Hiking on the Appalachian Trail, even for a short time, is something special. Knowing that it extends so far in either direction just makes it feel more… adventurous. Although I haven’t hiked it in very long distances, the sections I’ve gotten to do have been incredible and inspiring. Camping at an AT shelter and getting to mingle with those few, lucky thru hikers of the year is another experience that I treasure. Just rubbing shoulders and sharing stories with them makes me feel a little more a part of something I hope to accomplish myself.
A welcome cool breeze blows over the raised platform overlooking the mountains of northwest New Jersey just before sunrise on a Tuesday morning. The clouds dance in the sun’s pastel painting, illuminating the rolling hills in a soft glow. It doesn’t feel like the state known for farmland and suburban sprawl. It feels lonesome in a good way. The morning has given me energy that seems to only come with the joy of nature’s beauty and its unique scenery. At this point it feels like I could do anything.
Being in the woods and hiking is one of my favorite things for several reason, but I feel like I think better while I’m hiking. I can process my thoughts while feeling like I’m part of the natural world around me. I feel more in tune with my surroundings, and I notice things like this guy poking his head out of the water as I walked by. He posed for quite a while as I quietly crept around him for a better shot. When I decided to stand up to go to the other side he took his opportunity to dive to the safety of camouflage under the water.
Seeing views like this in New Jersey is something unexpected but always welcome. The beautiful views from High Point State Park are unmatched in the state in my opinion. They call it Skylands for a reason. Hiking up the steep ridge in the morning fog to find a view of the sun coming up over the smoky mountains northwest New Jersey was an amazing feeling. I could have stayed there all day, but as the sun got higher I moved on. The views persisted, but never rivaled those few moments of peaceful, silent beauty at this overlook.
Every year Millville, NJ has an air show at the historic airport. It’s a big draw for local residents and a lot of people in the area. On the good years, the USAF Thunderbirds are there to put on a flight show. I’ve always lived pretty close to the airport so it’s easy to see them doing their test flights a couple days before the event. Even these are really impressive to watch from far below. The expert pilots fly in formation and zig zag around one another, giving us a free show from our backyards.
Since I’ve gotten back from traveling the days have felt long, and I’ve been attempting to fill them with outdoor activities while the weather is so nice. I took a solo kayaking trip down the Maurice River into Union Lake in Millville, and it gave me a lot of time to get lost in the beauty of the nature in my backyard and think. Whether I was fighting the current to make a sharp turn or coasting calmly through a tunnel of trees I felt centered and happy. Focusing on a field of blue, I let all my worries go and enjoyed the warmth of the sun, the cool of the wind, and the feeling of freedom for the short time I was out there.
I’ve been back in New Jersey for a day and I’ve already been hiking in a new place. While I was in North Jersey I met up with a friend and set out for a short hike at Ramapo Mountain Reservation. There are ruins of an old mansion called Van Slyke Castle up a scenic trail that runs along a stream and is incredibly rocky. It was a perfect day for hiking and exploring the ruins. We could see the Manhattan skyline from the top, but I just liked looking at the blue sky and puffy clouds through the old windows.
As I’m heading west for a while I’ll be trying to post a snapshot of the previous day. The plan is to be up for sunrise daily and try to catch sunset in some amazing places. I always make note of the last New Jersey sunset I see before a trip. In this case as I was driving north to begin the trip the sun was setting over the highway I just came from. While things don’t always go as planned and riding off into the sunset seems like a fairy tale at times, I’m trying my best to look forward to the sunrises.
I was feeling like a basic image today; something that didn’t involve snow or too much analysis. The sunsets over Union Lake in Millville are often breathtaking and colorful. I live just around the corner, but I still don’t seem to get there often enough. By the time I notice the sky lighting up out my window it’s almost too late. I’m looking forward to seeing so many sunsets in new places in the coming months, but I will always love this one spot in my hometown.
I recently did a photo shoot with an old friend and her husband and daughter. I have been shooting with her since college and have been there for most of the big events in her and her family’s life. From her engagement to the wedding to pregnancy to family photos now. While going through these photos I couldn’t help but smile thinking about how nice it is to have that relationship even though we don’t get to see each other much outside of these shoots. This is one of my favorite solo shots from the day. Here’s to many more years!