Tag Archives: backpacking

Photo Adventure: Ten Lakes Redemption

20 Jul

On completely separate occasions, both my friend Daniella and I, had kinda lousy experiences at Ten Lakes. Not that we’re complaining, mind you. Camping in Yosemite is still preferable to many things, even if it does involve blood loss, sickness, missing persons, and monumental amounts of whining.


But looking back on the experience several years later, I still remember amid all the complaining, the jaw dropping view from Ten Lakes Pass, and the view of the lakes. It was time for us to give Ten Lakes another try.



Glacial Polish


In the early evening we heard rockfall off of this wall.


The moon, Jupiter, and Venus reflecting on glacial polish


The wildflowers were so fluorescent they could have been painted by Lisa Frank.



I was apparently obsessed with glacial polish on this trip.


Blue Conness





Art Adventure: Young Lakes

16 Jul

I’ve been slowed down a bit by a relatively minor foot injury this summer, but I did manage to haul myself out to Young Lakes with a bunch of supplies for a mini art-retreat.


Ragged Peak and Young Lake


Ragged Peak (Western Approach)


Emily told me the third lake was the best. She was entirely correct.


I spent a lot of time with my Law’s Guide


Someone else was here before me.


Does this landscape look ominous?

It was. I had the very exciting- but not very pleasant- experience of waiting out a hail storm hunkered under my tarp. I didn’t take any pictures, but I’ll recreate it for you:


After it cleared though?




I took a well-worth-the-extra-walking detour to Dog Lake.


And the rain held out long enough for me to paint.


Photo Adventure: Winter Backpacking (In May)

6 Jun

I should have known better.

We were getting ready for a backpacking trip, the weather was beautiful as we packed our gear; not too hot, not a cloud in the sky. And then I said the stupidest thing possible.

“It’s May. How bad could the weather possibly be?”




Three days of every form of precipitation and chilling dampness you can imagine. It snowed on us. It hailed on us. It rained on us. There was lightning. We even got fogged in.

And yet, through all of the heinous weather, I had a great time. The company was first rate. There were ZERO complaints, and they didn’t rise up as one and hang me by my ankles from a tree for tempting fate.


It even cleared up for us just the tiniest bit. (As we were hiking out.)


Two days later I was sweating in 93 degree heat.


Photo Adventure: Yosemite Falls

16 Feb


My life is still a whirlwind, but I did go for an overnight adventure up the Yosemite Falls Trail.


Yosemite Falls is one of the steepest and most difficult trails in Yosemite Valley. I’ve hiked up the trail plenty of times, but never with a full pack. Fortunately the company was awesome and the scenery was as stunning as ever.


I’ve seen rock and ice fall on this trail before, and I know they happen pretty frequently. So it was a bit scary when we heard a loud cracking rumble on the way up. It was so loud I was convinced that it was rockfall, but it turned out to be huge chunks of ice plummeting into the snow cone.


My friend Ryan actually saw the rockfall that caused this white colored scar on the rock face a few weeks ago.


It’s been a really low snow year, which is causing all sorts of problems for California. There was just barely enough snow at the top of the falls for us to snowshoe.


We trekked to Yosemite Point for this view.


I was utterly fascinated by this Dali-esque airplane contrail.


The Clark Range is pretty stunning too.


The view from the top of the falls looking down into the section known as “Middle Earth.”


Insert “Vertigo” theme here.


Photo Adventure: Point Reyes

27 Jul

I spent three glorious days in Point Reyes National Seashore. Unfortunately my camera died about halfway through the trip, which is an enormous tragedy for you. I was initially disappointed that the last part of my route led me away from ocean views, but the fog veiled forests on the Woodward Valley and Sky trails were like something out of Narnia. I would not have been surprised to have turned a corner and come face to face with a unicorn. It was magical. I’m so sorry you missed it.


Chocolate croissant from Bovine Bakery


The bench where I ate the croissant. (Slightly squished, but totally worth it.)


Amazing scenery


Beautiful beach scapes


Beautiful sand scapes


Banana slugs, which aren’t quite like unicorns, but are close enough.


