Tag Archives: Nature Photography

You, Me, Stillman, And Dupree…

Although I love my Kindle, I am cursed with the ability to buy books at will. If I’m reading another book or an article that I found on hiking or the outdoors, I’ll click on the link and head on over to Amazon. And then I can’t resist. If I am even remotely interested in the book, I will add it to my library and it will sit there until I get to it. It could be a few days, a month, a year, or several years. It all depends.

So, as I was reading another book, the name Scott Stillman came up. What interested me even more was the title of the book that was being recommended. Released in January, I Don’t Want To Grow Up: Life, Liberty, and Happiness. Without a Career offers readers an insight as to what it is like to be able to seek out life’s adventures without the hassle of every day life. The ability to just pick up and go almost whenever you want to, just to climb that mountain, hike that trail or surf that wave.

Isn’t that what we all want to do? I am now in that unique position where if I want to hike a certain trail that may not be close to my home, I can do so. Since I am retired, I don’t have to worry about work and as long as my wife has my schedule, it shouldn’t be a problem.

The author says this about his most recent book:

My fellow readers…

At first glance, this book may appear as a departure from my nature writing. Upon reading it however, I’m confident you will find it is not. As you might know by now, I find it impossible to discuss any matter without also discussing nature. We are inseparable.

So here you go–another nature book. Part memoir, part philosophy, part how-to, part prayer for a better future–but a nature book, nonetheless. You will find it different, yet the same.

My sincere hope is that it finds its way into the hands of someone who’s suffering. Struggling to find their place in this crazy world. Struggling to grow up.

If it helps a single person, I’ll consider it a success.

Thanks for allowing me this opportunity. Thanks for your continued support. My gratitude is boundless.

Scott makes it clear to his readers. If you want to adopt this type of lifestyle before you retire, you can. If you haven’t seen the movie You, Me and Dupree, I strongly recommend it. Dupree, one of the lead characters in the movie, has adopted the lifestyle that Stillman celebrates in his book.

At 183 pages, I was able to knock it out in under a day. Looking at pursuing some adventures, I thoroughly enjoyed the book as well as the message it sent. So many people are caught up in the cycle of adulthood that they can’t even think about undertaking even weekend adventures because of life.

But as I am finding out, life might not always be here tomorrow.

Here is the description of the book that Amazon offers:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

We’ve been asked this question over and over, practically since the day we could walk.

Many of us have absolutely no idea. We never have and we never will. This bothers us terribly, and on a profound level. We feel useless, disconnected, scattered, unfocused. If we could just make up our minds—about something, about anything!

What if you didn’t have to grow up?

Society would like us to believe that to be successful, we need careers. But let’s face it—we’re not all meant to be doctors, lawyers, scientists, and accountants.

Some are meant to be dreamers.

The people on the fringes of society who don’t necessarily subscribe to the modern version of the American Dream. Artists, adrenaline junkies, nomads, life seekers. Those who doubt conventional wisdom, question authority, and continually search for newer, better ways to live.

The world needs freaks—now more than ever before.

Is the career-less path really so bad?

Could it actually be a calling?

Find out for yourself.

Get it Now.

Think about where you are in life and decide how you want to move forward. You may be in your 40’s with the standard accoutrements of a suburban husband or wife. Can you make a decision to downsize and simplify your life so you can complete some of the adventures that you have no doubt been thinking about for years. Don’t kid yourself, we all have things that we have dreamed about doing, some for a pretty long time.

Needless to say, this book is worth the read. If anything, it will get you thinking.

If you could just take off, even if it is only for a few days or weeks, would you?

And to answer that other great question, What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be FREE!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

“My Favorite Weather Is Bird Chirping Weather.”

