as well as out at the ocean.  For the Oregon beaches it was the first March snow storm since 1966!  The consequence of this slow transition is we haven’t had nice days or even showers and sun breaks which are typical for this time of year.

An empty coal train is about to enter Tunnel 1.5 near North Bonneville, Wa.  A winter snow storm has left a dusting on the ground throughout the Columbia River Gorge.

I can feel my photographer self suffering from the lack of interesting light.  I’ve wanted several times to run out and photograph but the gray just isn’t motivating.  I have a few images in mind but really a clear or partly cloudy day would suit them better than the rain and gray skies.  Things are bad enough that a couple of days ago I found myself photographing the trees blowing in the wind because that was the most interesting thing happening.   Don’t get me wrong, I like photographing that stuff but I’m in the mood for real light soon!

A change in the weather will come.  It always does. In the mean time I continue to share my snowy gray day images because winter still has a hold on us.

In The Cascades

When you drive up the Columbia River Gorge on the highway it is really tough to tell sometimes that you are passing through a pretty major mountain range.  The mountains are certainly there but they tower above so high that it isn’t really obvious what is going on.  If you drive I-84 and look across at Washington the mountains are not as abrupt or as steep as on the Oregon side so you have the illusion that you are passing through a gentle valley.   That’s far from the truth.

I love to find places where the river is fairly narrow and you can easily photograph across it.  Moffett Creek below Bonneville dam is one of the places where that is possible.  With fresh snow on the mountains and the rocky terrain I knew I wanted to visit here and capture a Union Pacific train crossing the bridge.   UP set me up with two trains for this so I took advantage.

What is hard to see in this image is how tall the mountain in the background really is.  The river is around 40′ above sea level and Wauneka Point tops out at over 2800′ (according to mytopo.com)!   This image is actually a panorama shot vertically at 51mm and from what I can tell I’m only showing about 1/3 of the mountain.  Impressive to be in the Cascades.

More Snow in The Gorge

Most of the snow from the January 15th snow storm fell west of Bingen.  The result was I spent the day west of Bingen too!  Snow in the gorge has been pretty sparse lately so I wanted to take advantage.  Most of the morning I hung out around North Bonneville photographing Amtrak, several BNSF westbounds, and two eastbound UP trains.  The gorge is pretty narrow and cluttered with trees around North Bonneville.  I knew I wanted a wider view to demonstrate what the snow looked like so after lunch I drove to Dog Mountain to wait for an eastbound.

Since it was Monday maintenance was out in full force so I took a quick trip to Underwood during a lull to see what the White Salmon River looks like after the Condit Dam breach.   I’ve read many people’s complaints about how the breach has ruined one of the best salmon fishing locations in the Gorge.  I will agree that the river is choked with muck but since the October 26, 2010 breach we really haven’t had any high water.  Once we have a few heavy rains it appears a river channel will reappear there.  Now, what will happen with the back water areas?  Good question.  I’m sure mother nature will show us.

I arrived back a Dog Mountain about the same time and eastbound stack train was going through Stevenson.  Perfect.  I climbed the hill and gathered in the photo I was looking for.

Dogcaught Upgrades

Aaron and I will be making some behind the scenes changes to dogcaught.com over the next week.  The result is you may experience some outages or unusual responses.  Don’t worry everything will be as it was and we’ll get back to our normal content.

As a teaser here’s a photo I took on Monday while I visited the Columbia River Gorge.  We received a bit of snow down to the river level on Sunday so I ran out Monday to take advantage.  This image is the DPU of a west bound grain train crossing Cascade Dr. in North Bonneville, Wa.