Saturday, March 26, 2016

A strange idea of fun

I don’t have many pictures of paths in winter time. Honestly, I don’t spend that much time on paths in winter.

I have the gear to get out in the cold. Well, except for snowshoes and those are pretty easy to come by. Just jaunt down to the REI and rent them for a day. But honestly, I tend to stay down low and out of the snow as much as I can during the cold spots of winter.

shoot-523Winter changes the landscape. It makes it more challenging. It’s not just the monochromatic snow covering everything and making it a little harder to properly meter photos, it’s the fact it slows you down, sometimes tripling the amount of time it takes to get somewhere on foot.

And somewhere along in the huffing and puffing, I always question my sanity.

“OK self,” I’ll think, “Here you are again doing something dumb. It’s freezing. The wind is howling. You just had to stop for a bit to get your breath back so you could curse at the weather. I’m pretty sure what we’re doing here is not what people generally call fun.”

And in a general sense, it’s true. Most people don’t think it’s much fun post-holing up a trail in slushy snow with a 35 mile an hour wind blowing on you to be an amusing undertaking for a Saturday afternoon. Especially when you’re having to keep an eye on the clouds to the west in case they want to come overhead and dump more snow on you.

But not all exercises are purely for fun. Some of them are just to see what happens. Just to see if I can make it.

shoot-521This particular exercise was not successful. The mountain won, and I trudged back down, disappointed. But even in that, it was at least a partial success. It told me I need to work on some areas of fitness, and it’s time to replace my boots. Extra huffing and puffing caused by taking two steps forward and sliding back was not as productive as it could have been.

And yet, hidden in all the swearing and floundering, I was still having fun. Unconventional fun, but still. Between that and what I learned, I still called it a win, and then trudged back down the mountain.

I’ll get it next time.

A strange idea of fun

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tired things

I’m up a bit early for a Saturday, and heading out soon. I’ve got some tired things to deal with.

I’m taking a very tired Kodak Medalist to the shop today. It’s a war baby, made during the Second World War, and it’s put in some miles. It’s spent some time in the southern part of the US in a closet, and picked up the characteristic smell of mildew. But it’s avoided getting any of it in the lens, and the camera mostly fuctions, so I’m opting to give it a CLA and see if I can use it. If I can, it’s likely I’ll be putting some slide film in it to take on a few trips this year. Mostly, I want to take it to California and shoot the Golden Gate with it. I’ll need to procure more film, metal 620 rolls, and a 120 case or two from Japan Camera Hunter to carry the re-rolled film in. I bought it for a less-weighty medium format option, and because I like 6×9. I’m looking forward to some bigger, wider negatives in the future.

shoot-520I’m headed up north to have breakfast with Craig and Dan and talk about our project. I’ve some images, but to tell you the truth, I’ve been looking at my own stuff so long I’m tired of the sight of the things. I no longer know if it’s any good or not. So fresh eyes will be a help, and maybe can see what I’m missing now.

It’s been an eventful week. I managed to get some portraits done with a rangefinder, which I’d never done before. And it turned out I like them. There was a one two punch of news I could have lived without, however. First, I can no longer find any Agfa APX 100 fresh in the States. I’ll hit up some sources in Europe and Asia and see how badly the shipping will maim me. I think it’s gone out of production again. Second, Nikon has discontinued service of the F3 camera. I figured it would happen sooner or later, and the F3 did go out of production 15 years ago, but I plan on using mine forever, so I was hoping to get mine factory rebuilt before they quit. I missed out, unfortunately. Still, I’ll keep using it until it becomes a tired thing as well.

Tired things, after all, have been well loved.

Tired things

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Adventure your own adventure.

If you spend any time reading websites from adventure types, you get the impression they’re all pushing the envelope. They’re assaulting the Dawn Wall, or rowing across the Indian Ocean, or helicoptering to the top of a mountain to ski sick powder before anyone else, or doing some other extreme thing. Then, when they are done, they write a book about it, tour and talk about it, then go back out and do some other absurd adventure.

Alastair Humphreys is the only sensible one of that lot. He realizes that the other 99.9% of the world can’t do that sort of thing. When the mortgage has to be paid, even getting time off to ride the Trans-America on a bicycle is a challenge.

shoot-517But a lot of them are kind of infuriating. There’s this underlying “go big or go home” machismo that makes any thing you would undertake so insignificant, you might as well not try. You want to take a month and cycle tour? Pfft. Doesn’t count unless you go around the planet. Driving a four wheel trail? Ha! Unless it’s the Road of Bones, you’re a wimp. Going for a hike around a local wildlife refuge? If it’s not the Empty Quarter, you’re a waste. Any setting less than eleven is a waste of time and effort.

But here’s the thing, any time you stretch your boundaries, and extend outside of your routine, you better yourself as a person on every possible level. Getting out and doing gives you self-confidence, that you are able to accomplish something challenging. It leads to better fitness, which always leads to a better outlook on life and greater happiness. It reduces the anxiety you feel day to day, a new coping mechanism.

So really, screw those guys. I’ve had to tell myself to stop listening to them, stop reading their blogs, or listening to their interviews. Good for them that they have done those things, but really, they’re not worth the time. Do what you want, do what you can, and do it for yourself. Hike your own hike. Adventure your own adventure. You’ll be happier.

But do pay attention to Alastair. He gets it. Just read about his micro adventures, and you’ll see.

Adventure your own adventure.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

I miss winter

Winter only made a brief appearance, and I never thought I would say this, but I miss it.

The winter gear is already in the sale bins at the sporting goods stores, and the running store we went to last night was mostly sold out of gear. People believe spring has already sprung. They’re outside doing their training runs and hip deep in their fitness routines.

It’s absurd for it to be this hot this time of year.

It was hotter than this in 2012, but I don’t remember that year with fondness. Water was scarce, and the summer baked us. Fires raged all around the state, and when you went outside, you breathed in the smoke of thousands of trees burning. Coupled with the fact there were weeks over 100 degrees, it was not a fun summer.

And while I’ve availed myself of the sales, including bagging a really sweet water-resistant/wind stopping mid-weight coat, I’m starting to worry. Snow pack is doing pretty well, but high temps could start the runoff early. In fact, a number of streams are showing higher than average flow already.

shoot-514When I located out here from the south, I was pretty sure I would freeze to death on a regular basis. My coats were not up to the task. I went out on Saint Mary’s Alice to learn how to self-arrest for a mountaineering class, and the wind cut right through everything I had. I’ve never been colder, before or since. I purchased a set of ski pants, not to go skiing in, but to walk to work in. I was actually pretty concerned about how cold any given day was on a regular basis, watching the temps like a hawk.

But now, I miss winter.

I miss the crispness the cold brings to the air. I miss the soft silence of a snow-covered evening. I miss the crunch of it underfoot. I miss the solitude it brings to even a crowded street in downtown.

I miss winter. I want it to come back.

I miss winter