As I Was Walking – The John Muir Trail

January 30, 2020


Featuring hundreds of photos and a generous amount of witty narrative and humor, my digital only book about backpacking the John Muir Trail is available through both Apple Books and Amazon. It took me 25 glorious days in the summer of 2015 to wend my way through 226-miles of sublime Sierra landscape. Then it took nearly three years to write, edit, design and layout the book. In both cases, it was an adventure and a labor of love. I’ve scheduled a very tentative rematch for late summer of 2027, shortly after I retire.



I’m now also working on the prequel, “The Mount Whitney Journals” and a yet to be titled photo book of Mount Tamalpais.


Sunrise at Garnet Lake

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The Church of Mount Tamalpais – Sunday Morning Worship


Heavenly morning light on the Matt Davis Trail


January 29, 2020

A belated first blogpost of the year/decade and an even more belated first hike. But it does follow an all too familiar pattern of a bout with the flu/head cold/sinusitis that descends on my immune system the millisecond Christmas ends. I need to find a way to hypnotize or delude my body and mind to think that Christmas is always one week away, no matter the date.


Wild mushrooms

But with my health restored this final week of January, it was well worth the wait. I always relish my time on a trail, never taking it for granted, but I nevertheless still cherish even more after a long layoff. For me, two weeks without a hike is an extended layoff. A month, like this recent layoff, is nearly unbearable.

While I realize that to some, today’s blog title might seem a bit blaspemous, anyone who spends time outdoors will likely be on my side. And anyone who has ever visited or walked Mount Tamalpais’ (Marin County, California) incredible hiking trails with undoubtedly shout an “AMEN! or two, or three” in agreement.


Matt Davis Trail and one of many bridges over the creeks

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Autumn Foliage – Sierra Edition


Highway 88 near Luther Pass/Hope Valley

October 29, 2019

While not as famous as the foliage season in the Northeast, we do have some damned fine displays here in California, most notably in the Sierra where aspens are plentiful. For me, living in the Oakland area, I’m a three-hour drive (depending on coffee and toilet breaks) from the Lake Tahoe area.


For more than a decade, I’ve made yearly pilgrimages in mid to late October to not only photograph the aspens, but to witness the Kokanee salmon spawning along Taylor Creek on Tahoe’s western shore. As for the aspens, there are numerous spots to find groves, but I have my own favorites. Some are right off the road on highways 88 & 89, while others are located on side roads and hiking trails. Hope Valley is another favored spot, especially near Sorensen’s Resort and up toward Carson Pass.


Kokanee Salmon at Taylor Creek


Aspens and pines, Hope Valley, CA

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“As I Was Walking” – a John Muir Trail Book

080715_0201October 16, 2019

My digital book, “As I Was Walking: Two Summers Exploring and Photographing the John Muir Trail,” has been available since this past March. I’m now working on the prequel, “The Mount Whitney Journals.” TMWJ is the project I was working hard on at the time the John Muir Trail became an almost instant obsession in late 2013. “As I Was Walking” turned into a three year project (much longer than anticipated) but it was worth every effort. The book (available only digitally, no print) features hundreds of photos and a good amount of narrative. In fact, one of the reasons I could only offer this book digitally rather than a printed version was my desire to include my photographs. Since it is self-published, to have a printed version where the photos looked beautiful and rich, the cost would’ve been exorbitant.

Here are links to the two purchase options:




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Late September Snows in Tahoe


Snow on the beach near The Landings, Sept 30

Oct. 15, 2019

A bit after the fact, but this isn’t hard hitting timely journalism. Two weekends ago I was able to get up to South Lake Tahoe to hang out for a couple of days. I was planning on going anyways, so the early season snows were a bonus. It actually marked the third time in the last half of September that it snowed. I’m not enough of a meteorologist or climatologist to know whether this signals an early winter or if it was just a fluke. The first two snows were mere dustings, but the third dropped significant snow from 6,000′ and above.


On Sunday I relaxed and watched too much football at the Hard Rock, but Monday morning, undaunted by the 30º weather (I am rugged after all!) I went for a three hour hike up the Mount Tallac Trail, keeping a relaxed (translation: slow) pace to Floating Island Lake.

Here’s a gallery of my photos from that day. (I’m heading up again this weekend to photograph the fall colors around Taylor Creek and in Hope Valley.

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The Fun Side of Marketing – Design

October 14, 2019

Admittedly, I’m not a marketing whiz. But I do enjoy blending my photographic skills with my also admittedly meager graphic design skills. That being said, I think what works best for designing marketing materials for photographers (in this case a new set of business cards) is simplicity.


Sample card with a Death Valley photo 

I was thrilled with the most recent batch of cards I ordered from The card stock was thick and sturdy. They were a little pricier than Vistaprint, but the quality was superior. Now that I’m nearly out of cards, rather than do a simple reorder, I decided to design a whole new set. What I especially love about using MOO is that while I can have one standard front side, I can do fifty different backs, which is perfect for a photographer with an extensive library of images. The hardest part is winnowing it down to fifty. What I’ll probably do this time is place two different orders so I can increase the variety of cards even further. Here’s a handful of other favorites I’m having printed.

