Soldier Creek – Backpacking in the Ruby Mountains

Leaks, they are everywhere. Our leaky homes account for  1 trillion gallons of wasted water a year. I think there must be a time leak in my life. Some tiny little pinhole that allows time to escape at an almost imperceivable rate. I’m going to give you an example; I started this post in March 2015 about a trip I made in July 2014 and we are now in the month of September December… 2017 April… 2018. Anyway,  lets move on. The following is how this post was left back in 2015 (and then 2017).

I’ve always enjoyed backpacking but for whatever reason I never do it much. When I was a kid year-round sports really made it almost impossible but my Dad always made sure we got out and did something of the sort once or so a year. As I got older other things ate up my time and I just sort of forgot I liked doing it I guess. This Spring happened to be the confluence of a number of feelings for me. That feeling of stagnation that happens when you have been doing something long enough that your rate of improvement begins to dwindle to a slow trickle began creeping in and chipping away at my desire to do the two things that I had been the most passionate (maybe obsessed is a better word) about. I was feeling burned out on racing dirtbikes; something that has been a huge investment of time and money for basically the last 7 or 8 years. I had also been in a photography slump for far too long; struggling with coming up with ideas and reasons to shoot and then feeling disappointed in what I was coming home with once I did.  In addition to these feelings the slowly rising pressure of my ever increasing “to-do” list of half-finished, just-started, or far-from-beginning projects/goals/responsibilities/whatever was beginning to surpass my threshold level, beyond which I start feeling overwhelmed. I decided, somewhat subconsciously, that backpacking was the perfect therapy. It’s amazing how self-inflicted exhaustion performed in a beautiful setting at a substantial physical distance from your daily life can make you forget about everything outside of the window of time comprised of your last step and your next.

First trip of the season would be to an area of the Ruby Mountains my dad had taken me when I was a kid and I had taken Erin a number of years back. It’s a pretty short hike with a decent climb, many points of interest to explore from camp, 100 mile views in just about every direction, and usually even on a holiday weekend (we went on July 4th this year) you won’t see more than one or two other people.

We car camped at the trailhead and headed up the trial in the morning. The trail follows Solder Creek up Soldier Canyon until you reach a large wind beaten plateau.  I chose to just leave my camera in my bag on the way up. We set up camp in one of the only areas of the plateau that is sheltered by trees. It is also near a number of high mountain lakes and we took a walk to the largest of them, Robinson Lake

To Robinson Lake

Evening walk to Robinson Lake

Once there Boise expertly caught a few trout with his fly rod. I on the other hand was drained of a large quantity of blood by mosquitoes as I untangled my line from various large sage brush. We fried up some fish, sipped on cocktails by the fire and called it a night.

So this is where I pick this post back up literally years later and where I realized that bit about a “time leak” is utter and complete bullshit. You see, I had been pouring over maps of the area in the weeks leading up to the trip. It looked like we could scramble up this mountain side and drop down to a couple of lakes on the other side called Cold Lakes. Being a lover of data I brought my GPS along as we gave it a shot. We successfully made it up to the top of the ridge and I snapped photos along the way.

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Jana having a look

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…still Jana

We hung out for a bit and decided that if we were going to make it over to Hidden Lake we should probably not drop down to Cold Lakes. So here is the bullshit part….

I wanted to post a little map of our day hike with the GPS data. It should have been a simple task as the software Garmin supplies with their GPS units will do that no problem. But I wasn’t really happy with it and so I did what any normal person would do. I decided to write my own software to generate the map as well as a plot of the elevation profile. This turned into a rabbit hole of figuring out how to get tiles from various map tile servers, downloading them, assembling them into a complete map covering the desired area, converting this coordinate system to one the would jive with the GPS data, figuring out how to parse the Garmin GPX file, plotting the track data on the previously mentioned map, plotting the elevation data vs. the distance between recorded points, and then spitting it all out as one tiddy little jpeg…. and still not being happy with the results. I tried every available map server I could find, wrote around 800 lines of code and still wasn’t happy.

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This is way most things go for me and how my time “mysteriously” goes missing.  But wait there is more….

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Mountain Flowers

The final morning I got up early and headed over to one of the smaller lakes to make a few sunrise photographs. For the first I wanted to make a big panorama which ended up consisting of 11 photos merged together. While I was iterating over tweaking and merging the photos I got a little annoyed by the amount of time it was taking and decided it was time to build a new computer…. do you see a pattern developing here?

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Dawn at Soldier Lake (11 frame panorama)

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Morning Sun

Anyway, in the name of moving on with my damn life, I declare this post FINISHED!

T and The Boys

I’ve decided that while I try to get caught up with posts here I will throw adherence to chronological order to the wind. With that said, first up are some photos from a few weeks ago.

I received a message from Tracy asking if we could get together an make some photos. Ben and Tracy are some of the easiest going people in existence, their boys are pure entertainment, and Fall was in in full swing. Needless to say I jumped at the chance. Shooting with the Barnes family goes like this.

Step 1: Tracy makes you a cocktail.

Step 2: Wander around with the fam and make photos.

Seriously, that is it. No need for posing, no instruction (like kids listen anyway), nothing. Just wander around and take photos of them being them. Oh, and once you get Jackson warmed up, watch out!

 

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In a world saturated with “professional” photographers I really appreciate you guys letting your amateur friend make your family photos!

