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Author Topic: Hiking For Photographers  (Read 5356 times)
John Hollenberg
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« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2014, 05:57:06 PM »
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As someone who has been backpacking in the Sierra for over 45 years, I have to say that this statement is personal preference:

"Wear a performance (or “technical") hiking shirt made of synthetic fiber or light-gauge wool. Long sleeves, even in hot weather, is also a great idea: It won’t be appreciably hotter than a short sleeve, if at all, and will better protect you from sun and bugs."

I can tell you that synthetics/long sleeve shirts don't work for me (or any of my brothers).  Long sleeves are significantly hotter when you are hiking in the sun with a heavy pack, even at altitudes of 10,000 to 12,000 feet.  I have tried them, but couldn't take the extra heat build up.  A short sleeve cotton T-shirt is the only shirt I will wear while hiking or backpacking as it is the only shirt I find that breathes well and is comfortable.  While new cotton T-shirts may have an SPF of only about 10, that can be easily remedied by washing the shirt in Sunguard:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4800064

http://www.amazon.com/Sun-Guard-Laundry-Treatment-Protectant/dp/B0000Y3F6W/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

I have used this product for about 5 years, seems to be pretty effective, although after a week in the backcountry I may get a little bit of a tan on the top of my shoulders.

However, I do agree that it is important to have a synthetic long underwear top along in case it rains, as a wet cotton shirt is uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.  All of the other clothing I bring is synthetic. 

For sun protection, the best sunscreen I have found after many years is Solbar Shield, which has no chemical sunscreens, only the physical sunscreens Titanium and Zinc.  This sunscreen sticks to your skin very tenaciously.  Applied twice a day it does an excellent job even if you have fair skin (I have type 2 skin), although after about 5 days of continuous sun exposure your skin can start to tan or even burn a tiny bit.  The downside of the sunscreen is that it gets on your camera from your face when you hold the camera up to your eye, so having an LCD protector on the screen is a good idea.
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Ray
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« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2014, 02:17:57 AM »
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I've been through the complications of selecting appropriate footwear for trekking, and from my experience I would suggest that comfort, flexibility and durability are all that you need to be concerned about, except for very specialized activities such as the ascent of Mt Everest, or treks to the Arctic or Antarctic.

My first revisit to Nepal (after visiting the country 50 years ago as a 22-year-old) was in 2005 with my newly acquired Canon 5D. I was wearing Nike joggers but wasn't sure if they would be adequate for the trekking trip I had organised. After listening to 'so-called' expert advice, I decided to buy some 'proper' trekking boots. They were comfortable and sturdy, so I set off in the confidence that my feet would be protected against all hazards.

I'd hired a personal guide and porter. When we began the trek, I was amazed to see that the porter who was carrying my 20kg backpack, was wearing tennis shoes. What the heck's going on here? I'd deliberated over several days whether I should buy proper trekking boots, and had decided that the consensus of opinion was that I should, only to find that my porter, who had the most onerous task on this trek, was wearing tennis-type shoes.

It turned out that those tennis shoes were sufficient. Whilst my trekking boots were comfortable enough during casual walking, there was a problem during lengthy descents. My big toe tended to rub against the hard cap of the boot. Eventually, one toe started bleeding, which made me feel rather foolish for wasting money on something that was probably less suitable than the Nike joggers I was wearing when I arrived in Nepal.

On subsequent trips to the Himalayas, I've always worn comfortable and flexible Nike joggers, which have proved to be perfectly adequate, even in the snow at altitudes of 5,400 metres. (For the record, I have absolutely no investment in Nike Corporation).
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2014, 02:31:15 AM »
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I've been through the complications of selecting appropriate footwear for trekking, and from my experience I would suggest that comfort, flexibility and durability are all that you need to be concerned about, except for very specialized activities such as the ascent of Mt Everest, or treks to the Arctic or Antarctic.

My first revisit to Nepal (after visiting the country 50 years ago as a 22-year-old) was in 2005 with my newly acquired Canon 5D. I was wearing Nike joggers but wasn't sure if they would be adequate for the trekking trip I had organised. After listening to 'so-called' expert advice, I decided to buy some 'proper' trekking boots. They were comfortable and sturdy, so I set off in the confidence that my feet would be protected against all hazards.