For the card design, I use Adobe InDesign, the same software I used to design my book (see below). I also use Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop to organize and edit the photographs themselves.

A reminder: my book about the John Muir Trail, “As I Was Walking: Two Summers Exploring and Photographing the John Muir Trail” is on sale through Apple Books.

Here’s a direct link to the Apple Book store: “As I Was Walking”


Posted in Death Valley National Park, John Muir Trail, Miscellaneous, Mt. Tamalpais, Mt. Whitney, Muir Woods, National Parks, Sierra Nevada, Uncategorized, Wildflowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As I Was Walking – Now on Sale

March 21, 2019My first book is now on sale through Apple Books. Featuring hundreds of photos and even more words. The book is the culmination of three years of painstaking work: writing, editing, revising and then working out a pleasing, easy to read design. Click on the Apple Books button or the link to go directly to the store front for purchase. Thank you!080315_0505_02lg


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As I Was Walking – John Muir Trail book Preorder

February 21, 2019

I’m happy to announce that my book about the John Muir Trail, “As I Was Walking: Two Summers Exploring and Photographing the John Muir Trail” is now available as a preorder on Apple Books. Price is $13.99. The book features narrative and hundreds of my photos. This is a self-published project and is only available in digital form. The full book will be available on March 11th. For now, the book is only available through Apple, but it will soon be available for Kindle and other formats. Below is the link to the Apple storefront where you can purchase the book or download a couple of sample chapters.


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End of Year Clearance


Mount Tamalpais in the clouds and fog

December 31, 2018

Surely I could’ve found time to write more than two blog entries (including this one) in 2018, And like any good non-practicing Catholic, I always feel like I need to beg forgiveness for my absence from Blogland/the Blogosphere. Forgive me father for I have sinned, it’s been eleven months since my last post. And my inflated ego makes me think that the world of blog crumbled without me.


As I approach the three year mark since beginning the writing of “As I Was Walking,” my book about my adventuring along the John Muir Trail, I can happily report that I’m very close to finalizing my edits and layout and will be self-publishing soon, sometime in January (of 2019).


As I sit on the comfy sofa in my humble Alameda apartment, recovering from a nasty bout with strep throat, since I can’t go outside to play and cavort, I’ve decided to put together this End of Year gallery. What really compelled me to put this post together was an Instagram post I did yesterday. It was one of those “best of 2018/top 9” grids that posted my nine most liked images of the previous year. While I always appreciate the support of my followers, this is one case where the numbers do lie. Granted, I’m hardly the most objective judge of my own work. But one IG follower, Eileen, was kind enough to offer her own input. If I’d had the budget, I’d hire her as an editor, because I agreed with her choices. I’m not sure I can winnow my choices down to nine – I made more than 200 IG posts in 2018 and posted many more images than that on other social media – but following is my own Best of List:

First, the opening image of this post was from my first hike back on Mount Tamalpais (Marin County, CA) after a lengthy bout with bronchitis in late November (yes, it’s been a sickly last quarter of 2018). It was also between two early season storms, which always makes me excited at the prospect of witnessing the mountain’s returned vitality, with creek beds once again flowing and the parched earth joyous at the prospect of a long-needed soak.

From here, the images will be in chronological order:

January on Mount Tam’s Cataract Trail, a great place to enjoy the sound of water from Cataract Creek and plentiful wild mushrooms. I’m not enough of a mycologist to determine edibility and poisonous-ness, I just like the way they look.

01_2018_Cataract_01Below: a trio of images from an abbreviated trip to Death Valley in mid-February. First is from my camp at Mesquite Springs Campground. Middle image is a look north along the road to Mesquite. Bottom image is on the drive through the eastern Sierra along highway 395 on the way home as a snow storm approaches from the west.


As always, I’m consistently drawn back to the serenity of Mount Tamalpais. It’s where my soul feels most at peace. This particular image is from the Rock Spring Trail as I make my way through a patch of manzanita under a gathering storm in March.


Rock Spring Trail above Marin

Another March on Mt. Tam image as early blooms of poppies find protection behind a serpentine outcropping.


Poppies above Rock Spring Trailhead, Mt. Tamalpais State Park

For variety, I sometimes venture to another gem of a California State Park: Mount Diablo where wildflowers abound in early spring.


Early spring rains continued to feed the creeks on Mt. Tam. In this case, Fern Creek along the Matt Davis Trail.


Fern Creek

I get to see a lot of trees on my hikes, but I don’t recall a more regal, impressive tree than this grand oak that I found at Point Reyes National Seashore in late April. The way her branches spread across the trail and the surrounding landscape left an impression. This is a case where I felt that the subject was more important than the creative aspects of the image. 


