In retrospect, there is something terribly wrong by feeling pressured to be somewhere at a given time when the day is dedicated to enjoying time with a friend taking pictures. But the fact is, I hate being late and I was. I had guessed the time it would take to drive from Portland to Koosah Falls on the McKenzie River as 2 hours… wrong. I had told my friend Deigh that I’d try to be there by 08:00. Well, at 08:00 I was at Marion Forks on the Santiam River and figured I was still 20-30 minutes away. As I was telling myself… “what the heck, chill out, it will be what it will be” … I continued to speed up the road knowing that Deigh had already been out to watch the sunrise and would be waiting for me. I hoped he’d go hiking or find a cup of coffee to keep his mind off his tardy morning companion. He was waiting at the turnoff to the trailhead and, being a good friend, accepted my apology and told me of his morning as we gathered gear and hiked the short distance to the target of the day… the beautiful calypso orchid.
We’d both visited this area last year and had been waiting patiently for the heavy snowpack to disappear in the area. We found relatively few orchids along the trail where there had been many last year. Such is life. The blossoms that were there seemed to be on the back end of their life cycle. Colors tended to be muted and many of the blossoms were spent. We separated and set about business.
It must be a rule that the best blossoms will be in the most challenging locations. While we were not far from the trail the slope is steep and wet. Hey, it’s the Cascades and that’s the way it should be! So we crawled, stooped, and bent into positions that every nature photographer understands but confuse or bemuse people who happen upon us as we’re shooting. You find the blossom(s) of choice and start figuring angles to get a good background. Sticks come out of nowhere and create undesireable distractions. Then there’s always that glob of lichen or moss that just doesn’t seem to work. And the blades of grass and shrubs. After all is set you wait and wait as the gentle breeze blows that slender stem just enough to make the image unworkable. I had a little “self talk” at one point since my head was still somewhat speeding up the highway… “Chill out man.. this is what you came for. This is the time to be calm, happy and content. You can wait. What else do you have to do?”
After a decent period where we each worked over every bloom on the hill that was still thriving we agreed to head for Clear Lake Resort to see if we could find a cup of coffee. Somehow, sitting next to a lake, enjoying the sun with a good friend felt more rewarding to me than the images I’d collected. Finally, I was in “the zone”. Relaxed and content. The only thing that started me on the road back to Portland was the memory of bear clover blossoms, rhododendron blossoms and numerous wildflowers along the road.
I decided to travel home via Sweethome rather than Detroit. This is a route that I have rarely traveled and the variety was good. I stopped at one of the few patches of bear clover… darn few places to pull off safely… and found that they just didn’t really light me up. I tried to find a composition and gave up pretty quickly as traffic whizzed by. What’s the matter with those people? What’s the rush? Chill out and enjoy the place. Yeah, good idea Bruce.
I stumbled into a small patch of iris in the shade and in an area well out of traffic noise/winds. Bonus. Another of my favorite flowers… just sitting there waiting patiently for me and my camera. These blossoms were all pretty pale relative to others I’d seen and photographed. Late season blooms? I spent an hour on my knees trying to isolate blooms against suitable backgrounds and waiting for the winds to be still enough to have a chance for a sharp image. As I headed down the road I was pleased to see heavy concentrations of iris along many of the south facing slopes along the highway. All of them appeared to be the pale blue I’d seen earlier. Interesting. I passed occasional patches of yellow, white and blue blossoms but turnouts were few and far between. The sun was fully on the slope as well so I was content to make note of where they are and will plan a trip another time when the blossoms are fresh and the up-canyon winds are still. Even the traffic on I-5 going back into Portland did not shake me out of “the zone”. I love a good day out.