Photographer Benny Haddad talks about hiking the California Lost Coast with his Deuter pack carrying all of his photography equipment around to get the perfect shot.
Getting out into the wilderness to go camping isn't particularly easy. It takes time, effort, planning, a certain level of training for safety, and of course, physical exertion. You are carrying your room and board on your back wherever you go.
The rewards however, are commensurate to the price you pay. Good health; clarity of mind; self confidence; a weekend away from a ringing cellphone..... And of course... the views.
Here are some of my favorite views from The Lost Coast.
I am not an ultralight packer.
It's just a sad fact. As much as I would like to be, as much as I try to spend my money to get the best, warmest, lightest equipment, it's just not going to happen for me. Why? Because I am a photographer. When I go out on trips I can't just get by with my iPhone, or a small point and shoot camera. I need to take it all. Multiple camera bodies, multiple camera lenses, tripods, filters, and other various accessories. It all adds up quickly. But the fact is, there are just certain kinds of photographs that you can't get without the right equipment. My backpack may be heavy, but at the end of the day, if I can come back with the photographs I really want, well.... Then it was all worth it.
Sometimes all it takes to rediscover an old friend is to see her under a new light.
I've been hiking Mount Baldy for years now. Mostly I've used the hike as a decent local training hike, to work with some fairly steep terrain and to get a little bit of altitude acclimatization before heading off to higher, tougher mountains in the Sierras. This weekend however reminded me of the value of climbing Baldy for it's own sake.
I joined a group of friends Saturday afternoon for an easy overnight backpacking trip on the summit. While they were training to hit the four peaks of the Palisades next weekend, I was just enjoying the company. We hit the summit just in time to watch the sun set and set up camp before dark. Hunkering down to take shelter in one of the several wind breaks, we toughed out the cold continual high winds to trade stories and pass around snacks, a couple of beers and a flask until it was time to head to our sleeping bags.
Sunrise was stunning. While I've hiked Baldy at least 10 times before, I've always gone late morning to mid day, just out of convenience, and it has never struck me as a particularly pretty mountain. Under the warm glow of a clear sunrise though, the true beauty of the San Gabriel Mountains is revealed. It starts with the soft blues and purples appearing in the sky. Then as the sun peaks its face over the far ridges, the sky blazes orange, while the shaded mountains in the distance take their turn at the royal colors. As the sun streaks through the valley mists, ethereal gradients and shapes present themselves, fleetingly, before they are lost to the heat. Even as the sun rose higher into the sky, on the morning hike back to the trailhead, the ridges created shadows that highlighted the trail back.
California has such a wealth of amazing National Parks and natural wonders that it can be easy to overlook some of the "smaller" ones. For years I have continued to go Yosemite, accepting it as the King of California. With its impressive granite walls, waterfalls, epic rock climbing and giant swaths of pristine wilderness, it can be pretty hard to beat. That fame comes with a price. Crowded by tourists, and filled with traffic, sometimes it doesn't feel like you're escaping the hustle of bustle of your daily life after all.
This last weekend we were reminded that the other parks should not be overlooked. While on a three day backpacking trip to Alta Peak in Sequoia National Park we were reminded how much less crowded Yosemite's little sister can be. With epic views of the Sierra Nevada mountains, stunning sub-alpine meadows, and solid peaks to bag, its a marvel that it remains so quiet, peaceful, and relaxing.
I hope you enjoy this set of photographs that I captured along the way.