We know, we know…long time, no write. Our bad. Is anyone still out there?
We don’t want to make excuses for our poor blogging etiquette, but we thought that the very least we could do is to let you know what we have been up to lately to help explain the long absence. So here goes...We wrote a book!
We spent most of the fall of 2016 writing the manuscript for our book Hiking Photography. We wrote our little hearts out, sharing everything we know about photography, how all those rules and tricks can be applied specifically to hiking photography and then sorting through thousands of images to find the perfect photographs to illustrate our ideas. It was intense, and it didn’t stop there. The editing process lasted for months, and, by the time the book was finally published last March, we were really proud of the accomplishment. But we were also seriously spent!
Even so, we pushed through, trying to catch up on the summer of 2016 when we backpacked the Chicago Basin, the John Muir Trail and the Northside Figure 8. Once that was done, we finally took the long break we had been looking for.
We joined Instagram
After an initial resistance, we finally joined Instagram, and we have to admit that it has been a lot of fun for us. One of the primary reasons that we got into blogging in the first place was to share our photography, and Instagram has been a great outlet for doing that. Duh…
I don’t know what took us so long to come around, but, in all seriousness, we’ve really enjoyed Instagram. It’s allowed us to share our work in a more timely and less time-consuming manner—one photo and one caption at a time—without the lengthy process of writing up a full blog post. Our handle is @takeahikephotography, and we have posted lots of our hiking photos from past trips, but we also use it as a platform for sharing some of our non-hiking adventures, including our newfound obsession with birds. We hope you will check us out there and even follow along.
We lost our beloved cat, Moose.
We adopted Moose from a shelter and had him for nearly 12 years. He was a really cool, impressively sized, black cat with a ton of personality, and we loved him dearly. Moose suffered from diabetes, and, for practically all of the time we had him, we needed to give him two insulin shots per day that were ideally supposed to be as close to twelve hours apart as possible. Twelve years. Twice a day.
We made it work, but trust us when we say the logistics of having a diabetic cat wasn’t always easy. If we had evening plans, one of us always had to run home to give him his shot before going out. We could never really sleep in too late on the weekends because we had to get up to give him his morning shot. For our long summer trips we had to find renters who would agree to take care of him, including administering his shots, in exchange for a great deal on rent. Smaller trips were problematic, too. Once the neighbor kids got old enough, we trained them to give him shots, so we could get away every now and then during the school year. But most of the time, we tended to shy away from little getaways because of the added expense and hassle.
Last February, Moose developed a tumor near his eye that finally got the better of him by June, and we had to have him put down. We miss our sweet boy terribly, but we are also enjoying the newfound freedom we now have. This fall, we were finally able to take those weekend camping trips to Wisconsin that we always talked about doing.
In early February, we even made it up to Sax-Zim Bog in Northern Minnesota to photograph Great Grey Owls, a trip we’ve wanted to do for years but couldn’t make happen.
They little getaways are small consolation, but they have helped ease the pain a bit.
We have been traveling!
This is what it is all about for us, and this past year has been our busiest travel year to date. Hooray! We ended 2016 and started 2017 with a trip to New Zealand! Three weeks hiking and photographing the stunning landscapes of Middle Earth was a dream come true for us, and we came home in January scheming ways we could move there permanently. If anyone hears of a Kiwi school looking for a Latin teacher, please let us know!
In early April, it was back down to South Texas for some excellent spring bird photography. This was the third time in three years we’ve headed to Texas for Spring Break, and it has quickly become a favorite photographic destination for us.
Once Matt’s school year was out, he led a group of high school students to Greece and Italy for a tour of ancient Classical sites. I joined the group in Rome as soon as my year ended, and we had one day together in the Eternal City before taking the kids to the airport and sending them back to the US with the other adult chaperones.
After hugging our goodbyes, we boarded a plane to Tirana, Albania, where we started a 10-day hike known as the Peaks of the Balkans that would take us across the Dinaric Alps and lead us into Kosovo and Montenegro before crossing back into Albania again. Along the way, we stayed in guesthouses in the small mountain villages and ate delicious home-cooked meals with our friendly hosts.
Peaks of the Balkans is a relatively new hike with very few people knowing about it, much less doing it. It was amazing to have such beautiful scenery practically all to ourselves.
From there, we flew to Switzerland and began our crash course in European hut hiking by attempting three of the world’s Classic Hikes all in a row: the Tour du Mont Blanc (through Switzerland, Italy and France), the Haute Route (from Chamonix to Zermatt) and the Alta Via 2 (in the Italian Dolomites). While planning this tent-free summer we thought we might miss the gruel of backpacking, schlepping all of our gear with us and sleeping outside, but hiking with manageable-sized packs, eating delicious, multi-course meals, drinking fine wines and sleeping in cozy huts wasn’t all that bad. In fact, it was so enjoyable that hut hiking just might have ruined us forever. Did we forget to mention the cappuccinos? We know. It’s a tough life, but somebody’s got to do it…
In September, it was back to school, but, for the first year ever, Matt’s school decided to take the entire week of Thanksgiving off. Of course, we took full advantage of the week-long break and headed south to the cloud forests of Ecuador to commune with the birds.
Did you know that Ecuador is home to 132 species of hummingbirds? 132?!?! That’s crazy! Just for comparison’s sake, we only have 20 species in the United States. We had a super intense week of photographing these colorful little birds, and it was a blast!
And we ended the year strong with a two-week self-drive safari in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, where we celebrated Christmas and rang in the new year watching giraffes, elephants, lions and a whole assortment of birds to our heart’s content. We came home with thousands of amazing wildlife photos to edit and process. No wonder we haven’t had time to write!
So, the good news is that we have lots and lots of incredible past and future hiking adventures to share. The bad news is that we have such a backlog of trips that it is feeling a little overwhelming to get it all out there for you, especially because we have another summer of fantastic adventures planned that will be here before we know it.
Nevertheless, we do hope to get it all done with the caveat that our future posts may not look as polished or be quite as detailed as what we have produced in the past. If there is any information that we leave out that you would like to know, please feel free to ask us in a comment. Don’t be shy. If we can’t actually be out on the trail at the moment, then there’s nothing we love more than talking travel, hiking, photography, gear, trail logistics, etc.
See you again soon!