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Yosemite High Country Expedition
September 2007

As a teenager I had three opportunities to back pack in the Yosemite High County, but had not been backpacking there for 39 years.  My friend and photographic guide and workshop leader, Steve Kossack, has led expeditions to the Yosemite High Country for a number of years.  I had looked admiringly at the photos that have come from those trips and thought about going for the last couple of years.  This year with some encouragement from Steve I decided to go.  This is not your typical photographic workshop where there is a lot of driving between locations and short hikes.  This would be a nearly 60 mile trek at altitudes from 7200' to 10300' with a 40 pound pack.  The thing that makes this trip reasonable is staying at the Yosemite High County Camps.  These are canvas tents with cots and a central dining area that are open for usually only a couple of months in the summers.  They provide hot meals for breakfast and supper and an optional trail lunch during the day as well as shelter and a bed.  This makes it possible to bring some photographic gear instead of the food and camping gear that would normally be necessary for this kind of trip.  The only catch is that you have to make the hike each day to the next camp or you go hungry and cold.  As this was well beyond my normal level of physical activity some training was necessary.  I started hiking and walking with my pack about 3 months prior to the trip.  That made a big difference for me as I was able to do the hiking required and still be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and be eager to photograph it.  Our daily treks ranged from 6.5 to 10 miles with as much as 3000' elevation gain in one day.  We ended up with 6 people on the trip and had a wonderful time.

Fletcher Creek Reflection

The photograph above shows the western side of Vogelsang Peak during our hike from Merced Lake to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp.  It was taken with a Canon Digital Rebel XTi with Canon 17-85mm IS zoom at 20mm and ISO 100.

Here are a few of the images from the trip.  I hope you enjoy them.  For a look at the rest of my images from this trip click here.

Here is a link to an essay I wrote for Steve Kossack's web site about preparing for this trip and how I decided what photo equipment to bring.  What to wear to the Party?

Glen Aulin Sunset

Tuolemne River with Alpinglow from Glen Aulin. Canon Digital Rebel XTi with Canon 17-85mm IS zoom at 30mm and ISO 100.  (3 shot stitched panorama.) The subtle colors that occur after sunset seem more relaxing than those of the bright sunlight.  This was taken from a ridge above our first camp looking down into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolemne River.

Pluto Point

Yosemite Valley and Half Dome from Pluto Point. Canon Digital Rebel XTi with Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS L zoom at 93mm and ISO 100.  (3 shot stitched panorama.) It was a surprise to come around a corner on the trail and find Yosemite Valley spread out below.  This uncommon view of the valley was after dropping about 1500' from May Lake and then climbing even higher on a series of steep switch backs.  The view was certainly worth it and it was a great place for lunch.

Sunrise Meadow

Sunset from Sunrise Meadow. Canon Digital Rebel XTi with Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS L zoom at 97mm and ISO 100.  (5 shot stitched panorama.) Sunrise Camp looks over the Sunrise Meadow.  Usually still green at this time of year, but suffering from 7 years of drought at this point.  It was so dry that drinking water was being hauled in on mules.

Merced Lake

Merced Lake Reflections with alpinglow. Canon Digital Rebel XTi with Canon 17-85mm IS zoom at 17mm and ISO 100. From Sunrise to Merced Lake was our longest day even though it was almost all down hill.  We were rewarded with this peaceful and calming scene the next morning just before sunrise.

Fletcher Lake

Fletcher Lake with Vogelsang Peak in the background in alpinglow. Canon Digital Rebel XTi with Canon 17-85mm IS zoom at 17mm and ISO 800. Just a few hundred yards from our final camp, this typical High Sierra lake looks like it just pours off the edge of the world at the far shore.