Burning Man II

The clever among you may have guessed by the title of my last post that there were more Burning Man photos to come. You were right. Due to the aforementioned “slump” I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be in the mood to carry my camera gear around that often. I did however want to be able to snap off a photo here and there if I felt so inclined. What I needed was a camera I could literally put in my pocket, was cheap, could handle the dust, and had good (enough) image quality. Surprisingly, that is still a very small pool of cameras. With a bit of research what I came up with was the Olympus µ[mju:]-II; A 35mm film point-and-shoot camera released in 1997. It has autofocus, a fast f/2.8 35mm lens, and is splash and dust proof. Best of all it cost $35. It isn’t without its quarks though. You turn it on by sliding the little lens cover back. For some reason every time you do this the flash defaults to on. There are two tiny little buttons on the back. It you poke one of them just right with your finger nail you can cycle the flash through various settings until you finally turn it off. If you press both buttons (monumental feat) you activate spot metering mode which is pretty sweet. The downside is that the spot meter is coupled with the single central AF point which means your focus point better also be the area you would like to expose for. Finally, the camera is really smart and reads the code on the film canister to set the ISO. So if you want to shoot at a different ISO (I did) you get to memorize the DX codes and either scratch off or black out the correct little square on the roll before you load it. All and all it’s a fun little gizmo. Anyway, I doubt many of you made it this far. If you did high fives and bonus points for you! All photos are either Tri-X 400 pushed to 1600 or T-Max P3200 shot at 3200 except the lonely color photo shot on Portra 160 shot at 100 (since the camera doesn’t recognize ISO160). Once again with no descriptions or explanations.

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As always, thanks for taking a gander.

Burning Man I

Burning Man is right around the corner, which means I am basically one year behind… oh well.
So last year I decided to attend Burning Man. I had heard many different things about Burning Man over the years. The first was my freshman year of college when a dirty hippie gentleman wandering around campus tried to sell myself and some friends tickets. We inquired “What is Burning Man?” to which he replied “If you don’t know, you don’t need to go man!” First off, that isn’t true at all. Second, “What is Burning Man?” is a question that many try to answer. I will not. I had a great time with great friends and made a few photos while I was at it. I didn’t actually break out the camera that much (I was in a bit of a photographic slump at the time) but Eliot and Spencer both did a bang-up job and made some really amazing photos.
One thing I will say about Burning Man is “context”. You see, generally everything at Burning Man is out of context. For example, if you were going to attend a costume party and the theme was, say, cartoons, you would not be too surprised if a grown man showed up with a Sponge Bob Square Pants doll wearing a Sponge Bob themed hat, shirt, and undies. At Burning Man you don’t get to know why this man decided that would be a good outfit, you just get to watch him do handstands. I suppose you could ask, but if you stopped to ask why out there you wouldn’t get too far. So for that reason, here are my photos, no background, no context.

 

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Click For Larger

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Thanks for taking a look! More to come soon.

The Barnes Family

Every now and then I will get a text message from Tracy to see if I would like to make some photos. It is always a good time hanging out with the Barnes family so I always jump at the chance. Then Tracy and I text back and forth over the course of a month or so until we finally figure out a time we can actually make it happen. This time she wanted to get some of her and her boys (I’m including Ben in that statement). Mama T mixed me up a cocktail and we wandered a few blocks away to the railroad tracks. We were lucky enough to have a train pass by which is awesome because trains seem to fill Jackson with equal parts joy and terror. Callum on the other hand was not so impressed. Anyway, here a a few of my favorite from that fine evening.

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Thanks for taking a look and I am hoping I can stay on this more regular posting schedule!
Also, I am trying some new things with the way I post and display the images so let know if anything displays funny.

Velma Lakes

Anyone that was even remotely close to the West Coast this summer will recall the massive amounts of smoke. After a few weeks of that nonsense Erin and I decided to see if we could get away from it for the day with a change in elevation. We chose to head out into the Desolation Wilderness and take a dip in one of the lakes that make up the trinity of Velmas. The lakes sit at about 8000′ and that was enough to get some fresh air into our lungs. I of course lugged the camera around and snapped a few photos.

Tahoe Engulfed

Tahoe Engulfed

Middle Velma

Middle Velma

Middle Velma 2

Middle Velma 2

Escher In Granite

Escher In Granite

Thanks for stopping by!

Backyard Sunsets

Not that it has been an especially difficult winter here this year, in fact, it has been very un-wintery. But I stumbled across this photo and it got me dreaming about summer. Growing up in Las Vegas summers meant waking up at 5:00am to stock cinder block (or whatever other college motivating job my Dad would get me). In Las Vegas it is 90 degrees by 5:00am. This would continue until the last month of summer which consisted of getting up at 5:00am to go run sprints and other fun stuff followed by eating and sleeping followed by more sprints and fun stuff at noon followed by more eating and sleeping followed by more fun, eating, and sleeping. And when I say fun I mean absolute vomit inducing misery.
In Reno, as an adult (or so they tell me) summer is quite different. While there is the occasional physical suffering it is usually self inflicted and voluntary. But my favorite part is the evenings. Reno gets pretty hot but the second the sun starts going down and the breeze picks up it is absolutely glorious. Not to mention there is nothing like the sunsets in the desert.

Flying Saucer Clouds (technical term) (click of larger)

Flying Saucer Clouds (technical term) (click of larger)

The above photo is a 28 photo panorama looking East from my backyard while drinking a beer.

Hope everyone is making the best of their snowless winter.