Sunday, July 28, 2013


When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.
                                                                                                    - John Muir

P.S.  We're engaged!  More details to follow.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bear Head Photography.

Black Bear.
Early on during the season, our friend, Barrett, passed through Yellowstone on his way up to Alaska where he is a bear guide.  He showed us a video from a few summers ago that he took while doing the same job - and it's of him on an ATV with guests in the back.  A sow and her cubs are grazing a few yards away.  One of the cubs gets interested so Barrett starts kicking the cub in the face to get him to back up! He said he had heard that both cubs were still roaming around.  It made my toes tingle a little bit watching the video.

He is an amazing photographer, with patience that I couldn't even imagine having.  He visited us this past winter because he had heard about a bobcat with her kitten that was being spotted along the Madison River.  He would wake up at 5 every morning to catch the a.m. express out to Seven Mile Bridge where he waited - skiing up and down the road, reading, and if it was warm enough maybe a little nap.  Eventually, the p.m. express would cruise back by in the late evening, pick him and his extremely large camera up and take him to the Snow Lodge.  He waited 10 hours a day for four days in the cold of Yellowstone's winter in the hopes of a bobcat that never showed up. He did eventually find one to photograph in Yosemite NP a month or so later. 

Bison Calf.
While he was here, we went out looking for wildlife because that's what Barrett does.  It was nice to get out and see the park so early in the spring.  We found 8 bears (a sow Grizzly and her 2 cubs, a Black Bear with a cinammon and a black cub, a large boar Black Bear and a young Black Bear that people were way to close too!), a moose and lots of bison with their newborn calves. 

Go check out

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It's June and I still suck.

Well I'm back.  Maybe.  The layout is a little strange...  I got messed up somewhere and got frustrated fixing it.  At least I'm posting!

My computer is down and out for the count so I'm using G's.  Hopefully, I'll be getting my own this summer - but we'll see.  We have so many ambitions right now...

We are back in Yellowstone for the summer.  G is driving for the Total Yellowstone Package - a week long tour that our friend J.P. is narrating (with some help from G).  I'm a mostly step-on-guide.  Basically when big tour groups come into the park, I'll hop on their bus and hang out for the day - giving some info about the park along the way.  It's a pretty sweet gig.

G watching bats fly out of Congress Ave. Bridge.

On our way out here this spring we visited a number of southwestern national parks and some good friends.  Our official road trip began after visiting the families, which we drove to as well.  The first stop was Austin, TX.  Our real intention there was to visit Mandy & Kaleb and Josiah.  However, we did some sightseeing as well.  At first, we just headed into Austin with high hopes of finding stuff to do - rather unsuccessfully.  So we went back to the hotel room (thanks Kathy!) and did some research.  We rushed to the Congress Avenue Bridge to watch and smell the millions of bats fly out of their day home to catch millions of bugs during the night.  Since we barely made it in time to even witness the event, there was no way we were making it to a good photography spot.  It was still really neat to witness.  The next day we took off with a full itenaray - visiting a couple of museums, the University of Texas campus and the Cathedral of Junk. 

Cathedral of Junk, Austin, TX
After visiting with our friends, we headed out to the Chihuahuan Desert and Big Bend N.P.  As we headed west across the giant state of Texas, we began to feel the heat seeping into the truck.  Josiah had us super excited about Big Bend - and also worried about the tarantulas that we expected to see crawling across the road and over our tent.  (We both woke up a couple of times thinking that one was near our heads!)  Thankfully, we never saw any!  We did see some Javalinas (sort of like pigs but not), quite a few deer and a persistent Mexican Blue Jay.  We camped out in the Chisos Mountains and climbed Emory Peak.  Since it was so hot, we started our day early to get to our campsite around lunch, napped through the hottest part of the day, then climbed/scrambled up Emory (7,825 ft).  G was a little crabby when he woke up sweating, but the evening hike in the cool breeze chilled him out.  The next morning, we woke up to hike out (again early before the heat).  Big Bend was beautiful desert with all sorts of blooms and little critters running around.  However, it is also a big area and I feel like only saw one section - missing the Rio Grande entirely. 

Moonrise in Big Bend N.P.
We saw the green dot of a N.P. calling our name out in New Mexico - Carlsbad Cavern.  It was so cool!  We wanted to do an adventure tour down into one of the lower parts of the cave with a hard hat and miner's light on top - but they were all sold out for the day we were there.  So instead, we ended up doing a candle lantern tour that was a really interesting way to see the caves.  It was how the original discoverers of the cave saw them.  Near the end of the tour, we all blew out our candles and listened to total silence in the total darkness.  It was a very strange sensation.  Then the ranger told us about two early photographers who were down in the caves when the electricity went out and slowly made their way back to the surface with one pack of matches.  One gentleman would light and match and the other would run to the end of the light - and by repeating this process they made it out.   After the tour, we went back up to the surface so we could walk down the cave and through the big room.  The formations within the cave were amazing - it's a place I would recommend anyone to visit who has the chance.

Formations inside of Carlsbad Caverns.
Saguaro N.P. was the next place we visited and it's somewhere I've wanted to go for a long time.  And I loved it! 

Blooming Prickly Pear Cactus.

G hugging a giant Saguaro Cactus.
We had gotten our junior ranger badges at Carlsbad and decided to keep the tradition going - and it was a lot of work here at Saguaro.  However, we did learn about everything that we witnessed, which was really cool to have a better understanding of what was around us.  Saguaro NP is a little strange in that the city of Tuscan, AZ is smack dab in the middle of the park.  So when we rolled in, we toured around Saguaro East, but there was no camping near here so we drove through Tuscan to camp right beside Saguaro West.  We picked up some delicious food and wine to enjoy at our campsite and made a lovely evening of it.  The next day, we explored Saguaro West. It was a little strange that the giant Saguaro cactus were blooming in West, but not East.  They were beautiful - little half dollar coin size white flowers stuck on the crown of the giant, friendly cactus.

Saguaro Bloom.
From Saguaro, we began heading north.  We visited with some dear friends of mine from Chicago who have resently transported to Scottsdale, AZ.  They have a lemon tree in their backyard and their neighbors have orange and grapefruit trees! The Grand Canyon was the next National Park that was on our way.  It was one that we were really excited for - the Grand Canyon.  This was the big one - the must see on everyone's lists.  And I have to admit that it didn't really do it for us. I can see the beauty, history, and awe - but there was just something missing. We got there late the first evening and just set up camp.  G meandered to the grocery for some lunch the next day and brought back Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream because he's a good man.  The next morning, we went in search of a friend from Yellowstone and made plans for dinner that evening.  We happened upon the edge of the canyon - and, if you're not prepared, I could see just stepping off the edge!  It just drops down from nowhere into the inner core that makes up the Colorado Plateau and 2 million years of our planet's history.  We spent the day wandering down the south rim, saw a 5ft long gopher snake, a family of squirrels, got our junior ranger badges and had dinner with a lovely lady.
5 ft long Bull Snake at Grand Canyon.
I was up early (and I  mean early - 4:30 a.m. because Arizona doesn't observe daylight savings, unless you're on an Indian Reservation!) to watch the sunrise.  I went out to a lovely little point near a museum.  There were already two guys out there setting up their tripods - and the didn't want me there!  They made rude comments about how I could find a different spot on the canyon to set up my tripod (in broken English).  I continued on to a spot a little further up the trail with amazing views.  I could still see these two and the couple of bus loads of people that moved into their spot while I enjoyed the sunrise in peace and calm.  We left that morning and had to take a super long detour on our route up to Zion NP due to a road being washed out. 
When we finally made it to Zion, we entered the East Entrance, thinking it was the South Entrance.  We were supposed to be meeting a friend there and ended up driving through the Zion Canyon a few times before figuring out where we were.  It was such a beautiful drive that we didn't mind seeing it more than once.  We finally met Zack, whom we crashed with during the week.  It was his weekend from his job of tour guiding and canyoneering guiding.  So he took us out canyoneering in Pine Creek Canyon.  Oh my goodness!  It was so awesome!  We repeled down various depths - the heighest being 100 ft.  It was such an exhilirating feeling to be hanging by a rope and trusting something like that with my life.  We would lower down into 40ish degree water and have to swim to the other end of the pot hole.  G was in a wet suit and I was in a dry suit, with sweats on underneath, and still shivering occassionally.  We went down the Grand Cathedral. The canyon was so beautiful - like waves of rock that we could move through.  An absolutely wonderful experience!  The next day, we hiked up a hike that I can't remember the name of.  It wasn't Angel's Landing but another one that was slightly higher and more than slightly less populated.  That evening we went and watched the Rainbow Girls perform at a small venue.  
Canyoneering Photos by Zack Pennington.

