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Ambition Meets Granite:
the 1999 Sierra Expedition

Trip Summary

The 1999 Sierra hike was a close match between ambition and solid rock. This trip was exhausting physically, mentally and meteorologically, with no easy days or relaxing afternoons. Our delays in the trackless wild meant more speed on the Muir Trail, and random afternoon showers kept driving us forward toward shelter when we could have used the time off. In the end, however, we successfully completed our route and met all challenges. That's always a good feeling, and we're proud of our endurance, pathfinding abilities and flexibility under stress.

On the equipment side, all worked well. My last-minute decision to use only my rainfly for shelter was a great success, with very few bug-bites resulting from it. Our 32 sleeping bags were decidedly inadequate for camps above 10000', but we managed. I highly recommend AlpineAire's "Sierra Chicken" dinner, with their "Wild Tyme Turkey" a close second. The Lowe Contour IV packs performed well despite our external-frame background, stoves and filters worked great, and my new bear canister saved me several minutes of hassles each day for less than three extra pounds. We had a great time, saw amazing scenery, and survived in reasonable comfort to tell about it.

I've had troubles with imaging gear on occasion, and this trip was no different. I had hoped to replace the semi-fisheye video conversion lens with something less extreme, but I needed a step-up ring that I didn't have, so the video is less sharp than I had hoped (but with a very wide field, the 35mm equivalent of a 21-210 zoom).

The day after the trip ended, my 35mm SLR jammed. Later developments proved that it had in fact died on day seven, very near Muir Pass, so many unique images of the snow-free summit are forever lost. Several fantastic images of Evolution Lake, the following sunrise and Lamarck Col also eluded me. Fortunately, the video camera lived on to preserve the memories, fuzzy or not. I only hope that Scott's new Pentax compact camera did its job well on those last days!It did - see some of his shots in my album


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