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30 Minutes Under The Stars

Must View Large!

This is a shot of Eagle Cap (and Mirror Lake) and the Milky Way. The stars up in the Lakes Basin below Eagle Cap during a new moon are freaking incredible! This photo does no justice to how numerous and bright the stars are up there. Light pollution is next to none and with clear skies, you could wander around just fine by the light of the stars. The Milky Way is so bright, dad and I mistook it for a forest fire at first..... In order to fully understand the beauty, you have to see it for yourself. :)

 

This shot is a composite of 60 images shot one after another. Each exposure was 30 seconds long, making this images the equivalent of a 30 minute exposure. And be sure to check out the 30 second exposure here.

 

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The Plan:

Ever since my 2009 trip to Eagle Cap and the Lakes Basin, I have wanted to go back. Finally my dad and I got a trip planned for the end of August 2011. It was going to be my dad, his friend Wade, and me. The plan was to drive up to the trailhead on August 25th, then camp there. On the morning of the 26th, we were to begin the hike to Mirror Lake, set up camp and relax. We would spend the night at the lake on the 26th. My dad and I were going to get up on the 27th to climb Eagle Cap while Wade relaxed and did some fishing. We would again camp at the lake on the night of the 27th. We would begin our journey out and home early on the morning of the 28th.

 

The Story:

Day One: It was about mid-afternoon on Thursday, August 25th, 2011 when my mom came and got me from the fairgrounds so that dad, Wade and I could begin our trip to Eagle Cap. I got home and dad and I packed up the Durango and went off to Wade’s house so he could pack his stuff in. From there, we headed off into the afternoon just like last time. This time was a little different though, because I was driving. :) I don’t know what it is, but I just love to drive everywhere. My parents hardly ever drive anymore because of me. :) We made good time and arrived in Lostine, Oregon late in the afternoon. We ate a big and delicious dinner at the Lostine Tavern and started up the road toward the trailhead. Let me tell you, that 11 miles of dirt road was just as rough as I remembered it. We arrived at the parking lot awhile after sunset, so it was getting dark fast. I scouted out a nice spot down on the East fork of the Lostine River…. Funny thing is, it was the same spot that we had intended to camp on last time… But don’t worry! This time we had the tent poles! :) We set up camp and I got a fire going… everything was a bit damp, so I had help from some lighter fluid. :) Before long, we were all tired and the fire was going out, so we hit the sack for the night.

Day Two: We were up bright and early on the 26th. It was time to begin the 7 and a half mile hike up the East fork of the Lostine River to the Lakes Basin. The hike started off pretty well. I’d say we were probably the first ones on the trail and were making good time. It seemed like no time and we were up into the meadow with Eagle Cap in our sights. We started to pass people who were on their way out. One lady we talked to had been up there for five days and she said she had had an interesting trip. She said that Wednesday night (the 24th) some massive thunderstorms had rolled in with tons of rain, lightning, thunder and howling winds. I remember that night I was at the fairgrounds and could see all the lightning to the south. It must have been quite a storm! We continued on and decided to take a lunch break at the little bridge that crosses the Lostine River, which at this point is little more than a creek. It is also at the fork of the trail. The old trail (which has big rocks and logs hastily thrown into it in attempt to keep hikers away) is to the right and the new one to the left. While eating our lunch, a group of friends from the Tri-Cities as well came up. It was a pretty cool surprise. After lunch, it was time for the final push. We decided that since we took the new trail last time, we would take the old one this time. Dad and Wade were slowing down, and I was given permission to go my own pace. So I started on up the trail and soon lost everyone behind me. It is quite something to be hiking alone down an old trail, eventually over a bunch a granite rocks, guessing where the trail goes over those rocks. I found it quite serene and enjoyable at that. It really puts life into perspective. I loved it and arrived at the lake about a half hour or so ahead of the others. I went and scouted out the camp we stayed at back in ’09 then went backwards on the trail until I met up with dad and Wade. We all went and set up camp, got the stove going and relaxed a bit. I was soon running to the outlet stream to go get water to clean. It was so clear. Not a single floater in sight. We used a UV filter and never got sick. While hanging out at camp, a forest ranger wandered into camp. He was a really nice guy. He was just making sure we were keeping our garbage and gear where it should be and making sure we had a stove and didn’t plan on have a fire close to the lake. We talked for about an hour just exchanging hiking stories and making fun of freeze dried meals. :) He soon had to move on and complete his rounds though. I then went down to the lake and broke out the camera. I love taking pictures. There are so many angles to take one from and each is so different. It is quite relaxing to me. It was soon sunset and Mirror Lake really took to its name and went glassy smooth. After the last glow faded, I went up to camp and make myself some hot chocolate and watched as the stars came out. The stars out there at 7200 feet, crystal clear night air, and no light pollution are indescribable. You really just have to see it to comprehend it. The pictures I have don’t do it justice. As night fell, I started clicking away. I did continuous shots for about 2 hours before calling it a night.