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”-Anne Bradstreet

“The promise of spring’s arrival is enough to get anyone through the bitter winter.”-Jen Selinsky

“Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?”-Neltje Blanchan

Spring is my second most favorite time of year. Not to sound cliché, but it really does represent hope, and a chance at mental, if not some form of physical rebirth. Although it isn’t the same exact thing as hiking, riding my studio cycle all winter definitely puts me in a better place physically and mentally as the season changes. I may hurt after the first few hikes, but it won’t be as bad as if I had been dormant all winter. At this point in my life that isn’t an option.

One of my favorite activities when I am walking through the woods is to take pictures. I have found that even though sometimes I might do the same hike, it is incredible how the pictures I take are so drastically different. Most of the time I will try and focus on something new each time I hike to photograph. I like to think that I come up with some pretty good photos. It’s also nice to see the season change from spring to summer.

These are some photos I took as the day was ending yesterday in my backyard.

The end of a nice 75 degree day!
Another angle.
This was taken the day after a blizzard.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

A Foggy, Misty Morning

“You can walk in a dream while you are awake: Just walk in the misty morning of a forest!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

“For a spiritual journey, you don’t have to meditate or visit a temple or listen to a guru! Just live a misty morning while the sun is rising!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

Even though sunny fall days are excellent, so are days like these when a light mist is falling and the fog surrounds you. It is peaceful and the tranquility it provides a sense of calm. These photos and the ones from the other day are the reason I love Autumn so much!

Fall In Mahopac

“I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked at the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift.”-Dodinsky

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love—that makes life and nature harmonize.”-George Eliot

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”-Unknown

Fall is without a doubt the best time of the year. The long hot days are gone, but the misery of winter hasn’t gotten here yet. Not that I don’t like Winter, but if it is a really, really cold one, it’s no fun. Having a lot of snow doesn’t have the same allure that it did when my kids were young!

So I went for a walk today in the woods that surround my house for the sole purpose of taking some pictures so I could write this blog entry. I love the sound of the leaves as they crunch under my feet and the warmth of the sun as it makes its way through the trees. It is beyond description and it is a shame that it only lasts for a short time.

I hope that you enjoy the photos!

This is about 100 feet outside of my house.
You can see from the light in the background that many trees have fallen during the storms we have had over the years.
We all end up here sooner or later.
A solitary leaf before it separates and begins its slow journey towards death.
I love trees in Black and White.
Although it was chilly, the sun coming through the trees was enough to warm me.

Ward Pound Ridge

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” – Unknown

 “A walk in nature walks the soul back home.” – Mary Davis

Three days ago my friend and I went to Anthony’s Nose. Today, even though I hiked alone, I wasn’t alone. WPR was packed with people at the trailhead and it made it difficult at the beginning to get by other hikers. As I made my way up the trail, however, the crowds thinned out and I did get to enjoy some moments of peace and quiet. This hike reminded me again of why I really enjoy hiking in the early morning. No people!!!!

As you will see in the two pictures below, I also came across this lengthy inhabitant of the woods. From a distance I though for sure it was just a stick and then it moved!!!! I took the pictures and then moved on my way.

An unexpected friend on the trail.
He wasn’t too happy to see me.
Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

The next photo shows my favorite rock to take a break at about the two mile point. If you notice, I had too get a new pack. Since I had a defibrillator implanted, I can no longer use a conventional daypack with two straps as it would place pressure on the spot of the implant. So after a little research, I found a 10 liter sling pack. This will take some getting used to.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Short, Slow And Relatively Easy…

“Mostly, two miles an hour is good going.”

-Colin Fletcher 

This morning was probably the nicest day of the summer. When I got on the trail at 6:30 am, it was 49 degrees. I was actually a little cold as I headed out into the woods but it only took a couple of minutes though for that nice chilly feeling to go away!

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As has been the case almost all summer, I didn’t see a single person the entire hike. Granted, the hike was shorter than most I have done but on a day like today, I expected to at least see some trail runners. That’s ok, the woods were practically silent as I made my way down the trail.

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If you take a left at the tree that is marked instead of going right as the trail markers tell you to, you can add another half of a mile to your hike. Today I didn’t and continued right. Most of the trail at this point is soft dirt with some rocky spots mixed in at different points.

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The picture above marks the beginning of only two short hills on this particular hike. This one is about halfway through the hike and the second one is almost at the end.

One of the cool things about Ward Pound ridge are the bridges that are found throughout the park. Although the ground was wet, I couldn’t see any running water and if you wanted you could just use the rocks on the left to escape the mud.

The rest of the hike was pretty easy. Nice flat trails and as I got closer to the finish, a breeze started blowing that didn’t help with trying to stay warm. But it was nice weather for the end of August.

I can’t complain about any aspect of today’s hike and tomorrow is looking just as good!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #28-8/26/19-3.7-123.7

Now It Feels Like Mid August

“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.”

– Albert Einstein

Wow…at 6:30 am this morning it was 71 degrees with humidity that could have chocked a cat. Since it was so humid, I knew that I was going to take it much slower than I usually do. And believe me, I’m pretty slow on a normal day!

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The trail heading into a curve.

Obviously, since it was so humid, I started sweating immediately. Every step that I took just meant more and more sweat covering me as the gnats circled my head and did their best to infiltrate the liquid defense system I had sprayed on myself prior to the start of the hike. Thankfully they proved to be more of a nuisance than anything else.

As they have been so many times in the past, the woods were almost perfectly silent with the exception of an occasional bird letting me know that I wasn’t alone. It was beautiful! The video below is a minute and five seconds of serenity. This is what it sounded like for the entire hike. You can’t ask for more than this.

On my way out of the woods, I did encounter a group of hikers. They struck me as kind of odd based on a few observations. First, not one of the group (10 people and 3 dogs) had a pack. Second, with the absence of packs was also the absence of water. And third, they were all dressed as if it was late October. The first thing that I thought was if they were wearing jeans and jackets and had no water, how could they hike for any distance? With the warm temperatures and high humidity, it could make for a potentially dangerous situation.

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I have no idea why I took a photo of my boots. I was sitting on a rock, taking a break when it struck me to just take a picture of my boots. Hmmm……

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HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #27-8/17/19-4.6-120.0

The Humidity Is Here To Stay

We are wind, we are wind
And we can’t hold on
Hold on to anything we see that’s gone
We’re gone in a heartbeat, fleeting, it’s gone
We are wind, we are wind
We crumble into nothing, we are wind
Two parts me, folded together
For one brief moment everything fits
The sun

-Trey Anastasio

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A shelter not too far from the start of the trail. You could easily bring small children for an overnight at this shelter.

Today was an interesting day at Ward Pound Ridge. I did a really nice 4.3-mile loop and I actually saw two people trail running. I almost never see anyone when I’m out hiking early in the morning but today I saw two people. That is almost unheard of! The first guy would have scared the hell out of me but he had the common courtesy to yell, “good morning” when he was about 20 yards behind me. Good thing that he did because I was in a good rhythm and had no idea he was there.

The news said last night that it was supposed to be less humid this morning than it has been. I really didn’t find that to be the truth and ended up sweating like it was going out of style. With that said, it was still nice enough out and the promise is that the humidity is going to stay with us for the next three or four days. I can’t wait.

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A connector trail on today’s loop. 

So even with the promise of really high humidity in the morning, I’m already planning tomorrows hike. If you have noticed, I have kept the hikes at just around four to four and a half miles. I think it would be a good idea to keep it at that for a little while longer.

When the weather gets cooler I’ll probably think about some longer hikes but with the weather the way it is, hydration has to be my main concern. Gatorade Zero before, during and after the hike as well as 96 ounces of water. Of course, then the rest of the day will be spent getting rehydrated.

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One of the more interesting rock formations on the hike,. 

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #26-8/15/19-4.3-115.4

Back On My Feet, Again

“Never let a stumble in the road be the end of the journey.”

“Injuries are our best teachers.”

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The view at the start of the hike an hour later than usual.

