Camping

Constellations on Camera

Have you ever wondered how to capture the night sky while camping? Photography harnesses light and stores the information on either film or a digital sensor, but when capturing images at night, you are missing the primary component — light. So listen up, if you want to capture that perfect Milky Way photo, you’ll need to know a few of the basics of photography — ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.

ISO: The electrical sensitivity of the digital sensor.

Shutter speed: The amount of time the camera has the shutter up to allow light to expose the image sensor.

Aperture: The size of the opening in the lens to allow light to expose the image sensor. The aperture is usually referred to as f/number, or the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of the pupil which allows light through the lens.

Capture those unforgettable moments during your night adventures with these steps:

Step One: Increase the ISO (film equivalent to speed) so less light exposes the image.

Step Two: Decrease the shutter speed to allow as much light as you need to properly expose the image.

Step Three: Lower the f/number (f/1.4, f/2.8, f/5.6) to allow the amount of light entering the lens to increase. Warning: when you decrease the shutter speed, you’ll need to ensure that the camera “shake” does not drown out the subject matter of your photograph. Use a tripod and an intervalometer to stabilize the camera while decreasing the shutter speed more than the typical 30-second timer. The use of a tripod will mitigate vibrations for extended periods of time, like when you are imaging stars at night.

When you have your camera on a tripod or on stable ground, first increase the ISO to a high number that doesn’t introduce electrical noise — this will typically be the highest ISO before you reach Hi 1 and Hi 2. The higher the number, the more false noise (rainbow colored specks) in your image. Next, change the focus to manual on your lens. Because it is near impossible to focus on an object in the dark, have someone point a flashlight on the object that you want to be in focus and manually adjust the lens until you’ve focused your object. Lower the f/number on your lens to the lowest number to allow as much light as possible expose the image sensor. Last, decrease the shutter speed to allow the desired amount of light expose the image. Pay attention to the exposure meter to see if your image is over or under exposed and adjust the settings accordingly until you get the perfect shot.

Here are your basic camera settings for capturing the heavens above: ISO 3200, f/2.8, 30-second exposure*, 14 mm focal length, manual focus, tripod to stabilize the camera. Have fun! Write down the settings you use and see what works and what you need to change.

AVOID STAR BLUR:

If using a full-frame camera (35 mm digital sensor), divide 500 by the focal length to find the best exposure time.

Exposure time [sec]≈500/(focal length [mm])

If using an APS-C camera (24 mm digital sensor), divide 500 by your camera’s crop factor and focal length to find the exposure time.

Exposure time [sec]≈500/(Crop factor)*(focal length [mm])

k.creveling@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Kiffer Creveling

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9 Tips for the Perfect Adventure Crew

Whether it’s on the first ascent of an isolated mountain or on a chill car camping excursion for the weekend, the people around you can make or break a trip. You can’t change much about the core personalities of you or your friends, but there are a few things you can all agree to smooth out the wrinkles of any trip. 

Those with formal outdoor education (I’m looking at you, PRT Department and NOLS) have probably seen these tips before, but for us casual campers, here are the tricks to have a more relaxed outing with friends:

1. Help out

Contribute to the tasks that need to be accomplished. Pitch in ideas planning, help a driver navigate, build the fire, cook, clean up, set up the tent, etc. Everyone appreciates each other and things go smoothly when people help out.

2. Pick people with similar ability levels and goals

Scrambling up Class 4 mountains might be a typical day for some hikers while those behind them are texting their families their final wishes. Varying abilities can add some flavor to a trip, it’s true, but being on par in fitness/adventure level helps everyone get the most out of the trip.

3. Communicate openly about everyone’s comfort levels and what they want to accomplish

It’s alright if someone is new to what you’re doing. The adventure of trying something new is part of the fun. Make sure everyone is in the same boat and in the know regarding the goals of the trip and how the weak link(s) will be supported. If one person wants to ice climb and another wants to just sleep in a cabin but neither bring it up, there will likely be problems.

4. Let everyone know if you have something that might hold you back like an injury, fear, etc.

On a similar note, if you have something that could prevent the group from accomplishing the goal of the trip, let everyone know so it can be accommodated and prepared for as early as possible. If you have some irrational fear of tent stakes, for example, that might be good to share.

