Lion’s Head

Salisbury to Bear Mountain

The mandatory parking lot shot

Northwest Connecticut. Loren, David, and Richard ready to embark on our longest hike yet: a 12 mile trip from Salisbury, Connecticut to Bear Mountain and back on the Appalachian Trail.

This will be a long hike, it will be my first test of the Canon G11 camera, and it will be David’s 52nd time up Bear Mountain this year. He’s attempted to hike Bear Mountain 52 times the past three years and has come close but hasn’t made it. This year (today) he will.

I did very little adjustment on the camera, preferring to use it as I’d used my wife’s Canon SD1200 IS (Elph) to see the difference. P mode, auto ISO, etc. Nothing fancy. I think the camera performed beautifully. There are a few blown highlights but as I learn how to use the camera and its light meter I think I’ll be able to find ways to avoid them.

Note that I was carrying the SD1200 just in case I decided early on that the G11 wasn’t for me but that little bag on my chest that housed it got put away after I took this picture, never to come out again on this trip.

The articulated LCD screen on the G11 is extremely useful and while using the controls on a cold day can be tough, I was very glad I didn’t go for the Canon S90 instead where similar controls would be even smaller.

Six hours from now we’ll be back here, tired, sweaty and happy.

Pack, camera bag, tripod

I love this little REI Traverse 30 pack, it fits my back well and I can carry enough clothing, food and water for a day hike. I have an UltraPod II table top tripod stuck in the water bottle sleeve and I can get to it without taking the pack off. It’s also a wide enough base to hold a 5D and big lens if needed and more than enough for the G11. In wind, you want a wide base, not a typical small base table top tripod like the Ultrapod. The II is wide yet light.

I also have a now discontinued LowePro D-Res 8 camera pouch attached to the shoulder strap and the G11 fits in it nicely. B&H sells this pouch used for $6 and the next time I’m there I might buy another. Useful velcro strip in the back that makes it easy to attach to a pack or a belt. Detachable shoulder strap in case you want to carry it that way.

I have to say, this set up beats carrying a DSLR, even a small one like a Canon XSi with kit lens. When hiking nothing is bouncing around and you have quick access to the camera without taking the pack off.

If, somehow, I wanted to take "serious" images on a hike I’d bring my bigger kit but I would not hike with David and Loren because I don’t want to mix the kind of hiking we’re doing with hiking to find images for fine art photography. The last thing I want is to create a situation where they’re standing around freezing waiting for me to set up a tripod and compose a picture.

This G11 and tabletop tripod rig works perfectly for this kind of shooting.

Beech trees

There is a small grove of very large beech trees between the parking lot in Salisbury on Rt. 41 and Lion’s head on the AT. I took this picture to remember them for future shooting with big camera but also to see how the G11 would do with this kind of shot. I’m quite happy with both the 28mm lens (sure, I wish it were 24) and with how it handled a shot like this without wiping out the sky.

Lion's Head

Lion’s Head is a small mountain just north of Salisbury on the Appalachian Trail. The AT goes over many mountains in NW Connecticut, Southwest Massachusetts and then again in NW Massachusetts. Lion’s head is the bottom or southern edge of this group of mountains and coming from the south it’s a nice first summit to get on top of: easy walk, nice view.

View from Lion's Head

David, Richard and Loren on Lion’s head with northwest Connecticut behind them.

Playing with both self-timer on G11 and attempting to change meter required some dexterity and frankly, it was cold enough up here so that my hands were hitting buttons on the way to other buttons on the camera.

The control wheel on the back of the G11 also has North, South, East, and West rocker buttons on it and knowing whether to "wheel" through a set of icons or to use the right (east) button takes some getting used to, not to mention when turning the wheel one can sometimes hit one of these buttons.

I’m sure I’m going to get it but my first few struggles almost got me in the mood to return the camera.

Bear Mountain from Lion's Head

Looking north from the north ridge of Lion’s Head to Bear Mountain (our objective) on the left and Race Mountain on the right. Race is another great hike which we’ve done many times.

The bulk of our walk in in the woods between Lion’s head and Bear and back. We cross numerous beautiful streams and glens and walk through some magnificent woods. The walk is long but moderate.

David on a bridge

The Appalachian Trail is very well cared for and there are excellent bridges all along it. One could easily do a photo book just on wilderness bridge design on the AT.

Riga Junction

We pass this sign each time we hike Bear Mountain but this time we’ve come from further south on the AT. We’ll be passing the sign again on our return in a few hours.

On the south face of Bear Mountain

David and Loren take a break looking back south on the south face of Bear Mountain. The Taconic range is behind them and it has great hiking as well.

David on top of Bear Mountain

David standing on the rock cairn on top of Bear Mountain, having climbed it 52 times in 2009, a feat he’d been attempting to accomplish for the past three years. Loren and I failed to bring champagne but we did share our peanut butter sandwiches with him.

Loren, Richard and David on Bear Mountain

On top of Bear Mountain. It’s not K2 but at 62, 58, and 62 it’s our K2 for the time being.

There was wind and a table top tripod with a narrower stance than the Ultrapod 2 would never have stood up; camera would have blown off the rocks.

The walk back

We’re descending Bear Mountain going south and you can just see Lion’s Head which the little bump on the left side of this image. It will probably take us 1.5 hours to get there, then another hour from there to the car.

Lion's Head

Getting closer to Lion’s Head.

Looking back at Bear Mountain

From the northern ridge of Lion’s Head looking back at Bear Mountain on the left (we’ve just come from there), Mt. Race on the right, and in the very far distance you can just make out Mt. Greylock, in the northwest corner of Massachusetts. Next shot is zoomed in on Greylock.

Mt. Greylock in the distance

Zoomed in a bit on Mt. Greylock in the distance.

Tired dudes

Back at the car after six hours of hiking, we’re tired although not as tired as on other hikes.

This hike was our longest but not our toughest and I liked it very much. Great variety of terrain, plenty of mileage, out all day, and lots of great views. And, the Canon was fun to use.