From there we headed up to Park City, UT to visit Eric and Nadia.  We went GoKarting and LaserTagging.  It was a nice end to the road trip.  Although, I'll admit that I've never been that excited to unpacking the truck as I was after this road trip.  We brought up stuff to decorate our cabin with - for the first time ever our room looks like a home.  We've been hiking and canoing and all sorts of fun stuff so far this summer that (hopefully) I'll update with soon.  Lots of love.  LT

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I suck.

I haven't been posting.  I have no excuse so I'm not going to offer one.  I'll try to be better, but I'm not making any promises. 

Life has been good.  Since we've finished the trail, we spent time with both of our families and returned to Yellowstone to work as guides this winter.  It's been a blast driving snow coaches in some of the most beautiful scenery in our country.  It's also been tiring.  We load heavy luggage to the tops of the Bombardiers and drive up to 100 miles without power steering.  But we get to see things like an adult and imature bald eagle fight over hunting territory or three wolves run across a frozen lake - so I wouldn't change this opportunity for the world.

Since I've been working so much, it means I haven't been getting out and taking photos quite like I want to.  Although that seems a little counter-intuitive.  I (almost) always have my camera with me - but since I'm working, I don't always like to bring it out.  I did go out one night and do a little night photography, which was a ton of fun and something I want to get out and do again. 

That's all for now - it's the reader's digest version of the last few months of my life.  I'll try to be better, but I'm not making any promises... 

All the love in the universe,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

FAQ #1: What is your favorite section?

Grayson Highland Wild Ponies.
There are a few questions that we tend to get from most of the people that we talk to... so I decided to answer those questions here.  One of the most often asked is, "What is your favorite section?"  My favorite section in the south was from the Roan Highlands in northern TN to the Grayson Highlands in southern Virginia, around 100 miles.  (I'll do another post for my favorite northern section - once I finally get around to looking at those photos.)

It seems that a lot of people's favorite places tend to be places where they had a great experience due to trail magic, good weather or a wonderful friend memory.  When we started into the Roan Highlands, Yogi was just getting over being sick and we were finally able to move with a bit more speed.  The weather made me feel like I was walking through Ireland - with low rolling clouds that moved in between the open balds.  I loved it!

Yogi & BooBoo
The day we actually passed over Roan Mountain was rainy, cold, foggy and super windy.  We stayed at Overmountain Shelter, which is an old converted barn that hold 20ish hikers and looks out into a meadow.  When we rolled into the shelter around 5 p.m., there were a few sick hikers that had already ducked out of the rain.  One fellow was huddled in the corner coughing; another was hammocked up claiming stomach flu.  We made dinner, took a NyQuil and were in the process of falling asleep when what would eventually be our group of friends loudly entered with song, dance and merry spirits.