5. Don’t complain about the weather, or other obvious situations

This isn’t original, but I like it. When it’s raining or the drive is really long, it’s no secret to the rest. There’s no reason to be a downer and complain about it. Just embrace it, it’s part of the fun. Talk about something else. Complaining isn’t fun, man.

6. Don’t forget your gear, and if you do, keep it to yourself

There’s no reason to stress other people out about gear that you lost or forgot if you don’t have to tell them. It’s best to avoid making yourself look silly and unprepared if it’s something simple like forgotten toothpaste.

7. Be in shape

Being the slowest in the group isn’t fun for you or anyone else. Know your physical abilities and set expectations to meet them. Don’t be that person repeating, “Man, I’m out of shape” along the trail.

8. Enjoy yourself and try to maintain some sense of optimism and happiness

When things go south, it’s OK to be stressed and bring problems up to the group. If everyone keeps their heads up with a positive attitude, it goes a long way to keep the group motivated together working toward your end goal.

9. Play nice

In the outdoor community, most of us are pretty decent people connected by our common love of the outdoors. When you are on a week-long river trip, you can’t really escape anyone you get in a tiff with. Address issues as they come, but don’t ruin everyone’s trip by being a rude know-it-all. If you get frustrated, take a breath of the fresh air and realize where you are.

c.hammock@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Chris Hammock

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How to: Make Coffee When Camping

Imagine that you’re deep in the Wasatch Mountains, hiking up to Mount Timpanogos 20 miles away from your favorite coffee shop or your fancy espresso machine at home. Scary thought, right? When you’re planning for a weeklong backpacking or camping trip, excessive gear is tossed out left and right, but for everyone’s sake and sanity, keep the coffee. Follow these steps to beat any “cowboy coffee” or Starbucks instant packs when on the trail.

Snow Peak’s French Press, the best camping French press in my opinion, is so lightweight, it’s always worth bringing along. I store all my coffee supplies for the trail inside and use it as a pot, since it can be placed directly on coals. The only drawbacks are that it doesn’t make a lot of coffee and it’s a little pricey — $55.99, to be exact.

To use it, just follow these three simple steps:

  1. Boil water
  2. Add grounds (my favorite is Cuarenteno from Jack Mormon Coffee Co.)
  3. Sit for three minutes and filter.
  4. To clean, rinse out grounds with a little water

Another alternative is liquid coffee concentrate, the perfect solution to serve high volumes of hot coffee quickly. Plus, the concentrate can be used to make iced coffee by diluting with two parts cold water and ice.

  1. Place two cups of ground coffee in a pitcher and cover with six cups of water at room temperature. Cover with a tea towel and let sit a minimum of 12 hours, 24 if you want it to be stronger. When camping, prep ahead and let it sit overnight.
  2. Strain coffee concentrate with a coffee filter.
  3. Dilute the concentrate with two parts boiling water. I tend to do a ratio of one part concentrate to two parts water, but over time you can experiment to see what tastes best to you.
  4. Depending on how long your trip is, grab some cream from the 7-11 before heading up the canyon or buy some Milkman instant low fat dehydrated milk from Amazon or REI.

You never need to give up a cup of coffee, even when you are out in Utah’s wilderness surrounded by red rocks or pine boughs and the crunch of snow. You can awaken to the sounds of unzipping bags and tents and the smell of a smoking campfire with the knowledge that delicious hot coffee awaits. You and your friends will be even happier with caffeine pumping through your blood.

s.guirguis@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Sam Guiguis

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Good to Go, Meals for the Trail

Spring break is quickly approaching, and so is the season of gradual snowmelt, wildflowers, and terrestrial rebirth. Whether you intend to flock to more temperate wilderness or strap on a pair of snowshoes and stay local for the coming break, you’re going to need to sustain yourself out there. We’ve ditched the extravagance, leaving you with quick, hearty, and easy recipes to fill your tummy and more importantly, give you time and energy to engage with nature to your heart’s content.

TRAIL MIXES

We’ll give you the ingredients, you decide the quantity. 4:1 chocolate to peanut ratio? Go for it. All ingredients can likely be found in the bulk section of your local grocery store.