Day Three: The next morning (the 27th) was D-day. I got all set to head up the mountain early in the morning. My dad and I set off with light packs while Wade went down to the lake to try some fishing. I was feeling good with such a light load, which was still a lot more than anybody else we saw because I had four bottles of water, too many snacks and 8 or so pounds of camera gear, but it was still good for me. :) The climb up isn’t too bad. You start off with a lot of switchbacks up to the Horton Pass area where is flattens out a bit. Then you quickly start on up the back of Eagle Cap. By this point, I was ready to go for it, but dad wasn’t quite as ready. I was again given permission to go on up the mountain. I met up with a group of guys from Spokane and some of their friends from Georgia. They were a great group of guys and were moving at my pace so I climbed with them. The guy from Georgia was amazed at us crazy westerners climbing our crazy mountains. Apparently The Great Smoky Mountains aren’t very steep…. Haha I’m not a fan of much on the east coast. The Smokies failed to impress me on my visit entirely. Before long… okay, who am I kidding? It was a long haul… we summited. Let me tell you, the view from up there is incredible. You have a wonderful 360 degree view for miles and miles around. I started clicking off panoramas and everything else I felt necessary while munching on a Nature Valley bar. When my dad summited, he checked his phone to find that he had some service. So we both made calls and talked to my mom a bit. Then I decided to make a call to my girlfriend who was back in the Tri-Cities at the fair riding horses. Also, there are a ton of ground squirrels up at the summit….. They are cheap entertainment if you have a few almonds to spare. :) The hike back to camp actually wasn’t bad at all. And let me tell you, it was nice to go dip my feet in the freezing cold lake, seeing as it was in the mid 80’s or so the days we were there. It was good to be back at camp to relax again. After eating some dinner, I once again broke out the camera and spent the remaining daylight down by the lake. I was glad to have shot so many photos of the lake the previous night because the water was less smooth this time around. While I was shooting, Wade, who was about 70 feet down the shoreline from me, caught a fish. It was only about 6 or 7 inches long, but a cool catch nonetheless. When night fell, I was a little less enthusiastic about taking more night shots considering I had more than 250 of them from the previous night. But I still spent about an hour or so trying some light painting on the trees and stuff like that. After that, it was time to hit the sack.

Day Four: The next morning, the 28th, everybody was a bit slow to get up and pack up. I didn’t really want to leave such a wonderful place, but it was time to reunite with civilization. The hike out went pretty smoothly and we were back to the Durango by midday. In the daylight, the dirt road was a little more fun too. The drive home was nice and it was also great to be home. I feel that we had a very successful trip.

 

Taken on August 26, 2011

Nikon D90

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens

Tiffen UV filter

Exposure Bias: 0EV

Exposure: 30min. (60 images exposed at 30 sec. each)

Aperture: f/2.8

ISO: 1600

11mm

 

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Taken on August 26, 2011