This time of year is exciting for any outdoor enthusiast, photographers included. Flowers are blooming, snow is melting out in the mountains by the hour, and the days are longer. Now is the time to get out!
I will be the first to admit I get bored easily. As a photographer, that is both great and not so great. Let me explain a bit. With that said, from spring until fall, it seems a lot the photographers around here all follow each other from spot to spot, myself included. But who can blame them. The Pacific Northwest is one of the most diverse areas in the US, if not the world. 100 miles in any direction from Portland, the landscapes are drastically different from each other. Same goes for most of the PNW.
Right now, seems Mount St. Helens is the popular spot to shoot, rightfully so. It really is amazing to be hiking these trails and hard not to think what that same vantage would like like some 34 years ago. Indian Paintbrush and Cardwell’s Penstemon (purple flowers) scatter the hillsides. Combine that with an effortless hike from the parking lot (5 minutes or less) and a clear view of MSH, why would you not make the trek out there? Next month (or even in a few weeks), Mt. Rainier wildflowers will litter the pages of sites such as 500px and flickr.
So that got me thinking. I want something different – something that gets people to start asking questions, gets people to start thinking as well. Opening their eyes, so to speak. There are many, many areas within a few hours drive from here. Most of the people who are in these areas are backpackers. People that have cameras, but nothing serious. Sure there are photographers out there, but in very few numbers. This is what I want to start doing! Of course I will hit up the normal spots as well, as I can’t always take 4 days off every week to get out to more remote areas. 🙂
In May, I won an employee grant from work (REI) and I picked up a Flash 27 bag. A month later, Big Agnes sent me a Fly Creek UL3 tent and a Q-Core SL 3.5 sleeping pad. Within that time, I got a Gregory Baltoro 75L bag in a sick, sick yellow color. Last weekend, I put these to use. Not anything crazy – went up to Mt. Rainier with my wife to scout some areas. She had never been there before, and I hadn’t been there this year. I embark on a 4 day trip next week – most likely into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
The tint sets up in less than 3 minutes. Super light, weighs in at 3.3 lbs I believe. I do need to pick up the foot print for this – I used a tarp. The REI Flash 27 sleeping bag weighs just 1lb 9oz, and I can get that into an 11 Liter compression sack with room left over. Could get it into an 8 litre bad, but might be cramped. The Q-Core weighs in at 1lb 1oz .Amazing! It is super, SUPER comfortable. I move around a lot when I sleep, and didn’t fall off this pad once! All of this stuff weighs in at 5lbs and some ounces. My camera (Nikon D700, batter and lens (Samyang 14mm 2.8) weighs almost as much as this. Amazing!
The Baltoro is also a superb bag! I hiked around a bit at Rainier with the tint in there, along with a ton of other stuff and really distributes the weight nicely. I could even put my bulky tripod in there – which I may do…
Next week I will have a much better input on the bag, as we will be putting some miles in. I will also hopefully have some amazing images to show for it. Maybe it will get people to start to enjoy some of these more rugged areas!
Oh, here is a shot I took at Mt. Rainier last week. Didn’t realize I had gotten some of the Aurora Borealis until I got home. Isn’t that the way it usually works? 🙂