Gratitude & the Mountains

Hiking boots. 4:30am alarm. Fender-bender.
3 Generations. Mountains. Gratitude.

For many, this collection may seem completely at odds. ©WAVphoto

Years ago, my hiking partner & I would greet the day with an early alarm. Rising with the alarm would be crazy to assume, as neither one of us would have slept a wink, knowing we had the opportunity to hike together in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of upper New York State.  One of the first on the trail that day gave us the chance of collecting all the spider webs, making our footprints in the mud from the night before and getting a jump on the summer daylight. (the truth: most days it rained when we hiked…there was no beautiful sunrise).

Back then, we hiked with a mission to finish hiking all 46 peaks in the Adirondacks over 4,000 feet in elevation. Once we accomplished that goal (and it was a huge accomplishment) everyone wondered “what’s next?” will you continue to hike or just pack it in now that you’ve accomplished your goal? I knew instinctively that I’d return with my camera. It wouldn’t be a hike, it would be a photo op. The photo documentation from our hikes had consisted of: arrival at the peak – sometimes with a marker or a plastic disc with the mountain name – in the rain – the swift removal of my point & shoot from the zip lock baggie, one shot at a selfie with both of us in it, the return of the camera to the zip lock & trying to get below the tree line for shelter so we could take in a quick energy break.

During the miles of footprints on the trails I saw so many beautiful places that I wanted to photograph. Carrying a camera & spending the time to stop & start seemed counter to our success at that time. However, in my mind, my creative thoughts flowed constantly…almost as strong as the river we ascended Seward Mountain in. I pictured a beautiful vista – we passed several – with a strong woman in red, in complete possession of her beauty and power with the Adirondack mountains as a stunning & supportive backdrop. The mountains with all their beauty couldn’t shine as bright as a strong woman. The combination, in my mind, was powerfully crazy. It kept my thoughts occupied as the long winter months dragged on, just waiting for the opportunity, the stars to align, the moment when I could look thru my camera, press the shutter and capture the beauty, the strength, the elegance, the moment.

Until it happened.


A small window created itself. Then closed. The only day for a hike was postponed by a fender-bender. It couldn’t be helped. Fortunately no one was injured, just the mounting anticipation postponed. It had already been two years, what’s another day?

Funny thing when we listen to the energy of the universe.

The fender-bender was only to delay our hike, avoiding heat, humidity and…rain & thunderstorms. The weather the following day was…incredible. It began with a gift of a beautiful blue moon reflecting on the lake. We hiked a long road into the base of the mountain, uphill all the way.

I carried my pack with my usual hiking gear and an additional pack with my camera, a few dresses and flow-y fabric and a few assorted props. Gratefully, my hiking buddies/models helped to carry the additional pack. We quickly ascended to our destination. Up. And more Up. I had only seen photographs of our location, sight unseen but listening to the universe.

The day was just dawning with beautiful sun rays peeking through the trees along the trail. The birch trees glowing white. The river singing alongside our path. My only Adirondack hike of the year and I anticipated the smell of balsam. I wasn’t disappointed.

With excitement came our last turn off the uphill trail, I was leading and as the trees parted, I came out onto the granite ledge. W. O. W. All I could say was “wow”…with that raspy, not-really-a-sound but more of an exclamation, almost to myself…and to the universe. Gratitude flowed over my soul as I looked out onto the most beautiful sight I had only dreamed of. Mountains to the left and to the right, mountains I had climbed over 25 years, with the beautiful blue lake, nestled in between. Blue sky and white clouds as far as I could see.  There really are no words when you come across such majesty. Nature is an incredible editor, making everything just so.

My girls, hiking buddies, taking in the view as well, were psyched! I had packed a couple dresses and fabric – game ON. Hiking boots and beautiful dresses! I could not contain my excitement for another minute. The three of us, bonded by legacy. Our fathers had known each other years ago at a local camp (the Greatest Camp in the Universe). We reunited recently, after one of the connectors passed away. We were together to sprinkle some ashes in his beloved mountains.


Our hike quickly erupted into a photo session…my vision came to life right before my eyes! It’s always a wonderful feeling when others will take your lead and trust you immensely – to allow me to coach their body into a moment and wait for me to photograph it. Completely vulnerable. Strong. Incredible. Feminine. Powerful. Without a doubt, beautiful.

We laughed. We worked hard. Almost as hard as the hike to get here. My vision had come to fruition. These women made it happen. I was filled with gratitude beyond words. Just images.

my vision of strength

The final series was with both women. A bond with roots 50 years in the making. We are the middle. Our sons were also at the Greatest Camp in the Universe this summer, together. Continuing the legacy of their grandfathers.

I positioned the models on the edge of the cliff, allowing their poses to naturally flow, as the clouds came over and covered the sun, as the breeze blew cool air through their hair, their hands connected, the moment captured.

As I pressed my shutter for the final time that morning, tears fell from my eyes. The beauty. The majesty. The honor. I knew that was my final frame. There could be no more.

Legacy bonds

Gratitude poured from my soul, from my eyes. My vision of my hiking partner in a red dress on a mountain, strong, beautiful, came to life. The legacy and friendship between three people captured forever.

On a mountain.


today, I celebrate Pam!


Remember, when you see a woman at the top of a mountain,
she didn’t just fall there.

When sleeping women wake,
mountains will move.
-Chinese Proverb

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.
Climb the mountains to get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as the sunshine into the trees.
The winds will blow their freshness into you
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
-John Muir

Happy Birthday, Pam.
I wish you: sunny hikes, great views, dry socks,
only gummy bears, the last 50 yard jog
and another lifetime of reasons to celebrate!


Dear Caregiver,

I saw you.
I heard you.

I don’t know if you truly heard my quiet voice, strained with a lump in my throat say ‘thank you’.

I came to pick up my mother for a visit to the doctor. You may not recall that day specifically because you were doing your job. Your days are probably filled with moments like this, without anyone seeing the work you do. That moment will always live inside my heart.

I saw you pick out a fresh outfit to put on, one that all three pieces coordinate. You couldn’t have known that I took my mom shopping a couple summers ago and we picked out that outfit together. I saw the care and concern in your actions toward my mom as a caregiver and as a caring human. She may not remember anything about today, may continue to jumble her thoughts and words but you understand that she is my mother.

I heard you when she gave you a difficult time about changing her clothes that day. You gently told her she’s going out today and reminded her that she would like to look nice. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for remembering that this once vibrant, loving, beautiful woman is still beautiful. You helped preserve her dignity for this moment. I doubt she will recall it. I will never forget it.

You know about the dementia, the challenges in getting her to the hospital just two nights ago. You know the medication given to her to get thru that procedure made her even more forgetful, challenging, perhaps. And you continued being kind, professional and caring.

I saw you.
I heard you.
I thank you.