The Persona Behind The Lens, With A Glimpse Into Our World.
Photographer: Anita Cross
Photographer Anita Cross & husband "Llama"
Amusing stories of travels throughout Oregon's beautiful–and sometimes not-so-accessible–scenic areas, from the perspective of a not-so-athletic photographer.
"Simply look with perceptive eyes at the world about you, and trust to your own reactions and convictions. Ask yourself: Does this subject move me to feel, think and dream? Can I visualize a print - my own personal statement of what I feel and want to convey - from the subject before me?"

~Dorothea Lange

Thursday, November 13, 2003

This was a busy summer. Working 40 plus hours a week at a “real” job doesn’t leave much time for my passion of photography, but my husband and I managed to make several forays into the “wilds” of Oregon.

Perhaps the most memorable was the latest. We spent a weekend in the Umpqua National Forest, staying two nights at the Fairview Peak Watch Tower. Apparently, this past summer was the first year that the tower has been available for rent. We learned about it in July, and late October was the earliest we could get reservations. That seemed like a good idea anyway, as the fire season would be long over with.

We drove the short but time-consuming drive on Saturday, arriving in the early afternoon to a beautiful, clear sky. To the Northeast of us, we could see the tip of Mt Hood. (Fairview Peak is Southeast of Cottage Grove) To the West, we could “almost” see the ocean. Sunday night we could see light from Reedsport reflected on the clouds. But Saturday, there were only a few clouds.

As we had expected, the view was spectacular!. 360 degrees of mountains and sky!

One thing we had forgotten was just how windy it is at the top of the tower. I wasn’t able to take any pictures that required a slow shutter speed and tripod, as the tower did a lot of shuddering and shaking. And while I did get some nice shots of the Three Sister tinged in pink from the setting sun, the sunset was cut short by incoming clouds.

We went to bed that night hoping for a nice sunrise. My husband can sleep anywhere, so he managed to get a fairly decent night’s sleep. I, on the other hand, was awake until the wee hours of the morning when exhaustion finally set in. The winds really pick up at night, and up in the tower, it felt to me as though we were in gale force winds.

We woke up, around 7 am, to an eerie sight. During the night, the winds had brought in a lot of clouds, and our 14′ x 14′ glassed in cabin was high up in the clouds. You couldn’t see much when you looked out the windows, unless you looked straight down. The ground, 53′ below, was barely visible! A couple of crows flew by, chasing each other. At first we thought one might land on the railing, then they disappeared, maybe 10′ from the cabin.

The wind had let up a bit, but it was still howling. We fixed a big breakfast of bacon and eggs and made our plans for the day. With the tower socked in, we decide to check out some of the nearby trails that were listed in the guest book provided by the US Forest Service.

We had no idea what the weather would be like once we came down off the mountain, but I was hopeful it wouldn’t be raining. There were several waterfalls in the area, and they are easier to take photos of when it’s cloudy. The light is more even and there is less contrast.

As it turned out, it was a good move. When we returned that afternoon, there still wasn’t much to see from the tower, though it wasn’t nearly so socked in. There wasn’t much of a sunset, either. After dark, the clouds moved to the North and we could see the stars over head. To the Northwest, we could see the lights of Cottage Grove and Eugene/Springfield. They lit up the sky well enough to see that there were high clouds over both areas all night.

The next morning, there was a pleasant sunrise. Too many clouds to be a “Kodak Moment” but pleasing to the soul. I was able to get a few shots later, with the sun streaming down through an opening in the clouds.

We packed up and moved everything to the car after another hearty breakfast. The wind was so strong it forced us, and our belongings, against the railing all the way down. In fact, just going up and down the stairs several times over the weekend was quite an adventure in itself.

With the car packed, we headed back to Eugene, taking the scenic route. We went back down the mountain following roads we had never been on before. At one point we saw a logging operation. They were using a helicopter to transport logs from one side of the mountain to another. It was windy there, too. The chopper was only moving one log at a time!

Once back on the main road, we decided to check out the Parker Falls trail. We had seen the trailhead many times before but had never stopped. This day we had plenty of time, so we stopped. Taking pictures along the way, it took over three hours to complete the 2-1/2 mile round trip hike, so we headed straight home from there.

I sure was glad to sleep in my own bed that night. Too bad I had to work the next day. I really wanted to sleep in.

In all, we hiked three different trails that weekend, all of which ended at a waterfall. I’m saving the details of those hikes for another day.

’til then, take care.

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