The hike out, down Cottonwood Canyon.  ©http://backpackthesierra.com

Photos from some of our 2015 hikes.  Above: Cottonwood Springs in Death Valley.  As always, if you click on the photos, they will take you to our trip photo logs on Picasa.
Camping at 13,000 feet in the Cordillera Blanca region of the Andes in Peru
Nice view, huh?   ©http://backpackthesierra.com

Below, Roosevelt Lake in the northern part of Yosemite 

As is the lake ©http://backpackthesierra.com

Pioneer Basin in the John Muir Wilderness

Mt. Crocker  ©http://backpackthesierra.com

Humphreys Basin out of North Lake trailhead

And evening light comes again   ©http://backpackthesierra.com

Upon reflection...

posted Nov 24, 2015, 9:12 PM by Paul Wagner

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and continuing our series of favorite photos from the trips we've taken, here are reflections in the placid lakes of the High Sierra:

  Red Peak as the sun goes down.©backpackthesierra.com   The cove near our camp©http://backpackthesierra.com

        Devils' Punchbowl, John Muir Wilderness             Lower Ottoway Lake, Yosemite  

Peskl 9250 upside down.©backpackthesierra.comThe outlet.©http://backpackthesierra.com

            Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness                 Robinson Lakes, Yosemite

Gem Lake, Emigrant Wilderness            Cinko Lake, Hoover Wilderness                      
First stop: Wood Lake, an old favorite. We actually heard someone here...but we hadn't seen any people at all for two or three days...©http://backpackthesierra.com    perfect reflection at dawn at Emeric Lake©http://backpackthesierra.com

        Woods Lake, Emigrant Wilderness                        Emeric Lake Yosemite 

The next morning, we're off down the Fernandez trail to Vandeburg Lake©http://backpackthesierra.comHe had lots of time to take photos,...as he never saw a fish. Only pollywogs. ©http://backpackthesierra.com

 Leighton Lake, Emigrant Wilderness                        Iceland Lake, Emigrant Wilderness

  Stella Lake was beautiful! ©http://backpackthesierra.com   Our favorite tree at Altha©http://backpackthesierra.com  
Stella Lake, Hoover Wilderness                       Altha Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness            

And he also caught this shot from the lake shore ©http://backpackthesierra.comAs is the lake ©http://backpackthesierra.com

        Lower Sardine Lake, Hoover Wilderness                    Roosevelt Lake, Yosemite

Sunset  ©http://backpackthesierra.com
         Island Lake, Desolation Wilderness


posted Nov 23, 2015, 7:58 AM by Paul Wagner

M hard at work, boiling water in the kitchen.©http://backpackthesierra.com

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA, and we thought we'd take just a minute to mention some of the things we are grateful for: 

Top among those are our apparent good health, and the fact that we have each other and continue to be in love after 38 years of marriage.  We wish all of you the same.

We're also enormously grateful for the fact that we live in a  place and time that allows us to enjoy the beauty of  nature when and where we would like, with wonderful national parks, forests, and wilderness areas. 

And we should mention the many people who have joined us in our celebration of the wilderness, from those on the various backpacking message forums, to those we have taken along on a hike .  We thank you all

Yosemite's Bears

posted Nov 20, 2015, 8:16 AM by Paul Wagner

And just at evening--an ursine visitor, backlit in the sun.©http://backpackthesierra.comWe have been outspoken on this site about the problem with people.  Yes, people.  Bears on their own don't cause problems.  Bears near stupid people cause lots of problems for everyone--including themselves.  The good news is that the public information campaign in Yosemite National Park is really working.  Here's what the story in today's SF Chronicle says:

"The black bears of Yosemite National Park are no longer waltzing into campsites, breaking into cars and scarfing tourist food with impunity under the majestic granite domes and soaring waterfalls.

"Hungry bruins were responsible for only 76 aggressive or destructive incidents in the park this year — the fewest since record-keeping began in 1975, Yosemite officials said Thursday. None of this year’s incidents involved injuries.

"That’s compared with some 1,600 bear-human incidents recorded in the peak year of 1998, a 95 percent decrease."

Want to read more about it?  Here's the link:


Campsites we've loved

posted Nov 18, 2015, 5:30 PM by Paul Wagner

Our tidy little camp.  A bad view of M. sorry.   ©http://backpackthesierra.com
Since we can't get away from work over the next few weeks, we're posting a few photos of our favorite places in the Sierra, including this post of campsites we've used.  The one above is near Island Lake in the Desolation Wilderness...and the weather we so lovely we slept out under the stars.