I'd hired a personal guide and porter. When we began the trek, I was amazed to see that the porter who was carrying my 20kg backpack, was wearing tennis shoes. What the heck's going on here? I'd deliberated over several days whether I should buy proper trekking boots, and had decided that the consensus of opinion was that I should, only to find that my porter, who had the most onerous task on this trek, was wearing tennis-type shoes.

It turned out that those tennis shoes were sufficient. Whilst my trekking boots were comfortable enough during casual walking, there was a problem during lengthy descents. My big toe tended to rub against the hard cap of the boot. Eventually, one toe started bleeding, which made me feel rather foolish for wasting money on something that was probably less suitable than the Nike joggers I was wearing when I arrived in Nepal.

On subsequent trips to the Himalayas, I've always worn comfortable and flexible Nike joggers, which have proved to be perfectly adequate, even in the snow at altitudes of 5,400 metres. (For the record, I have absolutely no investment in Nike Corporation).

We used trail shoes for the 3+ weeks Gokyo/Chola pass/Everest BC we did 5 years ago and they are, IMHO, the best option.

The famous trails in Kumbhu are highways that are very easy to walk on if you can manage to avoid collisions with yaks. Most day treks around Tokyo are a lot tougher than Nepal trails in terms of trail condition. The main issues in Nepal are:
- altitude: it generates a general lack of comfort, bad nights of sleep that make people very tired after a rew weeks and requires trekkers to drink an incredible amount of water (that is better properly purified, which can be a bit time consuming),
- food: a high percentage of trekkers give up because of stomach issues related to something they ate. We ate fried rice and dalbat for 3 weeks, was probably lucky and more trained than others due to regular visits to India, and experienced zero stomach issues,
- the length of the trek: Many people are in fact unable to behave for 3 weeks in a small group of people in a challenging environment.

Cheers,
Bernard
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jeremyrh
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« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2014, 06:50:10 AM »
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Dear me! On the subject of shoes, we are a bunch of babies, aren't we!  Cheesy

These Nepalese women seemed to manage okay with no shoes at all. (Taken with my Pentax Spotmatic and 150mm lens 50 years ago in Nepal. I didn't record the aperture and shutter speed, but the film was Kodachrome 64).

Okay! To be fair, I do wear shoes when I go trekking in Nepal, because I'm a bit spoilt like the rest of you, but not those ridiculously stiff and over-protective walking boots. A pair of basic Nike joggers is fine. On my most recent trekking trip in Nepal, less than a year ago, I reached a height of 5,416 metres, walking on snowy ground with no problems. The Nike joggers were exceptionally comfortable and two pairs of socks were sufficient to keep my feet warm despite the snowy conditions.


I found lightweight boots to be fine when going UP in Nepal, but really a problem when going DOWN when I really could have done with more support to stop my toes ramming into the front of my shoes, and to help in stability on descending rocky terrain.
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BJL
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« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2014, 07:55:20 AM »
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I am very happy to see this article, and would like to see more articles about "getting to the shot", because with the quality of most modern interchangeable lens systems and having by now some decades of practice, I find that getting myself in front of natural scenes worth photographing does more for the worth of my images than further refinements of technique or agonizing over ILC equipment choices.

About photographic gear, my vote is for a somewhat lighter kit than in the article (one MFT body with standard zoom, telephoto, and macro lenses), which fits in a camera bag attached at the waist, where it can be used as a steady platform for lens changes, and does not get in the way of a backpack as much as as shoulder strap camera bag does.  A camera light enough to be secured with just a wrist strap rather than a shoulder strap also helps to reduce "shoulder clutter", so I like the Optech system with its Uniloop connectors that allow a quick change to shoulder strap when that is needed, like this pair:
http://optechusa.com/slr-wrist-strap.html
http://optechusa.com/straps/utility-strap-sling.html

But since this has almost turned into a debate about "off-road footwear" ...
I found lightweight boots to be fine when going UP in Nepal, but really a problem when going DOWN when I really could have done with more support to stop my toes ramming into the front of my shoes, and to help in stability on descending rocky terrain.
Agreed about the virtue of real hiking boots for descents! It is there (and more general on highly uneven terrain) that I like to have boots tied snugly around my ankles, to stop my feet sliding around, banging my toes, and chafing at the sides.  (I also prefer hiking boots over lower cut shoes for keeping water out.)  When on more level terrain, the boots can be loosened by lacing them lower, not putting the laces through the open eyelets in the ankle part.

