Tag Archives: mountain

Dem Dare Hills – Trekking with a Camera

I am an Information Volunteer for the Appalachian Mountain Club.  At their Highland Center in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I recently gave a lecture entitled “Trail Pix: How Not to Let Photography Get in the Way of Backpacking, and How Not to Let Backpacking Get in the Way of Photography”. I have given this talk several times to help amateur photographers understand what equipment is necessary on the trail (these days surprisingly less than in the past) and how to organize your gear to be ready for that fleeting image and yet not be weighed down with extraneous gear.

Though Hikers at Madison

View from Madison Hut

My friend and I were volunteering and hiking as part of the AMC’s President’s Society, a group of like-minded hikers that hike a half-dozen treks each year to different locations in the Whites. The hike that we were on was a 3,700 vertical foot climb to Madison Springs Hut (one of eight AMC huts that do not have road access). The AMC also provides campgrounds, shelters, lodges, etc. that they maintain along with the actual trails. Check them out!

For some of us, hiking is a way to stay fit, enjoy the outdoors, and visit pristine places on this earth that are still available to all for a modest fee, if anything.

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Jade Snow Mountain China

The past several months have been filled with these adventures for us. In China, we hiked Leaping Tiger Gorge along the Yangtze River and then down to several “rice valleys” to visit with the ethnic people of Yunnan Province. In Croatia in late May, we hiked along the Adriatic Sea to out-of the way beaches.


Wild Grasses Colorado

Lone Cone Colorado

In July, it was off to Lone Cone Mountain, near Norwood Colorado where we spent a week living at 8,300 and then trekked up the mountain for three consecutive days up to altitudes topping 11,500 feet. Later in the week, we tackled Engineer Mountain near Durango at a similar altitude, but we started at 10,000 feet.



Returning to the East Coast, we took on several day hikes in Maryland and then a short walk along the beach in Rehoboth, Maryland. We will take another Maryland hike on the Appalachian Trail the last weekend in August.

Mr. Mu’s Mother-in-law China

Much of this is to prepare for a fall trek up a pretty tall mountain in Africa. Workouts in the gym and Yoga sessions round out our training. You will have to read my blog after the African trip to see how we did!

On most all of these hikes I take my DSLR (the serious camera). I make some interesting images that transcend “happy snaps” that most people take on the trail. For me, it is payback for carrying a DLSR and I can preserve the memories of these amazing journeys.



Take a Hike!

The Tour du Mont Blanc

In early July 2011, I spent eight days with five other hikers walking the Tour du Mont Blanc. This hike circumnavigates the mountain – the highest peak in Europe – with forays into France, Italy and Switzerland. Tour du Mont Blanc trails are well within the capabilities of any fit mountain walker as they wind through alpine meadows, over barren cols (mountain passes), into quaint villages, and along ridgelines with breathtaking views. (Mont Blanc right)

There is a great deal of information available about the tour http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_du_Mont_Blanc and a number of guidebooks and web guides that delineate a variety of different trails around Mont Blanc. http://www.rei.com/adventures/trips/europe/alps.html  http://www.walkingthetmb.com/thetourdumontblanc.html

This hike is very popular and it is easy to craft a trip that can be self-guided or set up with a tour company that provides guides. The tour can even be done by bus or taxi if one is incapacitated or has problems walking. There are different levels of effort for different folks – from moderate to strenuous. You can easily do your own research on the web if you want to go.

Additionally, the Mont Blanc tunnel, completed in 1965, is a 11.6 kilometer subterranean road that links Chominix, France to Courmayeur, Italy. The twenty-minute ride is a lot faster than the walk!

The entire area has other attractions for the adventurous. Kayaking, mountain biking, tour biking, and tandem parasailing are a few of the endeavors in the summer season. Of course, skiing dominates the winter months.

Our Trip

Our group generally walked from six to seven hours a day over the course of eight days, with one rest day designated in the middle of the trip. Due to a medical condition, several of my days deviated from the group hike. The days ranged in challenge from strenuous to moderate. Usually it was the day’s ascent that determined the degree of effort and the ascent on some days was 900 to 1000 meters.

The weather was excellent during our trip and we were provided with a wealth of photographic opportunities. The object, as usual, was to keep the photography from interfering with the backpacking, and to keep the backpacking from interfering with the photography. A challenge.

We started (and ended) in Chomonix, France and made our way counter-clockwise around Mont Blanc. At night we either encamped at huts along the trail (left) or stopped in several of the villages in Italy and Switzerland.

Rarely would we walk to or from the village, but start or finish at a trailhead, taking a bus or a train to or from our hikes (other hikers loading up at right).

In addition to Chomonix we stayed at Courmayeur, Italy and Champex, Switzerland.

On the last day we took the cable car from the middle of Chamonix up to the Aiguille du Midi (Needle of the South) for a panoramic view of the French Swiss and Italian Alps at 3800 meters (Scene below).

Here are a few links to websites where we stayed:

Day One — Nant-Borrant dormitory: http://refugenantborrant.lescontamines.com/uk/nuit.html

Day Two — Refuge La Nova, Les Chapieux,  http://www.refugelanova.com/Accueil.html

Day Three and Four — Hotel Miravalle Val Ferret, Courmayeur, Italy  http://www.courmayeur-hotelmiravalle.it/

Day Five — Dormitory: Pension en plein air, Champex, http://www.pensionenpleinair.ch/

Day Six — Hotel de la Forclaz, Trient,  http://www.coldelaforclaz.ch/home.aspx

Day Seven – Hotel La Chaumiere, Chamonix, http://www.hotelchaumierechamonix.com/node/1

If you love mountain photography, this is the place to be!