Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Prepare For A Photo Expedition
Tom Bol offers his insight on how to get ready when you’re going to be out for more than just a day hike
The lightest-weight food options are freeze-dried foods by companies like Mountain House. These meals weigh 10 ounces and only need boiling water to prepare. They’re more expensive than boxed macaroni and cheese, but if weight is your main concern, freeze-dried meals are the way to go.
If you’re planning a long trip—two weeks or longer—pay attention to your rations. Spending time in the backcountry requires a lot of energy. Your appetite will grow as you spend more time in the field. Also, if you plan to go to higher elevations, choose foods that sound appealing. Altitude dampens your desire to eat and drink. Everything takes more work with less oxygen at high altitude, and eating becomes more of a chore than a desire. We once brought thousands of energy bars on a mountaineering trip to India. Early on in the expedition, they tasted great. But as we got higher on the mountain, I began to dislike the bars. By the end of the trip, I could barely choke one down without getting nauseous!
Today, more than ever, we’re electronically connected with the world. Cell phones, iPods, laptops and digital cameras all need power. For a short trip, you only need to bring an extra battery for your camera. But what if you’re going on an expedition for a week or longer?
I have come to love lightweight, portable solar panels that roll up into a tube for transport. They come in a variety of sizes and weigh around a pound for the large version and 6.5 ounces for the small version. They come with a car lighter adapter; you just need to buy a car battery recharger for your specific camera battery. In direct sun, recharge times range from two to five hours, depending on the camera battery style.
Putting It All Together
Last summer, I helped teach a unique photo workshop. Unlike other workshops, this was a backcountry photo workshop where participants hiked with all their gear into a remote part of Alaska. I taught this class with Colby Coombs, the owner of the Alaska Mountaineering School, an authority on backcountry travel and a veteran of countless expeditions. We started the trip by outfitting everyone with lightweight camping gear and narrowing down our camera gear to the necessities. Our goal was to hike into the south side of Denali to find new, original angles of this often-photographed peak.
We started our hike with 35-pound packs and a slight drizzle falling from gray skies. After gaining some elevation, we established camp on a tundra ridge with small ponds in the foreground. Now we only needed the weather to cooperate.
On our second morning, we woke to crystal-clear skies and the mighty Alaska range stretched out in front of us. Denali was towering over the rolling tundra hills. We spent the morning creating images of Denali reflected in the tundra ponds. Later, a black bear wandered by camp. And the best part? We were the only photographers there, and our images were unique. Backcountry photography is well worth the effort.
You can see more of Tom Bol’s work on his website at www.tombolphoto.com.
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