Where Did My Photography Journey Begin?

Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.”

-Ansel Adams

Throughout my first couple hikes in the Adirondacks, I became fascinated with the variety of landscapes. The first summer I started hiking, we hiked Buck Mountain and Sleeping Beauty in Lake George. Looking back on it, even adventures have humble beginnings. The next year, we really started to pursue the 46er challenge and I knew I wanted to document these adventures the best way possible. Most of these landscapes couldn’t do any justice on video or through photos. I want to try and change that to showcase the rugged wilderness.

On Mount Washington Trail capturing the breathtaking landscape (Photo by my brother)

Adapting To A Higher Purpose

There’s a different between chasing the wilderness and photos for clout versus the enjoyment of being one with nature. I believe being connected with something much larger than you creates a sense of becoming humble and inspired. I started getting into the realm of photography during the summer of 2018. My brother and I went on a handful of adventures that summer, but unfortunately it was before I really knew how to take better photos. Any photo that you create should make you proud regardless of what anyone says. It’s part of your creative expression. The whole thing about learning something is that you have to enjoy the process. Throughout Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday, he constantly reminds us of this issue. Purpose and realism is more important than ego, you have to put in the work and stop expecting recognition.

Near the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia after hiking in a storm

May 2019

Around this time is when I became inspired by all sorts of photography. Once I figured out how to slow a shutter speed to shoot waterfalls, I was hooked. Figuring out all of these different aspects to photography was fascinating. I understood light trails and spent time understanding astrophotography as well (still needs work). I took notes on everything I could that I learned from Peter McKinnon on camera basics. Putting in the time was incredibly helpful but even more than that, shooting consistently is crucial for experience.

Our trek to Algonquin Mountain this winter

Planning Ahead

I have a lot of goals to live up to when it comes to photography, especially when it comes to going on an adventure. I read in Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon about combining two or more passions is influential to higher levels of creativity. Being able to pair photography with my passion of climbing mountains is vital towards that. Some time in the future, I’d like to head out West to see the dramatic landscapes unfold before me and be prepared to take the best photos possible. The Adirondacks in the winter has some unbelievable scenes to experience as well. There’s always more to learn from any subject to keep growing. I wrote this post during this time because it’s critical to hone down on new skills. Create new things, dream bigger, and sit back to analyze what you want out of life with the time you have on this Earth.

One of my favorite hikes due to the cloudy weather
Views near the summit of Phelps Mountain in the Adirondacks

To Everyone

These are challenging times that we’re experiencing at the moment, but understand that it’s important. Stay home and realize that this will pass just like every hard time you might’ve already experienced in life. Use the time at home to your advantage to figure out what skills you could learn and spend a little bit on it each day. Everything that you do compounds, whether it’s money, knowledge, or a new skill set. I hope everyone stays safe during these times and maybe you could figure out where you’ll adventure when it’s over. In the mean time, stay safe and think about what you can do to improve yourself during Quarantine!

-Alex

Jay Peak: A challenging icy ridge

My close friend Cole and I decided the day after Christmas that we’d hike Jay Peak. We knew this mountain had a ridge and desired to climb it since this summer. Considering we were both busy, we never really had the time to do it. Hiking in the winter has its challenges and it was well represented throughout this one. Here’s to my last hike of 2019 and let’s get right into it!

Does the trail head exist?

I think part of this has to deal with my friend and I both on about 3 hours of sleep. We always use AllTrails to find directions to our hikes but it kept taking us to the right of where it was. We didn’t realize this until 20 minutes later. The positive about this was the fact that it brought us down a windy road to a huge open field. It was a bunch of farm land and the sky was lit in pink which created a wild scene. Once we found the trailhead, we jumped out of the car and started as soon as we could.

Trailhead for Jay Mountain

Before the ridge

I found this part of the hike very easy and my friend did as well. Although icy, it wasn’t too bad for a climb. It was a gradual incline and there were multiple switchbacks. Without the use of my Kahtoola, I fell a handful of times. I specifically remember an area on the trail that had a dropoff to the right with a little coverage of trees. I had fell right next to it from the ice and I’m happy to say I fell where I could catch myself away from that dropoff. Adrenaline shot through me but in the end it’s a risk that could happen through any winter hike. There were many falls after that as well, but they were in locations without the potential of any dangerous injury. It became even more interesting once we reached the first false summit.

Rock scrambling

Reaching the first false summit, my friend and I had to navigate a very narrow area of the trail. We began climbing up the side of the trail adjacent to another drop off but clung to the wall for safety. We both look after each other so we made sure nothing would occur that we were actually putting ourselves in danger. One of the last false summits was even tougher due to more ice and snow. We continued to rock scramble a bit and when we reached the last false summit it appears to be the highest point. I must admit that it felt a bit demoralizing. Once we hit the top though…we were very happy to complete a new mountain.

Looking at Jay Mountain from the last false summit

A quick stop

We didn’t stay at the summit for too long since my friend had to get back in time for work. I ate the amazing PB & J sandwich from Stewart’s, took some photos, and began to head down shortly afterwards. Understanding that we had to go up and over a couple false summits was definitely discouraging. We took our time and once we kept descending, we took frequent breaks to hydrate. When we were near the car I had to sign us out and I realized all of the destinations said “Jay Range”. I didn’t realize it was considered a range before we went, but I’m glad we did it. It’s one of those adventures that I’m sure both of us won’t forget any time soon.

View of Adirondack Mountains from Jay Mountain
Clouds rolling over below the ADK mountains
Looking at Whiteface Mountain from the summit

Thanks!

I really hope you enjoyed this blog and maybe found some parts useful for your own reference. I always put in mistakes that have occurred without certain gear to emphasize in a way that it is useful. Especially crampons. These adventures and photos mean everything to me and I can’t to see what’s in store for 2020. I’ll be going away soon and I’ll be covering a blog on that as well! To everyone out there, keep adventuring as we get closer to 2020!

-Alex

About Myself and T & H

My name is Alex and I’ve become inspired by the outdoors since I was introduced to the Adirondack High Peaks. Although I live in Saratoga Springs, my brother and I frequently make day trips to go hiking or practice photography. There’s something different about spending time outdoors rather than sitting inside all day. If I have to get up at 2 AM to hike 5 mountains, I’ll do so (true story). When something has such an influence on you, nothing will get in its way. After hiking about 40 miles in two weekends and battling winds on a ridge in Franconia, NH I had realized something. I need to share my adventurous stories with others and provide tips to help them out in the back country! Now I’m certain many of you are thinking, what exactly is T & H?

T & H (short for Travelers & Hikers) was something I had thought of when I wanted to create a unique name for my blog. Something that’d resonate with people and felt very authentic. I knew that T & H would be an outlet to anyone with wanderlust and hopefully inspire many. At the end of the day, I want to create strong relationships with people who have a passion for the outdoors. Not only that, but I’d also like everyone to know that hiking is a teacher for our mentality and physical health. You’ll understand this throughout the stories I’ll tell and the tips given to you! Now what are we waiting for? Let’s get into these adventurous stories, what they’ve taught me, and what they’ll teach you.