Monday, May 25, 2009
When I was 6 years old my mom took my 12 year old brother and I backpacking in the wilderness behind this mountain. This was my first backpacking trip. On our second day up there we climbed the peak from the backside of the direction you see it from in this picture. That was the first mountain I ever climbed. On our way back down my brother ran ahead of us exploring the mountain slopes. Suddenly my mother and I heard a terrified scream. We ran to see what had happened and discovered Larry at the bottom of a glacial slope with a severely sprained ankle. He had decided it would be a good idea to slide down the snowy slope by what is known as "glissading", or skiing on your feet. Not seeing the 16 foot drop at the bottom of the slope when he started, he was unable to stop when he got to it and flew off the ice into some jagged rocks. It could have been much worse. However he could not walk.
My 5'1" mother managed to carry him about a 20 yards before she realized the task ahead of her was impossible. So we stopped and prepared a little spot to hole up. We were about 3 miles from our tent and camp, and did not have sleeping gear or cold weather equipment. After giving us all the snacks and water we brought along, my mother then reassured us that she would return soon, and began the 6-7 mile trek out to get help. I remember being scared, and my older brother moaning in pain most of the time. I was able to distract myself and play with a small parachute army man toy I brought for awhile, but when darkness came I just cuddled up to my brother and waited fearfully through the night, convinced that every rustle in the bushes was a bear or mountain lion. Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning we heard shouts and whistles calling for us coming up the mountain. We both began shouting at the top of our lungs as help came running in. My mother had hiked all the way back to the trailhead and car, before realizing that her keys were still in our original camp, which she had hurriedly bypassed. She was forced to walk another 3 miles to the closest house and call for help. A group of good friends and avid outdoorsmen, one of whom several years later became my stepdad, flew out of bed at the news and raced up that mountain with flashlights and emergency equipment to retrieve us. This was my introduction to camping in the wilderness at six years old. And it began a life-long addiction to wilderness adventure and mountain climbing. I think partly realizing the awesome respect that is commanded by the mountains, but also facing my fear and surviving adversity and danger in that environment, burned into me a passion for the natural world and our place in it. I've been going back ever since. Thanks mom.
Afternoon sun dropping behind Twin Peaks late winter of 2007-08. Just noticed this driving home after picking Mia up from school one day. She got some great shots as well. They say Twin Peaks used to be two equal peaks, but the top of one was blasted off by lightning.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The name Wallowa Valley comes from the Nez Perce word for it, Wallowa (Wah-low-ah), which translates to "Land of Winding Waters". This is where the famous Chief Joseph and his band were from, and so cruelly driven out of so I can live here now and take pictures like this. Hmmm. Funny how things are never just black and white in life. Many people live in this valley who are deeply moved by the tragedy that took place here just over a hundred years ago. Yet what if "justice" had been done, and the original inhabitants of this land were allowed the same property rights that I and my neighbors enjoy now? I certainly wouldn't be enjoying those rights on this land that's for sure! I could never justify someone's beloved homeland being torn from them, and then have them forced under inhumane conditions from it into a desperate life of poverty! Yet I would fight just as fiercely as they did to keep MY home on that very land... How do we reconcile these things as Americans? I certainly don't claim to have the answer. But I think it's a question worth asking. If nothing else that question can motivate us to find a more balanced way of progressing as a Nation than we have in the past. We must not turn our mistakes into patterns of repetition, but use them to grow as a people and a Country. (Leave it to me to take a simple landscape photograph and turn it into a political diatribe!)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Got lucky and saw this big Mountain Goat Billy pose for me as I came over the crest of Dragon's Tail Ridge while summiting Mt. Sacajawea one Fall. He just sat there and stared at me long enough to grab my camera, change my lens, and fire off about 8 frames. Then he turned and walked off into space. The way they always do. It's like they don't have to obey the laws of Gravity.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
My friend Teysha lit up by Aplenglow coming off the summit of Ruby Peak at sunset. Her name literally means "Wolf Friend" in my tribal language, Caddo. (I am an enrolled member of the Caddo Indian Tribe of Oklahoma, although I was born and raised in Oregon.) Teysha was one quarter wolf, like I am one quarter Caddo. She was shot by an unfriendly rancher while visiting his dogs one night because she truly did have the "Call Of The Wild" in her genes, and she loved to roam and explore. And make new friends. Just like me. I miss her.
This is a problem I consistently have, no matter what time I leave to go up. Maybe partly because the best light is always at high altitude right before sunset. There is no other kind of light that compares to "Alpenglow". So it's nearly impossible to put the camera down and start moving! Plus, I just don't like to leave a summit. Standing alone on top of a 10,000 foot peak in the hidden back country somewhere is true peace. There is no other feeling like it. And I wont try to express it with words because I can't. I am always loathe to leave that feeling of wholeness and well being that I have in those situations. But everything has it's due. And spending the night on a cliff somewhere because you messed around too long, can be one of those dues. And I don't recommend down-climbing in the dark unnecessarily to anyone, wether in familiar or unfamiliar surroundings. I spent a night on these slopes, which are supposed to be "familiar" to me, because it is always better safe than sorry when hiking alone in the wilderness. And huddling by a fire and not sleeping for a night so that you can find a safe route through loose rock cliffs, is better than lying with a broken leg or neck off trail somewhere until you die or someone finds you. But before you do any of those things, just leave the summit in time to get back by dark!
