Mt. Raymond and Some New Toys

Twin Peaks from Mt. Raymond
Legs ache?  Check.

Back sore?  Check.

Constantly hungry?  Check.

 I must have been on an overnight back country backpacking trip.  As I laid on my floor, half passed out and watching an old Flech movie, I tried come up with some clever way to start this post…. I’m not really sure I should trust my self in that state.
The Campsite at Mill B Pass
Sarah and I did our annual over night backpacking trip into the Wasatch back country this weekend.  I always look forward to these trips because I’m not really a great backpacker, and we don’t have all the new lightweight gizmos and techniques that people who do this on a regular basis have.  But because of tradition, I’m always fired up to summit a new peak, see the sun setting from a different view, and just get away from everything down in the valley. 

This year, we choose Mt. Raymond as our summit.  This is a 10,241 foot peak between Mill Creek Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon.  It is one of the more prominent peaks on that ridge-line, especially when viewed from the ski resorts in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Typically when we do these hikes, we choose a much longer path to reach our goal, that way an overnight trip seems more necessary.  We chose to start our adventure at the Neff’s Canyon trail head.  This started us at about 5,500 feet.  This is a great trail that leads up into the Mt. Olympus Wilderness area, and eventually to the Mill B Trail.  Although our original goal was to camp in one of the meadows on the way up, we decided to push to the pass in order to make our second day a bit shorter.  Once we arrived, we were very grateful because the views in both directions were amazing.  That and we could see when thunderstorms were coming in and hide. 
Rainbow over Big Cottonwood Canyon
So after 3+ hours of very steep hiking, we arrived at our campsite and relaxed till sunset.  So, the first toy is a graduated neutral density filter.   I had been eyeing getting one of these for a while for landscape images.  Every landscape photographer takes pictures of wildflowers and mountains.  Here in Utah, the favorite place is Albion Basin.  Devil’s Castle looms in the background with amazing wildflowers filling the Basin.  The only way I could get a good photo was to capture it when there was sun on everything.  The problem with that is the flowers get a lot of shadows on them, and it’s very distracting.  Most photographers take the image with the flowers in the shade, and the mountains in the sun.  They use one of these filters to prevent the background from being blown out.  Well, I finally picked up a +2 graduated filter.  The first image, as well as a few other (these next two included) were taken using this filter.  I think it’s great!  It gives me so much more flexibility than I had before.  Well worth it for anyone who enjoys landscape photography.  One bit of advice, I think I’d pick up a +3 as well if they have it.  It would have been useful in these shots to make the subject a bit brighter.
Beautiful Wildflowers Near the Pass at SunsetAn Alpine Meadow During a Stormy Sunset

Since we went to bed so early, we decided to get an early start on the day.  We woke up just after 5am, and started our hike under a half moon and headlamps.  Now the Mill B trail gets a bit faint after the pass.  I don’t think I would be lying if I said that section between Mill B Pass and the Desolation Trail gets very little traffic.  It felt like we were on some barely used animal trail.  Either way, it was fun!   We did an early summit of Neff’s Peak, as the trail seemed to pass right below the summit.  As we got to the rocky peak, we noticed that we weren’t on Neff’s Peak (so maybe I can’t read maps to well?).  So we hung our heads, and charged along the ridge-line to Mt. Raymond.  Due to our approach (from the west), we could either take a long trail all the way around to the east side of the peak and then up the ridge, or we could just bushwhack/scramble for 1000 vertical feet to the peak.  We choose the bushwhacking.  Given that 98% of the rest of our lives we drive between dashed yellow and white lines, we figured we’d forge our own path, and get a great quad workout at the same time.
Mt. Raymond Summit Photo

We summited at 8am, and although the sunrise wasn’t what we hoped for (it was pretty cloudy to the east), it was still an amazing view.  So the rest of the story goes downhill from there.  Ha. Ha.  We hiked down to our camp, and then down to the car.  Overall it was a great trip.  We saw a lot of terrain that we had never been to before, and saw very view people while we were up there.  Its a great feeling to get away for a while and free your mind of all your other worries.  Oh, the second toy.  I also got a new tripod.  I picked up a Manfrotto tripod with a ball head top.  A little tip to aspiring photographers; buy a good tripod.  This is my third tripod in 4 years.  The first one was crappy and came with a new camera that I got.  But when I upgraded from that, I thought I was getting a good tripod.  After a year things started wearing out, and the connection between the click-out plate and the rest of the tripod got looser and looser.  So here I am, on tripod number 3.  This time I went to a really good store, Pictureline, and spent 45 minutes with a very helpful employee. I even set up my biggest lens on it.  We went through a few different heads and I finally settled on the ball head.  Not only was it the least expensive, but it was had very little wobble.  Because the lever arm is so short, there is very little magnification of the flex in the system.  It’s downsides are there is no removable plate (although I can buy an add-on for it) and it is more difficult to do micro adjustments like you can with the large handles.  But for what I’m doing, I think this will work out great.  I used it a lot this weekend, and I think Sarah got sick of me saying how much I liked it.

Here are a few last pics, enjoy!

Flowery ContrastFlowers and StormsMini Falls

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~ by cruxphoto on August 6, 2007.

7 Responses to “Mt. Raymond and Some New Toys”

  1. What a trip Nate, the images are awesome, your advice on the tripod and filters are spot on. Don’t leave home without them, I use two 2-stop GND’S on my lens they make a world of difference. I am still not quite happy with my tripod, I will keep searching till I get it right.

  2. Beautiful pics. Glad to hear this tripod will stick around.

  3. You have amazing pics here!

  4. Thanks guys! I appreciate the comments. I look forward to many more beautiful posts with the help of my new equipment.

  5. Great pics! I love the first one–especially the way the colors of the flowers are echoed in the rock in the background. The one with the rainbow is so surreal, with the mist and all it barely seems like Utah!

  6. Your photos are awesome. I wish I had better equipment. I use a hand-me-down Kodak EasyShare and Sony Mavica for most of my pictures. 😦

  7. That tent looks like a toy against the backdrop.

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