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  1. #1
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    My Adventure in the Wilderness

    I started this thread planning to just brag about the huge print I just ordered, because I've never printed anything so big before, but it has turned into a story about the backpacking trip I took this past summer. It was a great time, but this is a long story, so I won't be offended if you peel off now.

    Besides the bear I didn't get to see, and the entire roll of Velvia I ruined on the first night, the story doesn't get interesting until day two, so that's where I'll start. We were planning to hike about 7 miles with a 1500 ft climb, cross the continental divide, and then camp just on the other side. That was hard enough, but when we got to the top, we soon realized the terrain was not suitable for setting up camp.

    .

    It had been raining off-and-on for a few hours already and there was nothing but jagged rock surrounded by patches of marsh, so we were forced to continue hiking for what turned out to be a couple of miles in heavy rain. We still ended up sleeping on uneven, wet ground, but it was better, and at that point, necessary. Even though I was thoroughly exhausted, trying to fall asleep in the thin air, at only 8pm, while it's still raining, all I could do was hope to fall asleep quickly and wake up to clear and sunny skies. One out of two ain't bad. The next morning was absolutely beautiful. What had seemed like hell the night before was transformed into a wilderness paradise in just a few hours.

    .

    .

    We took our time getting up and drying our gear. Then we continued on for a few miles, ascending gradually, passing many small lakes, until we reached the last stretch of the second crossing. I had hurt my knee the day before, so I was lagging behind everyone, which allowed me to get this shot. This is the one I'm printing big (13x19...hey, it's big for me), because all four of my hiking buddies are zigzagged across the shot, and they're too small to see if it's not a big print. It's amazing what 4000dpi can pull from a frame of 35mm Provia. That ridge is the divide, at about 12,300 ft. I thought I was never going to make it up there, even though this climb was nothing compared to the day before. I was beat.

    .

    By the time we reached the top we were all in agreement. There was no reason to go much farther and we needed to rest. We descended to about 11, 800 ft, where we found the perfect campsite next to a beautiful little water fall, and that was home for the next 16 hours. I had plenty of time to limp around taking photos.

    .

    .

    That evening an inquisitive mule dear visited our campsite multiple times, getting closer and closer with each visit. We named her Moxie, but I doubt it stuck. At one point I set up for what I thought was going to be a pretty good shot. Camera on tripod, composition set, I looked down to make sure the aperture was where I wanted it, pushed the cable release, and when I looked up, there was Moxie, across the creek, standing exactly where I would have told her to stand. It felt like she was the embodiment of mother nature, and she was there to watch over us. I know that sounds cheesy. It is cheesy. I guess you had to be there. Unfortunately, I underestimated the brightness of the sky and it totally blew out. Plus Moxie had moved, so she blurred. But, I like it anyway (thanks, photoshop).

    .

    The next day we got up and set off for the same place we had camped the first night, Black Lake. Ah, redemption. I got to redo the roll I had destroyed on the first night. Even though I didn't get the amazing pink light bouncing off the clouds above, I still managed to get a few keepers.

    .

    The next day I woke up 30. Might be the best birthday yet. It rained all night and had yet to let up. There was no sense in sitting around in the rain, so we packed up wet and hit the trail by 7am. Breakfast in bar form. We were on a mission. By about 2pm, we reached the trailhead. Hot food, a shower, and a real bed, was finally in sight.

    Here are some before and after portraits of my buddies. I took the before shots a few hours into the first day and the after shots just minutes before we hit the road for Amarillo. These portraits were intended to capture the mood and show what 4 nights and 30 miles in the mountains looks like in a person's face. Hope it shows in these small shots.

    Joel:
    .

    Mike:
    .

    Andrew:
    .

    Michael:
    .

    Thanks for looking and taking the time to read my long-winded, exaggerated, self-aggrandizing, story of adventure in the San Juan Mountains.

    Good times.