Most of my physical suffering when hiking is by my toes, so to paraphrase Nancy "happy toes make me a happy hiker".
« Last Edit: July 26, 2014, 08:00:20 AM by BJL » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #25 on: July 26, 2014, 08:41:34 AM »
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The main issues in Nepal are:
- altitude: it generates a general lack of comfort, bad nights of sleep that make people very tired after a rew weeks and requires trekkers to drink an incredible amount of water (that is better properly purified, which can be a bit time consuming),
- food: a high percentage of trekkers give up because of stomach issues related to something they ate. We ate fried rice and dalbat for 3 weeks, was probably lucky and more trained than others due to regular visits to India, and experienced zero stomach issues,
- the length of the trek: Many people are in fact unable to behave for 3 weeks in a small group of people in a challenging environment.

Cheers,
Bernard

Hi Bernard,
I've been trekking in Nepal on 6 occasions in my life and only once have I experienced a stomach upset and diarrhea, which I attributed to eating an uncooked salad in a restaurant in Pokharra. Bottled water and cans of beer are widely available in Nepal. If one avoids eating uncooked food and one eats only fruit which has been peeled, one should be fine.

As regards altitude sickness, I've never experienced it. At 5,400 metres I just get very much out-of-breath due to the rarefied atmosphere. It could be that because I'm retired and have more time than those on a tight schedule who have to return to work after a short holiday, I'm able to take it easy and acclimatise to the gradual increase in altitude. I usually trek by myself but with a guide who speaks fluent English, and a porter who carries my gear; so that give me the freedom to walk at my own pace and change my schedule according to the circumstances.

I've never been to the Everest Base Camp. I get the impression the Annapurna region is more scenic. I'm also put off by crowds of tourists. I understand nowadays there is even congestion near the summit of Mt Everest, with people waiting at the foot of the Hillary Step for others to descend from the summit so that they can ascend those final few metres.  Grin
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Praki
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« Reply #26 on: July 26, 2014, 09:46:40 AM »
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Since this thread deals with hiking and photography at higher altitudes, I have found that taking Diamox (Acetazolamide) at the right doses starting a week before the trek to be very helpful. Your doctor will provide the right dose and frequency based on your age, physical condition etc. For me it was 250mg three times a day. I have been up to almost 18000 ft. While the others were feeling nauseous with bad head aches, I had no ill effects. Of course, please contact the doctor to find out the best approach.
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jeremyrh
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« Reply #27 on: July 26, 2014, 11:11:44 AM »
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I've been trekking in Nepal on 6 occasions in my life and only once have I experienced a stomach upset and diarrhea, which I attributed to eating an uncooked salad in a restaurant in Pokharra. Bottled water and cans of beer are widely available in Nepal. If one avoids eating uncooked food and one eats only fruit which has been peeled, one should be fine.

Lucky you. I followed all that advice, was incredibly careful with what I ate, and still got tremendously sick. Unfortunately it's very hard to control the hygiene practices of all those involved in preparing your food :-(
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Ray
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« Reply #28 on: July 27, 2014, 09:47:00 PM »
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I've been trekking in Nepal on 6 occasions in my life and only once have I experienced a stomach upset and diarrhea, which I attributed to eating an uncooked salad in a restaurant in Pokharra. Bottled water and cans of beer are widely available in Nepal. If one avoids eating uncooked food and one eats only fruit which has been peeled, one should be fine.

Lucky you. I followed all that advice, was incredibly careful with what I ate, and still got tremendously sick. Unfortunately it's very hard to control the hygiene practices of all those involved in preparing your food :-(

Hi,
Did you not have any indication of what probably caused your sickness?  I remember clearly the occasion when I once got sick in Nepal. I'd ordered a meal in a restaurant in Pokhara and was presented with a salad side-dish of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers etc, which was uncooked.

