Trip Report: Christmas Meadows

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 The last light of the day bathes the peaks above the Bear River in purple light. 

I spent my Saturday in the mountains, the best way to spend a Saturday. My parents and older sister and I all hiked up to Silver Lake in American Fork Canyon, one of my classic go to hikes. It was a nice afternoon in the mountains with my family, and reminded me of all the times when my dad would drag us all up random trails while on vacation.

I was amazed at how easy this hike has become for me. When I first did this hike 3 summers ago, I huffed and puffed the entire way up. This year I felt strong and full of energy, I didn’t feel the need to stop even a single time on my way up the trail. It’s amazing what a difference 3 years of hiking makes on ones physical fitness.

That afternoon I asked Ashley if she would mind if I ran into the Uintas for the evening. Bless her heart, she agreed to let me go. It was my fathers day present I believe. I had been dying to get back into the Uintas in the early summer while there was still snow on the peaks. This was as much a scouting expedition to see the condition of the mountains as a photography trip. I ended up settling down in Christmas Meadows for the evening and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere of the meadow. This is probably the most iconic spot in the Uintas, and for good reason. It’s a beautiful meadow, with a beautiful river running through it, and beautiful peaks in the distance. It’s also one of the prettiest places in the Uintas you can get to without a hike. However in true Uinta fashion I had it all to myself for the evening, I saw a couple of fisherman down the river when I first arrived, but they left shortly after I got there.

It’s amazing how the mountains renew and invigorate my spirits. I am reminded of the quote by Robert Louis Stevenson.

“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”

Why do you photograph?

Why do you photograph? It’s a question I have asked myself a lot this past year. The last two and a half years have marked a sudden return of my passion for landscape photography, and as I’ve gotten more and more into it, I’ve started to ask this question more and more.

I think one of the most important questions a landscape photographer can ask themselves is… Would you still go to these places, still wake up early, still put forth all of this work, even if you couldn’t take a camera with you?

I finally answered that question for myself and the answer was yes. My primary motivation is my love of nature, the feelings I have when I am in the wilderness, the beauty and peace and solitude that surround me in the mountains. The soul renewing and inspiring feelings that flood through me when I watch the sun rise above the mountain peaks or desert ridges.

As I got more and more serious about my photography I started to think more and more about if I could make a living doing it. I started to dip my toes into the water to see how it felt, started to read lots of blogs and follow lots of photographers. Then I realized over a period of time that it wasn’t for me. Whether or not my work is or would ever be good enough turned out to not be the issue, the issue was if I could stand being a part of that industry, I realized I couldn’t. I couldn’t stand the competition, the pride, the opinionated photographers, the websites setup for other photographers to impress other photographers all in an attempt to get more photographers looking at their stuff. As my writer friend said  when he started to enter the world of publishing,  “It’s just a big circle jerk, just a bunch of writers trying to impress other writers”.

There are photographers who can enter that world and not be phased by it, who even enjoy it, and some photographers who are successful without ever having to go through those doors. I wasn’t one of them. The more I posted my stuff, the more I worried about if others liked it, the less I started to enjoy my time in nature and the more I started to get frustrated every time that conditions didn’t work out for the perfect shot. It was time to reevaluate why I was doing what I was doing.

So now I am here. I do this for myself. I do it to maybe pass something cool on to my children. I do it for pretty pictures and memories to put on my walls. I do it because I want to get out there and see these things and watch that sun come up over the mountains one more time. I do it for the feelings and emotions that seem to flow through me every time I am in the wilderness. Perhaps somewhere along the way I will have some measure of success, I don’t know, and frankly am not at all concerned about it anymore.

So why am I sharing all of this? Mostly because typing it out helps me organize my thoughts and understand it better. Also to point out that this website is not going to be what I originally planned it to be. It is going to be a trip report database, a journal of my adventures and the thoughts and feeling I have visiting all of these amazing places. Not a photography portfolio. I’m excited to share all of these places and experiences with the world, and hope that maybe it will inspire more people to get out there to enjoy and protect this amazing planet.

Trip Report: Lake Blanche

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A fresh dusting of snow blankets Sundial Peak above Lake Blanche. 

Lake Blanche is an icon of the Wasatch Front and has been on my hit list for as long as I have been into photography, but I had somehow never gotten the opportunity to get up there. Finally this October I decided I was going to go for it. I invited my friend and fellow photographer Justin Poe along  and despite him just having had a new baby, he decided to come.  The weather looked promising, the storm we had just had was supposed to break by evening and it looked like we might have perfect conditions for the evening.

We started hiking in the early evening amid a light drizzle, it’s okay we though, it will break. It never did. The trail is rather pleasant, well maintained and good views are to be had all the way up to the lake. It is rather relenting however and it’s a steady and moderately strenuous climb all of the way, I believe about 3500 feet of elevation gain in a little over 3.5 miles.

The light drizzle turned into snowflakes half way up the trail and our hopes of the storm clearing were pretty much dashed. To prove that photographers can be rather stubborn and single minded mother nature decided to put on a beautiful display for us anyway. The partially frozen lake amid a group of Aspen’s still clinging onto their leaves presented an excellent foreground to the strands of snow dusted pines leading up to the partially shrouded Sundial Peak. It was gorgeous, even without the blast of color in the sky that we were hoping for. The snow was gently falling and it was quiet, so quiet, probably the most peaceful moment I had experienced in the mountains all year. I almost wished that I had a tent set up and could spend the night. It just goes to show you that sometimes mother nature knows better than we do.