Adventuring with a Purpose
 

 

I grew up on the midwest, Iowa and Minnesota to be exact. We had a house in the suburbs. I played in the woods, fished with my dad and uncle, road bikes through gravel quarries and built my own snowshoes while I was still in high school. Trips to northern Minnesota's Boundary Waters became an annual ritual with my dad and his sisters.  I can still envision huge pink, purple and golden cumulous nimbus clouds reflecting off mirror-still lakes, sunshine beaming through and illuminating wild shorelines. It was there I got my first taste of true wilderness. Halfway through a month-long Outward Bound course, shortly after I turned 15, I found myself on a 4-day solo experience, listening to the wolves howl under a full moon, scared and fascinated. We endured monster electrical storms, my tentmates and I crouching under a millimeter of nylon listening to the loudest cracks of thunder and witnessing brilliant flashes of all-to-close lightning. Our final days of the trip found us on our own, making our own decisions navigating the lakes, rivers and portage trails with a certain confidence we didn't have when we started the trip, but acquired through the weeks spent learning by doing. I still have the snapshots I took from my disposable film cameras, trying to imitate Jim Brandenburg and Ansel Adams. 

That trip really helped peel away the layers of my character. I realized I loved nature, adventure and exploration. I took my first photography class that fall back at school, shooting black and white film, developing it and feeling the palpable excitement to see what the negatives looked like. I'd spend hours in the dark room, dodging and burning, my hands becoming infused with developer, stop bath and fixer. When I finally graduated, I did what any kid who wasn't sure what to do should do, packed up my buddy's car, sat on the all-too-full trunk to close it, and hit the open road. We covered 25,000 miles over 3 months, hitting major climbing destinations from Devil's Tower to Yosemite to El Potrero and learned a lot about ourselves and saw a lot of this beautiful country we're lucky enough to live in.  Fast forward almost 20 years, and I've continued to find the most fun in wild places, typically dangling from my harness or with a backpack on my back, capturing the scenes I find and sharing it with whoever I can!