Sunday, August 21, 2016

New Work- "Edge of the Earth"

"The greatest reward is not what we capture, but rather how we seek it. It is immersion in a wild Earth and an experience that goes far beyond photography. It is a pristine wilderness filled with challenges that are far better to explore than describe." That was the opening paragraph of the invitation we received 18 months ago for a hell-in/heli-out backpacking trip this summer in the mountains, glaciers, and ice fields of the Pacific Ranges, a vast untouched wilderness in the southernmost region of the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, spanning over 40,000 square miles.

Just 5 weeks before the trip, I sustained a severe ligament tear in my ankle (just to the point of not needing surgery). I spent 2 of the 5 weeks on crutches, and the remaining 3 with a progressively improving limp. I did everything I could to heal, but knew the hiking would be difficult and painful. Canceling the trip was not an option for me.

After a three day weather delay setting out, we were dropped off on the foot of a glacier at 6000 feet. Setting out with a 79lb pack and ankle brace, I pressed on, but slower than normal. Just the scouting hike on the first day across the slippery meadows almost brought me to tears in pain. But the first sunset of the trip, I limped over to this patch of lupines not far from camp and photographed this amazing scene. I forgot about the pain. I realized why I came here. There were no words.


 For the next three days we were on the edge of an extreme weather system, with high pressure and thunderstorms just to the north in Alaska, and clear blue skies extending south towards Vancouver. The clouds and intermittent sun made for some very compelling photographs with a telephoto lens.


On day 4 we hiked down to the valley below, losing about 2000 feet of elevation. The hike was down steep talus fields and through a forest so dense I couldn't see the person just a few feet in front of me. Hiking down meant not taking a step down on the ground, but a step down on a the branch of the next lowest tree. We camped along the river about a mile west of this scene which I returned to several times waiting for good light.

Day 5 took us another few miles east, to a small glacier fed lake with a unique waterfall.

Being at a relatively low elevation in near the meadows and with the storms subsiding and hot sun breaking through, the mosquitos were unbearable, so we made our way about a thousand feet up to the foot of a large glacier which acted as a natural air conditioning and kept the mosquitos to a minimum. Sometimes my favorite photographs are not of colorful sunrises and sunsets, but of scenes with simple lines and contrast. This image below is one of my favorites from the trip, shot from atop a ridge in the late afternoon as lenticular clouds formed over the peaks. Such is the simple beauty of the mountains.

 By the final day, the pain in my ankle was an issue of the past. We packed up and sat at camp for a couple of hours, marveling at the final views of this incredible place while waiting for the helicopter to pick us up.

This trip gave new meaning to the words,"the greatest reward is not what we capture, but rather how we seek it." The photographs I captured on this trip are more meaningful to me than anything else in my portfolio. To me, they represent the beauty of untouched nature, adventure, and perseverance through adversity and injury. I hope you enjoy them.


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