I’m just a regular person who discovered a year ago that I’m a hiker, and six months ago I started blogging about photography. It seems the two are intertwined; this blog appears to center on photos taken on my hiking adventures. Maybe it is because I don’t do much other than hike or work. Now spring is coming, with all sorts of opportunity to photograph the new season of budding life. I have a little conflict with photography and hiking, though you would think it would be a natural fit.
When I am alone with my camera, I walk slow and photograph the world around me. I am sometimes on my knees or my tummy looking at the world from new angles. When I hike, I am walking with friends, and I do not feel the freedom to take the same time clicking away.
Why do I hike? For exercise? I know the answer is supposed to be yes, but for me it isn’t. I hike for two reasons. For one, I am just shocked that I can do it. And secondly, it will take me off the beaten path, away from concrete so I can feel like a child again running through the hills of Kimball Valley in Ramona, exploring and experiencing. But hiking in the back country is not a solitary activity. Photography is.
In order for me to discover how far I can hike, I have to keep going. How far away from the pavement can I go? What is out there? What beauty will I discover in my lens? Will I need to walk three miles? Four? Six? Ten? I don’t know how far I can hike, or how far I want to or will need to, to get “there,” wherever “there” is.
So for now my hiking is a competition with myself, seeing how far I can go. Along the way, I sneak in a photo here and there. It is an exciting adventure, pushing a little farther each time. If I were hiking by myself, I would cover maybe a mile in three hours, stopping every few minutes to peer closer at this and that. But maybe a mountain lion would be licking on my ears and munching on my toes.
Last Saturday four friends and I hiked the trails in William Heise County Park in Julian. I have camped in that park, but never gotten past the campsite.
We went on the Cedar Creek Trail and connected with the Kelly Ditch Trail. The trails led us through the area of the Cedar Creek Fire of 2003. What once must have been a wonderful forested area is now lined with silver charred wooden skeletons.
The Kelly Ditch trail, which can take you from the County Park over Cuyamaca Mountain to Lake Cuyamaca, was overgrown. After walking about 500 feet up the mountain, we had to turn back down, taking a different loop to the trailhead.
At that point we had only walked about three and a half miles. (It felt like ten.) We moved the car closer to the trailhead of the Desert View Trail and then walked that trail. The weather was perfect for this trail, about 65 degrees with a cool breeze.
The terrain changed drastically in this part of the park. It was almost high desert chapparral. It is a steep and rocky unshaded trail. To me, brutal. It appeared we’d hiked another 500 feet in elevation, but it felt like twice that.
The view at the top is spectacular. The ranger told us the day before they could see the ocean, but it was too hazy when we were there, but still a wonderful view.
The trip back down was slippery, hard on the toes and knees. I slipped twice and have the scabs and bruises to show for it, but no harm done.
We hiked up an down some steep and rugged trails. The pedometer on my hip said over 7 miles, close to 7 and a half. This is close to the mileage on the trail map the ranger gave us. This is the farthest I have hiked yet. My body felt every step I took. We went out to dinner to celebrate our accomplishments. The two men in our party ate like lumber jacks, or football players in training camp. I could barely chew my small salad, I was so tired.
My photographs are just a glimpse of the hike, documenting that we were there. I am still figuring out how to balance these two activities: walking with others fast enough to get “there,” and enjoying it as a photographic experience.
For those of you that have written and told me you enjoy these blogs and photos, thank you, I will continue sharing as I click my heels and click my shutter. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy the slide show: