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  • Writer's pictureRichard Duerksen

The Hood in the Swamp

Updated: Sep 14, 2019

Trillium Lake lies "just over the hill" above Government Camp and the Timberline Lodge ski slopes. Most people go there to camp and fish. Some go to picnic and play loud music at one of the campground tables. I go to take photographs of Mt. Hood's reflection in the seldom calm waters of the lake.

In Winter the 2-mile road from Highway 26 to the Trillium Lake dam is closed, except for people sliding on cross-country skis or slogging on snow shoes. Stumbling through the deep snow in hiking boots, while carrying a tripod and 40 ponds of camera gear, is a bad idea. I know.

In Summer the road is clear, but the campsites are filled with noisy families, and the lake's reflective surface is dotted with myriads of brilliantly-colored floating objects, most of which contain exuberant children.

After the kids are back in school, Trillium reverts to its natural state: silence. Include an occasional scream of joy from a bald eagle who has just snagged another fish, and the resounding SLAP of beaver tails, and this is about as close to nature as you can get.

I often set my tripod at the edge of the lake near the dam. The reflection is usually best there, and I've collected far too many "Mt. Hood reflection" photos from that point.

Wednesday afternoon the sky suggested that this might be an evening when fluffy white clouds would turn pink in the glow of the setting sun. I secured my wife's permission to miss supper, and sped off toward the mountain.

The Trillium dam was ugly with photographers who had seen the same clouds. And, did I mention the raucous "basketball practice music" coming from competing boom boxes set on damside picnic tables? And the ominous "whirrrrr" of a photographic drone being piloted by a stranger from Tajikistan?

I took a few photos, each including a poor reflection and a cluster of rapidly-escaping clouds. Then I returned to the car. Bad night. Should have stayed home. Hungry for supper.

Then I remembered "the swamp," a very soggy subdivision of meadows on the north side of the lake. No one ever goes there, except in a kayak, and I was without. But there is a trail; thin, soggy, and curvy, that meanders toward the swamp. I drove to the launch site, dumped the car, wished for waders, and struck off into the unknown.

The picture I've posted here, one of about 100 images I shot from a score of different angles Wednesday evening, was taken with one tripod leg firmly fixed on semi-solid ground and the other two dipping deep into primordial muck. No music. Except for a light wind in the treetops and two woodpeckers arguing over supper.

Photographers must never give up.

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