Roan Highlands.
The next day, clouds continued to swirl around us but the rain was no longer falling.  The ground was thoroughly soaked - leaving slippery puddles in the mud.  At one point, I slid two feet and fell with my toes curled up under my body.  I wrote that night, "My toes are a little sore, but when is something on my foot not." We had wonderful trail magic of sodas and snacks, which was much appreciated on a rainy day when we didn't take time for an actual lunch break.  We camped by the Elk River, which was down a steep and slippery .2mi trail.  I slid down and into the creek - and Yogi didn't even make a comment because he could tell how utterly exhausted I was.

Hump Mountain.
We passed Mountaineer Falls, where I got to try my first attempt at waterfall-slow-shutter-speed-photography.  And that was an adventure in and of itself:  I had to skip across mossy rocks in front of the waterfall at least 5 times because I kept forgetting stuff on the other side!  During that, I stepped on a Salamander's tail.  You could see how the tail was still slightly connected and was flailing around at a much quicker pace than his body.  I felt really guilty about this!

Mountaineer Falls.

We had to do a quick town run into Hampton, TN.  Towns were probably the hardest part of the trail for us.  We would feel really stressed out about having to hitchhike in, get to the post office, grocery store, food to gorge on right then and hitchhike back out in a relatively efficient manner.  The day we went into Hampton, TN was no exception - but we needed more food (and wanted Subway).  We had 6mi to hike before we would hit town and only had one bagel and one cup of cocoa to share, which isn't near enough food.  After we passed Laurel Falls, we turned right when we should have turned left and ended up at the shelter.  We were both so crabby (ie hungry) that Yogi was grunting at me while we were trying to figure our way back to the trail!  Once we got into town, we each ravenously devoured foot-long sandwiches, chips and drinks, which is the part that makes town worth it.  We stopped immediately once we got back to the trail and just set up camp by the river to rest our tired feet.

Goslings at Watauga Lake, TN.
We started the next day refreshed!  Lunched at Watauga Lake, which we later learned is a popular place to drop dead bodies from a Verizon worker.  Yogi had his first spill of the trail - he had decided to take a short cut between switch backs and he just rolled down the hill.  We had a beautiful sunset and a deserted shelter to ourselves.

Sunset at Vendeventer Shelter.

Tennessee/Virginia Border.
We had about two more days before we were going to cross into Virginia (our 3rd state!) - and Trail Days Festival.  On/off rain, a black bear, night hiking and beautiful scenery.  Trail Days was interesting to say the least.  We stayed in Tent City - a big sports field that they open up to camping for the festival.  It was like a music festival with drinking, dancing, camping - but only a drum circle instead of any other music.  And most of the participants were stinky hikers.  It was neat to go to as being a thru-hiker.  We got to see people that we ahead that hitched back to the festival and people behind.  I don't think I'd be too keen on returning for a future Trail Days though.

We headed out of town after another Subway run, which gave me mild food poisoning.  After a day, I felt good to go and we headed out to the Grayson Highlands.  We camped at Thomas Knob Shelter, about a half mile from the summit of Mt. Rogers (5,729 ft and the highest point in VA). 

Rhododendron Flowers.
The next day was clear and beautiful.  We started in Fur/Spruce trees that gave way to blooming Rhodadendron bushes that gave way to open, rocky balds.  We saw some wild ponies from a distance and a few moments later we walked right into a group of about 10 or so.  They only came up to about our waist and were so friendly!  They wouldn't stop licking Yogi and me due to the salt that was on my skin from sweat. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2184.2 Miles.

And we walked the whole thing...

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers, BooBoo & Yogi.
I'll post something worth reading soon.  Right now, I'm exhausted, trying to get re-adjusted back to the real world and I have well over 12,000 photos to sort through! 

Friday, June 29, 2012

1017 Miles.

We've made it to Harpers Ferry - the unofficial (because it's still another 75 miles to the actual) halfway point!  At a very quick glance, these are a couple photos I like.  Enjoy!

An owl!  Yogi saw it fly by, then he sat and posed forever!

Red Spotted Newt.

We get a lot of fog.  I miss the fog now that it's so hot!

Today!  (99 degrees and a heat index of 115! Dang!)