Witness to the Wild

It’s hard to keep up with the beauty, both in nature and people, that I’ve experienced daily over the past four months while thru-hiking the PCT. It is difficult to choose photos to share because with each turn the trail takes, a new magnificent sight unfolds before me, a surreal pop-up book come to life brimming over with adventure and awe. My eyes have softened to the wonders of this world in an attempt to take it in without being overwhelmed by its beauty.

Sharing Strain

I want to share more of my experiences of this wild life I’ve had the opportunity to live on trail but it seems impossible to distill the gravity and wonder of this quest solely through words and photos. I’ve been trying to soak up the adventure and stay present while still feeling the weird, unexplained desire to splash my experiences in nature across the digital realm for family, friends, and internet humans. I want to share but at the same time, I’ve felt an odd pressure to keep my photos and writings in chronological order which can be difficult when service is limited and the experiences are coming to you a million miles a minute.

Flattening the Experience 

When I think about posting, I feel stiffened. Unnerved and overwhelmed. Wanting to share the perfect edit, the ideal photo with an excellent, witty complementary caption to capture what I’ve stood witness to and seen. But it seems that no matter what I do, whether I up the contrast, pop on a filter, knock down the brightness, or make an excellent pun, I can’t hold the views I’ve experienced in a still image paired with a stationary caption. That first taste of Mom’s apple pie in Julian. Summiting your first peak on San Jacinto. Finally hitting Kennedy Meadows South and the end of the desert and celebrating by downing your weight in pancakes at Grumpy’s. The vertical backside drop of Forester Pass. The stunning views of Desolation Wilderness. The wild build of Castle Crags. Your first breathtaking view of Mount Hood. How do you condense a 3D experience by a full dimension? I can’t reduce these experiences into an edit or a piece of the real thing. It feels in a way disrespectful of the mountains. Of the trees and the birds and the trail. Because I can’t do it justice by flattening the experience. It’s so much more than anything I am capable of sharing.

Unrequited Love

Nature is unbelievable in the biggest sense of the word. It surrounds us, willingly holding humans alongside flora and fauna, constantly giving in unrequited love. It does not ask anything of us. Its beauty and grandeur hold true, despite the constant taking of humans to profit from its generosity. Earth embraces us continuously, providing without withholding, loving unconditionally. A thankless task. It is as it is, the true opposite of digital in every sense. Wild, untamed, unedited, raw to its core. It is not curated nor does it hold an agenda based on likes, comments, and shareability.

Witness to the Wild

Seeing something so beautiful and trying to reduce it into something that can be housed in the limited space of the 2D, information superhighway does not seem possible. Nature exceeds digital confines and is so much more than a photo edit caption combo. Simply being here standing witness to its wildness is the only true way I’ve found to experience all nature has to offer. So I’ve stepped back from trying to capture, focusing on reveling in the present in all its magnificent wild glory. 

Balancing Act

This is why good photography and good writing are so great. They give the creator a chance to relay to others the magnificence of an experience. It opens up a world to many who may not have the chance to encounter these sights and allows people to live the adventure with you. I don’t want to post for the sake of posting. I want to share photos and musings of things that blow my mind and take the time to thoughtfully craft content that I feel do a slice of justice to the real experience. I don’t want to live for the highlight reel, focused on generating content solely for the sake of flooding the digital world with more of me. I want to live in the real world, taking things in as I go and sharing raw stories of their impacts. All this to say that nature is unbelievably cool and I’m so stoked that I get to be out on this trail, trying my darndest to describe indescribable experiences. How lucky we are to be housed in an earth who cares for us so well, all while maintaining utter magnificence.

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