Shooting Mt. Rainier with my Canon SX60HS

After seeing all the flowers at Mt. St. Helens, we decided to go up to Sunrise on Mt. Rainier to see if the flowers were blooming there, too. Besides, I wanted to try out my new Canon SX60HS.

A few years ago I hiked the same route with Leslie and a friend of Ted’s who was younger than I was. I managed to keep up with them on the trail, but ended up scaring myself because my heart was racing at 120 bpm for an hour and a half after we got back to the car. It scared me enough that I made Leslie drive down the mountain. I resolved after that to lose some weight and to train harder because I wasn’t about to give up hiking in the mountains.

I’ve lost 30 pounds since then while managing to increase my strength. I still have problems getting enough oxygen due to some moderate COPD, but my heart and leg muscles can manage the climb without protesting until after I get home. Just the memory of that hike, though, has made me unwilling to carry extra weight, even if it’s a camera. I bought the Canon SX60HS precisely with these kinds of hikes in mind.

Unfortunately, at first the weather wasn’t very cooperative. Clouds obscured the mountain most of the time we were there,

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though they made the long uphill stretches easier than normal.

At the top, the camera showed its versatility. This shot was taken at the widest setting.

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You can almost see the hiker on the left side of the shot.

Here is a medium range shot centered on the hiker,

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and here is an extreme closeup centered on him.

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Personally, I was blown away by the detail. I think if he were walking toward the camera I could identify him.

This capture of a Marmot that almost crawled up my leg showed the camera’s versatility. I doubt I could have gotten him in frame with the lenses I normally have mounted on my main camera.

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The camera also seems good at taking closeups of flowers like these Avalanche Lilies,

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managing to even capture the drops of water.

It even captured the fuzz on this Indian Paintbrush.

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It also did a nice job of capturing Rainier as the clouds finally cleared on our descent.

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Lest I begin to sound like a “fanboy” of the SX60HS, you really have to search to find out how to shoot HDR. Unfortunately, I hadn't read far enough to find the setting for HDR on this trip. Next time.

I also wasn’t happy that the only bird I saw on the trip flew off before I could get it in focus, though I’m not quite ready to blame that on the camera’s limits yet. There’s certainly a learning curve with the camera that I haven’t mastered yet. It's pretty clear that I would never use it as my primary birding camera, but I knew that before I bought it.

A Trip to Mt. Rainier

Thank goodness Rick and Jan asked us to go with them to Mt. Rainier last Sunday, just before my trip to Vancouver to have a tooth pulled in preparation for a dental implant. As it turned out, it’s been a bit of a rough week. The dentist didn’t want me to work out on Tuesday, and I didn’t feel like working out until today. Except for celebrating Rich’s birthday with a full Thai dinner, I ended up not getting much done the whole week.

Luckily I had shots of Mt. Rainier to play around with while wasting time. I shot them in HDR so I had to spend extra time processing them. Even with the mountain towering in the background, I was quite impressed by the snow-covered trees,

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though it was hard to separate the trees from the forest.

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In all my years of cross-country skiing I don’t think I’ve ever seen more snow on the trees,

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probably because they had a major storm the night before and the sun hadn’t had a chance to melt the snow off the limbs and the wind hadn’t had time to do its work, either.

The mountain played peek-a-boo with us much of the day, ducking behind the clouds whenever we got to a good viewpoint,

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but our patience was rewarded by this pristine view of the mountain covered by several feet of fresh snow.

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Mt. Rainier’s Alpine Gardens

Usually when we go to Mt. Rainier we spend most of the day at Sunrise walking and circle around the mountain to home. Mary who was visiting from Boston wanted to see the main lodge, Paradise, and we hadn’t spent as much time as usual walking at Sunrise so we decided to visit Paradise, too. Unfortunately, once we got there we found out that half of Seattle must have decided to visit on the same day. We circled the main parking lot and when we couldn’t find a parking spot decided that we would park in one of the secondary lodges and walk to the lodge the back way. That plan was waylaid when we found the trail closed due to a bear sighting between the lower parking lot and the lodge.

So, we had to settle for this view of the southern side of Mt. Rainier

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and the ridges on the other side of the valley.

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Our disappointment, though, turned to awe when we discovered meadows blanketed with wildflowers, the kind you’d usually expect in late August, not July 1st.

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After trying to capture their beauty in mere photographs, it became quite clear why Impressionists abandoned realism for abstract colors.

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Confronted with such timeless beauty one could see why John Muir was inspired to write,” Every one of these parks, great and small, is a garden filled knee-deep with fresh, lovely flowers of every hue, the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings."

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It was a magical visit.

Mt. Rainier

Right after the grandkids went home, Leslie’s friend Mary from Boston spent a week with us. Without the chickens to feed and dogs to care for, we managed to get out more than we did the previous two weeks, though I still didn’t get back to the gym.

For me, the highlight of the week was the day trip around Mt. Rainier, and, although it was barely July, it turned out to be the ideal time to visit the mountain. Our Summer of Sun continued in full force, and not only was Mt. Rainier beautiful from the north side

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but I think this is the best view I’ve ever gotten of Mt Adams from the north side.

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Usually it’s blocked by haze or clouds.

Although the north side isn’t as well known for its flowers as the south entrance, the flowers were in full bloom. My favorites were the Indian Paintbrush,

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which could be found in a variety of striking colors.

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Though not as bright as the Indian Paintbrush, purple and white Lupine still dominated the landscape.

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If you could take your eyes off the towering mountain long enough, you could see not only the flowers but butterflies and insects everywhere.

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Despite the crowds, you almost felt like you were experiencing Nature directly.