Canyonlands Needles District

5.13.08: UPDATED WITH 4X5 PHOTOS

This last weekend I went backpacking in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. After shelling out 25 bucks for entrance and permit fees, I set off into the “wild”. Is it just me or do national parks feel like nature amusement parks? All the regulations and designated trails and campspots definitely spoil the notion of being out in the wilderness. But these areas are national parks for a reason – they are undeniably spectacular!

Here are some DP1 digital photos from the trip, as well as a few 4×5 film ones.

Canyonlands Needles District

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Dreaming of Summer

It’s April, it’s snowing, and we still have two more months of snowboarding ahead (this is a good thing). But as each day passes I’ve been thinking more and more about summertime. Here’s a few photos from a backpacking trip I did last summer in the San Juan Mountains near Durango, Colorado.

Pigeon Peak

Lily on the lookout for marmots. Lilly carries all her own stuff, and even some of my stuff too! What a team player.

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Winter Camping in the West Needles

Winter Camping

Lured by a full moon and a forecast of clear skies, this last weekend I went backpacking for two nights in the West Needle Mountains in the San Juans near Silverton, Colorado. This area is incredibly photogenic; from my campsite on a 12,200 ft ridgeline, I enjoyed broad vistas of the Needle Mountains, the West Needles, and all the peaks of the Molas Pass area.

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The Igloo Experiment

igloo.jpg

This weekend my friends Momo and Pavel drove up from New Mexico to go winter camping with me.  Our plan was to try out this new Igloo making tool that I recently bought.  The tool is specially made for constructing igloos – it is basically a curved box attached to a pole which is staked in the center.  You rotate the box around the center radius and keep packing snow into it to form perfect blocks, spiraling up layer upon layer and adjusting the pole to preset lengths as you go, eventually forming a perfectly egg-shaped igloo.  Simple enough in theory.

We hiked up about 1600 feet above Ouray and at 2:30pm started building the igloo on a flat ledge with a nice vista to the west.  The manufacturers claim a 3 hours build time, so just to be safe I was planning on 4 hours (after all we had three people).  Well, long story short, it took us 8 hours to build this damn thing!  It was pretty nerve-wracking when we realized how long it was taking, since we were depending on the igloo shelter for our warmth in the bitter cold night.  Plus we were never quite sure whether it would really work or not. We could have always just packed up and followed our tracks back down to the truck, but we were pretty exhausted from the hike up, and were determined to make this thing work.  Well, with headlamps and a large dose of stubborn determination, we finally completed the entire igloo at 10:30 at night.

Though the igloo took a surprisingly huge amount of effort to build, it really was pretty awesome when it was done.  Outside was blowing snow, with temps in the single digits, but inside the igloo was calm, peaceful, and relatively warm.  Too bad we didn’t have much time to enjoy it, as we all pretty much immediately got into our sleeping bags and crashed for the night.

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