On my trip — from my home in the Willamette Valley
to Eastern Oregon
— I had already made photo stops at the Hoodoo Ski Area
and the Sisters-Bend Area.
My third stop was actually more of a detour — up to the Pine Mountain Observatory.
Located about 25 miles southwest of Bend, the three telescopes — sitting at 6,250 feet, near the top of the many-peaked mountain — are owned and operated by the University of Oregon Physics Department.
The mountain was so big, and I was so close, that I had to take a series of shots to combine as a panoramic photo just to get a picture of the entire mountain!
When I turned off U.S. Route 20
to take the observatory road, there was a sign saying that the road was not maintained during the winter, and that I should proceed at my own risk. There didn't seem to be too much snow on the mountain, and with my four-wheel-drive Tacoma, I felt that I could at least try to go as far as I could, and just see how things turned out. I'm sure glad I did! Even though the road did have about a foot of snow on it near the top, there were well-worn ruts that allowed me to proceed without too much difficulty — but I was very glad to have my truck! It was definitely worth taking some time and effort to make this detour to the top!
On the way up, I was rewarded with great views of major Cascades
peaks, like Mount Jefferson,
the Three Sisters, Broken Top,
and Mount Bachelor.
After not too long of a drive, I reached the observatories. The buildings were actually much smaller than I had imagined, but I guess the telescopes themselves are not that large (15, 16 and 32 inches), so the corresponding housing for them does not need to be large either.
Once I had look around a little bit — there was really not much to see — I headed up the hill behind the observatories to see what the view was like. After just a few minutes' hike I was at the top — not the higest point of Pine Mountain, but one of a number of peaks on the mountain that are close to being the highest. I was rewarded with a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. I captured this magnificent scene in a series of 46 photos, which I combined into an ultra-wide panoramic picture. I even made an interactive version, which you can rotate through using your mouse.
After spending about an hour in the area, it was time to continue my journey east. I took over 180 photos from, and of, Pine Mountain. I've narrowed them down to the best 12 photos — well, at lot more than than if you count the 46 photos that ended up as a single picture. Most of the other abandoned photos were other 360-degree panoramic shots that didn't turn out as good as the one in this, the third album of my April 2012 trip to Eastern Oregon.