Mt Hood and the Mighty Ducks

If the Tualatin River Wildlife Preserve wasn’t enough for one day, taking a drive up to Trillium Lake by Mt Hood sure did top it off nicely.  Trillium lake has a lovely two-mile trail  around it and we were promised a great view of Mt Hood by the internet, which is always right.

We decided to get there a couple hours before sunset so we’d have plenty of time to walk the two miles and pick out the perfect spot to shoot Mt Hood as the light changed.

We didn’t get there two hours ahead of sunset.  In fact, by the time we parked and were walking to the lake, sunset was about 45 minutes away.

Thankfully, the best view of Mt Hood was about a 5 minute walk from the car.  In fact, they built a deck there and put some benches on it so we could be comfortable while we watched the sunset.

Instead of sitting and relaxing, I got busy setting up the tripod I’d borrowed from my father and getting my camera ready to go.  Moving quickly kept me warm–even with my many layers (a light fleece plus a leather jacket plus a huge, thick fleece borrowed from my dad), it wasn’t exactly toasty.  The wind was whipping up a pretty good froth on the lake, meaning there were no glass-like reflections to be had of Mt Hood.  But, it was still beautiful.

And, sunset took long enough that we had time to take a break from shooting the mountain to walk part way around to get up close enough to identify some ducks that eluded me.

After looking at them through binoculars, shooting them with a 400mm lens, and after enlarging the images to look closely at them, I’m pretty sure the little ones are Pie-billed Grebes and the larger ones are Ring-necked Ducks.  I feel more certain about the Pie-billed Grebes than I do about the Ring-necked Ducks.  They were fun to watch in any case.

We returned to the deck so I could shoot as the sun faded.  The light turned amber and the mountain shifted from gray rock to glowing orange.  The trees below timber line moved from green to purple on the color wheel.  It’s almost hard to believe I didn’t change the tint or white balance between the early and late shots, but the sun did all that for me.

I kept hoping the wind would die and let me get one good shot of the mountain reflected on smooth water, but the wind only got stronger and I only got colder.  About the time we were going to call it quits, we spotted two otters making their way towards us across the lake.  This was the first time I’d seen wild otters anywhere other than the ocean.

Pie-billed grebes, check.  Ring-necked ducks, check.  River otters, check.  Mt Hood at sunset, check.  Definitely time to call it a day.