Friday, May 15, 2009
Trying to stay warm during an unexpected overnight stay in The Eagle Cap Wilderness. (Got caught up in some cliffs after dark and had to wait out the night huddled by this fire until it was light enough to see my way down. It's always better to be safe than sorry when you're hiking solo in the wilderness. At least I had my camera!)
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Mia just being her beautiful self. Playing in the Wallowa River with her friends. I think this was about the last film picture of any note that I've taken. It was July, 2006. (That's certainly not to say that I won't be shooting film any more! And that doesn't count weddings, as I use my eye control focus on my Canon EOS3 to shoot ceremonies or fast action.)
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The Scottish fishing village of Mallaig, in the far Northern Highlands, across from the Hebrides Islands which can be seen in the background. This is an iconic Scottish fishing village where the seas run rough and the wind whips through the Highland Heather. It's right out of a picture book.
A typical Scottish afternoon vista. What an incredible, beautiful country! I could live in Scotland. And the light is so beautiful there, the way it constantly changes with the rolling sea clouds that flow across that dramatic landscape.
Maybe a bit cliche, but fun anyway! This castle was built and is still owned by the Campbell Family (of Campbell's Soup), one of Scotland's oldest prominent clans, and there is much history behind it's 600 years. We were able to spend 3 nights there. How fun for Mia at 9 to be the princess of her own castle, albeit slightly creepy castle, for 3 days and nights! Lucky girl!
View from the top of The Eiffel Tower. They weren't kidding when they called this The City of Lights! And this is only about 180 degrees of it. Imagine these lights surrounding you for 360 degrees, and about as far as the eye can see! I shot this hand held for 8 seconds with my elbows braced against the rail. Man it was windy up there too!
I shot this as we began an unexpected adventure walking 4 miles through Paris at night from The Eiffel Tower to our hotel. We brought just enough cash with us to catch a bus to the Eiffel, purchase tickets to go up it, and purchase a meal afterward. However we forgot the bank card at the hotel, and did not have enough cash with us for a bus or cab back. Oops. After some fretting, we just accepted that we were walking. And not only that, navigating by the river, and maps at the Metro stations. We knew our hotel was about 4 blocks up from Notre Dame, which is on the river, so if we basically just followed the Seine from the Eiffel Tower until we reached Notre Dame, we would be able to find our way. We crossed over the river a couple times and eventually made our way to St. Germain Boulevard using Metro maps (which aren't really maps). That took us almost directly to our hotel, as it was between St. Germain and Notre Dame. What an adventure though! I enjoyed shooting all the interesting sights we came across that night, and had fun playing with long hand held exposures, in some homage I suppose to the famous impressionists who painted this river so many times, and inspired me to attempt to make art from a very young age. The whole experience of watching the sun set and the moon rise from the top of the Eiffel Tower, and seeing that incredible city lit up at night from those heights, would not have been the same without proceeding down into it and having a wonderful adventure wandering through all those lights and taking in sounds and sights and smells we never would have experienced if not for a moment of forgetfulness! Who knows in what form blessings will come. Stress can turn into beauty sometimes.
This was taken right after Friday Night Fever, a procession of over a thousand roller skaters and bladers that skates the length of St. Germain Boulevard every Friday night at midnight, passed us by as we were making our way back to our hotel from the Eiffel. What a sight it was. And a surprise when police appeared as we were walking down the boulevard and blocked off the intersections, then suddenly we heard the thunder of tiny wheels and small steel bearings rolling down the boulevard towards us. For over ten minutes we watched them roll past us. What a sight indeed... However it was this brief image that really stuck with me from that moment. I turned and noticed the embrace of a couple who had been watching the procession near us, filled with the energy of that distinctly Parisian moment, they lost themselves in each other there on the side of the boulevard. And it seemed such an iconic moment for that city. Something about it pulses with romantic idealism, and truly you see lovers embracing on nearly every corner! Had we not forgotten our bank card at the hotel earlier that evening, and embarked on the adventure that became necessary for doing so, we would not have been able to be a part of that moment. Funny how things work out!
After our trek walking about 4 miles through Paris at night, from the Eiffel Tower to our hotel near Notre Dame, we stopped at the cafe down the street from our room for a well deserved treat. What an adventure for Mia exploring the city at night like that after viewing it from the top of the Eiffel, and seeing the things we saw. And cocoa made only the way it is in a Parisian cafe, with steaming milk and melted chocolate, at 1AM, to top it all off. She deserved it!
Friday, May 1, 2009
Our first night in Paris, sitting along the River Seine behind Notre Dame. I probably can't put in to words that night, and my brief time in that City. But I'll just say it is my favorite city I've ever been to. Maybe it was standing a mere 6 feet in front of the Mona Lisa, maybe it was the River, and the art, and the poetry, and the music, and the romance, and the architecture, maybe it was just my own romantic idealism... but man I loved that city! My experience there was magical, and kick started my creative soul. And Mia loved it as well! In fact when we were standing in front of the Mona Lisa in a group of about 45 people, the guard lifted the rope and let her stand immediately in front of the famous glass enclosed painting. Only Mia out of all of us. I think that was indicative of Mia's experience there, and throughout that entire trip. People always respond to her well, the old beautiful soul that she is. What a blessing to have her with us!