On May 16th, my dad sent me an email with a plan that would get him from mile 566 of the Pacific Crest Trail in Tehachapi to mile 942 in Tuolumne Meadows on June 8th—23 days later. On the surface it seemed like a “walk in the park”—an average pace of 16.3 miles/day when he had been doing 19 or 20. However he had 4 resupply stops to make on the way which would consume 2-3 days of hiking time. Subtract those 3 days, and suddenly he was looking at a strenuous 18.8 miles/day pace, which made him increasingly nervous as the mountain passes in the Sierras got higher, scarier, and snowier.
A week from today, (if everything goes according to plan) I will be embarking on the most physically strenuous activity I have ever attempted: section-hiking 150 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, from Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite to Echo Lake in Desolation Wilderness (near South Lake Tahoe). I will be tagging along with my father, who, when we meet, will have been thru-hiking the PCT for an incredible 54 days and 943 miles.
One of the natural wonders we visited while in Oaxaca was Hierve el Agua, a set of rock formations created by fresh water springs that resemble waterfalls. We weren’t sure in advance whether we’d get there, so we neglected to bring our bathing suits, but it was fun to explore and photograph all the same.
In March Stephanie and I traveled to Hetch Hetchy. Neither of us had been to Yosemite’s other valley, and I was doubly curious to see the aftermath of the Rim Fire. I really had no idea what the immediate result of a forest fire looked like. I kind of expected charred trunks as far as the eye could see—I certainly didn’t expect these surreal scenes of technicolor orange.
When traveling in a new place, I’m drawn to the backgrounds, the negative spaces, the tapestries of color and texture that exist just behind the people and cars and advertisements and graffiti. That background is what differentiates one place from another; it’s what makes a place a place. But it can be hard to photograph [well] because there’s all that other stuff in the way. And I didn’t have the weeks or months, let alone days, to immerse myself in the buzzing energy of Oaxaca enough to anticipate those moments of perfect urban composition.
As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a handy conceit. I was struck by how many Volkswagen Beetles were plying the cobblestone streets of the old city. So I took a photo of one or two—I love the juxtaposition of an old car against an interesting facade. I found that the familiar and graceful shape of the Beetle was a convenient foil for my true intention—to capture something of the place behind it. So what started out as a whim, turned into a sport, and I began walking the streets of old Oaxaca intent on collecting Beetles in their natural habitat.