My initial reaction was that I shouldn't touch the dish. However, I was in a modern restaurant that clearly catered to the tourists, so I took a gamble on the assumption that the staff would understand that causing the tourists to get sick would not be good for business.

Within a few hours of completing my meal, I began to feel sick and soon developed a type of dysentery. The uncooked salad was the most likely culprit.

I'm not sure how easy it would be to contract a sickness due to plates and/or cutlery being rinsed in unclean water, or due to the waiter or cook not having washed his hands after visiting the toilet, or due to a fly settling on one's food.

Other precautions I take include, always checking that the bottled water I buy is properly sealed; never accepting ice that is sometimes added to a drink, because the ice may not have originated from boiled or bottled water; and always using bottled water to clean my teeth.

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OldRoy
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« Reply #29 on: July 28, 2014, 05:20:50 AM »
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I see that the discussion's moved up from the feet. Having travelled in Asia a bit since the early 70's I have some experience with, amongst others, digestive system derangements of many kinds. At worst this included a couple of lengthy stays in the London Hospital for Tropical Diseases.

The biggest change that's occurred over this period is the easy availability of bottled water; it's hard to overstate just how big a problem this once was. Remember to crush the bottles after you've used them because otherwise enterprising locals may "recycle" them using any tap water that's available and sell them to other travellers.

I've always been pretty low-budget (for example travelling overland on all types of surface transport between UK and Australia - apart from some of the wet bits) which makes it a little more difficult to stay healthy. Hygiene isn't usually top priority in the average bus station. But I think one of the key issues is to avoid eating ANY meat. Last time I lapsed in this respect - in Calcutta after a few vegetarian weeks in Sikkim - I started getting ill within 24 hours, despite staying in a rather nice, and quite famous, hotel in Chowringhee. This time it was with a vicious (unidentifiable) fever that had me in an isolation ward for a week.

If/when you do get diarrhoea it's important to deal with it correctly by drinking water containing rehydration salts and arresting the outflow with Lomotil. It's surprising how quickly you can recover from even quite dramatic diarrhoea - as little as a few hours.
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jeremyrh
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« Reply #30 on: July 28, 2014, 10:35:33 AM »
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Hi,
Did you not have any indication of what probably caused your sickness?


Hi Ray - no I didn't. Usually, as you reach the safety of the toilet, you get a moment of enlightenment when you think "It was that salad" or whatever. Perhaps due to the non-inspirational nature of Nepali toilets I didn't have such a revelation, and ended up with some sort of horrible infection that required large antibiotic pills to subdue. Still, taking photos provided a good excuse to linger behind the group in order to find relief behind a rock !!
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Ray
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« Reply #31 on: July 28, 2014, 10:28:13 PM »
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Hi,
Did you not have any indication of what probably caused your sickness?


Hi Ray - no I didn't. Usually, as you reach the safety of the toilet, you get a moment of enlightenment when you think "It was that salad" or whatever. Perhaps due to the non-inspirational nature of Nepali toilets I didn't have such a revelation, and ended up with some sort of horrible infection that required large antibiotic pills to subdue. Still, taking photos provided a good excuse to linger behind the group in order to find relief behind a rock !!

Dear me! Jeremy. That must be very scary, not having a clue what caused your sickness. In my case, I didn't have to exercise much thought or investigation. I was already aware that eating the uncooked salad on the table was a risk. I consciously took the risk, to my regret. Once bitten, twice shy.
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PDobson
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« Reply #32 on: July 29, 2014, 12:38:31 PM »
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My twin obsessions at the moment are researching good packs in the 60-70L range and motivating my lazy butt to do the dull exercising during the work week.

60-70L is a big pack. That means you're probably carrying a lot of weight for a long time. While I don't own a pack that volume, I have borrowed them for climbing expedition use.

Since you're planning on carrying that much weight, you don't want to skimp on the load-carrying capabilities of the pack. The best packs I've used in this regard are by Mystery Ranch; their ability to carry large and awkward loads is unmatched. For a less expensive option, look for an old "made in Bozeman" Dana Design like the Astralplane or Terraplane. I used an old Terraplane for hauling loads to high camp in Patagonia, and it was close to  ideal. That pack doesn't begin to enter it's happy zone until it has at least fifty pounds.