Sacred Seeds: Almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.

Power Blend: Flax seeds, goji berries, pistachios, dried blueberries, and dark chocolate chips.

Nutty Nutrition: Almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, pecans, and raisins.

GORP: Simply peanuts, raisins, and M&Ms.

Coastal: Macadamia nuts, white chocolate chips, dried pineapple, and coconut flakes.

THE REAL MEALS

Particularly on longer excursions, Clif bars and handfuls of trail mix may not cut it. Give your body what it needs with these quick-and-easy recipes. Essentials: water-boiling mechanism, sturdy bowl and utensils, and trash bag for waste.

Pseudo Eggs and Bacon: pre-cooked bacon bits, instant mashed potatoes, and powdered eggs. Despite its ultra-processed components, this meal provides you with high amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and sodium to keep you marching along. Prepare heated ingredients separately.

Oatmeal: Use either bulk steel-cut oats or instant oatmeal as a base, mix in granola or some of the tasty trail mix you threw together, and you have yourself some hearty morning sustenance.

Thai Curry: Insta-rice, canned tuna, coconut milk powder, and a bit of curry powder. Infuse coconut milk with curry powder/paste to create the base — add the base into cooked rice and tuna.

Jerky Ramen: This one is lightweight and easy-peasy. Prepare any flavor of top ramen and submerge preferred jerky variety into broth, allowing it to soak for a while. Soy sauce optional (and highly recommended).

Nutella Wrap: Not entirely nutritious, though a delicious reward for a long day of physical torment. Requires only a flour tortilla, Nutella, and dried banana chips (feel free to be adventurous with additional ingredients). Simply spread, sprinkle, and wrap — voila, dessert!

Between your newfound knowledge of trail mix combinations and fully-stocked utility belt of simplistic, hearty meals, you are ready to march forth into the wilderness with confidence! Remember: a savvy snacker is an environmentally conscious snacker — leave no waste, and leave no trace.

d.rees@wasatchmag.com

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Beyond the Wasatch: Arches National Park

Over President’s Day weekend, I packed up the car and left town early to escape the overcast grey skies of the Wasatch Front. As I drove southeast, each passing mile of the three-and-a-half-hour road trip down to Moab meant less snow-covered peaks and more red rocks sneaking into the terrain.

The promising forecast of 55 degree weather and the off-season crowds made it one of the best times to intimately explore Arches National Park. With over one million annual visitors, you are bound to see other people on the trails, but visiting this park before the peak season (April – September) is a great way to escape the crowds.

There are over 2,000 natural arches, making the grand landscape of Arches National Park home to the greatest concentration in the country. Beyond that, the beauty of the balanced red rocks, sloping sandstone hills, peaks, spires, and slick rock canyons of Arches make this park an ultimate destination for desert rats. Inside the park, there are 14 hiking trails to choose from, along with areas for rock climbing and canyoneering. Surrounding trails just outside of the park give you access to mountain biking and ATVing.

The entrance fee is $25, so shelling out $80 for an annual parks pass is worth it for the chance to visit this part of Moab again, or any of Utah’s other national parks. You can’t live in Utah without seeing the iconic Delicate Arch that appears on Utah license plates, but once you get away from the ant march of traffic on the trail, try some of the lesser-known hikes such as the Fiery Furnace. You’ll need to purchase a $6 permit in order to navigate the sandstone fins of the furnace, and if you need a helping hand, rangers are always available for guided tours. With 76,000 acres of Arches’ delicate desert ecosystem, you can have hours of fun exploring the park.

SPRING BREAK ITINERARY

MONDAY: Moab is a popular tourist destination, which means planning ahead is crucial so you don’t end up  driving around trying to find a campsite at the last minute. Inside of Arches, Devil’s Garden Campground is often full. Instead, take advantage of the many surrounding campsites outside of the park for cheaper rates. I’d recommend the Sand Flats Recreation Area, just eight miles south of Arches. There are 120 sites to choose from at $15 a night. Each campsite has a fire ring and picnic table, and all are within short walking distance of a vault toilet.

