“Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere; and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself”
I’ve been thinking about those words all weekend long. I have been feeling pretty lost for the past 11 days. Things went spectacularly horrible at work, lost of stress, I got sick the list went on and on. the past two weeks have been a low point in a summer I wish I could push far from mind. I never even had a chance to hike working the 11 day stretch straight and I felt it. I was beat, disgruntled and ready for a change. But finally I had a chance to clear my mind and lose myself on the trail and even test out my new camera with a short hike this morning. My plans to hike Mount Diablo were shelved as the mountain still smolders so I turned to a short seven and half mile hike at Pleasanton Ridge.
I have made the hike along the parks ridge tops many times so knowing the route well would allow me time to concentrate on getting used to my new camera, A Canon 70D. I decided to go one with one lens for the hike and packed my Canon 17-40mm f.4 L lens. A fog bank greeted me as I reached the top of the Altamont Pass as i head to the park so I would be hiking under gray skies. I didn’t care, I just need to get out on the trail and put the past weeks behind me. With a my new camera and empty memory card and a desire for solitude I headed out for a loop around the Ridgeline and Thermalito trails.
It may sound funny but but how would taking pictures make a photographer relax if he is stressed out from taking pictures at work? Sounds like I should want to stay at home and watch college football with a hot cup of coffee in my hand to relax. But getting out away from people and enjoying the quiet on the trail is what I needed. Taking pictures on the trail is different. There are no deadlines, no cultines to write it’s just whatever I come across. Pleasanton Ridge is just a few miles off Interstate 680 and it is a stretch to call it remote but after a half hour of hiking I ma the dirt trails winding up and down the ridge and far from the hum of the freeway. And there I can get lost in a kind of photography I enjoy.
Far from the chaotic scene of a street racing crash I stop and compose a picture of tree branches framing the sun slipping through the veil of fog shrouding the park. A burned stump with one bright oak leaf makes for a powerful composition. Brightly colored leaves fading to their fall colors catches my eye on the side of trail. Pretty soon I lose track of the time as I stop every so many feet to photograph a scene. I am lost in my own nowhere searching for just the right scene to capture along my hike. I have travelled this trail many times but each visit is unique as the light is always different and brings a unique perspective to my camera each time.
The longer I walk the more pictures I take and lose track of who and what is around me. It’s pretty much just me, my camera and the trail. That’s my world for the morning. No deadlines, no complaints, no questions. It seems like I have been on the trail for for or five hours but I wrap up my hike in just over three hours. Looking back at my pictures some of them feel dark and brooding while others feel quiet and solemn. I guess my work reflects my feelings to some degree but even if it is just being able to artistically describe my feeling I guess that is a kind of therapy too. But more importantly I was lost in my favorite place, the hiking trail and rediscovered a little bit of fun. Even if it is just for the morning there is nothing better than going on a hike and get your bearing back, finding yourself along the way, it makes the trip worth the effort.