Oh, and regarding footwear: I wear trail runners most of the time. I'll switch to ice climbing boots, approach shoes or rock shoes only when the terrain requires it. There's no pack weight limit to the running shoes. In fact, I find that I'm faster and safer wearing running shoes instead of boots when I'm hauling loads.
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NancyP
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« Reply #33 on: July 29, 2014, 04:57:47 PM »
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Maybe I should scale down a bit. 50-60 L? I figure that a commercial camera insert ranges between 5L and 12L. Advantage of a commercial insert is that it keeps things organized and in the same location. Disadvantage: bulk. Wrap lenses in towels and bury in the randomly squashed sleeping bag? Then there's the tripod, which should ride on the outside. The Garcia bear canister takes up a lot of space inside the pack - 10L inside volume, and you have to drag the thing along whether you are doing an overnight or a week-long trip. Then there's the pads - z-pad on outside of pack, and in winter, add an inflatable Big Agnes insulated pad inside the pack (super-warm!). I am not very experienced at backpacking (as opposed to car camping), and not very experienced at packing backpack for optimum stability.
Thanks!
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jjj
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« Reply #34 on: July 29, 2014, 06:57:25 PM »
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In both cases I find good quality footbeds (I use "Superfeet") help a lot. I have some arthritis in both big toes and I notice the difference.
I use Sorbothane double strike insoles in all my shoes and usually I won't buy shoes they won't fit in as they make so much difference. Your feet simply don't ache/tire like they do with shoes without them in. Work well in my biking shoes too.
Though I have some Merrell 'barefoot' shoes [not with individual toes] with barely anything between you and the floor - which are comfy in a different way.
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dchew
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« Reply #35 on: July 29, 2014, 09:23:53 PM »
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60-70L is a big pack. That means you're probably carrying a lot of weight for a long time. While I don't own a pack that volume, I have borrowed them for climbing expedition use. 

You might be confusing liters with cubic inches. The old Dana Design Terraplane was 6000-7000 cubic inches, which is up to a 115 liter pack. Much, much bigger.

60-70 liters is a mid size pack based in the range available. I think of 30-45 liters as a good size climbing pack but on the small size for a 2-4 day trip with "average" camera gear, whatever that is! 60-70 liters seems about right for a multi-day excursion, assuming you are carrying everything yourself.

Dave
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #36 on: July 30, 2014, 03:28:51 AM »
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The Garcia bear canister takes up a lot of space inside the pack - 10L inside volume,

I find beer canisters to be much more compact.

Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
Petrus
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« Reply #37 on: July 30, 2014, 06:16:07 AM »
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Nepal has been mentioned here a few times, and as I have trekked there about 8 times since 1984 I though I'll share some experiences and thoughts.

My first trips were in -84 and -85 as the beginning and end of a 7 month Asian journey Nepal-Thailand-Burma-Thailand-Hong Kong-China-Tibet-China-Nepal. I carried Olympus OM-3 and OM-4 bodies with 21, 50, and 135mm lenses + Widelux F7 panoramic camera. They were all squashed into a small camera bag, and at worst I had 270 rolls of KodaChrome 64 in my backpack. That trip, by the way, produced quite a lot of good and even great photographs, and sales to magazines, travel agencies and even stock via Magnum paid for the whole trip both for me and my wife, even though it was not a work trip at all. Places like Nepal, Burma and especially Tibet were so seldom visited at that time that those pictures had good novelty and sales value.

In October -84 we hiked about 26 days the old long Annapurna Circuit including Annapurna Sanctuary, Dhumre to Pokahara, no roads at that time at all. In April-May -85 we hiked Jiri-EBC-Jiri 42 days, including visit to camp 1 on Everest West Ridge (only two expeditions…), crossing Amphu Labtsa and summiting Mera, all without any permits, of course. Those were the golden days of trekking in some sense, still rustic and basic and no crowds and no roads.

Later I have returned to hike AC about three times more, EBC/Gokyo also three times more, also Manaslu Circuit attempt and Naar-Pho valley and Tilicho Lake crossing to Jomsom. I have also dragged about a dozen friends to trek with me, some of them have also visited Nepal over 10 times since.

