Where | The High Camps | Who for | The Schedule | The Cost |

Yosemite High Country

Backpack Expedition and Workshop 2010

An adventure of a lifetime!

May Lake at sunrise as photographed just a few yards from the high camp!

Tuolumne Meadows / Vogelsang/ Merced Lake/ Sunrise/ May Lake/
Glen Aulin and everything on the trail between!

                                   A full week in the Yosemite back country!


The Yosemite High Sierra Camp Loop

A 7-Day Landscape Photography backpack expedition and Workshop.

August 13 - 19, 2010

Conducted by Steve Kossack
Limited to only 7 participants.

This is a once in a lifetime, small group experience! Here is your opportunity to see and photograph the Yosemite back country while backpacking without camping and food gear. End your summer with a lifetime worth of memories and photographs!

About the Expedition and Workshop

6 High Sierra Camps!

F-8 And Be There Workshops and Steve Kossack presents a limited availability workshop and backpack expedition in the spectacular and beautiful wonderland that is The Yosemite High Country. A 7 day outing! From Friday August 13, through Thursday August 19, 2010 we will be hiking, exploring and photographing some of the most beautiful country on earth! This is a unique opportunity to see and explore the high country of Yosemite. We will be staying and photographing at all 6 high Sierra camps. No need to carry a full pack! This is the best of all worlds. Everything we need for lodging, bedding. food and water will be provided for us in these high camps, enabling us to carry photo gear instead! We will experience the Yosemite high country as few see it and partake in the photographic rewards as few know them!

This workshop is open to only 7 participants. Register now!

The landmarks of Yosemite valley with Half Dome and Clouds Rest on the left,
North Dome with the peak of El Capitan just in view on the right horizon. A trailside panoramic!

Fine art landscape photographer, guide and host of the DVD Every Picture Tells A Story will lead this workshop. It's size and design will lend itself the flexibility to hike and photograph the available light and color of this exciting area during our 7-day backpack expedition and workshop. We'll travel light and happy in this small group!

Where are The High Sierra Camps?

Built by the National Park Service stating in 1916, these camps are placed in the high country some 7 to 10 miles apart making them a days hike from one another and a perfect loop trip. Each has a superb setting beside a lake, river, creek or meadow and is ringed by magnificent mountains and domes.



Vogelsang Peak will be a feature of our stay in this highest of all the camps
at over 10,000 feet!

Fletcher Lake with wildflowers. Here spring is in September!

At 10,300 feet it is the highest of the high camps and at the top of the glacial world, Vogelsang lake sits at the base of Fletcher Peak and has photographic opportunities beyond the imagination. Located along Fletcher Creek, just beyond Fletcher Lake, Vogelsang is often named as one of the favorite spots in Yosemite by many a veteran visitor. This is truly an alpine setting with peaks and vistas, lakes, meadows and passes within close proximity.

Merced Lake

Merced Lake One of Yosemite's largest lakes


We'll drop into the "banana belt" climate of Merced Lake . Three miles below Lake Washburn, near the headwaters of the Merced River, this wonderful setting at 7,100 feet holds many opportunities for both sunset and sunrise images. Our trail leads us to many vistas, meadows and creeks on our way down.



The grandest of all meadows is at the foot of Sunrise high camp.
As you can see, sunsets are on the menu here also!

The newest of the high sierra camps on the edge of one of the most beautiful meadows in the sierra. Sunrise takes it name from the wonderful sunrises that occur almost daily here casting alpine glow on the Clark Range. Sunsets are just as spectacular. Sunrise high camp offers numerous vantage points for incredible vistas, including Echo Peak, Matthes Crest, Cathedral Peak and the Clark Range. Elevation: 9,400 ft.

May Lake

Granite and afternoon light in the Sierra - Moonrise and alpinglow at dusk

At the geographical center of Yosemite National Park is May Lake. At 9,270 this alpine lake at the foot of Mt. Hoffman is a photographic dream! Sunrise here is a treasure to behold on most summer mornings. The camp here is only a few yards off the lake!

