Yonder Giveaway Win!

Granite Gear eVent Sil DrysackHa, check this out, I won a giveaway on Yonder! I get a dry sack from Granite Gear. Not a huge deal, but it’s one made with silnylon plus eVent fabric at the bottom so you can squeeze out the air and it’s still waterproof all around, pretty sweet (eVent Sil Drysack). I’m excited and thought I’d share.

If you haven’t heard of it, Yonder is a social photo sharing mobile app that is geared toward outdoor lovers that I’ve dabbled with a bit. There are a lot of great “yonderers” on there that share their outdoor adventures one cool photo at a time, map location included. Plus there are lots of giveaways and contests.

My winning photo is from the trip Tom and I took in 2009 in King’s Canyon when it dumped on us for an entire day of our 5 day trip in October. It was actually a tropical storm that dropped a lot on California.

Here’s the giveaway info page-

The photo and map location are also on Yonder’s regular website here.

Geotagging Photos Strategy For Backpacking

I think I figured out a solution to geotagging photos for my next backpacking trip. I like having my hiking photos geotagged so that I can upload them to Panoramio and have them show up in Google Earth, or upload them to Flickr and have a map on the photo page. It’s neat to look back and see what spot it was taken at, and then also see photos from other hikers from nearby locations.

Geotagged Photos on US Map

My camera doesn’t have a GPS receiver to geotag photos with latitude and longitude in the Exif data like my phone does. My buddy, Tom, has a fairly new camera that does. I thought I wanted one too, to make geotagging a no-brainer, but now I’m not so sure. Tom mentioned that when he turns his camera on, he has to wait a minute or so for the GPS to activate. Presumably it has to lock onto the signal of several GPS satellites, enough to calculate an accurate position. Now this isn’t so great when hiking, and especially backpacking, because I do what I can to preserve battery! That means I don’t want to wait to take a photo. I often turn the camera on, quickly snap a shot, and turn it off.

Mobile Apps to the Photo Geotagging Rescue

I came across a phone app (Geotag Photos Pro) that will save GPS information as it runs, and then later you can use software that will automatically combine that GPS information with your photos on your computer. It works by the time, so you have to make sure your camera and phone time match up beforehand.

Then I actually found another one (gps4cam) that doesn’t even require you to manually sync the time on your camera to your phone. It will provide you with a barcode that you photograph with your camera, and that allows it to compare the times. Leave that in the directory with your photos and it will be recognized. Then just run the program and it does everything for you. Simple! You can also photograph that same barcode with any other camera, and then the software will do the same for photos taken with that too – that way only one person in your group has to have the app running. The pro version allows you to include altitude in the geodata which is great, and it also allows you to better fine-tune the capture interval to balance accuracy and battery life.

The beauty of this is that I already have my phone and it’s GPS turned on when hiking to save my track in another app. It might cause a slight increase in battery usage in this situation, but I’m guessing not much if at all since the GPS is already in use. This solves the problem of a camera’s GPS taking a couple minutes to acquire signals after turning it on – and using more camera battery. And of course I don’t need to get a new camera just for geotagging.

Again, the two apps were:
Geotag Photos Pro
gps4cam – I’ll probably give this one a try.

My next step is to figure out the best way to geotag my past photos!

Geotagged photos near San Jacinto Peak in Google Earth

Graffiti Artist “Tagging” in Joshua Tree

A reader of Modern Hiker’s website alerted the author to what looked like the tag of a well known street artist on a rock in Joshua Tree National Park. I guess he’s well known, well I don’t know him or care about him, at least until he did this vandalism on our public lands. I guess he maybe gains some street artist capital by stunts like this.

Modern Hiker post with updates

Someone needs to give this fool a copy of Leave No Trace.

And some lessons in how to be a decent human being.

Mr. Andre Issues Legal Threat to Modern Hiker 

And some new lawyers, hahahah, funniest legal threat ever.

It was great to hear the response from the outdoor community and the park rangers! Now it appears that this kind of thing is becoming more widespread so it’s more important than ever to be vigilant about vandalism on our public lands.

Don’t Shrink the Superior National Forest

This is important. Sign this petition-

Petition by Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

State Rep. David Dill was even more direct:

“What are we supposed to do, hold land so people can walk on it and see a partridge? No – we are going to cut the trees on it, and we should mine it … Once the exchange is done we are going to mine and log the hell out of it.”

Endangered San Joaquin River

CNN’s Change The List project and reporter John D. Sutter picked a great topic (and mission) to report on in “My 417-mile trip down ‘Apocalypse River'” about California’s endangered San Joaquin River. Driving through the Central Valley on the way to the Sierra Nevada, you can’t help but be struck by the contrast of the dusty hot desert-like valley interspersed with its odd rich bounty of irrigated agriculture, versus the thriving coastal areas to the west, and the pure mountain scenery to the east.

Coming from the Midwest, it seems strange to see a place with so little water be a major breadbasket of the country. And then on top of that there are the very thirsty major cities along the coast where there has been quite a small amount of water to go around for a long time now.

Some things that struck me about the story:

  • I’ve seen the tip of Banner Peak and been very close to Thousand Island Lake (the source of the San Joaquin River) on the trail in our first backpacking trip actually. I need to make that lake part of a future trip for sure. That lake is in the Eastern Sierra so it surprised me to learn it actually drains to the west.
  • I’m reminded of the Elwha River in Washington’s Olympic National Park where I’ve visited a few times and the project to have the dams removed and the salmon run restored.
  • I didn’t know that three of the five worst U.S. cities for smog were Central Valley cities (Visalia, Bakersfield, and Fresno).
  • “Going up to Oregon” haha
  • The Central Valley is sinking, with many places 10 ft or more lower than they were in the 1930s due to groundwater depletion, and some places dropping a foot per year!
  • I’m loving all the John Muir quotes
  • The long term Sierra Nevada snowpack decline projection worries me a lot because it doesn’t rain much there, even in the mountains most of the precip is snow, unlike other mountain ranges in the U.S. All parties need the snow there.

A Brief Story of Wilderness Areas in the U.S.

I read an article on National Geographic’s website that was a good short read about the Wilderness Act and wilderness areas. I particularly liked some of the quotes:

“In truth, ‘Wilderness’ is a state of mind and heart” is how photographer Ansel Adams once put it. “Very little exists now in actuality.”

And that actually means that ‘Wilderness’ is even more important now that ever. Lots of thanks to Aldo Leopold, the early conservationists, and President Johnson for putting the Wilderness Act in place in 1964.

50 Years of Wilderness