Beach coyotes


Crazy Geology


Photo Adventure: Backpacking Hetch Hetchy

4 Jun


Kolana Rock and Cloudscape


Wapama Falls


Lilly Pads!


Tiltill Valley (I can’t wait tiltill we get there!)


Crazy Tree Branches on the top of Leconte Point


Rancheria Falls

This was an awesome trip. Y’all should be jealous.


Stash Busting Instrument Case

20 May

Destash Bash

For my first Destash Bash project I wanted to make a case for the guitalele I acquired as a backpacking guitar. Most of the materials, with the exception of the Ridge Rest that I used for padding, came from my stash and were bought when I got the instrument a few months ago.


I started out with the intention of turning this blog post into a tutorial, but I gave up when I realized that my original scheme wasn’t all that well planned. Although it worked out in the end, I had to do a lot of hand sewing, and there is one part that came out a little bit wonky. You may have more luck getting sewing advice from a brain dead parakeet than trying to copy my method. You could try one of these tutorials instead: Instructables, Ehow.

Things I learned from this project:

1. Guitaleles > Backpacking Guitars. The used Guitalele I found was cheaper, lighter, and more compact than any of the backpacking guitars I looked at.

2. Social media can be a useful tool in helping you find reusable materials. Mara (yes, that Mara) came through for me by digging an old beat up foam sleeping mat out of the trunk of her Falcon after I put a request for one on facebook. She warned me that it might not be in great shape, and it did take a bit of scrubbing to get it clean but it was perfect for my project, and I didn’t have to buy a new one.

3. DO NOT attempt to make a case for an instrument because you think it will be more fun than just buying one online. Yes, the finished product will be a million times cooler than anything you can find on Ebay. But making a guitar case is surprisingly difficult.

4. Foam sleeping pads may be a great and versatile material for construction, (and my parents said I would never learn anything useful from playing Dagorhir in college.) However, trying to ease thick foam around a sewing machine foot is just about impossible. Hence all the hand sewing and cussing.


5. I used clearance dress lining fabric for the inside of the case. I thought the light weight, slippery fabric would be the best choice for the lining. In retrospect I think any woven fabric would have been fine. The lining fabric was full of static, unravelled like crazy, and was an all around pain to work with. It also felt so unpleasant on my skin that I shudder just thinking about wearing it as an actual dress lining.

6. Remember to sew the straps on before you assemble the whole thing. This will make your life 800 times easier.

7. The case isn’t waterproof so I have to wrap the guitalele in a large trash bag to make sure that it stays dry in the rain.

8. I still hate zippers. I wound up sewing the whole thing in by hand, but the moment I finally zippped my guitalele into its own custom case was pretty satisfying.

Materials used:

Outdoor upholstery Fabric (stash)
Lining fabric (stash)
Robe Zipper (stash)
Webbing (stash)
Thread (stash)
Duct Tape (stash)
Ridge Rest (reused!)

Despite all the difficulty I had, I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I do have to be careful about how I set my backpack down when I have the Guitalele strapped onto it, but so far it’s worked really well.


The completed case in action on the Panorama Trail.


Backpacking, En Plein Air

2 Oct

Sage Flowers

Sage Blossoms and Rock

Back in the beginning of August (which feels like a million years ago) I went backpacking in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. While I did bring my camera, I also plundered Adrienne’s idea of stashing watercolors in my pack and capturing the scenery en plein air.


Banner Peak and Snowfield

At first I was a little uncertain. I’ve always struggled with watercolors, and making paintings that actually look like something you see in real life is not my forte.

Agnes Lake

Agnes Lake

(Hey Aprilly, was it just me or did Agnes Lake totally remind you of RIVEN?)

My friend Jackie encouraged me to experiment with one minute drawings:

1 minute drawing

One Minute Drawing of Glacier on North Side of Ritter

My one minute got stretched to two three four minutes but I was inspired by the results.

Banner Peak2

Banner Peak

As I experimented more boldly with the watercolors an aesthetic began to emerge:


Rainbow Glacier, between Banner Peak and Mount Ritter

Apparently my aesthetic is defined by an unmitigated obsession with rainbows.


