Kevin's Hiking Page    
     

About This Site

This site has grown and evolved in many ways over the years to reach its current state. This page will hopefully answer some of the questions you may have about this site.

Origin: It all started innocently enough with a trip to Yosemite back in '95. I'd hiked occasionally before, in the park behind my parents' house, even a couple short backpacking trips in summer camp. But that hike up to the top of Vernal Falls started it all. I brought along a point-and-shoot camera (my first camera, recently purchased) and took some pictures. I think what gave me the idea to pursue photography was my picture of the Emerald Pool at the top of Vernal Falls.

Purpose: The purpose of this site is threefold:

  • It's a journal of the hikes for myself, my friends, and the people on the hikes
  • It's a way of sharing these special places with words and pictures for people who may not otherwise visit them
  • Many people have found this site useful in planning their own trips, and I try to provide some information that can be of use to them

Distances: Hike distances are calculated from guide books, maps, trail signs, or a combination of all three. Generally, not all three will agree, so your mileage may vary. :)

Climbing: The amount of climbing is the total climbing done, including ups and downs. So if you climb 500 feet, then go down 200 feet, then up 300 feet, that's 800 feet of climbing. This is a better measure of a hike's difficulty than simply taking the highest point and subtracting the elevation of the lowest point. That's why my numbers are generally more than what you find in guide books. The numbers I state are generally based on an altimeter I've taken on the hike. In older hikes, this was the Vertech Alpine altimeter. More recently, I've been using the Suunto Altimax.

Times: The hiking times are listed mainly because I'm the kind of person who likes to keep track of everything. I actually compute gas mileage for every tank of gas I use (well, I wrote a program to do it for me). In any case, you may find the times useful in comparing the length of two different hikes. Don't expect to go the same speed as me, though. I obviously stop a lot to take pictures, and I don't take that into account with the times I list. I'll never set any speed records.

Photography: A lot of people ask me about my photography equipment. So here's a detailed look at what I usually carry with me:

  • Sony Alpha A700 Digital SLR
  • Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens
  • Minolta 100mm macro lens
  • Minolta 100-300mm zoom lens
  • Minolta 5600HS flash
  • Stitz tripod (3 pounds)
  • Filters: polarizing filter, graduated neutral-density filter

Sometimes I'll leave behind one or two lenses and/or the flash if I don't think I'm going to use it. I've used a Sony Alpha A700 since June 2008. Before that, I used a Minolta Maxxum 7 Digital SLR since August 2005, mostly with a Minolta 24-105 zoom lens. Before that, I used the Minolta Maxxum 7 since November 2000, with Fuji Velvia 50 slide film. I also used Fuji Provia 400F in a Maxxum 5 body, usually with my 100mm macro or 100-300mm zoom lens, for close-ups or for pictures of moving targets (like birds). My scanner of choice is the Nikon LS-2000 slide scanner. Older hikes have been photographed with (in chronological order going backwards): Minolta Maxxum 600si, Pentax ME-Super, Minolta Freedom Zoom Explorer, Olympus Infinity Stylus. I made the switch from print to slide film in October 1999.

Hike Descriptions: Some people have asked me how I put so much detail into my descriptions. Basically, if it's a day hike, I try to write up the hike that night. If I'm on a multi-day trip or backpacking trip, I'll take some notes each night, and then as soon as I get back home I'll start writing everything up, based on those notes. Most of what you read is stream-of-consciousness with very little editing -- perhaps just one pass after I've written it. Over the years I've tried to add more info which may be of use to people thinking of doing the hikes themselves.

General Commentary: Not that anyone's asked me, but I thought I'd say a few words about hiking and photography. More than anything, this is a question I've asked myself in the past. The question is, does photography enhance or detract from the experience of hiking the trail? I would definitely say it enhances the experience. Yes, it slows me down and I have to think about exposures and other technical details while I'm out there. However, it makes me constantly think about composition and framing, which I think makes me appreciate my surroundings more. I think of it as being akin to music. Anyone, for example, can hear classical music and enjoy it. However, to truly appreciate the music, you really have to listen closely and notice the subtleties like canons and recurring themes and such. When I'm hiking and thinking about photography, I'm always looking around, asking myself what excites me, what images do I enjoy seeing. And it makes me enjoy it more. This isn't the perfect analogy, but...go take your favorite music CD and listen to it with a good quality set of headphones. You'll enjoy it more, I guarantee it -- because you'll be listening more closely.

See also Hiking Q & A.

If you have any questions which haven't been answered here, feel free to contact me.




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