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

Nashville: NYC mixed with country vibes

That’s the way I viewed Nashville after I spent a couple days there. It’s honestly so unique and hopefully I’ll go back in the future. Walking towards town, music becomes louder each step and you fill with happiness. There’s so much to see in Nashville and a lot of good people too. The bars come even more to life at night as people sing at the top of their lungs. From gorgeous architecture, museums, restaurants, and plenty of music…I think there’s something for everyone!

View of Batman (AT&T) Building in Nashville, TN
On the way to town in Nashville, TN

The Parthenon

Walking about 2.5 miles from my hotel to here was a bit out of my comfort zone. I’ve never really walked on city streets by myself, but it was well worth it. Most of the days spent there I used my Canon Powershot G9 Mark 2 and for a small camera…I’m impressed! When I arrived at the park, I was astonished. The Parthenon in photos do not do it justice. The scale of this replica is absolutely incredible. Looking up, I felt everything dissipate and it was just me enjoying a new experience. This is the only full size replica in the world and let me tell you…please go check it out! The architecture was phenomenal and I’d love to visit it again to take more photos.

Museums and tours

One highlight of my trip was definitely seeing a variety of Johnny Cash’s belongings. The museum is located across the street from Florida Georgia Line’s restaurant which has great music! Adjacent to the museum is the Johnny Cash restaurant which I didn’t eat at, but the atmosphere seemed very neat. Walking through the museum, I was able to see some of Elvis Presley’s belongings as well. The day before, we visited the Grand Ole Opry which highly successful country artists become members of. The wooden circle came from The Ryman which is near downtown Nashville. These artists are invited to this place and it’s a very high point in their career stepping into that wooden circle. On the tour, we saw the fitting rooms and we had the chance to stand in that special circle too. On the last day, we finally visited American Pickers store. They had antiques on display from their show and many were for sale too! Growing up watching this show, it was phenomenal to see their picks in person. These three experiences I remember very well from my trip!

One of my photos from the Grand Ole Opry tour!

Country music

Growing up, I used to think country music was the worst! Now that I’m older, I can really connect with some songs. Most of country music tells a story which I’ve learned to appreciate. I went to Nashville with an open mind and I’m glad I did! I enjoyed some time at the New Year’s Eve concert in Nashville but two performers stood out to me the most. This wasn’t from the New Year’s Eve concert, it was from the third floor in Florida Georgia Line’s restaurant. These two young singers held my attention throughout their performance. They engaged with the audience and were very approachable as well. The name of this fantastic duo was Lance and Lea.

Quick shot on my iPhone from New Year’s Eve concert

Lance and Lea

While in Nashville, we saw Lance and Lea perform twice. After I spoke with them in Florida Georgia Line’s restaurant, we exchanged our social media handles. It was actually really neat to have a talented duo follow along with my aspirations as well! A couple days later, we went to Ole Red for dinner. When I walked in, I heard their music playing and I didn’t care when dinner was! Lea had approached us during their break and told me “you’re the guy who takes photos!” and gave me a hug afterwards. They’re truly the most down to earth singers I’ve met and I highly suggest you should listen to their music. I’m proud to say, I could relate to a lot of the songs! Lance and Lea are definitely two I hope for future success within country music.

Meeting with Lance and Lea in Florida Georgia Line’s restaurant

The Opryland Hotel

The last time I stepped into a hotel that made my jaw drop was Mohegan Sun. Now looking back, it’s nothing compared to this place. After the lobby, the whole place opens up to a waterfall and restaurant. A bridge takes you up closer to the waterfall and keep moving and you’ll soon reach more openings. Waterfalls, plants everywhere, and could I mention going on a boat through a small river? There were many restaurants located within the hotel and I had a fantastic vegetarian burrito. The hotel was still decorated from Christmas and it must be an incredible place for the holidays. The main thing I’d go back to here for is that vegetarian burrito though! A-Frames in the woods are more my style, any wooden house I see…I dream of living in. Anyways, what else is there? Oh, more restaurants!

Where to eat

I had dinner at many places throughout the week but nothing beat Ole Red. I ate a vegan burger with vegan nacho cheese and let me tell you…I was very impressed. The atmosphere in Ole Red feels so alive and it always brings some positive vibes. Another restaurant I’d suggest going to is Acme, which has different foods on each level. I mowed vegetable sushi rolls and a garden salad. Disclaimer, the one sauce at the table isn’t ginger sauce…I learned that the hard way. The last place I’d recommend would be the City Tap House. From incredible corn dip, pizzas, burgers…basically anything you could possibly want to eat is there. These are my top three places I ate at in Nashville but try other restaurants! Believe me, Nashville has a lot to offer. If you wake up early, be sure to get breakfast at the Frothy Monkey and you MUST have a firebender. It was possibly the greatest espresso I’ve ever had. I hope you might ponder checking out one of these and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Tofu/Quinoa bowl from the Frothy Monkey

Thank You!