Glen Aulin

The Tuolumne River heads west to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne from Glen Aulin

Glen Aulin means beautiful Valley ... and it is! Set at the foot of the cascade that descends from Tuolumne Falls, this calm and gentle area is the gateway to The Grand Canyon of The Tuolumne. It's our first night's camp in the wilds of the back country after leaving Tuolumne Meadows high camp.

Who Is This Trip For?

* It's for photographers and nature lovers of all levels. * It's a photography workshop. It's a 7 day loop hike that will cover 6 High Sierra camps. It's a chance to experience the high country without the burden of heavy backpacks. * It's a traditional workshop.

* It's for you if: You like hiking and working in the field from sunrise to sunset. .. You want to learn about landscape location and light .. You want to learn about equipment and strategies used in landscape photography and most importantly ..You like hiking with like-minded people, and making images and new friends!

See images from past groups

This Expedition and Workshop

Make no mistake about it, this is a strenuous hike! We will cover over 60 miles at elevations from just under 7,000 feet to over 10,000 feet in a week! You will need to be in fairly good shape, have the desire and stamina to hike the 7 to 10 miles between camps every day. A training program before our hike is recommended. The trails are well maintained and there is no mountaineering skill needed. Previous backpacking experience is not necessary, just the will to do it! This is an excellent introduction to both the high country and backpacking as well as photography. We will be on the trail 7 to 8 hours a day and photographing the sunrises and sunsets form all the camps. Our pace on the trail will be leisurely and will allow for photography and rest breaks. This workshop is small by design. It will allow for ALL levels of photographic experience. There will be no lectures or product endorsements. Personal instruction will be available at all times. The opportunity to photograph and share with the group will always be present.

*Note- if the high camps don't open (it has only happened once in park history) we have contingency plans in the park and the workshop will take place on the scheduled dates regardless. This is a photographic workshop and not based on location specifically.

Waterfalls.. Rivers and Lakes in the Yosemite high country!

Weather, Equipment, Etc.

Mid August is ideal in the high sierra. Great hiking weather! Storms are always possible and weather and conditions change quickly at this elevation. We must make our destination every day no matter. Each high sierra camp will provide us with everything needed for food and shelter. Water is available in all camps along with toilets. Some of the camps have showers. You will be provided with all needed information on equipment, including photographic, backpacking and high sierra camp amenities along with tips and suggestions after your registration.

The Schedule

You will need 7 days. 2 of them are weekend days.

Friday August 13, 2010:    

Our meeting place will be Tuolumne meadows high camp in the eastern section of Yosemite National Park. This area is easily accessible by vehicle. Group orientation and dinner in the high camp will follow. Our first evening will be spent in Tuolumne Meadows High Camp.      


Our loop hike begins. We follow the Tuolumne River out of Tuolumne Meadows for 6 plus miles slightly downhill all the way past Tuolumne Falls and at the foot of it's cascade we come to the beautiful setting of Glen Aulin camp. A great warm up hike on our first day out!Our early afternoon arrival will allow for photographic exploration of the surrounding terrain before dinner and a sunset shoot.


From Glen Aulin it's up and out of the canyon to May Lake. This 8 mile plus hike will now show us the vast area that we will be covering in days to come. A big elevation gain will also set the pace of things to come. May Lake is the geographical center of Yosemite National Park and Sunrise here is a photo opportunity not to be missed ... and we won't!


Up the trail headed for Sunrise after our sunrise shoot at may Lake. Losing elevation quickly we cross the paved road at Tenaya Lake, break for lunch, and then make the switchback trek up to Sunrise high camp. This will most likely be our toughest day on the trail. Once there this pristine mountain meadow setting will make us forget anything but the photography to be had there!