Queen of the Oaks, Point Reyes National Seashore

 Wherever I hike, my eyes are always on the lookout for the smaller/macro details of what I find along the trails. I’ve always loved the textures of manzanita bark, sometimes smooth like polished mahogany or looking like shaved chocolate when the outer layers peel.


Manzanita bark, late July

The month of August arrived and my two week vacation with a planned 8-day loop in the Sierra, including part of the John Muir Trail. Unfortunately, wildfires and the accompanying smoke choked much of Northern California and the Sierra. As I drove toward the Sierra early on a Sunday morning, I contemplated canceling the trip as the skies became more and more smoky the further I drove and I worried for my health. Eventually, I found cleaner skies south of Mono Lake and even more so toward Bishop and my camp at 9,400′ at North Lake. I found this superb specimen of monkshood growing just yards from my campsite.


Monkshood, North Lake Camp

I went ahead with the backpacking trip, but it was cut woefully short as I came down with a case of altitude sickness. I’m already predisposed to it, but it certainly wasn’t helped by all the smoke I inhaled the previous two days during my drive. I’ll try again in 2019, and will hope and pray for a less devastating fire season. An image from my hike along the Bishop Pass Trail.


Saddlerock Lake, Bishop Pass Trail

Home early from the backpacking trip, I decompressed and took a very slow casual hike along Bootjack Trail to Van Wyck Meadow on Mt. Tam. A nice way to soothe the disappointment of another truncated adventure. Both images below are from that short hike.



Top: detail of a redwood tree; bottom: wild fennel silhouette

Late summer brought still warm temperatures to Mt. Tam, and while the first image below is a variation of similar I’ve taken on hiking trails, showing an inviting trail through forest, I loved the colors and the way the light fell on the canopy and the light at the end of a tunnel feel. The second image shows a view from the trail where it was about 25 to 30 degrees warmer above the fog bank than below. 09_2018_0141294299_10215731303212199_2415444514408759296_o

Early October, and an early autumn hike on Mt. Tam. The two trail images (in color) are again variations of other images I’ve done before, but I liked them nonetheless. I was more intrigued with the black and white jumble of dead manzanita. I loved the chaos and while I try to have a center of focus in most of my images, I think the lack of one in this instance made it a successful image.


Shortly after the above Mt. Tam hike, I was laid low by a prolonged bout with bronchitis that put me on the shelf for a couple of weeks. Once I finally improved, the tragic Camp Fire hit and smoke again choked the Bay Area. I escaped the unbreathable air for a few days by going to Lake Tahoe. Too late for the autumn foliage, I still found plenty of beauty near Taylor Creek and Hope Valley.


A return to the smoky Bay Area set me back again with lung and sinus problems until the rains finally arrived in late November, putting out the fires and cleansing the air. Once recovered, I was like a giddy child once again, patrolling Mount Tamalpais, tromping through muddy trails and understory, finding creeks flowing, trees rejoicing and mushrooms popping up. Please enjoy the closing slideshow of my final late 2018 hikes.

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“As I Was Walking” – The John Muir Trail


Sunrise at Garnet Lake

February 5, 2018

It was just over two years ago that, somewhat fresh from my 220-mile stroll down the John Muir Trail, I started writing a book about my adventure. It was actually two adventures – my first attempt at doing the JMT in 2014 was cut short by injury after completing a bit more than half of the trail; adventure #2 was my return/rematch the following summer (2015). It took me a year to write the first draft and then another year to edit and revise. At present, I’m finalizing the edits and writing a preface and some sidebars. Several months ago, I settled on the title. I also decided that this was going to be a self-published project. It might be a bit ambitious on my part, but in addition to the writing (presently my word count is in the 100,000 range) and photography, I’ll be designing the book myself with Adobe InDesign and offering it for sale on Apple iBooks and Amazon. I’m still working out the logistics and marketing plan. I’ll soon be starting a new blog and a new Instagram account specific to the “As I Was Walking” book with links to my iBooks page and direct ways to purchase.


Red’s Meadow camp

I’ve shared occasional excerpts from my manuscript already, and plan on putting more out on an increased basis – with accompanying photos – as I near my release date, still a few months away. Stay tuned! But for now, here’s another excerpt.



Day 1 – Happy Isles Trailhead


In this excerpt, I’m about to step onto the trail for my rematch, starting out from Yosemite Valley 

Day 1 – Thursday, July 16, 2015

Happy Isles Trailhead



            I had the trailhead to myself for the moment. Past hiking experience in Yosemite Valley taught me that the majority of day hikers and the tourist hordes generally didn’t venture out until after 8:00. With no one else around to take a photo of my start, I took an iPhone selfie that showed me hopeful, beaming and relatively clean at the trailhead sign. I tapped my poles twice for luck as I set off and I was once again on the John Muir Trail. As happy as I appeared in the photo, it fell short of conveying my emotions and how ready I was to take flight. I felt as though I could sprint up to Little Yosemite Valley, heal some lepers and cripples along the way, and turn water into wine – or, in my case, gourmet coffee.



Nevada Falls and Liberty Cap – Day 1



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