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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Plan A National Park Road Trip

A seasoned pro shows you how to plan, research and pack for an efficient photo weekend

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Gather The Right Gear
Quick and easy meals keep you more mobile. Pack a medium-sized cooler with sandwich makings, hardy bagels, avocados, tomatoes, onion, yogurt and fresh fruit. Eat light, but eat often. An overly full stomach can make you want to nap more than trek about looking for "the shot."

Keep a cardboard box within reach for chips, beef jerky, crackers, granola, sardines and nuts, as well as a Ziploc® bag full of pecans, cashews, Tamari almonds, dried cranberries, raisins and M&Ms. Trail mix will keep your energy up throughout the day.

A multi-gallon water container comes in handy on trips in the Southwest. It's a reliable source for refilling drinking bottles, hydration bladders and even cleaning abrasions.

For a coffee break, no matter where you are, stow a backpack stove in the car. Try Starbucks' VIA Ready Brew or Folgers Coffee Singles for a quick caffeinated recharge.

Remember that you should always adhere to park guidelines regarding food and local wildlife. In many popular parks that contain bear habitat, an appropriate bear storage locker is a necessity, and you'll see signs at trailheads warning hikers not to leave food in their cars. Pay attention to these signs!

For clothing comfort on the road, choose versatile layers. In winter, a ski hat preserves significant body heat. A lightweight, breathable rain jacket will help protect you from both rain and wind. Garments that incorporate Gore-Tex® membranes are renowned for their ability to keep you comfortable while hiking or waiting for the right light. There are plenty of other waterproof, breathable options, as well. T-shirts and button shirts of quick-dry nylon fabrics wick moisture and breathe easily. Medium-weight fabrics like synthetic fleece and SmartWool® also wick dampness, important after hiking to a site to avoid getting chilled when you stop to set up and shoot.

Cotton kills in winter, but it should not be overlooked for spring and summer hiking. In the low-humidity Southwest, a cotton shirt acts like an evaporative cooler as you sweat. A wide-brim hat may not always make an ideal fashion statement, but it keeps the sun off your face, ears and neck (you can always follow in the fashion footsteps of Ansel Adams with a Stetson Open Road). Sun fatigue can sap you of vital energy, so cover up if you're out all day.

In the wide temperature variations that are common in the national parks in spring, winter side-zip nylon pants are a good idea. They should be loose enough to be comfortably layered with long underwear. The three-season nylon pants can easily be transformed into shorts without taking your boots off when the temperature warms up. Wear well-fitting waterproof, breathable boots to keep comfortable and to reduce the possibility of blisters. In the national parks of the desert Southwest, you'll want hiking boots that breathe more easily, or wear sandals with hiking soles from makers like Chacos, Teva or Keen.


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