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.

©WAVphoto

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.

beautiful

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.

 

flowers

WAVphoto

I’m so fortunate to know such strong & beautiful women.
To have the opportunity to photograph one in this field
of flowers is a dream come true.

WAVphoto

WAVphoto

WAVphoto

http://www.Migratoryhaven.com
Willsboro, New York

WAVphoto

 

 

 

bespoke

WAVphoto
I heard she thought she wasn’t pretty
I heard she thought she didn’t fit in
She thought she was different.

WAVphoto

We went to the woods
We breathed the air
Supported by the earth under our feet

We laughed
We created

WAVphoto

She is beautiful
She is unique
She is strong

The experience

The photographs

I showed her how perfect she is
She celebrates

WAVphoto

trees + tulle = bliss

20130528-152706.jpg

Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.
~K W Baker

Finally, a beautiful morning!
The long winter seemed to be over.

For several years, I’ve run on the path near these woods. Yes, for exercise (to feel the weight of fresh air fill my lungs, and the leaves and pine provide a soft cushion) and a need to connect with nature. I come alive when I am surrounded by trees, mountains, lakes, trails (birds? only from a distance).

These tall pines, planted in perfect rows intrigue me. I like the patterns and lines they create. I’ve envisioned a photo session here many times.

It was a little out of my comfort zone to bring a few miles of tulle into the woods and set up the photos I took that beautiful morning. I’ve been inspired and was motivated to try something different.

As the light softly filtered through the highest branches of the pine trees and gently touched my model, I began to fall in love. My heart pounded (in a good way), not a “gasping for air on a long run” kind of pounding, but a much more intimate feeling that I was connected – with the images appearing in my lens, with the fresh morning air and with the beautiful woman, wrapped in tulle that day in the woods. I was alive and happy. I was present.

Later that day I opened my trunk to get my yoga mat when the breeze blew a big cloud of tulle from my trunk. I entered yoga that evening laughing, happy, present.