2017 Valencia Trail Run

I had the awesome experience of photographing this years Valencia Trail Run hosted by the great people at New Global Adventures (http://newglobaladventures.com/). I was struck by the diversity of the runners, their drive and determination to prove to themselves they could do it, and their kindness to their fellow runners. It was just a brilliant event. Can’t wait to do more with them in the future. 

What made this uniquely rewarding for me was using my experience as a landscape photographer to give overall context to the race for the participants. The one thing better than running is running in epic country. 

Malibu Workshop!

We met in the afternoon and descended into the tall grass meadow, the few, the proud. We met a lady on a horse on a narrow green trail and meandered through wild cucumber. We looked out over a broad green valley festooned with rugged rock formations, spoke of composition, geography, camera settings and how yucca really does seem to enjoy stabbing hapless legs that intrude. 

Oh, and we took some pictures. You should join us next time. You really should. 

Lisa got some amazing shots (below). You can view her portfolio here: https://www.facebook.com/lisaakawie and at lisaakawie.com

And, of course, we wrapped with a selfie.

How I Got Here

I grew up in Pennsylvania in a log cabin built by my parents. It had a great stone fireplace, a cast iron wood stove for heat and a Clivus Multrum composting toilet. TV for me was books, radio and the woods around the cabin. Dad had decried cutting down any trees to get to our house so our “lane” wound through the tulip trees for at least a quarter mile, over a bridge he’d built over a stream and finally up to the cabin itself. 

I was a year old the first time I went “hiking” in the Adirondack Mountains of upper New York State. It was a little overwhelming for a tow-headed little tyke. But these early experiences were the imprint that would form a deep love for the wilderness as I grew older. 

When I was 7 years old I made the summit of Mount Marcy, highest point in New York State. The wind was roaring so fiercely over the peak, I clung to the rock, terrified I’d be swept off the face of the mountain. And thus was born my love of rock and fear of flying. Only kidding - my only real fear is parties where I don’t know anyone. 

After numberless rambles in the Pennsylvania woods, backpacking trips in the Adirondacks and Appalachians, and a three year hiatus in Chicago, my parents packed us all up and drove northwest. For days. Right across the Canadian border, then north until they plopped us down in a proper wilderness: northern Saskatchewan.  

Our town lay in bush country. If it were possible to walk it (it’s not) you could travel the 415 miles to the Northwest Territories without seeing another person. 

I spent several years there, learning of an infinitely wilder world than the tame woodlands of the East. It was territory that could swallow an unwary explorer without a trace, thick with willow, bogs, endless water and countless mosquitos and black flies. In winter, it was invariably punishing, temperatures occasionally plummeting to -40. You learned pragmatism there quickly. 

Following that, I spent a year at a school west of Great Falls, Montana and spent weekends wandering in the mountains. My experiences there included cliff jumping, exploring, coming face to face with a mountain lion and spending an afternoon with a remarkably tolerant mule deer. 

Ten years ago, I moved to Los Angeles and the whole voyage of discovery began anew. LA was where I rediscovered photography and with that a hunger to know the land here. But equipped with a camera it was no longer simply a personal experience - it was an experience I could bring to the public and to the world. It is the one thing I can’t imagine not doing. I hope you’ll join me as I explore southern California and beyond.