Monday, March 28, 2016

The Illusion of Wilderness

On Saturday, one week after my last post, I was standing where the person with an orange shirt in the photo is standing.  We walked around 4 miles away from the maddening crowd, and here and there were able to imagine we were in a wilderness.  But then wilderness is a human construct anyway, so I could have imagined the same thing at home while reading Thoreau, or looking through my Wildflowers of Table Mountain, and I'm sure Spencer could have done the same.   Actually, I ended up doing all three by the end of the day.  Spencer (the navigator) and I walked with our cameras from the overflowing parking lot to the nearest No Trespassing sign we could find.  Upon carefully moving out of the public zone, we spent the next several hours in relative solitude and talked wildflower photography, seasons, life/career stages and dreams, and all sorts of other things.  We hadn't hiked together for three years.  I use my amateurish photography as a means of telling a story.  Spencer is the pro photographer.  We even talked about pro vs. amateur and all the weight that distinction carries, especially at photographer meetings and shows.  For me, it's much more fun to be away from it all and have free-ranging discussions.  Walking for around 5 hours at a pretty good pace, punctuated by many brief photo stops, we figure we covered somewhere between 10 and 12 miles.  I took 327 photos, and now all I need is time to edit and post.  The above photo of Phantom Falls in Coal Canyon, took 4 minutes and 35 seconds to load into this blog post.  (We have inferior Internet service here.) While waiting for the photo to load, I dreamed of earlier visits to the huge cave at the base of the falls and of nearly stepping on a rattlesnake on the path down to the base.  A very satisfying day it was.
In the week between these last two posts I took around 50 photos near Quincy, and yesterday, I took a hike in the woods with my colleague Dr. Joan Parkin in the area north of Greenville.  We tried some video-taping for the first time, and I also took a couple dozen more stills.  I'm technically on Spring Break, so if I can get near a faster Internet access, I'll be posting lots of photos and stories during the remainder of the week.

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