Favorite Outdoors Photos: 2014-2015

Currently, I’m in an extended reflection period on my ongoing series about backpacking with my sons, “The Littlest Backpacker,” (maybe call it a bit of writer’s block, if you want) but I was thinking about my favorite photos of the past two years. So here they are in no particular order:

Josh of the Mountain.

Josh of the Wood – When I went backpacking on the Tuscarora Trail this summer, I snapped this photo of my friend, Josh Stadler. With cold rain whipping down on us, the sunrise light was just perfect to capture this colorful photo of my bearded brother.

River time is time for reflection.

River Reflections – This photo’s depiction of Pine Creek in upstate Pennsylvania — known as our state’s “Grand Canyon” — as a place of serenity should fool no one. The creek’s rapids that carve that gash in the earth are vicious. Canoes beware.

Chipmunk and Toadstool crossing their first state line along the AT.

Chipmunk on the AT – I could never forget that this year my younger son, “Chipmunk,” finally made his first backpacking trip. The saga continues, but for now I just really like this photo.


Mossy Logs – Plant life can be an excellent photographic subject and I particularly like photographing fungus and moss. There’s something appealing about their role in death and renewal of a healthy forest ecosystem. These spires from a mossy log downed across this grove along the Tuscarora Trail were interesting for their visual and poetic levels. I spent nearly 20 minutes photographing this one log in various lights and filters to find just the right combination that all the natural colors and shading I was seeing popped to life in pixels. I probably spent hours playing with these photos at home too, but this one required the least amount of play to accurately set it with the reality I saw that day on the trail.


Favorite Falls Photo – I really enjoy hiking and camping in the winter. One of the best parts of it is venturing up streams and creeks to see large and small waterfalls. In the spring and summer, these falls are splendid in their own right, but every winter they freeze over and the ice sculptures are never the same. Like snow flakes, every one is different and a particular set of falls can create a new ice palace each year. This photo of Angel Falls (Pa.) is one of my favorites. It was a significant hike to get up to the falls in more than a foot of fresh snow, but it all set up the photo perfectly, right down to how it looks like Josh and Seth are undertaking a significant mountaineering event.

The confluence of Little Morris, Morris and Slate runs in Tiadaghton State Forest, Pa., as seen from the Black Forest Trail.
The confluence of Little Morris, Morris and Slate runs in Tiadaghton State Forest, Pa., as seen from the Black Forest Trail in January 2014.

Vista Photo – So much work goes into climbing a trail to the top of a ridge or a mountain or out of a canyon, that it’s difficult for me to narrow it to one photo as the absolute best. However, this photo is special to me, and I think it illustrates the reward one gets from climbing all the way to the top, enduring in the face of snow and sleet and sub-freezing temperatures. Rarely does anyone get to see a running gorge in the earth quite like this, and even rarer still during winter when most folks are tucked in their warm homes with a cup of cocoa.

I’m going to try doing a favorite photos post each year, instead of these combination-year ones. For starters, I won’t forget a photo or two that get lost in time. Until next time…

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