Once you set up camp, go for a scenic drive through Arches to take in the sights of Delicate Arch and the Windows section. Here you can see some of the largest and most iconic arches in the entire park. Check out the historic Wolfe Ranch, home of the first family of settlers to live in Arches.

TUESDAY: Start at Devils Garden campground and hike the 7.8-mile primitive trail loop. The farther along you get, the thinner the crowds become. You’ll see seven arches on this hike, starting with the 290-ft. span of Landscape Arch. Hiking the primitive trail is a great way to break away from the crowds while taking in the beautiful scenery of the park. Just make sure you’re prepared to do a bit of scrambling and sliding as you navigate over the terrain. As you traverse farther along the trail, enjoy the seclusion of the surrounding valley of desert life and geological formations.

WEDNESDAY: When your body is good and sore from the previous days’ hike, head over to Moab Main Street to visit the in-town attractions. Get your feet off the ground at Raven’s Rim Zip Line adventures and catch a birds-eye view of Moab for $129. If heights aren’t your thing, at the same location and for the same price, you can book a 2.5 hour 4WD adventure tour through the high desert. There are many shuttle services in the area to drop off and pick you up at the end of the day if you choose to try out river rafting or mountain biking.

THURSDAY: Finish your trip hiking some of the moderate trails. Trek a mile to check out historic rock art panels at Courthouse Wash (one mile), gaze in wonder at Balanced Rock (0.3 miles), or navigate sand dunes and slick rock as you make your way to Broken Arch Loop (two miles).

FRIDAY: If being surrounded by million-year-old rocks makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, then it’s worth it to make a stop at the Moab Giants Dinosaur Park before you hit the road home.

The attraction is conveniently placed just nine miles north of Moab on Hwy 191 and boasts a large concentration of fossils. Tickets are $22 to enjoy all the indoor and outdoor activities of this mini Jurassic park. Roam along the dinosaur trail to discover over 100 life-sized dinosaur models, check out ancient sea creatures in the paleoaquarium, and browse the museum to learn all about the animals that lived in Moab centuries ago.

e.aboussou@wasatchmag.com

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How to: Keep Food Fresh

After backpacking for miles, any food can taste good. But what would you rather have: chilled, fresh string cheese or a warm stick of cheese? That’s what we thought. So, we’ve made a list of tips and our favorite coolers to keep your food cold and bacteria-free while camping.

-Start cold. Coolers retain temperatures, so dig it out of that hot storage shed and let it cool down for a day before you pack it. A few hours before packing, fill the cooler with a bag of ice to bring the temperature down. Discard this ice and start fresh before adding food.

-Use the layer system. Start with a layer of ice, then add raw meat and other perishable foods. Continue to layer ice and food as you pack. Keep items that don’t need much refrigeration (such as condiments and vegetables) near the top. Cover with a top layer of pellet ice.

– Keep your cooler sealed tightly and out of direct sunlight.  Pack drinks in a separate cooler to save on space and stop you from continually opening your cooler throughout the day.

-Prepare your food. It’ll stay cold longer if it starts out chilled or frozen. Pre-freeze water bottles and chill drinks. Prepare meats and marinades, then freeze and seal them in Ziploc bags. Freeze or chill as much of your food as you can before packing it into the cooler.

-Ditch the packaging. Seal your food in Ziploc bags so you can pack them tightly. Use space-saving Tupperware to pack fragile items or things that need to stay dry, such as eggs, cheese, and fruit. Prepping meals and cutting up produce beforehand keeps things from getting too bulky and cuts down on cook time.

BEST COOLERS

Hiking and Backpacking:

Norchill air series backpack cooler bag $39.99

This bag is cleverly designed to turn any backpack into a cooler bag. Its versatility makes it an easy over-the-shoulder bag or an addition to your pack. This lightweight cooler (one pound) has room to hold up to six beverages and the padding inside has double usage. It insulates and provides protection for your gear. The waterproof exterior shell and roll-down top ensure that at the end of your hike, you’ll have cold food and a dry pack.

