To be surrounded by people and places that inspire is the essence of what everyone’s looking for in their lives. To live creatively through this true inspiration is what everyone strives for within their lives, jobs, and ultimately their careers. As an artist and photographer, I constantly find myself surrounded by people and places that inspire not only me personally, but my work as well. Adventure and the outdoors collectively drive my creative philosophy, which is energized and inspired through landscapes and being able to show the contrast between humans and nature.
There is a striking contradiction in a simple scene from nature versus the emotion and feeling you get with the imposition of the human association. To be in a place that makes you feel small and see what tiny place you hold in the world really leaves a humble and grateful feeling for every moment spent outdoors.
We are all visitors here. This earth will be here long after we are gone. With so little time we must experience all that it has to offer, whether it’s a hike, a simple walk in your local park, a day trip to the beach, or a grand expedition. There’s something about sitting in nature and enjoying every moment. There is a simple beauty that can be found in the connection between people and nature that is so obvious and is often taken for granted. For it’s never enough to just observe through a phone or computer, we must get out there, be involved, and fulfill that inspiration with memories with the people and places that matter the most.
Stephen Krawiec is a New Jersey-based adventure photographer. For more of his work, visit www.stephenkrawiec.com
Ma Moehl insisted consistency was the biggest lesson to teach her two daughters, and the message carries through in many aspects of my life. I feel physically my best when I go to sleep around 10pm and wake up around 6-7am. I feel connected to friends when I interact with them on a regular basis. I feel well fed when I cook in my kitchen, three meals and two snacks a day… often dessert too. I feel the most grounded as a person when I cover a few or many miles, human powered, preferably on my own two feet and on dirt. There are so many pulls and distractions that infiltrate our day that I find having consistency in as many aspects of life as I can is the thread that keeps me centered through it all.
When travel, work, social engagements, emails, have to’s, to do’s, and other obligations challenge my ability to maintain my l routine, it seems running is the mainstay, the core of the list, the one thing I will always do. I can and do run anywhere and everywhere. The simplicity of shoes and a sports bra enables a dependable interaction with wherever life takes me. It is a way to connect with the land, the people, and the community. It is a way to understand where I am physically – I love a morning run in a new town to find the coffee shop and grocery store – and a way to understand and process the thoughts in my head. “There are not many issues in life that a long run cannot solve. Sometimes the run has to be a bit longer.” Running is one thing I have and will count on for years to come. Running, my parents’ consistent presence, and Ma’s helpful life lesson.
Living on the road full time brings up grand visions in most people’s minds—open desert roads, unlimited free time, illuminated tent photos plastered with trending hashtags, and adventures on demand. I’d be amiss to say there haven’t been periods of all of that through my nomadic lifestyle, but the road life more commonly presents crunched timeframes with adventure buddies all over the world; a quick stop between photo shoots is the typical stage that my adventures are set upon.
Contrary to the perception built by sponsored expeditions to countries nobody has heard of, its unexpected flexibility is where the outdoor lifestyle truly shines. At first glance, the outdoor life seems committing, time consuming, and unapproachable. Outdoor adventures don’t need to be multi-week long summit attempts, first descents of unnamed creeks, or a statewide mountain bike traverse. Instead, they can be 30-minute cruises on a mountain bike around urban trails, a quick trail run in the park, or a quick playboat session. There are zero rules stating adventures have to be time consuming.
Cruising into town, calling an old friend and saying, “hey let’s grab coffee” is the standard, easy route of brief and rushed social interaction. Of course, it has its place with those who don’t recreate outside. But making meaningful connections in the outdoors always wins. I’ve had my share of memorable coffees with friends as I swing through a town, but they are far more forgotten than mini-adventures. It’s no mistake that some of our best companions in life are folks we meet through our outdoor pursuits. The threads that create the mesh of relationships, outdoors or not, is built off the trials and tribulations, the successes and failures.
So next time you only have an evening to catch up with a friend or a few hours, go hit up your local trails, rivers, or anything else you can get your hands on.
Tommy Penick is a commercial photographer and filmmaker who lives out of his van. For more of Tommy’s work, check out www.tommypenickphoto.com
First light fluttered from darkness, glowing on the horizon like baseline fires across the curve of the earth. We barely spoke. I racked the gear, checked my knot. Nearly a vertical mile of climbing towered overhead.
It was my first trip to the storied Chaltén Massif of southern Patagonia, where spires jut into space like parallel rows of sharpened teeth. For decades, climbing legends have risen and fallen here with the ferocious winds. For sixty-five million years, these granite spires have reached toward the sky like temples of the gods.
Our trip had started like so many others: long on ambition, short on action. Cloudbanks of fury obscured the mountains and the wind so scoured the earth that on some days even approaching the glacier was unthinkable. We’d retreat to the forest and pass time with our friends.
Just before our flights home, the skies cleared. A perfect window.
It’s funny how time passes. Two days can go slowly, without recollection. Passing normally, placidly, mundane days like any other.
So often, I recall only fleeting moments. Sometimes, when standing in line at the bank or sipping coffee or driving to the store, the molecules in my brain that hold the memories of my mind flash before me, transporting me to a dreamlike world that I know is real. On Cerro Torre I remember my heartbeat pounding in my ears as we raced up thin ice that would disappear the very next day, melted by the fierce southern sun when we were higher on the route. I remember shivering away the night without sleeping bags in a snow cave three pitches below the top, drifting between sleep and hypothermia. Waking and climbing through rime-ice mushrooms, gargoyles, and house-sized sculptures jutting outward in gravity-defying forms like images pulled from a fantasyland. And, of course, tunnels. Tunnels? Yes, tunnels. Treasure-hunt tunnels carved by the wind, allowing passage through the impossible seeming mushrooms, until we sat on the summit under perfect skies, almost unbelievingly, knowing we’d been lucky.
Exactly two days after we left, we staggered back to our tent as silhouettes of giants towered overhead. Before crawling inside and collapsing into a dreamless sleep, I remember staring once more at the stars while the wind calmed to a whisper, as if the gods themselves were pausing between breaths.
Kelly Cordes is author of The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre. For more on Kelly and his work, visit www.kellycordes.com