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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https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/as-i-was-walking/id1449329593?mt=11

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As I Was Walking – John Muir Trail book Preorder

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/as-i-was-walking/id1449329593?mt=11

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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https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/as-i-was-walking/id1449329593?mt=11

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End of Year Clearance

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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.

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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.

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Rock Spring Trail above Marin

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

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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.

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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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

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            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.

 

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Nevada Falls and Liberty Cap – Day 1

 

 

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Not Quite an End of Year Gallery – but close

This gallery contains 31 photos.

November 6, 2017 I suppose it’s part of my Catholic upbringing – and the attendant guilt – that makes me feel as though I need to explain my absence from the world of Blog. It’s like going into a confessional, … Continue reading

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The Wildflowers of Mt. Tamalpais

This gallery contains 26 photos.

July 4, 2017 Not that I’m self-important or deluded to the point of thinking my absence from the blogosphere has been noticed by my readers or the mainstream press, but I do apologize for my lack of recent posts. My … Continue reading

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A Year of Photos – 2016

January 15, 2017

Usually these types of blog entries are done closer to the new year, but time got away from me a bit. I’ve also been busy working on my John Muir Trail book. It took me eleven months of nearly daily writing to finish the first draft. Brevity in the written word has never been a strong suit, so editing and a second draft will be a challenge. But I adore the creative process, both in writing and in photography. As for this entry, the biggest challenge was trying to winnow the thousands of images I took in 2016  down to 12.

Rather than putting the images in a gallery, I’ve chosen to put this post into a standard format so I can share more narrative.

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Mount Tamalpais State Park

The early part of the year found me out of a job for a few months as the restaurant I worked at for 8 years went belly up. It had been in decline for years so it was really a mercy killing, a blessing. I took full advantage and did lots of hiking and went on road trips to Tahoe, Death Valley and Yosemite.

February

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Death Valley Moon

My favorite trip of the year was a visit to Death Valley after hearing of the incredible “superbloom” of wildflowers. But for all of those wildflower images I took on that trip, this was one of my favorite images of the year, of the moon about to set over my Mesquite Springs camp. But if you really want to see wildflowers, here’s a link to my DV post from last February. The Death Valley Superbloom – A Gallery of Flowers

 March

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Lupines, Lake Don Pedro

Another month and another road trip, this time to Yosemite. After four years of drought, we were expecting a visit from the much hyped and ballyhooed El Niño. The water situation improved some, but not to the extent that was forecast. Nevertheless, the wildflowers through the Sierra foothills didn’t disappoint. As I drove up highway 120 at sunrise, I found incredible light filtering through a fog bank with blooms of lupine and fiddlenecks.

April

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Poppies on Mt. Tamalpais

Well, I couldn’t live the life of leisure forever, especially after taking extended vacations in 2014 & 2015 to play around on the John Muir Trail. Another ’25 Days’ Gallery from the John Muir Trail (Landscape Edition) At the end of March, a job at the venerable Tadich Grill fell into my lap. But my weekly hikes continued, as did the incredible blooms of wildflowers all over California.

May

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Cow Parsnip, Muir Woods National Monument

I’ve always loved photographing Cow parsnip, a member of the wild carrot family. The patterns and symmetry are so photogenic. I took this image while walking along Redwood Creek towards Frank Valley camp and the Heather cut-off, one of my favorite springtime walks because of the variety of wildflower blooms. It was a different spring and summer for me since it was the first in many years that didn’t have me training like a maniac for a JMT backpacking trip or Mt. Whitney day hike. Instead many of my weekly hikes were more like extended meanders than death marches.

June

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Wild daisies at Laurel Dell, Mt. Tamalpais

July

 

 

In July, with the Sierra trails clear of snow, I ventured out for an overnight backpack trip into Desolation Wilderness, west of Lake Tahoe. The hard climb into the backcountry in surprising heat was a challenge and had me cramping severely, but it was all forgotten as I witnessed an incredible sunset that evening and sunrise the next morning.

August

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Sierra Nevada

I was able to finagle a handful of consecutive days off from the new job to allow me to do some quality car camping at Red’s Meadow Resort. I’d camped there during my John Muir Trail adventures the two previous summers. Initially, I’d hoped to venture into the backcountry, but I was fighting some knee tendinitis so I instead relaxed and went on day hikes to Rainbow Falls and some other locales.

September

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Rainbow Trail, Taylor Creek

I’m so incredibly fortunate that I live within comfortable driving distance to and from the Sierra, especially the Lake Tahoe area. For years, it’s been my tradition to make a pilgrimage to the Taylor Creek area west of Tahoe to photograph the fall colors and check out the Kokanee salmon swimming up the creek to spawn. This time, I was a bit early for the salmon, but the aspens were in good form and I even saw a bear just moments after taking this image. My Annual Tahoe Area Autumn Color Photo Safari

October

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Rock Spring Trail, Mount Tamalpais

Over the recent years of drought, we (Northern California) had been fooled before by the promise of early season storms. I took this photo on Mt. Tamalpais, looking back toward San Francisco Bay, the afternoon before one of those storms hit. This season, there was no talk of El Niño. We’d had other years when rainy seasons fizzled by January. This time however, storms continued, even to the point where just day ago the drought in Nor Cal was declared over.

November

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Wild mushrooms, Mt. Tamalpais

While April showers bring May flowers, as the saying goes, autumn rains bring November mushrooms. I found these delightful specimens while hiking Rock Spring Trail. My job was made easy by the incredible light shining through the gills and by being able to get a nice low angle. The Wild, Wild Mushrooms of Mt. Tam

December

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Cataract Creek, Mt. Tamalpais

As mentioned, the rains continued into December and into January. Creeks and river, reservoirs and lakes were all gushing, even overflowing. I’m looking forward to venturing back into the wilderness often throughout the year. Best of luck to us all in 2017. After January 21st, we’ll need a lot of angels.

Posted in California State Parks, Death Valley National Park, Desolation Wilderness, John Muir Trail, Lake Tahoe hikes, Mt. Tamalpais, mushrooms, National Parks, Sierra Nevada, Wildflowers, Yosemite | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment