Off into the wilderness I go, well, almost. Before you head out to get that spectacular shot of the autumn leaves and waterfalls you need to make sure you are prepared. The easy part of planning the trip is figuring out what kind of cameras and lenses and accessories you are going to take. The other part is remembering all the extras you need. Today’s article will talk about all the extra little things that are often overlooked as well as the “wish i remembered” things from my latest trip.
Clothes, it’s rainy, windy, wet and cold. Remind me again why we’re out in that sort of weather? ha ha First and foremost you need good shoes. Now my idea of good hiking shoes differs a lot from many people. I wear Vibram five finger shoes http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/indexNA.cfm I can honestly say these are the best shoes i’ve ever owned. My balance is better, they allow me to wrap my toes around rocks and sticks and roots, and blah blah blah, i could go on like a commercial. There are a few drawbacks however, they will get wet and you will have wet feet throughout the day, and you can’t wear socks with them unless you get those special toe socks which would leave you with a wet sock as well as a wet shoe, so i advise against the socks. To me it’s all about stability and not falling, and these help me a ton. If you choose hiking boots make sure you have worn them before and they are broken in well. Before i found the toe shoes i wore army boots. They are inexpensive, strong, and give good ankle support. Get some mink oil and waterproof the boots you get. With boots you will be winning against me in the water department but i still bet i fall less often than you will….
Pants and shirts are common sense, but take along a light jacket/windbreaker that has a hood incase it starts to rain. I have a really nice jacket that repels water and has tons of pockets. While i wouldn’t count on it to keep my cameras all perfectly dry it does work well to keep the wind and sprinkles off of me. Of course the pockets are filled with filters, batteries, cable releases and such.
Some guys are into hats, some are not, that’s your own fashion sense, i’ve found that any hat i’ve worn has always gotten in the way as i press my face against the camera.
So now we’re dressed, lets get to the location. i’m driving up and that great shot is at the bottom of a gorge that only mountain goats would be brave enough to go down in. And us of course, but ya gotta do it smart. At my age i’ve started using safety gear. Now i know, when you are young you figure that you’ll be fine, so just skip ahead and let the old guys read this part. I use rope on my way down, i’ve got a nice mountain climbing rope that is 220′ long and it makes my life so much easier. I’m not talking about mountaineering here, just makes going down slopes safer because when you have something to hold onto that’s another balance point. You have to decide how extreme of a hill/mountain/cliff you want to descend, but remember, once you are down there you have to get back up. Going up is where the rope really comes in handy. I use an ascender that is used by mountain climbers. Basically you just attach it to the rope and it’s a handle to use to go up the mountainside very easily. You might think i’m crazy, but the best shots are always at the bottom where the water is, not looking at it from above.
If you know me at all then you know i drive around back roads A LOT. A word of warning, back roads do not have gas stations often–just remember that. I work from my car primarily and driving can get tiring. Bring along some energy drinks, bars, or goo packets. My personal choice is a product called GU http://www.guenergy.com/ some people don’t mind the taste, some think it’s the worst thing in the world. The simple fact however is that it works better than any energy bar or drink i’ve ever used. You do have to find your flavor, some are horrid (vanilla bean) but the chocolate tastes like a rich brownie mix mmmm. But it works great, when you feel yourself getting tired and dozing a bit, eat one and within about 10 mins you will feel awake again. Of course it’s good for hiking too.
Don’t forget your iphone either. If you don’t have an Iphone, then give into the dark side and get one!! GPS, Maps, Hotel bookings.. it’s an indispensable tool that i use constantly. Assistants are helpful too “stop looking at the side of the road and stay in your own lane!!!” is one i always hear from my wife’s head. Although she sits there quietly and grits her teeth in terror, ha ha. If you ever find someone that doesn’t interfere with your creative thinking then they would be a huge asset. Personally i travel alone because another person distracts me a great deal.
So autumn is almost over but you still have another week or two to get out there. These are observations i’ve made over my travels so far this year. Leave comments and don’t fall in the middle of nowhere.