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!
Something about rust, detritus, and just an overall run-downness really works for farm settings for some reason. During a recent photo shoot, I used this as a setting. The farmland itself is quite beautiful, but I really enjoyed working with the ramshackle building and rusted silos. There’s a lot of character in an old farm, and its raw, jagged edges pair well with the geometric precision of the crop lines. It’s like a pretty new picture in a great old frame.
Even just over a month ago things still had some color to them. In the recent, color-free days of snow and frost, I wanted to add a photo with some color to it, even if it’s mostly leaves that are on their way to death. This little area is always a nice place to get off the main trail and away from the other people at the park for a short time on the trail around South Vineland Park. You might have to hop over the water to get through, but it’s worth it as a scenic detour.
With the impending snowstorm set to hit the northeast US, I was thinking about how we haven’t gotten any big snowstorms yet this year. Strangely enough it seems to me there have been quite a few snowy days that I’ve been out hiking around locally in freshly covered trails. This is another from a trail I rarely take at South Vineland Park. I really like the scene in snow as it’s not usually quite as visually pleasing without it.
To get away from the snowy pictures for a day, this is from Cheesequake State Park in central New Jersey. It’s not the easiest to find a good hike in the area, but we had never been here so we gave it a shot. There is a well-worn, but still somewhat difficult to navigate, series of trails throughout the forest there. The trails pass through marshes, thick deciduous forest, and along graveled roads at different points. There was a little ice, a lot of mud, and plenty of nice, quiet places to enjoy the views of winter along the way. This particular spot grabbed us as an interesting and beautiful view of winter’s grip. Shedding everything to start anew this spring.
Another image from my snowy walk along the edge of Union Lake the other day. The completely fresh trails were some of the best part. Being the first footprints on a trail is a nice feeling… even if your own footprints get covered in with snow after a short time.
There was a snowstorm scheduled the other day that ended up coming later in the day than it was forecast, so I got to enjoy walking the trails in very heavy snowfall. It was great walking through the freshly fallen fluffiness while it came down. When I got to the lake I came across this great scene of white, which I stood at stared at for quite a while as the snow kept pouring down. It’s such a foreign sight and so close to home.
In my effort to get outside daily even if it’s only for a long walk, I’ve been taking some of the paths through Millville that I normally only run on. So, while the lighting was nice the other night I headed over the Maurice River walking bridge and really liked the view toward downtown. Aesthetically, it’s probably one of the nicest parts of the city, I’ve used it multiple times as a subject from different vantage points. It rarely disappoints.
Sometimes it feels like you can’t see where the road you’re on is taking you. It looks dark and ominous, but you just have to hold on to the hope that up ahead, around the bend, there will be a clear path, and the clouds will part. In the meantime you can enjoy the view of the foggy, dismal streets. The lighting at sunset after a storm reminded me of Walking Dead promos. Everything just looked a little more interesting.
I’m always watching the sunsets or looking for them. Even days when it’s cloudy I find myself wandering outside or gazing up at the clouds when I know the sun is about to be gone for the day. Something about that time of day is just really interesting to me. Thinking about it makes me want to more actively pursue the sunrise. I know every ending is another beginning, such as the beginning of the night, but I’d like to start greeting the start of the day with the same reverence I give the end.
Anytime I visit the farmland areas I think I should be going back all the time. It’s such a stark contrast in landscape to the claustrophobic grid of city streets and houses near where I live. You can actually see the sky and there are beautiful colors playing in the fields. I love the simplicity of this scene and the tranquility. It makes me feel calm even though I feel like I need constant stimulation to keep myself busy. This lets me sit and relax for a moment.
It’s been a while since I can remember it being cold enough in New Jersey for the lakes to stay frozen for any length of time. I used to walk out on Parvin Lake pretty regularly in the winter, but it’s been a while since I would even consider setting foot on the ice. I still didn’t do it this year, but it looks like it might be able to hold weight. I’m really enjoying looking up close at the textures and how the water freezes. It’s pretty amazing and really unique. It’s another way that a familiar landscape is transformed into something else completely amazing.
Unless I plan to go somewhere to do outdoor activities, the winter will often keep me inside a lot of the time. It’s nice to get out even for just a little while each day for a walk if nothing else. After a nice day of watching movies inside, we came to Roosevelt Park for a walk around the pond at sunset. It’s a beautiful park and the frozen pond made the colors extend beyond the sky. We also got to watch a group of ducks hanging out and walking on the ice!
There are a few places in New Jersey where you can see the sun drop into the water at the end of the day. It’s a nice change since we live on the east coast and normally that’s reserved for California or the Gulf Coast. But since the bottom of the state is a peninsula we have the bay to our west. At East Point the sunset is arguably just as beautiful as some over the Pacific. The sun sets over Delaware and depending on the time of year there are horseshoe crabs lining the beach.
This is a shot of my hometown, Millville, New Jersey, during a foggy night after midnight. There wasn’t much traffic, and everything looked a little more soft, so I set up a long exposure to catch the street light with all three lights lit up. I was happy with the result and a little portrait of a place I know very well.