I wanted to create a camping scene that conveys one of those perfect nights in the mountains with a campfire and good company. I think it turned out pretty good!
On a warm August weekend I went camping with some friends at a high mountain lake in Idaho.
We like to take our son and dog for hikes in a nice 27 acre natural area, near our house, called Wyakin Park. Our little boy loves running and exploring, so I had to act quickly to set up these shots before he would run off.
Song: San Blas
Artist: Holy Coast
Album: Self Titled
Night time-lapse of wilderness camping in Montana at Cliff Lake. Rock Peak is the main mountain in the background. I took a 20 second exposure at a 30 second interval for three hours (11pm-2am) with an 18mm lens at f/3.5 and 2,000 ISO.
Song: Something Elated
Artist: Broke For Free
Album: Something EP
Other than the precarious drive up the mountain, Cliff Lake is far too easy to get to. Easy, nearly flat, 1+ mile hike. The Northwest had a very low snow pack this year but there was still a little snow up there when we went. About half of the hike was over snow. The weather was perfect and we caught an amazing sunset. Once it got dark we lit up the campfire and I set up the camera to take the time-lapse above. Although it looks like the sunrise in the video, it’s actually the moonrise.
Took a quick trip up to Gem Lake with Tyson and my dog. There was a lot more snow than we anticipated. The original plan was to hike/camp at Lake Estelle but snow was blocking the road about 11 miles up Trestle Creek Rd. So we backtracked and took Lighting Creek Rd which was blocked about 18 miles in. Plan B kicked in and we hiked up to Gem Lake since we were right at that trailhead.
The trail was covered with snow for about half of it’s length but the snow was stable so the hiking was pretty easy. Once we reached Gem Lake we got lucky and found just enough level ground without snow to fit our tents. We hoped to see the full moon that night but it was too cloudy. Then next morning we woke up to rain and decided to hike out.
It’s always fun when I can use some of my climbing & hiking photography in my design work. This is the front page of the Huckleberry’s Natural News & Savings for June, 2014. It’s an 8 page savings guide that we do every month. The photo is from a backpacking trip I took in Montana. I will not disclose the exact location 😉
Somehow, seven old friends (and one 13 year old) were able to coordinate enough time off to get together and hike an amazing loop in the Cabinets of Montana for 4 days. Here’s the breakdown and a bunch of photos.
Wednesday, July 17th
I picked up Healy after work and along with my dog we drive to the Baree Lake trailhead via Silver Butte Pass. We meet up with Stangle, his son, Garcia, Lunzer and Armstrong. There’s already a campfire going when Healy and I arrive. We have a couple beers and go to sleep.
Thursday, July 18th
We all get up early (except Lunzer), hike up to the lake and set up camp. Lunzer sleeps in and hikes up alone, hours later. There’s plenty of room for all of us. Fish jumping all day. Lots of mosquitos. The water is surprisingly warm. I swim several times. Catch and release a few fish.
The Legend of the Magnet Was Way Hardcore
Somehow, a very heavy industrial strength magnet made it’s way into little Stangel’s backpack. This thing weighed 2 or 3 lbs. Everyone knows that this magnet will be snuck into someone else’s pack for the hike to Bear Lakes.
Baker is supposed to meet us if he can get off work early enough. He and I have two-way radios so I check on it periodically. Finally, after dinner I hear my radio crack. It’s Baker and it looks like he’ll make it to the lake before dark.
Half of the group wants to stay at Baree Lake another day instead of hiking up to Bear Lakes. I decide that if we’re staying another day, that I’m hiking up to the peak that overlooks the lake. The Stangels and Garcia vow to go too.
Friday, July 19th
Stangel 1 & 2, Garcia and I get up not so early and hike up to the junction with the Cabinet Divide Trail. Baker hikes halfway just to check out the trail. We decide to hike a little ways up and down the Cabinet Divide Trail just to see what we’re in for tomorrow. After trail hiking a bit, we bushwack a little and hike up to the peak. Glorious views to be had. We eat lunch and hang out for a while before hiking back down.
The Legend of the Magnet Continues – On Top of Baree Peak
Nick carried the Magnet to the peak. The legend of the Magnet was way hardcore.
More swimming and fishing. Caught a frog. It’s amazing up here.
Saturday, July 20th
The Legend of the Magnet Continues – Garcia Gets Duped
I wake up super early and find the giant magnet. I hide it in my pack, waiting for my moment. Once everyone is nearly packed I plan on hiding it in some sucker’s backpack. Garcia leaves his pack unattended for a moment and I spring into action. It doesn’t work. Garcia sees me put the Magnet in his pack, so he takes it out and gives it back to the younger Stangel, then leaves his pack unattended again. Young Stangel immediately puts the Magnet back in Garcia’s pack. Garcia has no idea. Garcia teases him about carrying the Magnet the whole hike, not realizing he is the sucker.