 

Camping:

Coleman 54 quart steel belted cooler: $149.99

 

There’s nothing better than a classic. This stainless steel cooler from Coleman is a sturdy icebox. Coleman began producing this model in 1954 and it still stands up to hot summer temps and the dead of winter. In 90 degree weather, the cooler has a four-day ice retention rate. Forgot your camping chair? No problem, pull this guy up around the fire and use it as a stool. It can withstand 250 lbs of weight. It’s leak proof and large enough to hold upright 2 liter bottles, or 85 beverage cans if you’re having a party. With 54 quarts of space, you’ll have more than enough room for all your food and drinks.

 

Boating:

IceMule Pro Cooler:$99.95

 

This cooler bag from IceMule is perfect for a day out on the water. The backpack straps make carrying it easy, which comes in handy if you’re portaging your canoe. It holds 18 cans plus ice and the double-layered insulation design keeps it waterproof.  Plus, you’ll never lose your lunch because this bag floats. You can strap it to your tube and let it trail behind you as you float down the river, or take advantage of its flexibility and store it in your boat or canoe. The bag itself weighs three lbs. and rolls up into a neat package for storage.

 

Biking:

Local cooler saddlebag pannier: $79.99

This waterproof insulated pannier is a great addition to your bike accessories. Whether you’re heading home from the grocery store or biking across the state, this bag will keep your lunch nice and cool. The pannier is compatible with all standard bike racks, and there are interior mesh pockets inside if you need to bring along any extra utensils or small items. As if this bag isn’t cool enough, it also has a bottle opener mounted on the outside.

 

Fishing:

Yeti Tundra 45 quart cooler: $349.99

If you’re looking for a cooler that means business, look no further than the Yeti Tundra 45. This bear-proof ice box can keep your freshly caught camp dinners nice and cool with a cold retention of five to seven days. There is permafrost insulation, a roto-molded exterior, and anti-condensation features. You’re guaranteed to get through a fishing trip without worrying about the temperature of your food.  These coolers are highly recommended for their longevity, so chances are you’ll never have to use the lifetime warranty that Yeti offers.

e.aboussou@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Esther Aboussou

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Why camping in the off-season is the best thing you’ll do this winter

Snow is in the mountains, but don’t be so quick to hang up the camping gear. If you prepare and have the right equipment, winter camping can be just as much fun as any summer camping trip.

First things first, it’s important to stay warm and dry. Make sure to layer properly, wearing layers that wick away moisture, insulate, and waterproof.

When you’re camping in the winter, hand and foot warmers can be a lifesaver. There are even oversized warmers designed for sleeping bags. Many sleeping bags are designed for winter camping, such as Coleman’s Palmetto Cool Weather sleeping bag, made for camping in degrees between 20-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Investing in a thermal, or insulated, sleeping pad is a must. It makes a huge difference when you’re camping on snowy or icy ground.

Keep your water bottle in your tent or sleeping bag overnight to keep it from freezing. If you do need to keep a water jug outdoors, make sure to set it upside down so the water closest to the nozzle doesn’t freeze.

It’s important to stay hydrated and well-fed when camping in the winter. If you’re planning on cooking, make sure to prepare ahead of time. Chopping and seasoning your meat and veggies at home will save you the trouble of working with numb hands. Make sure to snack and drink water regularly on hikes. Foil dinners are great for cold weather because you can cook your food and heat your body at the same time. If you plan on making a fire, use some of that foil to line the bottom of the pit before you build up your logs. It will keep the melting snow from interfering with your flames.

Winter camping is a great time, if it’s done right. The bugs are gone, the tourist crowds have vanished, and winter brings a stillness to natural places you’ll experience at no other time. Prepare properly for it, and you’re guaranteed to have the time of your life.

e.aboussou@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Esther Aboussou

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CampingFallSummer

Watch: Wasatch crew camps near Strawberry River

The Wasatch team got together for a camping trip at the Strawberry River near Heber. Watch the fun!

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A Tinfoil Thanksgiving: Four of our Favorite Recipes

Near-naked trees and chilling temps can only mean one thing: ‘tis the season to load up on food and shrug off your guilt. The United States has even dedicated a holiday for you to stuff your belly and build up extra “layers” for the winter months. However, Thanksgiving suggests a four-day weekend, which tempts many outdoor adventurists to ditch family dinners and escape into nature. Lucky for you, we’ve found ways to bring Thanksgiving to the wilderness, so you can binge eat and give thanks for this beautiful world while being surrounded by it.

