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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Coot Lake‏

October 25th, 2008 · 3 Comments

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The diabetes support group met at my apartment this morning. We are a group of men committed to controlling our diabetes with a very low-carb diet. We limit the group to nine men, and six of us participated in this month’s meeting. One member of the group who is working on his dissertation about diabetes and depression at Naropa University here led a spirited discussion on the topic today.

But even before our group met this morning, I managed to get out before sunrise for my regular hike and photo shoot. This is certainly the best time for landscape photography. Also for our bodies. Years ago my sister told me that when we do our exercise at the beginning of the day it sets us up nicely for the whole rest of the day, and my experience bears out her recommendation.

I arrived at Coot Lake, just north of Boulder Reservoir, slightly before sunrise and had enough time to set up my tripod. This time I remembered to do everything that I knew — to adjust the white balance to the shade setting, to turn off the image stabilizer, to lock up the mirror, and to set the self-timer to 10 seconds, since somebody told me recently that vibration might not stop soon enough with the 2-second stetting that I had been using.

I have the top of the line Gitzo GT1550T Traveler 6x tripod on order. It weighs 2.2 pounds, light enough for me to carry on long hikes. Meanwhile, I used my clunky 4 pound tripod to hold my camera steady for the first shot below. I took it at 1/10 of a second at f/5 and ISO 400, which simply would not have worked without a tripod.

Sunrise over Coot Lake

Sunrise over Coot Lake

When the sun came up, I put the heavy tripod away and made the 2.5 mile loop around the lake. This hike benefited from two changes.

The chest pack that I bought at the same time I got my new camera will work fine for me on long hikes where I have to take my day pack in order to carry stuff like raingear, headlamp, emergency blanket, and a GPS. But it’s a lot to carry on short hikes, like the one this morning.

While I was researching tripods earlier this week, I ran across a much better solution for carrying all my camera gear plus a bottle of water. It is a sling that goes over my right shoulder and also uses a waist strap. An added benefit is that nothing goes over my arthritic left shoulder.

These “sling packs…carry like backpacks, but swing to the front for quick access to photo gear without removing them,” according to the manufacturer’s website (

My New Sling

My New Sling

A camera store in town sells them, and I bought one a couple of days ago. It worked today exactly as advertised.

The other big change in my hiking life today was to use hand warmers for the first time. My hands have been getting awfully cold when I have to remove my gloves to take pictures, particularly when I have to set up a tripod in the freezing pre-dawn temperatures that I have to deal with on most days.

The Heat Factory hand warmers ( ) made my hands much happier today when I put them in my gloves after baring my hands to take pictures. These disposable packs of iron powder, active carbon, water, vermiculite, and salt really work.

Hand Savers

Hand Savers

As I continued around the lake — in total comfort — the sun came up.

Coot Lake

Coot Lake

The Wet Lands

The Wet Lands

The Front Range above Boulder Reservoir

The Front Range above Boulder Reservoir

Following the hike around Coot Lake and then the diabetes support group meeting, three of the group walked over to our favorite Nepalese restaurant. I had a tasty and healthy meal including chicken curry, saag paneer, and okra.

This leads me to reflect how lucky I am to have diabetes. If I had never got diabetes, I certainly would not be hiking as much as I am now. The hikes take me where I see beautiful sights to photograph. With all the exercise I get and the good food that I eat I control my diabetes. This makes me healthier than ever. No wonder that I am a happy man.


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Posted in: Hiking, Photography

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tom Whitney // May 24, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    I love your attitude. As a photographer who lives on the road up to Mauna Kea on Hawaii island, I think I will try out your scheme, as I have been putting off doing any exercising. I am a member of a long-term diabetes support group at the bay Clinic here in Hilo and we have started doing fun things in a local park once a month. We have invited a woman who does drum circles, and have a guy in June who grew up and was inspired by Spiderman comic books and has an exercise routine. We have a 70-year old woman who leads our exercises. We have great healthy pot lucks.
    And this week I am putting my entry together for our Hilo Photography Club Photo Expo, an annual event.
    It so happens that the president of the club is a person with diabetes. I will tell him about you.
    I am sure we will talk again.

    Tom Whitney
    So you can see that I had an attitude

  • 2 David Mendosa // May 25, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Dear Tom,

    Then my posts on “Fitness and Photography for Fun” worked exactly as I hoped! So far, I have written 289 photo essays about my hikes and other exercise with the intention of inspiring other people with diabetes to help control the condition with exercise that is fun for them so they will continue. I wrote more about my intentions at and hope that you and all the members of your diabetes support group will read it and my other articles here and at

    Thanks for writing.


  • 3 Jorge // Oct 11, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Great info. Lucky me I discovered your site by chance (stumbleupon).

    I have saved as a favorite for later!

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