Friday, September 27, 2013

New Canvas

The changing of the seasons always comes as a bit of a shock to the senses for someone like me who spends time in the mountains, and a bit of effort is needed if one is to maintain mental equilibrium.

Just a week ago my hiking partner Neil and I were hiking in shirtsleeves and sweating like crazy and we trekked up a peak in Mt. Rainier National Park, but things change oh-so quickly in the mountains. Yesterday we did a dayhike in the North Cascades and at our high point -- a pass bit above six thousand feet in elevation -- we found ourselves walking in fresh snow.

It was pretty amazing to stand at that pass and be able to look down into valleys at Autumn, while above us the high peaks had the look of Winter. I had to pull a light stocking cap, gloves, and a windshirt out of my pack. Summer was last week’s experience. Old news.

Mother Nature has new canvas to play with and yesterday I was fortunate to be there to get a sense of what she has to show me in the coming months... if only I'm willing and able to venture out and see.

Monday, September 16, 2013


This is the time of the year when I can’t help but think about Lenny, the simple-minded character in Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men,” and how Lenny had an agrarian dream to  “live off the fat of the land.”

Everywhere I look, the soil around me is offering foods that Leah and I can eat, if only we reach up and pick apples off trees or stoop down and gather beans from the garden or forage mushrooms from a forest floor. We gratefully oblige, bringing what the land has produced into the house and Leah dries or cans or freezes the bounty.

Truth be told, I spend almost as much time playing with my camera and trying to record the beauty of the food as I do helping with the harvest.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Crossing Paths

Many of the friends I hike with these days were colleagues during the 18 years I worked as a photographer at Seattle’s morning newspaper -- reporters and editors for whom journalism was a calling, not merely a job.  My friends really know the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest, and, as we drive toward trailheads for treks in wild places, the conversation is often about politics, or land use issues, or the environment.

Last Friday my friend Neil and I decided to hike the Pasayten Wilderness and we piled boots and packs into Neil’s Subaru and he pointed the car toward north central Washington.  The roadtrip part of our day took us along the North Cascades Highway, even casual glances out the car windows treating us to some of the most stunning roadtrip scenery in America.  Neil was a longtime political reporter, is smart as a whip, and, as he drove,  we talked about politicians and governmental policy, both at home and in that far-off place some here refer to as “The Other Washington.”

That’s when we came upon the fellow you see in the photograph above, walking along a fairly secluded stretch of road, carrying a “peace” sign. “What’s up with this?” I wondered, because, though the setting might not quite have been the Middle of Nowhere, it was certainly in that neighborhood. I guess I was in a journalistic frame of mind -- as opposed to the Wilderness Hobo frame of mind I’d get into later in the day -- and I asked Neil to pull over.

I chatted with the fellow for a bit and I learned he was hiking toward a small town where he planned to catch a bus to travel to the county’s courthouse and there he would stand with his sign.  I told the fellow that it was ironic that Neil and I should encounter him when we did...that we'd been talking in the car about Syria, and what, if anything,  the US and the world community might do. I asked the fellow if I could make a photograph of him and he said yes. We shook hands and parted, the man with the sign going one way down the road while Neil and I headed the other.