Be Inspired to Adventure

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Be Inspired to Adventure

Adventure has always presented itself as an avenue of nosy exploration into worlds I knew very little about. It was a spark of curiosity and wonder that swept me, at a very early age, into the unknown. Kentucky has many natural wonders to explore, but my favorite growing up were a set of abandoned river stone steps buried deep in my backyard, compacted by fermented leaves, slick twigs, salamanders, and clouds of mosquitos. Days were spent excavating these steps with my Mom’s garden shovel, and a paint brush, and the collection of fossilized trees cemented into rocks, and glass bottles found around the steps and adjacent areas permitted my fantastical imagination to drift into worlds past with the continuous thought and hunger to dive deeper into exploration. 

So, I went to school for archaeology... just kidding, I did the opposite and got a BFA in Musical Theater and Dance which, in hindsight, allowed me to dive into another avenue of exploration, just without the dirt and shovels. Self-exploration over those years was key, and I found myself asking how the characters I played would fare in the outside world. I’d walk, and climb, and explore the campus and the surrounding areas as my character. How would they climb this tree, or walk this trail? Would they turn over a rock to search for bugs, would they touch said bugs, or maybe they’d smell flowers instead, or... honestly… would they go outside at all? 

And then New York City happened, and the comfortable desire to crawl into my apartment away from city life was easy. No one cared what you did. And accessing “adventure” took on a whole new meaning as I regularly stepped in hot tar and what I think was dog poop on my beloved streets of Harlem. Sure, nothing is easy, but finding that spark of adventure when you feel like you’re sinking to the bottom of a pool had me gasping for air. I was without. And it scared me that I would never feel the warmth of curiosity blanketing my shoulders as it once had.

As my New York family of friends grew, hikes through Bear Mountain and the Appalachian Trail became regular outings, as did trips to the North Fork’s vineyards, Hamptons beach parties, Catskill hot tub soirée, and weekend trips to local surf clubs, which offered me joy beyond measure. 

But it wasn’t until last October when I joined the Creative Partnerships team at B&H that I understood that the low-key “chill” of how I had adventured thus far would be fully supported and nurtured in ways unbeknown to me. 

I set off on a solo trip to California, Idaho, Washington, and Utah. I guess now would be a good time to share with you that I know little about photography. I mean, I enjoy taking photos of the multitude of house plants I own, but when I heard that my travels were approved, I scrambled to gear up and figure out how to work all these electronics I had strapped to my pack. They included the following plus some fixin’s:

As you can imagine, people asked what I was up to, why I was using this camera and lens, and—don’t get me wrong—my responses totally let them down. But they honestly didn’t care that I didn’t know for what and why I was using the gear I had with me… they cared about why I was there. 

Why this random woman from New York City had stumbled into a Fine Art Photography Guild in St. George, Utah, at the crack of dawn to hang and meet the locals. The reason that I pressed to know their favorite local spots and why I came to their town with no plan was what interested them the most. After an hour of going over their prints and experiencing the delicate tenderness with which they spoke about each photograph they chose to display in the gallery, was when they opened their community and secret spots to me, in ways no Google search could. 

I took what they told me and jumped with two feet into their favorite pockets of Snow Canyon State Park, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Sand Hollow State Park, Bryce Canyon National Park (engulfed in HEAPS of snow), and spent two full days in Zion National Park, basking in all her glory. 

I snapped photos like I was Renan Ozturk, discovering wonders of past worlds as if no other human would ever again be able to lay eyes on these beautiful landscapes. It gave me confidence. These canyons and caves and pockets of the untapped natural world were what took my breath away time and time again. And this is what made me decide to climb Angels Landing. 

You know, Zion is really cold in March… so I started the climb in a sensible two-layer outfit equipped with snow pants, solid hiking boots, and my camera with the 16-35mm lens. This was a bad idea. My younger siblings and their significant others decided to join me for the climb and casually “noped” out to hang with chipmunks at Sophie’s Landing when they saw the line of climbers ascending and descending the route. 

But we had made it halfway!

How could we POSSIBLY not continue?! 

And in a moment of stubbornness that had crept into my gut, I decided to embark alone. 

For the next two hours, I gave myself to Angels Landing and quickly realized that I had left all my water with Sydney and Jake and the chipmunks. But it didn’t matter. I had been bitten. This fire had erupted within me the same way it had when I discovered those stone river steps in my backyard. I had to see what was at the end of that ledge, and it didn’t matter how long it took me, or how tired and dehydrated I was, or how horribly awkward it was to carry an a7R III around my neck and not drop it off the side of the mountain… I was going to the end, come hell or high (without) water.

I made it. I sank into those rocks like it was a memory-foam mattress. And I was so proud of myself. 

I had achieved something that I didn’t know was so important to me to accomplish. And I knew had to do it. Just like I had to excavate those steps. I needed to see what was at the end, what was underneath, and what was waiting for me. And in that moment, I found that the pilot light of curiosity and adventure had been reignited. 

I’m not sure when or where my next adventure will take me, but I do know that for some time now, Bolivia has been calling my name. Specifically, the Salt Flats, Valley of Souls, and most importantly, the Death Road. It’s a weird feeling I can’t really put my finger on when a location pulls at the pit of your stomach, summoning you to its lair. Because, I know it’s not going to be easy, but I also know that I can’t live without giving it a whirl. 

To the past you’re proud of. To the Present you sit with. To the Future you hope for.

May there always be a hunger within you.  

Be sure to check back on B&H Explora for more of Adventure Week—and don't forget to follow B&H on Twitter @BHPhotoVideo for up-to-the-minute #adventureweek news.

1 Comments

This is a very well-written piece. I admire the humor and openness, and, as an older person, it brings to some of my past adventures and mis-adventures and makes me smile.

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