To anyone who read this blog, I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. I definitely covered a lot of ground in this trip and created many photos. Nashville allowed me to meet wonderful people and expand my creativity onto city streets. I’d encourage anyone to check out this unique destination whenever they get the chance. I hope this post helped inform you about Nashville if you plan on going. I loved it here and I’m certain you would too. Until next time…stay adventurous my friends!

-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

Reflecting on 2019

I must admit, 2019 was a year of triumph and tragedy. There wasn’t much in between for me. But if I had to go back, I’d do it all again. Why? Because it was something that made me grow as an individual and I think tough times are vital for anyone’s life. But the adventures…they made me realize I was just getting started.

Acadia National Park

One of the highlights this past summer was going to Bar Harbor, Maine. Visiting my first National Park was really special to me and I created one of my “many” favorite photos there. Entering the park with my brother, I was ecstatic to climb the Beehive Trail. It’s a trail that features a handful of ladder rungs and exposed areas while climbing. In my opinion, it’s a bit different from a casual hike and I wouldn’t call it family friendly. My other great adventure was taken on the famous Cadillac Mountain. During the hike, a thunderstorm was taking place over the ocean. You can guess that…yes, we got nailed with rain at the summit. Moments afterward, the sky opened up and revealed a beautiful scene. This is one that I’ll always remember.

Egg Rock Lighthouse
Rainbow after storm near Cadillac Mountain

Creativity

A little different from an adventure but, near the end of 2019 I realized that my creativity began to soar at a level I’ve never seen before. I invested a lot of my time into photography and learning new perspectives. Putting myself in a chat with other creators inspired me too. When you put yourself among others with similar aspirations, they will help you grow. I opened up my own print shop and had someone help me with creating shirt designs. Making a logo for this website was exciting as well but nothing beats Polaroid recognizing my work. I have many goals within the photography realm for 2020 and I can’t wait to see where it leads me.

Winter vibes from my first snow day
Polaroid photo that I had recognized!

New Hampshire

My brother and I decided this year we were going to tag one of our most sought after peaks in the Northeast. Standing at 6,288 feet, Mount Washington awaited us in New Hampshire. This would be our first “real” mountain together. What I mean by that, is the fact that this hike was deadly and it was a new challenge that faced us. The prominence on Washington is almost near the height that it stands at. I remember waking up with excitement but made sure I was focused, especially for the icy areas. Although nothing happened, Washington made it apparent to us why so many fatal injuries have occurred. Out of 365 days a year, 65 of those days are clear views on the mountain. We were blessed to experience one of these days and I’ll always remember it. Going to bed that night, I knew I achieved something great for myself and can’t wait to see what’s up next.

Views from Hermit Lake Shelter
Mount Washington summit

The Adirondacks

For this year, I didn’t bag as many High Peaks, but I did a lot of hikes throughout the changing of seasons. I was able to see the peak foliage in the Adirondacks with close friends on Hurricane Mountain. I started getting into winter hiking after my brother and I tagged Esther Mountain. My all time favorite though, is hiking a range. Being out in the wilderness throughout the entire day is something special. I didn’t really hit any ranges this year except for Jay Range. It was one of the tougher hikes in the Adirondacks in my opinion, at least in the winter. I’m excited to see where this year takes me in the ADK’s and hopefully I’ll tag many high peaks! My brother and I plan to become 46er’s this year and well…we might need to grab more mountains in New Hampshire.

My brother and I near Phelps Mountain
Beautiful scenery from summit of Jay Mountain

As for 2020

There’s a lot of goals that I have for 2020 and I’m stoked to keep pursuing my dreams. For photography, I’ve always hoped to be published in a magazine so I’ll keep contacting them until I get one yes because perseverance is key! I’d like to to create more beautiful photos for everyone and hang up some work in public. Creating a small shop for this website would be very cool as well. My brother and I are considering a lot of hikes when we’re in Washington and I can’t wait for all of the new stories to blog to you about!

Thank you

The support in 2019 is just the beginning but I’m very grateful for each and every one of you. If you have any recommendations on blogs you’d like to see, feel free to reach me at travelersandhikers@gmail.com. I can tell you that there’s many exciting things coming in 2020 and I’m happy to share them with you!

-Alex