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 up before sunrise has an energy that is invigorating. There is potential to the day while you wait for the sun to break the horizon. Staring at snow-covered mountains towering in every direction around you in the blue tones of early morning is magical. And when the first warm glow hits the peak of the tallest point, it radiates with life-affirming color while it slowly swallows up the darkness and ushers in the morning.
Detours can be one of the best parts of a road trip, and yesterday we decided to head to Death Valley instead of Moab. We got here in time for sunset, and seeing the low sun on the amazing landscapes here was crazy. The biggest surprise to me the first time I came to Death Valley was how much colorful, varied formations were here. Everything is beautiful and carved by wind and water over centuries. This is one of my favorite places at Zabriskie Point.
Couch surfing has been a big part of our trips for the past few years. Once we discovered the network of likeminded people who offered their homes for travelers to stay we have been getting more into it ever since. I’ve met some great people that I keep in touch with from all around the country and internationally. This shot is from the deck of last night’s host at sunrise near Lyons, Colorado. Cheri was a great host, and her house was beautifully located high up in the hills with views in all directions. I’ve really enjoyed all of my experience so far with couch surfing, and I can’t wait for more.
We got up quite early to go find a spot near Lake Michigan for sunrise. It’s a good thing we did since it’s not that easy to find parking along Lake Shore Drive. The sky was great and the sunset was beautiful over the water as it lit up the city. I wanted to post a shot from behind my camera since this is what I see a lot of the time and I just really like this shot.
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.
Whenever I’m in a new place I like to find a nice spot to watch the sun set. It’s nice to have the chance to sit somewhere for a while and reflect on the day while watching the sky change colors. In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania I sat on these steps for a good hour or more just thinking and watching birds play along the water. It was incredibly calming and a good way to reset my mind after a day of working and stress.
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.
Spending a couple of nights at The Lodge at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire was a great little vacation. Besides being a nice room, with access to a hot tub, pool, bars, and game rooms at the swanky Mount Washington Hotel, we also got this view just off of our balcony. We got ourselves up at sunrise (which is actually quite later than the posted time since the sun has to get over those mountains…) and had this brilliant golden glow fill the room as it filtered through the hanging ice and lit up the valley. Absolutely worth the wait.
When we were in D.C. we spent a good amount of time at the Jefferson Memorial exploring the angles and seeing how the light changed as the sun went down. I really love this image of TJ looking out hopefully over the country he helped build while the sun sets peacefully over the nation’s capital. Even though it was pretty bitter cold, there were still busloads of people coming out to visit these landmarks, and the monument lit up beautifully inside with the late-day sunlight.
I think the Jefferson Memorial is one of the more overlooked of the major monuments in Washington, D.C. It sits a little farther away from the Mall, but the area around the tidal basin is gorgeous (even when there are no cherry blossoms in bloom.) It was freezing with the wind coming across the water, but the sunset was great and I caught this image as we hurried back to the car for warmth. The sky lit up perfectly after the sun dropped below the horizon and let these trees makes some really amazing dancing silhouettes.
Last weekend we had a fantastic hike up the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey to Sunfish Pond. Usually, this pond is not so solid, but being that is was covered in ice and snow we decided to walk across it. The snow-covered trail to the pond couldn’t have been more picturesque, but walking across a frozen pond on a beautiful day made us happy campers. It was her first time walking on a frozen lake, and I believe it was my first time completely crossing one. I tried a few different things with this photo to get a good angle. The deep snow made it hard to get behind and under the feet, and I wanted to include some of the footprints in front as well.
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.
If this looks familiar it’s because it is the same shot from two days ago under snow. It’s also a little earlier in the day so the color is a little less warm. I had a nice walk around the snow-covered trails of the Maurice River Bluffs yesterday, enjoying the new world created by the snow. I like how similar, yet different, everything seems, which is why I chose to share this photo so soon after the other one. There’s always another way to see something; it can be a place or a situation.
One of my favorite places locally to get away from everything is the Maurice River Bluffs trails. They are well-maintained, secluded, and there are several loops so you can make it as long or short as you’d like. One of my favorite spots is just near the entrance at sunset where the rows of trees are silhouetted and the sun peeks through as it creates these long shadows. It’s even better in the winter when I can enjoy all of this pretty much without the chance of anyone else showing up.
Driving from Joshua Tree north through the Mojave National Preserve was one of my best accidental decisions. The sun setting over the large desert expanse behind the rows and rows of mountains was an experience I cannot recount through words. Being surrounded by nature of that scope is just a transcendent feeling. I pulled over and just kept looking around as the warm night breeze picked up. The rest of the drive would pitch dark with a sky full of stars and roads washed out from recent floods. Trying as it was, I’m glad I headed off the highways for the day to experience this place.
2014 was another very bad year for wildfires in northern California. As I drove through the region I passed several areas where fire crews were working tirelessly to extinguish huge blazes on the mountainsides. The flames were less obvious than the smoke that engulfed towns and roads, prompting many drivers to pull over to watch the choppers zigzag across the hills as they dropped water and turned sharply to assess the direction of the flames. As I drove out of the area this was the scene looking back. It did not look like a midday in summer but a post-apocalyptic landscape where the sun is fighting to get through.