"Spirit Of The Wild" - Foreword


"The land retains an identity of its own, still deeper and more subtle than we can know. Our obligation towards it then becomes simple: to approach with an uncalculating mind, with an attitude of regard. To try to sense the range and variety of its expression–its weather and colors and animals. To intend from the beginning to preserve some of the mystery within it as a kind of wisdom to be experienced, not questioned. And to be alert for its openings, for that moment when something sacred reveals itself within the mundane, and you know the land knows you are there."

- Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams

"Dark Brilliance"

     Ever since I was little, I've always loved being outside, under the sun, able to run and move about freely. I’ve never enjoyed just sitting around the house all day. So to say that 2020 was a difficult year for me would be an understatement. I was used to being outside nearly every day, taking trips whenever possible, and constantly planning my future adventures, much of which I had greatly been taking for granted.

     After being stuck at home for nearly six months, I once again felt the call of the wild. I desperately needed space; to once again breathe fresh air, swim in crystal clear, cold water, and walk along winding, rocky trails, where I could stretch out my stiff legs. Unfortunately, the kinds of places that offer these pure joys are becoming harder and harder to find, as we leave less and less natural land alone, unsupervised and untamed.

     I've since learned how fortunate I really am to have a few wild places not too far from home. Places I can always count on for solitude, silence, and adventure. Over the years I have built deep personal relationships with these places as if they were longtime friends, by returning time and time again, and experiencing them in many different conditions–both internally and externally. I return to them not in hopes of reliving my initial experience, but because I know there are still endless opportunities for exploration and discovery–as the place and myself will be different every time–and I will continue to have new meaningful experiences.


     One of these places is an incredible mountain range, deep within the heart of the Rockies. I have now made a dozen trips–both alone and with close friends–into different basins, and have hiked hundreds of miles along its faint narrow trails, endless boulder fields, year round patches of icy snow, and summited many peaks and high passes. But the more I see, the more I know there is yet to be seen, as each new place I reach becomes a gateway into a whole other wild world. The time I allot for these adventures never seems to be enough, as I always find myself reaching my destination and only wanting to continue further.

     My natural curiosity and my appreciation for rugged, wild places keeps me up at night as I can't help but be carried back into this magnificent range, wondering what familiar peaks would look like from new vantage points, or what other glaciers, high alpine lakes, flower fields, and jagged mountain faces remain that I have still yet to discover. Or all the ways they may look differently the next year. I dream of new trips, routes, and compositions all year long in anticipation for the short window during the summer and fall that this place becomes accessible.

     Knowing that I was soon going to be a father to a new baby and would want to stick around more once he was born, I decided it was the perfect time to do one of the longer trips I'd had in mind for the past few years, deep into the heart of the range, into basins and valleys that I had only seen through the limited view of satellite images and clumps of squiggly lines on my topo map.

     Not only did I feel that I needed plenty of time to reach and photograph these places, but I felt I needed a longer adventure for my personal wellbeing. I was experiencing stress from the pandemic, anxiety about my book project that was going horribly wrong, financial stresses that came along with purchasing our first home, and the typical worries about bringing a child into this turbulent world. I needed space, stillness, and silence to prepare myself for such a life changing event, to reset my priorities, and feel confident that I could be the father, role model, and provider that my son would need. I knew that the heart of the Wind River Range–the most remote and wild basins–would be the perfect place for me to go to find solace.

"Shades of Dawn"

     Since I was out of shape, I started doing as many day hikes as I could in the Rocky Mountains near my home in Utah. Then, as soon as I heard the snow had melted and the roads were open, I headed into the Wind Rivers for a six day solo trek through many familiar basins as well as some new places along the way in order to get physically and mentally prepared.

     As always, it was even more beautiful than I had remembered, and I experienced the impressive range of dynamic weather this place is known for; rainy mornings would abruptly turn to sunny afternoons; bluebird skies were aggressively filled with black clouds, unleashing huge nuggets of hail without a moment’s notice. I was able to create some photographs, but the trip was really more about reacquainting myself with the landscape, pushing myself physically, and restoring myself mentally and emotionally. Photographs were really not of my concern.

     Once it was time to head back into the Wind Rivers for two weeks with my good friend Kordell, who I have explored much of the range with over the last few years, I was in a better mindset and physical shape to venture further than we had ever gone before. Leading up to our trip we spent hours poring over 

Google Earth, topo maps, and trip reports, and shared as much information with each other as we could. But since much of our trip would be through less visited areas–in the indian reservation deep within the range–we went in with more questions than answers. A large part of our route was mostly unknown, and remained as a big, empty square on our maps. We weren’t sure what to expect. We would just have to wait and see.


“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

- Wilderness Act of 1964

     The two week trip that ensued was the most memorable, profound, incredible backpacking trip that I have ever done before. I hope to write more about it someday and go into greater detail on what it was like to be in the most remote wilderness I have ever experienced before–completely isolated and cut off from civilization, cell reception, and the hurry of modern life. We encountered bears and saw other majestic wildlife daily, beheld dramatic lighting and weather that danced across the faces of marvelous mountain peaks, and got to see some of the last few glaciers that still exist in the United States with our own eyes. I am still largely at a loss for words to articulate the unique and profound experience we had, but I hope that through these images and the rest of the stories I am going to share with you now, you will catch a glimpse of what it was like.

"Spirit Of The Wild"

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