Ok….I may also be slightly obsessed with pikas.


A bear there was, a bear, a bear!

29 Aug

Since I am posting here, you can all safely assume that I made it back from my first backpacking expedition, right?  Or… maybe I was kidnapped by a band of brigands in the canyons and one of them came back to write this post in the first person, using Without a Map as a platform to collect ransom.

Nah, I made it back okay.

Despite the initial nervousness, the trip was a resounding success.  We had planned to take the Shadow Creek trail to Shadow Lake and Ediza Lake, but that pass was gone by the time we got to the ranger (5 minutes after the station opened) the permits were gone.  Instead, we chose the River Trail, which lead us to Garnet Lake.

The trail was easier than I expected and I was quite proud of my endurance until we reached the climb up to the lake.  1000 feet in less than half a mile.  Hearing the figures, I recalled a hike I almost killed Amanda on in Laguna and that one’s 1000 feet in a mile.  No one offered me an opportunity to turn around (and I wasn’t up for hiking back about 6 miles at that point) so I soldiered on.   After that last ascent, I was ready to swear off backpacking, hiking, and perhaps even walking for the rest of my life, but the view at the top changed my mind.


Half the trip, I felt like I had walked out of the pages of Outdoor magazine.  Pumping water, storing stuff in bear cans, eating dehydrated food… It was all so fascinating to me in a way I’m sure is unique to first-time backpackers everywhere.
I wasn’t so enamored with the peeing in the bushes, but it can’t all be wildflowers and mule deer, I guess.

The clouds looked beautiful, but they rained on us like clockwork both days.

The second day, we left our camp where it was and day hiked over to Thousand Island lake.


Thousand Island is bigger and has another view of Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter.  It does not, however, have a thousand islands.  We counted and there are somewhere around 80.  So Hundred Island Lake would be a more fitting name.  While I’m on that, I would like to know why a place that has a Garnet, Ruby and Emerald Lake has no Sapphire Lake.  Isn’t that the color lake’s usually are anyway?  I need to have a talk with the Mammoth Lakes Naming Commission.

The next morning, we found evidence that a bear had been through the campsite, but we completely missed seeing him.  We did get an amazing view of the Milky Way and more stars than I thought existed the night before though, so it came out even in the end.

Bye Sierra!

We left Garnet early in the morning, and headed back the same way we came.  The climb down was treacherous, but less taxing than the trip up.  Two days of rain had given the river a little pep in its step so the crossing was a little harder.


Before we made it back to civilization, we got one last look at Mother Nature’s work  Last year, a wind storm had gone through Agnew Meadows, knocking down 86% of the trees.  I took a picture of this example.  The strong winds speared this tree on that metal spike and while almost all of the damage has been removed, this still remains

Returning to Agnew Meadows was bittersweet.  On one hand, I was dreading leaving the beauty and solitude of the mountains, but on the other there was a vault toilet.

~ April

P.S. If you have seven minutes and want to see a bit of our hike from Garnet to Thousand Island (the second lake you see in the video is Ruby), the boyfriend has a time lapse he took on his Go Pro.  Check it out!

P.P.S. Anyone know what the title of this post is from?  If so I’ll give you a nerd high five.

First Time’s the Charm

16 Aug
Sunrise at Thousand Island Lake
(I’ll share my own pictures when I get back)

I have spent many an afternoon trekking through forests and deserts and have slept under the stars my fair share of times.  I may not be the specter of John Muir reborn like my colleague, but on an outdoorsy scale, I’d rate myself a solid 6.5.

I’m about to bump it up a notch.

Yes, my dear readers, tomorrow I set off for my very first backpacking trip. I’m super excited, not only because I’ll finally see if I have the backpacking gene in me, but also because I’m going to see some of the gorgeous lakes near Mammoth Lakes.  My first Google search for the area informed me that a monkey with a camera could take gorgeous shots.  Well, call me a chimpanzee and it’s a challenge.

See you when I get back.