After Sunrise at sunrise ... and breakfast, it's down the trail headed for "the banana belt" climate of Merced Lake. The largest of the high camps this one is also the furthest in. This is our longest hike in terms of miles (10) but most all of it is a beautiful gradual downhill journey. The high camp at Merced Lake will seem like another world compared with the deep canyons and alpine lake settings we have enjoyed photographing to this point. Sunset at Merced Lake is quiet and serine. The side light off the granite is always a highlight of our expedition!


After our sunrise shoot at Merced Lake it's up, up and away! We will climb out of the deep canyon of the Merced River to the junction of the Vogelsang Pass trail with the Lewis Creek trail. Both will take us to Vogelsang high camp at 10,200 feet. Which route will we take? How about a show of hands! Both have special rewards! Upon our arrival at Volgelsang we will have three alpine lakes in a setting that reminds of the Alps to photograph before dinner and sunset.

Thursday August 19:

Alas, our last day on the trail will see us headed back to Tuolumne Meadows. A hike of only 6 plus miles and downhill all the way at that! Our thoughts will be of mountains, lakes, streams, canyons and all the sights and places we have experienced in the last week. While not wanting to leave the freedom and beauty of our surroundings and the company of our fine group, our knees and backs will now welcome the rest! We will all begin to imagine the images that are now ours!

Please remember this is a serious outing and not to be considered lightly! Weather and climate is unpredictable. August in the Sierra is usually ideal. There might still be wildflowers up at Vogelsang. Mild days and crisp cool nights. Our packs will be light due to the fact that we do not have to carry sleeping bags, tents, food and the gear usually needed on pack trips, however this dictates that we must make each new camp every day.

More images from past groups

Experience John Muir's "The Range of Light"

The Cost

The cost of this trip is U.S. $2,995. You are responsible for your own travel arrangements to and from Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. All accommodations and almost all food is included! The workshop payment of $2,995 will be required when you register. If you need to cancel for any reason, a full refund (less $200) will be made, but only if a replacement for you can be found in time. If we have to cancel the trip for any reason you will receive a full refund.


Register now!

For more info please e-mail Steve Kossack or telephone Steve at 1-928-634-8071.

Client Comments

"I want to thank you for encouraging me to come on the Yosemite High Country Expedition. I’ve looked admiringly at the photos from your past High Country workshops and wasn’t sure I had it in me. Thanks for the advice on training and equipment. I think the camera I brought was a good balance between weight and performance. I didn’t feel hampered by the lack of equipment I left at home. It’s been 39 years since I backpacked in the Park. Things like the mountains and lakes don’t change much, but my appreciation for them certainly has. In large part, I think, because of the time I have spent out in the wilds with you photographing the special places we have been. I would not have been ready for this trip either physically, or equipment wise without your expert help. I appreciate your attention to making the trip the best possible for all involved. Once again, I have been able to enjoy the wide vistas and intimate landscapes you expose us to. The other participants were key to this being a great trip also. As usual I learned from all and greatly enjoyed sharing my knowledge and experience. It was great to spend time in the wilderness with good friends and make new ones as well. I felt fortunate to see such beautiful and awe inspiring places and to share the experience with all. As you told us this was primarily a hiking expedition with the opportunity to do some photography. I enjoyed the hiking part and the photography and am pleased with the images I brought home both in the camera and in my mind and heart. Thanks again for a fantastic experience".

Dr. Jeff Johnson

"I need to thank you and everyone for making this Yosemite backpack and expedition a blast. I had so much fun, without laughing, in the real world it would be classified as being "Illegal!" Please pass on my thanks and gratitude for making this the best trip ever for me. Steve you did a great job of keeping us all on track without getting too technical, a fine balancing act if I may say so. This trip was not just a job for you, it is a deep passion. I wait until the next one!"

Les Oglesby


All I can say is 'THANKS' and it was my honor and pleasure to be part of Team Kossack through the Yosemite High Country. I had a fantastic time and the memories are still vivid."

Paul Beiser