Finding More than Yourself on the Appalachian Trail.

You can call me Click! – My Introduction 

It’s been almost two months since I summited Katahdin and finished my NOBO thruhike on the AT. For some it marks the end of one journey, for me it’s just the beginning. Looking back now I realize everything in my life has changed. I was never really interested in hiking growing up, I went backpacking a few times and always thought I was going to die from a bear, wolf, or something scary in the dark.

Click on Katahdin

My summit photo, celebrating with my two cameras that I carried the entire way! (Pentax K1000 & Hasselblad 500C)

 

In 2012 I graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design where I obtained a BFA in filmmaking. I don’t think I’m alone here, but after college I pretty much thought I was going to take over Hollywood and be a feature film director by the ripe age of 23. After a week long visit to Los Angeles, California I realized that was pretty much the opposite of what was about to happen. As an artist I always thought of my camera as my paint brush, but after graduating I realized my canvas was quickly shrinking and my dream seemed further and further away.

Clicks trail photo from the smokies

Just before Clingsmans Dome. Shot on the Hasselblad 500C.

Three years after graduating I found myself on the AT, 975 miles into my thruhike. So many have photographed the trail before me, and done it quite well. I wasn’t interested in doing it better, I just wanted to do it different. One month before I started I still wasn’t sure what kind of project I should do along the trail. I was already stepping completely out of my comfort zone by going forward with the hike, I figured why not shake it up even more. I sold both of my DSLR’s and opted for a few old film cameras that I had absolutely no idea how to use. (Thanks Youtube!) It ended up being the best decision I ever made.

Clicks first portrait on the trail.

One of the first portraits I’ve ever taken. I met Rocky Mountain High the night before we set off for Springer on March 5th, I took this a few days later on a lunch break in Georgia.

When I started hiking I was in search of who I am as an artist. The Appalachian Trail was the perfect place to push my photography to another level and find what I was looking for. It meant a lot to me that I was able to surround myself with my work on a daily bases, and I quickly became inspired by the trail and people around me.

Blade in the Shenandoahs

I loved to pull out my cameras when it was foggy. I took this of Blade the day we hiked into Waynesboro, VA. Shot on the Hasselblad 500C

I remember the first time I sent a few rolls of film home to be developed, I just wanted to make sure the images were turning out the way I imagined. I was sitting at this little desk at a motel in Gatlinburg using a computer running windows 98 downloading one picture at a time. When I saw those first scanned negatives popped up on the screen, that was when I knew I was in the right place doing the right project.

The Tunnel

Hiking the AT your constantly surrounded by trees and sometimes alone with your thoughts, and I really wanted to capture that feeling. I took this when I was hiking with my friend Pie in the Shenandoahs. Shot on the Hasselblad 500C.

Everyone hikes and enjoys the outdoors for different reasons, for me I can finally say I feel at home when I’m in the woods with my camera. Now looking forward, I see my canvas is as big as its ever been, as I go from one trail to the next. I’m currently preparing to shoot my next project on film as I thruhike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016 and I can’t wait to blog about it here! #hikertrash

New Hampshire

Shot in the White Mountains, via the Hasselblad 500C.

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Comments 7

  • Avatar
    Kira Thornley : Nov 5th

    I really hope you produce a photo book or something with the pictures you took on your hike, they are moving in a real, emotional way. I LOVE them, and I’m certain I’m not alone. I know that’s kind of a big undertaking but, I just really want to look at your photos all day erry day

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Kira Thornley : Nov 5th

    I learned how to shoot on a K1000, and it remains to this day the only camera that I ever really loved…. I really need to get it repaired.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Marietta Avrus : Nov 6th

    My fav from the article here is the “Alone in the woods with your thoughts.” The black and white emphasizes the starkness of the surroundings and increases the feeling of aloneness. Beautiful shot. I definitely would love to see it framed on my wall. I agree with Kira…PUBLISH! Or make the individual shots available online.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Marietta Avrus : Nov 6th

    O Yes…and congratulations on your Katahdin summit and good luck on the PCT.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Ashley Schellhase : Nov 6th

    This blog post is beautifully written. I loved following your AT thru hike via Instagram, and I can’t wait to follow along for the PCT. I’m hiking the AT SOBO in 2016 and you’ve definitely been an inspiration.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Cyn : Nov 6th

    Great article!

    I miss shooting on film. My pictures felt richer and more thought out. I loved the suspense of getting my film processed (or developing my own) and waiting to see how things came out. Yeah my iPhone and digital cameras take great snapshots but they’re not film….. I miss my MInolta Maxxum.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Nichole : Dec 1st

    I LOVE these photos!! Just followed you on Insta and can’t wait to see more! I agree, you should publish – maybe try a Kickstarter!

    Reply

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