Here are a few more

Our campsite in the evening   ©http://backpackthesierra.com  

 Golden Trout Lake in Humphrey's Basin    
Our tent at dinner time. ©http://backpackthesierra.com
              Roosevelt Lake in Yosemite                           
    P setting up the tent. ©http://backpackthesierra.com  
        Ten Lakes Basin in Yosemite

Our campsite in the early morning light. ©http://backpackthesierra.com

     Lower Sardine Lake, Hoover Wilderness 


Our camp from the lake.©http://backpackthesierra.com
            Rescue Lake, Yosemite

This was the spot.©http://backpackthesierra.com

          Altha Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness

Back at camp, we sat and admired the view.©http://backpackthesierra.com

            Karls Lake, Emigrant Wilderness 

  Relaxing in camp©http://backpackthesierra.com

                      Smedberg Lake, Yosemite 

  We camped under towering pines.©http://backpackthesierra.com
                Jennie Lake, SEKI

And here is why I asked her to bring me the camera. Looking east from my fishing spot.©backpackthesierra.com

Woods Lake. Emigrant Wilderness 

  early morning at the camp©http://backpackthesierra.com

            Bear Lake, Emigrant Wilderness

  Our camp---and a few shots of the tent I designed and made. It weighs a little over three pounds, and is both water and insect proof!©http://backpackthesierra.com
            Boundary Lake, Yosemite

And her shadow on the rock next to the lake.©http://backpackthesierra.com

            Devil's Punchbowl, John Muir Wilderness  

  Which is here, looking like an ad for Eureka.©http://backpackthesierra.com

          Sword Lake, Carson-Iceberg Wilderness

  Note frost on the grass...and on our noses.©http://backpackthesierra.com

         Long Meadow, Hoover Wilderness

Sonora Pass is closed for the season

posted Nov 17, 2015, 8:34 AM by Paul Wagner

SR 108

Time to review the troops

posted Nov 16, 2015, 10:42 AM by Paul Wagner

With the news full of road closures and snowstorms in the Sierra, now is a great time to review, refresh and re-think your equipment for next year.

We usually take a weekend to pull out every piece of backpacking equipment that we own.  We drag it all out into the center of the living room, and make sure it's all in tip-top shape.  Sometimes a tent needs a leak fixed, or a sleeping bag needs a wash.  The bug juice gets checked to make sure it's still good, as do the medicines and any dried food...

And every year, we find that we've picked up another piece of equipment or two, to replace something that's a bit old, a bit tired, or maybe just a heavier version of the new one. 

And while we keep some of the old equipment just to make sure that we have what we need, we also give some of it away.  We may one girl scout troop very happy a few years ago, when we gave them some old sleeping pads, tents, and bags.  We weren't using them any more, and the scouts were able to enjoy a trip together--even those who couldn't have afforded to buy their own gear. 

We hope you'll do the same this year.  Besides, going through your gear is not only a smart thing to do, it will also give you ideas for planning next year's trips, where you just might need one or two things before you go.

Do it now, and avoid the Christmas rush.  

We have lift-off!

posted Nov 13, 2015, 8:32 AM by Paul Wagner


The last couple of storms actually left some snow in the Sierra, and it looks like its going to stay.  To give you an idea of how this compares to the previous few years, we have been hiking in Yosemite in January without seeing much snow.  Here's a photo P took a couple of years ago of the Saddlebag Lake area just east of Yosemite in late November...with just a powdered sugar dusting of snow at 12,000 feet.  

Twenty Lakes Basin, and Mt. Conness, McCabe Lakes... ©http://backpackthesierra.com

But there is snow up there now!  Here's a link to the camera at the base of Dodge Ridge:

Nice to see snow.  Also nice to see sunshine.  It would be a wonderful day for a hike up there...

Re-Thinking Black Friday

posted Oct 29, 2015, 10:04 AM by Paul Wagner

It was nice to see that REI is going to be closed on Black Friday, encouraging their customers to get outside and do something more entertaining than shopping. 

It's a great idea, and it can't hurt REI much, since the people who would shop at REI are not likely to find similar merchandise at the big box stores and malls that get so much attention on Black Friday. 

If the weather is at all agreeable, we highly recommend a hike in the Sierra.  Some of our favorite day-hikes are perfect for this time of year--it's not too hot, the light is lovely for photographs, and you won't see 1/3 of the people that you might see during the summer months. 

Here's a link to the REI story in USA Today:

And here is another photo of the Sierra in the beautiful light of an autumn day: Hetch-hetchy and a snow shower.

more snow flurries©backpackthesierra.com

Sonora Pass is closed again...

posted Oct 28, 2015, 9:57 AM by Paul Wagner

Winter is coming.  This is the second time this year...

SR 108


Yep.  Those were tough times!   ©http://backpackthesierra.com

Not so Easy

posted Oct 25, 2015, 7:19 AM by Paul Wagner

We've had a few comments about our recent post on bow-drill fire making.  As many people have pointed out, that just one of the "standard practices" that aren't very reliable once you get out in the woods.  So once you've spent days mastering making a fire that way, you might want to use whatever energy you have left to try to signal for help with a small mirror. 


These actually work pretty well for signaling from one mountain top to another--because the bright flash of the mirror is much easier to see WHEN YOU KNOW WHERE TO LOOK FOR IT!

On the other hand, there are innumerable stories of people who tried to signal helicopters and other search parties with a mirror, and found that it simply wasn't a big enough flash to get anyone's attention. 

Colin Fletcher, in his book "The Man Who Walked Through Time" tell of his deep frustration trying to do this.  He also tried a bright red signal flag--also ineffective in the red rock canyons of the Grand Canyon. 

A large blue tarp finally got Colin his food drop--and the rest of his book.

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