THANKSGIVING HOBO DINNER

10 turkey cutlets

2 cans of gravy

1 bag of frozen green beans and carrots

1 package of cranberries

Pour an inch-layer of gravy on the bottom. Place the turkey cutlet on top. Sprinkle frozen green beans and carrots over the turkey. Top with more gravy and a handful of cranberries. Wrap up and place in the fire. Repeat.

Cook time: 20 minutes

Tip: Don’t use all the gravy in food prep. You’ll want some to pour over after the meal is cooked.

POTATOES AU TINFOIL

1 can of cream of chicken/mushroom soup

2 lbs. of small yellow potatoes

1 onion

1 bag of shredded cheese

Salt and pepper

Spread a layer of soup on the bottom. Cut the potatoes into thin slices and place 3-4 potatoes, worth on top. Slice onion and add. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle a handful of cheese, seal, and place in fire. Repeat.

Cook time: 30 minutes

Tip: Potatoes often take the longest to cook, but the thinner you cut them, the quicker they soften.

Photo by Chris Hammock

Photo by Chris Hammock

MOM’S SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

3 medium-sized sweet potatoes

1 cup of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of butter

1 cup of marshmallows

4 sheets of graham crackers

Chocolate bars (optional)

Dice the sweet potatoes and toss onto the tinfoil with cubed butter and brown sugar. Wrap up and place in the fire. After you pull the food out, open and place marshmallows, graham crackers and, if desired, chocolate, onto the steaming potatoes.

Cook time: 20 minutes

Tip: Try to keep the brown sugar toward the center of the potatoes or it will quickly burn.

APPLE PIE-IN-A-HOLE

6 apples

1 cup of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of butter

¾ cup of rolled oats

Cinnamon

Cut the core out of the apple. Dice butter and place a few cubes inside the hole, along with brown sugar, cinnamon, and rolled oats. Wrap in tinfoil and toss in the fire.

Cook time: 15 minutes

Almost all of these recipes received thumbs up and smiles from the Wasatch crew on a staff camping trip. Enjoy!

c.webber@dailyutahchronicle.com

@carolyn_webber

Feature photo by Kiffer Creveling

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CampingFallSpringSummerWinter

How to: Build a Campfire With Purpose

Camping — one of the most fun, and easiest, activities in the great outdoors. While escaping civilization, sitting around the campfire is inevitably how you’ll end the day. What you want from your fire is completely dependent on how you build it. Fires need two key ingredients: oxygen and fuel. When you first construct your campfire, you will need tinder — small twigs, sticks, pine needles, sagebrush, and paper. This will go on the bottom of the fire to initially get the kindling ignited. The next layer of your campfire is kindling, or small branches and twigs as well as parts of a log that you have chopped down with a hatchet. The last layer of a fire is the fuel (or logs) which take the longest to ignite. There are three main types of campfires: tipis, lean-tos, and log-cabins. Each campfire type has its own purpose.

When it is cold out and you need immediate heat, the best fire type is the tipi. The kindling is stuck into the ground and forms a single point in a radial direction resembling a Native American tipi. Inside the tipi is the tinder which you will ignite. The kindling will catch fire after the tinder has ignited and then you add logs to the fire to keep the flames roaring.

When it is windy out, the best design is a lean-to. This differs from a tipi in the sense that a large log is placed upwind to act as a wind break. The kindling is then placed by leaning on the support log and the ground. The tinder is placed inside the wind-protected area. Again, light the tinder and the kindling will ignite shortly. Keep placing fuel on the fire by leaning the logs on the wind break.

When you need to cook dinner at your campsite, go for a log cabin. The log cabin uses a rectangular shape with logs stacked parallel to one another by laying logs across from one another. The final result will be a small log cabin. Inside the log cabin you will construct a small tipi where the tinder will ignite the kindling and then will progress outwards to light the fuel. The log cabin needs to be large enough to support cookware.

k.creveling@dailyutahchronicle.com

Photo by Kiffer Creveling

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