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

Backpacking Golden Gate Canyon Trails‏

July 11th, 2008 · No Comments

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My backpacking trip to Golden Gate Canyon State Park was fantastic. Everything went perfectly — until I got home and tried to load the 200-plus photographs from my camera into my computer.

One little complication like that can take hours of troubleshooting. This one sure did.

Eventually, I realized that the program I was using on my Macs that is called iPhoto stopped working when it came to some pictures that I had saved in RAW (uncompressed) form after my previous hike. I keep trying to improve my photographic skills, and shooting in RAW form seemed to be the next step. That goes with using a more powerful computer program, which is what I had to do anyway to get at the pictures that I took yesterday and today.

I am attracted to the new $3,000 Nikon D700 single-lens reflex camera, but before I spend that kind of money on my little hobby, I decided to get the most out of my Panasonic Lumix camera. Again, I almost ran out of space on the camera’s memory chip and power with the battery. So I ordered extra ones as soon as I got home.

The more powerful program that I started to use today is Aperture 2. It has a rather steep learning curve like Photoshop, although not quite as bad. Still, it took me as long to edit the pictures today as it did to hike out of the Golden Gate Canyon State Park. I so far I have only learned how to crop the pictures and send them in a smaller size to fit on your computer monitor. I have no idea yet how to use this program to fix a photo by sharpening the image, adjusting the contrast, reducing haze — all of which I didn’t need to do with these pictures anyway.

When I hiked different trails to and from Frazer Meadow last Friday, I was delighted to see the Appalachian-style shelter less than a mile up the hill. I determined then, as I wrote, to overnight at the shelter. That meant not having to carry my tent, reducing the load on my back and shoulders from 45 pounds to about 40.

Not only was the shelter the perfect accommodation for me but the weather was equally outstanding. While it reached 95 degrees in Boulder today, it was just pleasantly warm up at the 9,200 elevation of Frazer Meadow. Even last night never got down to shivering weather.

Since the shelters are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, I knew that I had to the park headquarters early. So I got up at 5 and made my reservation in the “after-hours” book by 6:30 and got to the trailhead near Rifleman Phillips Campground by 7. I took the Snowshoe Hare Trail on a round-about loop. The first couple of hours on the trail was mostly scrub pine and few flowers until I neared Dude’s Fishing Hole, shown here:

Dude\'s Fishing Hole

Dude's Fishing Hole

That trail connected to another steep trail, the northern end of Mule Deer Trail. Was I ever pleased finally to arrive at the shelter, my home away from home!

After hanging my food by a rope in a nearby tree (to make it safe from bears), the order of the day was to take a nap. Because of the breeze and with the help of insect repellant, no bugs bothered me as I lay on top of my sleeping bag.

I made sure to read the entries in the shelter’s log book and to make my own entry. Keeping out of the midday heat, I read for an hour in my current trail book, Jack London’s Call of the Wild. What a luxury to have more than enough time to do everything that I wanted to do! Even my last two backpacking trips got me to the campsite so late in the day that I had time only to pitch the tent and prepare dinner.

When it had cooled off nicely I walked down to Frazer Meadow, hoping to see more of the irises on the meadow, which were there in profusion just six days earlier. But they were all gone! This is another example of why I am going out so often to see the beauties of nature in this season.

On the way back from the meadow I stopped at the spring to fill my collapsible water container. This is probably the same spring that John Frazer used when he homesteaded here in 1869.

Back at the shelter I purified the water with the newest hi-tech device, which uses ultraviolet light to disinfect water. This high-frequency light damages the DNA of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa like giardia, which seems to be everywhere. The device is small, light — and expensive. This was the first time I had used it, since on my backpacking trip to Fern Lake, I didn’t find a satisfactory source.

My dinner wasn’t my typical low-carb diet. None of the low-carb freeze-dried dinners that I have tried are any good. My favorites by far are those from “Mary Janes Farm.” Mary Jane Butters is an Idaho farmer who I worked with years ago when she grew the only organic chana dal. Her “Kettle Chili,” with 37 grams of available carbohydrate was my dinner last night. Excellent and in fact good enough to eat at home some times. But it alone was near my daily limit of 45-50 grams of available carbohydrate.

After dinner at about 7 I walked down to the meadow again. I am seldom out in nature at that time of day, when the light can be beautiful, if it’s not overcast.

Then again this morning as soon as the first rays of the sun climbed over the mountains I wanted to see the meadow again, this time to take advantage of the beautiful light of early morning. Here is the meadow and the remnants of John Frazer’s cabin from the trail to the spring:

Frazer Meadow and Frazer\'s Cabin

Frazer Meadow and Frazer's Cabin

The trail to the spring wanders through a lovely grove of aspens:

Near the Spring

Near the Spring

The whole time I was gone I only saw one party of horseback riders, a solitary jogger, and two hikers on the trail. Nice to be be able to go to the mountains during the week!

More than making up for the absence of people, were millions of flowers and their pollinators. Here are a few of them from yesterday and today:

Whether this is a Moth or a Butterfly, It\'s Beautiful!

Whether this is a Moth or a Butterfly, It's Beautiful!

A Different Type of Beautiful Moth -- or Butterfly

A Different Type of Beautiful Moth -- or Butterfly

I Never Saw Anything Like This Flower Before!

I Never Saw Anything Like This Flower Before!

Nor This Beauty!

Nor This Beauty!

A Ladybug and Fly Share the Work

A Ladybug and Fly Share the Work

These Flowers aren\'t Rare, but I Don\'t Know Their Name

These Flowers aren't Rare, but I Don't Know Their Name

The Coralroot Orchid is Fortunately not as Rare as I Once Thought

The Coralroot Orchid is Fortunately not as Rare as I Once Thought

Just a Blanket Flower

Just a Blanket Flower

The Strange and Beautiful Shooting Star

The Strange and Beautiful Shooting Star

Paintbrushes are Everywhere -- and I Love Them!

Paintbrushes are Everywhere -- and I Love Them!

Still, Nothing\'s More Beautiful than a Columbine

Still, Nothing's More Beautiful than a Columbine

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Posted in: Backpacking, Photography

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