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Photos and Footprints

"Take only photos. Leave only footprints." - Unknown

This quote has crossed my mind often this weekend as my partner and I have spent the weekend hiking in the Red River Gorge area in the Daniel Boone National Forest. This is about two hours from home, but it's someplace we've not really explored yet (even though we've lived in Kentucky for 12 years now), so it seemed like a good place to go to celebrate her birthday. Our dog loves to hike with us, so we brought her along too. (Kitty stayed home with the house-sitter). We spent about three hours hiking each of the last two days. I had planned to post several photos yesterday, but discovered I left my card reader at home, so photos and a summary of the trails will have to wait until I get back.

I've discovered a few things:
  1. Our 9-year-old dog has more energy than I do.
  2. What the forest service people refer to as an "easy" hike, is not necessarily easy.
  3. Hiking downhill is just as difficult as hiking uphill.
  4. There is a surprising amount of graffiti etched or painted onto various rock formations.
The first three items on the list didn't really come as a surprise to this out-of-shape, 30-pound-overweight, middle-aged woman with arthritis, but they didn't stop me from enjoying our surroundings: Breathing in the smells of nature. Feeling the cold, fresh air on my face. Listening to the silence around us, hearing nothing but our breathing, our footsteps and our occasional conversation. I was surprised, though at the number of people who chose to etch their names into the rock formations as opposed to enjoying the environment around them. My partner made the comment that the "Michael loves Jackie" carvings have most likely outlived the actual relationships.

I'll never understand the lack of respect or appreciation people have for nature. As a photographer, I have the opportunity to capture a moment that means something to me. The photo may not always turn out the way I see it in my mind, but I try to capture it anyway. And I do so without doing damage to the subject. I enjoy taking photos as a way to create a sense of permanence. The scene may change over time, but by capturing it on camera, it remains that perfect moment frozen in time. I don't have to carve my name in a rock to know that I was there. 


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