What comes to footwear 80% of the time I have used either trainers (in eighties) or trail runners (Solomon XA Pro 3D Ultra GTX are my favorite). Much lighter and nimbler than boots. We always use porters and if there are more then just us in the group, a guide also. One 32 day trek was done as camping trek, 7 "members" with 31 crew, still costing only 47€/day all inclusive. This was the Manaslu Circuit/Naar-Pho/Tilicho trip where there were no lodges available (in 2009). As a cool-off we hiked ABC again and made a quick visit to EBC also, 12 days Kathmandu-EBC-Shivalaya walk-out, pre-acclimatized as we were.

Trekking in Nepal is much simpler than people think. It is easy to arrange a private trek even with porter etc, still having full control of the timetable and route. It is not necessary to "book" a prearranged trek where you are shepherded along with others on fixed schedule. It is also much cheaper, costing now typically around $40/day in a small group with guide and couple of porters. That includes food, bed and salaries, cheaper than living at home…
 
On my later treks I have carried either small point&shoots when shooting video mostly with a fairly big video camera (Canon XH-A1) or Canon 5D with 24-105mm or Nikon D800 with 24-120mm. On my later treks I have not used a camera bag, camera is either at the top of (or on the top) my daypack just under the lid, fairly fast access, or hanging by my side/neck. If raining and I want to keep the camera out, I wrap it into a SeaToSummit silnylon bag, which we use for all clothing & sleeping bag also to keep them dry. Porters carry our things in waterproof or resistant duffel bags, which they prefer to backpacks.

I usually get one small stomach upset once a month on average, more a nuisance than anything bad. Twice I have had giardiasis, which is easy to treat with Tiniba. I have never used or needed Diamox, as I, and we both, acclimate extremely easily. We avoid eating uncooked vegetables and only drink treated water. In eighties there was no meat available along the trails, now we do eat an odd yak steak if the meat looks and smells ok. Trekking is my favorite way of weight control, I loose on average 1 kg per week by eating frugally and by constant exercise.

I am eagerly waiting my retirement in 3 years, already making plans to go back and explore some white areas on my map, like Tsum Valley, Langtang-Helambu and unexplored side valleys of Khumbu. Just hoping to have also the right side hip joint replaced by then… Long range dream is to combine Naar-Pho, upper Mustang and Dolpo into one great excursion lasting about two months. Those areas are still quite untouched by tourism.
 
If you are interested in seeing some pictures check my Picasa albums, there are two albums from Nepal, Annapurna Circuit in 2004 and 52 days of trekking in 2009. No artistic intent, but at least a 10% filter was applied when choosing the pictures instead off just dumping the memory card to the web.

https://picasaweb.google.com/109958612223411682295
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jjj
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« Reply #38 on: July 30, 2014, 06:44:09 AM »
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If you are interested in seeing some pictures check my Picasa albums, there are two albums from Nepal, Annapurna Circuit in 2004 and 52 days of trekking in 2009. No artistic intent, but at least a 10% filter was applied when choosing the pictures instead off just dumping the memory card to the web.

https://picasaweb.google.com/109958612223411682295
Yarchen Gar is a curious place and Larung Gar also looks fascinating. Not that any of your locations looked at all dull.  Smiley I immediately recognized the shot from Simatai having trekked up to the top of there about 5 years before your trip. It was still quite obscure and unspoilt [i.e. 'restored'] when we went, was it still the same for you. We were alone almost the whole time up there.
It'd also be interesting to see some contemporary shots of the Lhasa Sky Burial location.
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Petrus
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« Reply #39 on: July 30, 2014, 08:00:54 AM »
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It'd also be interesting to see some contemporary shots of the Lhasa Sky Burial location.

Lhasa sky burial place was closed to foreigners in May 1985, few months after our visit. It is located about half a mile east of Sera monastery.

I attended a sky burial in Larung Gar last year, but the chinese are turning it into a tourist show, "temple of death" kind of kitsch. There are 2 shots from there on the Larung Gar set. In TAR there is a sky burial site about 1 km west of the main Shigaze monastery.
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