Posts Tagged ‘Backpacking’

Backpacking in Kings Canyon under the Milky Way.

June 25, 2012

Backpacking tent in Kings Canyon under the Milky Way.

Had a little teamwork on this one, Christina had her headlamp set up in the perfect spot with out knowing it! She was feeling the altitude on this trip so I had to carry a little more then I expected to keep her moving along. With the strong winds out I thought Christina might of wanted to turn around but she toughed it out and I’m glad! I came to shoot the alpen glow but think I like the night view more then the day stuff. This little old tent is about 10 years old and this may be it’s last photo. Too bad we don’t get the trade ins on tents or customer loyalty discounts!! It certainly lasted a lot longer then I though they would have, it was less then a 100 bucks and all I could afford at the time. I’ll get a lighter one next time!

It was a cool trip, meaning on the cold side. We didn’t jump into any of the mountain lakes or broke much of sweat because there was a constant breeze to keep our temps cool while hiking. Christina saw her first yellow bellied marmot and thought it would make a great friend for her pet dog to play with, that would be funny, a giant chihuahua playing w/ a marmot! We pitched the tent up next to the tallest boulder to block the wind, it’s blurring parts of the tent in this shot but it was stretched out pretty far with guy lines so you can’t really see much blur in it all unless you look closely. This was just a random unplanned shot where I knew I could use the 3 different layers make the scene work and fill the frame with interesting subject matter.

The Sierra has been pretty cloudless this late spring and early summer season. I love to frequent the places I shoot to get know the weather that isn’t the same every year. Some years we have almost cloudless summers and some we get more then the usual fair of afternoon thunder storms. I love going light with out a tent but haven’t been caught in a rain, hail or thunder storm with out a tent, but maybe someday I’ll get pelted to no end by baseball sized hail!!

Have you ever been caught without a tent while backpacking?

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

A Little Tent on a Big Hill

November 1, 2011

Backpacking amongst the bristlecone pines of Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park

Backpacking on Telescope Peak amongst the bristlecone pines, in Death Valley’s highest point at 11,049 ft brings up memories the foothills of the White Mountains and slightly the peaks where the bristlecone pines flourish. Some of the best views in Death Valley can be found on Telescope Peak. We’ve done this backpacking trip before but I just happened to let Christina pick the trip from a list of backpacking trips that we have already done in Death Valley. We came back down with a little bit of water left over from the 2 gallons we each brought up. It was windier then it looked and we were weighted down pretty good. I built a good rock barrier around the tent to keep the wind out of the tent. Although we’ve been up here many times, the view of the Sierra always seems to get better every time! We could make out Lone Pine Peak’s side profile along with Mc Addie, Whitney and Russel.

Bristlecone Pines on the slopes of Telescope Peak in Death Valley. The Panamint Valley, Argus Mountains and Sierra Nevada Range are in the background.

These weathered bristlecone pines on the slopes of Telescope Peak can make one wonder how long they’ve been there. The Panamint Valley, Argus Mountains and Sierra Nevada Range lie in the background of the photograph above. I mentioned I let Christina pick the trip this time, but I was hoping we would of ended up in a canyon where it was a lot warmer. She got a new down jacket, figures she had to test it out somewhere. Anyway the view sure beats having to look through google earth. Even though I’ve been there before I still tend to look at Google Earth before every trip I go on. It’s just so much different in person. With a 360 degree turn there are views, views, views, I’m telling you!!

A fresh perspective on Death Valley

Here are a couple of fresh perspectives with light and shadow on a couple of buttes along the foothills of the Panamint Mountains in. I always like to keep an eye out for pyramid shaped peaks out there, I seem to enjoy composing images around them. I always plan to write and share much so much more from every trip but I never get the time do it so I hope you all enjoy this curt summary of the experience. Maybe I’ll come back to it again with more to share.

Light pyramids in the foothills of the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley.

*For those interested in workshops: Only 1 spot left in the Death Valley workshop this coming March, 2012. Only announced it last week and it’s practically sold out – The Death Valley Experience Guess a few happy students from previous workshops just can’t get enough!

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

Winter Backpacking for the First Time

January 24, 2010

Backpacking San Jacinto State Park above Palm Springs in the Winter

Just thought I would share an experience I just had this morning, I was invited by a few friends from a California photography forum to go winter backpacking, something I have never tried. I was pretty excited to hear this but I didn’t have all the gear. I’ve been slowing collecting the gear for a while now, it can be a huge chunck of change to pick it all up at once. Long story short, only Eric Good wanted to go. I can’t blame anyone for not going, it’s been snowing for days non stop up there. Eric had the equipment that I did not have so the only thing that kept me hesitant was the cold, getting lost, and avalanches, the usual stuff a mind could conjure up.

There is a tram that will take you up to 8,500 ft above Palm Springs from cactus to clouds. There is also a trail if you are really serious, it has a gain of 11,000ft. Looking out the windows of the tram it was almost like flying through the mountains and clouds. With all the snow the visibility was only a few hundred feet, you could see the beautiful and rugged terrain of one of North America’s most steepest inclines. Gliding through the atmosphere with granite spires and monoliths rising into the stratus cloud and coming only a few feet from the tram so you can really experience what the side of the mountain is really like. You could lose yourself just by looking out of the window for a few seconds.

We got off the lift and the hand rails heading down were completely covered, woo hoo, that ‘s about 4 feet of fresh snow. Skis would have been nice, I had enough wait but a little more wouldn’t of hurt. We snowshoed almost a mile before setting up camp in round valley or somewhere near it, there was not a soul around. At this point it was still snowing too much to scout out a place for morning photography.

At 6AM I looked out of the tent and the clouds were gone and it snowed about an extra foot. I grabbed the camera and one lens, my tripod would not open, the threads were frozen shut, this usually happens when it gets wet and freezes, should of kept in the tent at night. Lever locks seemed to better in this cold enviroment. I found this very limiting but having broken a tripod in the past trying to get it to work so I didn’t chance braking this one. My only choice was to shoot a foot above the ground with the tripod sinking into the snow. Eric and I both went our seperate ways exploring the area for photographs.


I had no idea that this ridge was so close to camp, I can see why some people only return with tree photos from snowshoeing trip. This was the case for me since that was all I found at the time when the light was at it’s best.


The view from my extra short tripod.

For a first time I don’t recommend snowshoeing through 4-5 ft of frest snow, it can become very exhausting. I have snowshoed with just camera and it was a lot easier. I was layered up pretty well so my torso was warm the whole the time and my -20 sleeping bag kept me toasty through out the night. My fingers nearly froze most of the time on this trip while taking pictures, I use mitten flaps when it’s dry out but this time I used goretex gloves with fleece liners so keep that in mind. I did have a hard time getting used to all of this, it is a completely different experience adding the backpacking equipment. I can see how one might find it to be a miserable experience but just the fact that I was experiencing something new again was enough keep me happy. Seeing so much untouched fresh snow heading off into every direction at first light is so worth all the hard work one has to do get there, with or with out a tram. I will definitely try this again before the season is over, of course throw in a little extra cardio into my weekly routine.

Cliffs on Mt San Jacinto


Condensation got me at the bottom of the mountain, not a great idea to whip out the camera when going from 25 degrees to 60 degrees. If this happens to you just place your camera back in the bag and don’t open it up as soon as you get home, let it sit for a while.

*This was not a pretty picture show so stayed for some of those in the next post.

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