    Paul

  2. #2
    Film Forum Moderator Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Yep, I'm jealous ...LOL Sounds like a great hike. Wish I could have gone along with you guys. Thanks for sharing both the story and the beautiful photos
    Aaron Lehoux * flickr
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  3. #3
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    It looks and sounds like a great trip Paul!! Your photos make me want to throw some Velvia in my Elan and head for the mountains.
    Mike

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  4. #4
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Thanks guys. It was four months ago and it still feels like yesterday. I love backpacking.

  5. #5
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Wow - great trip! Oh, and a belated happy 30th.

  6. #6
    project forum co-moderator Frog's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Good story and good shots.
    Before and after really shows on Mike but I wish we had a before and after of you, too.
    Keep Shooting!

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  7. #7
    Senior Member cyberlord's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Some awesome scenery. You have a couple of prints there at least.
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  8. #8
    Ex-Modster Old Timer's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Enjoyed every minute of it Paul. Wonderful images and a very well written narrative. I may even show it to my English teacher wife. (Just a threat I use on some of my kids emails.) I wish I was 30 again or in good enough shape to share an adventure like this with good friends. Thanks for sharing and enjoy that BIG print.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member readingr's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Thanks for sharing this - some lovely shots and would have loved to be with you.

    Roger
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  10. #10
    MB1
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    The heck with the story, those are great photos.

    Which one did you blow up big and how big did you blow it up?
    No, I DON'T need that.

  11. #11
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Thanks everybody! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wasn't sure if anyone would want to hear about it, so I really appreciate all the feedback. Backpacking is really what got me interested in photography, and this is probably the first trip I've taken where I feel like I had some success in documenting things as they were.

    Steve, thanks for the "happy 30th." This was supposed to be the first anniversary of my 29th, but what can you do...

    Larry, I've never thought of myself as a good writer, but thank you anyway. You're welcome to show this to your wife as long as she doesn't grade it. I'm sure there are plenty of mistakes in there.

    MB1, it's the fourth shot down. There's a lot of detail in all the little flowers and you can see all four of my friends stretched out across that hill. I'm getting it printed on 16x24 paper, full-size from a 4000dpi scan, so the image area is about 13x19. It's kind of a test to see what my limits are. Here's a slightly bigger version: http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne...5220538&size=o

    Here's a link to my flickr set for this trip, if anyone wants to see more: http://www.flickr.com/photos/photoph...7602213074978/

    Thanks again,

    Paul

  12. #12
    project forum co-moderator Frog's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    I do have to say I wish you'd got a shot of the bear you didn't see!
    Keep Shooting!

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  13. #13
    Senior Member OldSchool's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Great post Paul. And nice shots too.
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  14. #14
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Very nice, spent a couple summers climbing/backpacking in the san juans. Awesome area. You reminded me I need to get back there. Sweet shot http://www.flickr.com/photos/photoph...7602213074978/ -Displaced waterlooian

  15. #15
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Quote Originally Posted by Frog
    I do have to say I wish you'd got a shot of the bear you didn't see!
    Me too! The guy that was leading the hike came to a cliff edge that overlooked a creek about 30 ft below and there was a big brown bear (probably a brown Black Bear). He said it took off running as soon as he walked up. I did get to see a bear later in the trip, from the car window, but it was pretty far away, and we were going about 70mph.

  16. #16
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Tim, and AG,

    Thanks for commenting. Glad you liked the shots.

    The San Juans are a great place for backpacking. I've been to that area four times now, but I don't think I'll ever run out of new trails to hike. It's huge area.

    Paul

  17. #17
    GB1
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Paul -- Hey, not a bad writeup of an interesting trip. Rain can sure make it a long hike, though I've nearly forgotten how it feels living in S. Cali where it almost never rains (we're actually getting some heavy rains now ... feels strange).

