Monday, October 29, 2012

Steptoe Butte, Washington 10-23-2012

I always enjoy calling on my "regular" job accounts in Eastern, Washington and Northern, Idaho. For me it truly is some of the most beautiful and fascinating landscape in the country. A part of Eastern, Washington know as the Palouse is an area hundreds of square miles that encompass both Washington and Idaho. The Palouse is a rich farmland area but truly a special type of farmland it that it is all "Dry Land Farming" in that there is no irrigation used for the crops of Wheat, Peas, Canola and a few other types of crops. The rolling hills, patterns and textures are just an amazing sight to be seen and the Palouse offers such diversity in the landscape from season to season.
One of the main attractions of the Palouse is a Butte called Steptoe Butte, which is located about 10 miles outside of the city of Colfax, WA. Steptoe Butte offers a beautiful 360 degree view of the rolling and diverse landscape of the Palouse, There is a parking facility at both the bottom and very top of Steptoe. The road is a very narrow winding 3.3 miles from the bottom to the top one way and an elevation gain of close to 2000ft.
Most people drive up the Butte and there are pull offs for one to get out and view or take photos of the beautiful landscape.
For me hiking up from the bottom to top and back down is such a more intimate feeling and connection with the area stopping both on my way up and way down not only photographing the beauty but just stopping and listening, mostly listening to silence, solitude and the wind whistling through the butte, I truly recommend hiking the butte if at all possible.
So on October 23 decided to hike up and down Steptoe Butte with my trusty Sony Nex 7 and an assortment of lens but figured I would use the Sony 55-210 as my primary lens for the day. I should note the previous day I tried the hike as well but storm after storm caused me to turn back down about half way up.
October 23 looked like about a 40% chance I wouldn't get rained or snowed on hiking up the Butte. As I started out around 2:30 pm the skies looked threatening but still dry. The first 1.5 miles up were fine nice and dry with some great stormy skies that were casting beautiful shadows on the landscape. As I got close to the 2 mile mark I could see a intense squall was coming in from the west. I knew I was going to get caught in it but was hoping I could make it to the top before getting dumped on. As I made my way toward the top I could tell I was going to get swallowed up by the squall and that I did it started first as rain then sleet and then that white fluffy stuff called snow, it was just about a complete white out but I kept heading toward the top and was loving every minute of it. Within another 15 minutes I walked out of the squall to broken clouds up on top of the Butte and was greeted with some amazing stormy skies and photo opportunities I tried to capture as illustrated below.
                                                           A Fall Tree contrasting with the brown earth
                                                           Hiking my way up to the top of Steptoe Butte
                                             A Bad iPhone image of me caught in a snow squall while making
                                             my way up to the top of Steptoe good fun times
                                         The intimate patterns, textures, colors and curves of the Palouse
                                         A wider view from the top of Steptoe Butte after the squall had
                                         had cleared the the sun made a brief apperance
                                         Windmill Farms are just now starting to pop up throughout the
                                         Palouse some hate them while others love them as part of the Palouse
                                         The shadows of the Palouse playing off the rolling hills and stormy
                                         Skies was just gorgeous
                                          The last view hiking back down Steptoe Butte the splash of colors
                                           in the foreground gave such a nice intimate look and feel                             
                                                        My Wife Nancy and I have a special name for this
                                                        Tree in the Palouse we have named it the "Love Tree"
                                                        As it holds special memories for my beautiful Wife
                                                        and I