Monday, July 28, 2008

Deception Creek, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Over the weekend I hiked along the Deception Creek trail. Unlike many of the trails into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area it is relatively lightly traveled, probably because there are no lakes within easy day hiking distance. I was only able to hike in about 2.5 miles because the bridge across Sawyer Creek was down.

While I was at the bridge, 2 men were working on rebuilding it. Extensive trail work, removing downed trees and building up wet areas, had been done this year on the first 2 miles of trail. By next year, this should be a very nice trail indeed if windstorms and floods do not remove the improvements.

This is a good summer hike through old-growth forest but not usually wet. I saw lots of bunch berries in bloom.

I liked this bridge over Deception Creek about 1/2 mile from the trailhead.

And the view from the bridge:

Besides myself and the 2 men working on the bridge, I saw only 1 set of backpackers who camped just before the downed bridge. There were a few mosquitoes but not many and few flies. The weather was dry with alternating sun and clouds and cool enough that hiking was very pleasant. I'm looking forward to hiking this trail again once the Sawyer Creek bridge is repaired.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Digital camera for hiking

I want a new digital camera to take pictures when I'm hiking. I have an older digital camera but I take such poor pictures with it I've given up and went back to my 35mm with a zoom lens. With it, I can take pictures which satisfy me. I haven't bought a new digital mainly because I haven't been able to decide on a balance of features, mainly zoom, and size and price. I don't want to spent money on another camera I won't use because I can't get a decent picture. However, I look at hiking photos posted on blogs such as 2 Heel Drive and Walks with Moss, and I am envious of their pictures and the ability to post immediately rather than when I get my film developed.

I think I've found a camera with a blend of features I want, the Cannon PowerShot SX100 IS. It has a 10x optical zoom, uses AA batteries, is reasonably compact, and is in my price range. It is bigger than I would like but about the size of my current digital and 35mm cameras. It won't be as weather resistant as some cameras but I do intend to protect it to a reasonable degree. I also like the Panasonic Lumix TZ5 but not the proprietary battery. I wish it had an optical viewfinder but none of the cameras I've seen in this price and zoom range have one.

Any other suggestions? I want zoom, compact, and easy to use. Standard batteries and memory cards are a plus. I would like rugged but don't need waterproof. I also should state I am not a serious photographer, I don't hike to take photos, I take photos to remind me of my hike.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Yellowstone National Park - hiker friendly?

I love hiking in Yellowstone National Park, I hike there every year, but I have noticed that YNP seems less hiker friendly than other Parks I hike in such as Glacier, Grand Teton, or Canyonlands. YNP isn't hiker unfriendly but the park administration seems to be less hiker friendly than other similar parks.

The most noticeable difference is that the YNP map does not show hiking trails. I know that YNP is a large park and showing the trails on the park map is not adequate for hiking. However, other parks do show major trails on park maps and the GTR Recreational Map for YNP and Teton shows the trails for both parks. Having the trails shown on the park map can be useful for general planning. I've hiked in Glacier Park less than one quarter of the amount I've hiked in YNP and met more rangers on trails in Glacier who were politely interested in my hike and what animals I had seen. Trailheads in YNP are not always well marked and may have little information about conditions. Also, trail maintenance for at least some trails is poor, bridges fail and are not replaced, trail markers are not replaced or put back up. When I've asked about trails at in YNP, I have sometimes gotten out of date information or been steered toward boardwalks instead of the backcountry. On the positive side, recently I've seen more new trail markers and fallen logs are removed each spring.

I don't wish to be critical of YNP's administration. I know the park has a limited budget and a lot of drains on that budget. The park administration must try to balance conflicting requirement, wildlife and natural resource management against human safety and human desire to see the marvels of YNP and its wildlife. Yet Glacier Park has similar safety issues and manages to appear more hiker friendly. Most visitors do not hike any distance away from the main roads but stay on boardwalks if any walking is done; maybe that is why less resources are given to hikers.

I not alone in feeling YNP is less hiker friendly than other parks, I've heard other hikers also express the sentiment. I wonder if YNP's administration is aware of this perception and if it is deliberate?