Being injured sucks. Not being able to hike sucks. Even if it’s only for a few days. Last year I couldn’t hike for half of the year because of the surgery on my ankle, and over the course of the last couple of weeks, my left knee has been bothering me. Bothering me to the point where I haven’t been able to hike or ride the stationary bike.

Is my injury a result of getting older? Overuse? Could it be genetic? I know that many in my family have bad knees and maybe it’s now my turn. I certainly hope not. Some of my family members can’t walk a straight line these days. The fact that I have been very, very careful with what I have been doing the last few months has me thinking really hard about what could have caused it. With that said, the bottom line is I need to get back out into the woods.

I am going stir crazy. Utterly crazy.  If you follow my blog, you know that hiking is my refuge, the thing that I do when I need to think or blow off steam. When I can’t hike, I get really cranky.  As it stands right now, I am in super cranky mode.

So today to I headed out into my sanctuary to see how the knee feels.

I actually picked a decent day to head back out. I ended up starting about an hour later than I am used to, but that’s ok. When I got up at 5, there was no way I could get out of bed so I waited until 5:30 and pretty much walked out the door. When I got to Ward Pound Ridge, it was a crisp 59 degrees with a slight breeze. This is not typical weather in our area for mid-August. At this time of year, we are usually looking at a great deal of heat and humidity, even at 5 or 6 am.

Needless to say, my knee didn’t feel that bad. I did make sure to keep the pace relatively slow and I avoided any rocks that looked sketchy. I know that sounds kind of wimpy, but I didn’t want to hurt myself anymore than I already was (or had been).

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More huge rocks at Ward Pound Ridge.

The picture below represents parts of the Leatherman’s Loop. As with most of the trails at Ward Pound Ridge, they are made of soft earth and tend to be rolling rather than steep ups and downs.

Overall I would call this hike a success. It was nice out and even though I started later than I have been, I didn’t see a single person. Pure bliss!!!!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #25-8/12/19-4.5-111.1

Heat And Humidity Be Damned

“You can make a step and touch the earth in such a way that you establish yourself in the present moment, and you will arrive in the here and the now. You don’t need to make any effort at all. Your foot touches the earth mindfully, fully, and you arrive firmly in the here and the now. And suddenly you are free-free from all projects, all worries, all expectations. You are fully present, fully alive, and you are touching the earth.”

***A quick note-When I arrived Ward Pound Ridge this morning, the sun was just rising and it looked magnificent. So I pulled over and went to take my camera out to get a photo and of course I had left it at home. Needless to say, this post will not have any photos.

And just like that, the humidity is back. I decided once again to hold off on hiking yesterday because of the heat and humidity, a wise choice by my estimation. But today I did get out, humidity be damned. As I fully expected, the bugs were insane, even with bug spray. Listening to them buzz and watching them dive bomb me brought back many fond memories.

But that’s ok. I have said in the last couple of weeks that the only thing that I could hear on my hikes have been my hiking sticks and boots hitting the earth. Despite sweating from the very start of the hike, the simple fact that I was out hiking was awesome.

Since the humidity was as high as it was (at 5:15 am), I took more water than I usually would and also had an extra Gatorade to keep myself hydrated. Even as I sit here writing this post, I am drinking a nice cold bottle of water.

I can’t think of anything else I would rather have been doing this morning or even at this moment.

The quote above talks about being in the “here and now.” As I make my way around the various loops in Ward Pound Ridge, I try to focus on everything that is going on around me. Unfortunately, the last couple of hikes have had a glaring absence in the number of chipmunks, squirrels, and birds. Although they do provide an excellent distraction as I hike, the silence is beautiful, especially when I take breaks.

Hiking provides a cleansing of the mind, a mental enema if you will. Be in the moment, no matter how long or short it may be. It is your moment, your time to not be burdened with the pressures of your life. Enjoy the solitude and the silence.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #24-7/31/19-4.0-106.6