“How does that Magnet feel in your pack?”
“Like it’s not even there!”
The Cabinet Divide Trail is awesome. Great views everywhere you look. Easy hiking along a high mountain ridge. It’s great.
We hit the junction to Bear Lakes and the views keep getting better. Eventually the trail drops down a series of switchbacks and we find our way to one of the Little Bear Lakes. Most of us really want to get to Big Bear Lake. I remembered reading that we needed make our way around the little lake on a talus slope. Big mistake. We did that, and had an epic bushwack down to Big Bear Lake. Sprained ankles, blisters etc. It was not the best route.
Big Bear Lake is incredibly beautiful. Stangel said he saw a cabin on a cliff overlooking the lake. After setting up camp a few of us go check it out. This cabin has the best view ever. It’s locked up, quite nice and there isn’t really a trail to it. We have no idea why it’s there.
I go swimming and take a nap. Some of the guys go cliff jumping into the lake. It’s a really beautiful place. A few fish are caught and we decide to cook them up. Delicious Alpine Lake Cutthroat Trout! After dinner, the moon comes out and we watch it for hours. I take a midnight dip in the moonlight and get a moontan. I’m definitely hiking back to this lake someday.
Sunday, July 21
We get up early to pack up and hike out. We find the trail out of Big Bear Lake. That’s definitely the way to go. Hiking out was fairly uneventful. Young Stangel carries the Magnet out. We all meet in Sandpoint for lunch and talk about the trip. The word “EPIC” keeps coming up. It really was.
Looking through old photos and found this pic of my ’64 El Camino parked at a secret trailhead in Montana. Good car, good memories. It had a rebuilt 230 cu in straight-six and it originally had a three speed manual column shifter (“three-on-the-tree”), but I replaced that with a standard four speed manual (“four on the floor!”). It looked nice but it wasn’t a hot rod.
Sadly, I wrecked this car pretty bad on a different backpacking trip. Long story short: I was ejected from the vehicle (out the door – not through the window) and totaled the car. Major concussion, broken nose, fractured jaw, fractured sinus cavity, ocular lacerations dangerously close to my eye, 80 mile ambulance ride and two full days in the hospital. I recovered fully and only have a barely noticeable scar under my right eye. I may revisit this story sometime in fuller detail, but for now – look at that cool car!
Camping up at the Quartz Mountain Fire Lookout. We hiked over to Horse Mountain and drank and played frisbee till the sun went down. Here’s Ken keeping the sun up for us a little bit longer.
Some of you might know that I do all the design work for Huckleberry’s Natural Market. It’s work that I thoroughly enjoy. They’re a great company with a great mission:
“to produce for and provide our customers with the best tasting, most healthful food possible and to pledge a commitment to social and environmental responsibility.“
Today’s ad (above) features a photo I took years ago on a backpacking trip with my friend James. Nothing pleases me more than getting to use some of my adventure photography for commercial use (insert comment about selling out as an artist here), and then bragging about it on my website!
James and I were camped at a little lake for a couple of days before we decided to spend the last night up on the ridge. We hauled everything (including a few gallons of water) up to a great meadow on the ridge and made camp. The views were beautiful and we could see for miles. It was different camping up high on a ridge vs. by a lake in a valley. We had no access to water and we were severely exposed to incoming weather.
Late that afternoon we noticed very dark and ominous clouds approaching our location. We gathered as much firewood as we could to prepare for rain. We burned all of it waiting for the storm, then we called it a night. Half an hour later we had access to fresh running water in the form of a stream running through James’ tent. Thunder and lighting was cracking and flashing all around us. The sound of the wind and rain was like a freight train. A few hours into it I had to go to the bathroom. I was a little worried to leave the “safety” of my tent, but when nature calls you answer. I only walked a few feet away from my tent because the visibility was almost zero. I turned around to look at my tent and I could barely make it out in the “fog”. We were literally inside of a thunderhead cloud. The moisture was thick as smoke. I took a leak quickly and hurried back to my tent. The rest of the night was spent sleeping lightly in between loud thunder claps.
It was still raining the next morning. We somehow managed to get a fire going using James’ wet wood fire starting skills. The fire was nice but nothing could dry us out in that rain. We solemnly packed up all of our wet gear and bushwacked our way down the mountain for hours in the rain. 10 years later I scanned in some old backpacking photos and put one in a natural market ad. Totally worth it.