    How bad was the lack of O2 at the highest altitude? I want to climb Kilimanjaro soon, and it peaks at almost 20,000 ft. The issue of oxygen deprivation comes into play, the best case it adding to the challenge and the worst being you have to turn around and go back (actually, I guess the worst is some type of permanent illness, or...).

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  18. #18
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Quote Originally Posted by GB1
    Paul -- Hey, not a bad writeup of an interesting trip. Rain can sure make it a long hike, though I've nearly forgotten how it feels living in S. Cali where it almost never rains (we're actually getting some heavy rains now ... feels strange).

    How bad was the lack of O2 at the highest altitude? I want to climb Kilimanjaro soon, and it peaks at almost 20,000 ft. The issue of oxygen deprivation comes into play, the best case it adding to the challenge and the worst being you have to turn around and go back (actually, I guess the worst is some type of permanent illness, or...).

    GB
    Hi GB,

    Thanks for looking.

    Rain is expected in the Rockies during the summer. It's not bad if it just rains for a few hours, but when it keeps on all night it can get uncomfortable. The tent fills with condensation and it starts dripping on you. Your hands get wet, so everything you touch gets wet. Trying to set up and take down camp in the rain is the worst part. Hiking in the rain is no problem if you have the proper gear.

    The altitude can be a serious problem if you don't take precautions, and certainly on Kilimanjaro, you will be forced to do it right. Being a Texas boy, accustomed to about 600 ft elevation, I needed to acclimate for longer than I did. They say go up to about 8000 ft and spend 24-48 hours, then climb no more than 1500 feet every 24 hours after that, but nobody does it that way. We all had some symptoms of altitude sickness...headaches and upset stomach, but nothing serious and it went away after the first few days. Where you sleep is more important than the highest point of your hike each day. You can climb real high if you go back down to sleep. When we slept at about 11,800, I had trouble falling asleep, because I was breathing very heavily and my heart was racing. Going to 20,000ft, I highly recommend you heed the warnings and ascend slowly. As long as you do that, most people are fine. But, hiking at those altitudes will still be very slow and difficult. Being in good physical condition can help, but it doesn't always make a difference. It just affects some people more than others.

    Paul

  19. #19
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    I wanna hear how you ruined your first roll of Velvia.
    Mike

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  20. #20
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Quote Originally Posted by mjs1973
    I wanna hear how you ruined your first roll of Velvia.
    When I went to rewind it, I thought I had the spool release button depressed, but I didn't, and I forced it and broke the film off inside the camera. I don't know what I was thinking. If I'd had something to put it in, I could have salvaged it, but I didn't.

  21. #21
    Just Lurking
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Great story and shots to go with it. The last few times I've been backpacking has been with my son and the boy scouts and I didn't get the time to really go off and take some shots.

    Your flickr pictures are great too.

    PC

  22. #22
    MJS
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Great shots and story. I can't remember a single camping trip as a scout where it didn't rain or snow on my butt. Personally I'll stick to sea level and below, if I'm getting wet, its in SCUBA gear.
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  23. #23
    Moderator of Critiques/Hearder of Cats mtbbrian's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    Did you do any fishing?
    Those lake and creek shots make me think about fly fishing!
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  24. #24
    Senior Shooter Greg McCary's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    All great shots Paul and memories for a lifetime. I think I would print the falls. I am glad you had a good time and thanks for sharing the awesome shoots. What camera did you use?
    I am like Barney Fife, I have a gun but Andy makes me keep the bullet in my pocket..

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  25. #25
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Re: My Adventure in the Wilderness

    PC, Michael, thanks for looking. I'm glad you liked it.

    Brian, no fishing for me, but one of my buddies tried unsuccessfully. We were told there are a lot of trout there, but he's new to fly fishing. All my free time was spent taking photos. I didn't like the idea of going to bed in bear country smelling like fish anyway.

    Greg, thanks for looking. These were all taken with my Bessa R2A and either the 35/2.5 or the 50/2

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