“May Your Spirit Be the Guide”

          It was early May in 2012 and upon my return home from a life changing backpacking adventure with my brother in South Carolina, I found myself reflecting on many things...

         As much as I was becoming obsessed with nature photography, I had never really before been out for much more than day hikes or leisurely strolls close to home. And now, I had just driven through the entirety of Shenandoah National Park twice, a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and camped out for two nights backpacking on the Foothills Trail, SC - all over the course of one week!

         With one evening left before going back to work, I decided to drive out to Poe Paddy State Park about an hour from my house to see if this Dogwood (that is barely even prominent the way this evening turned out) might still be flowering.

         You see, the evening before I set out on that South Carolina adventure, I had come to this very spot. Spring blooms had come extremely early this year after a mild Winter and a warmer than average March and April. By mid-late April most areas were predominately green. The exception being higher elevation mountain settings such as this which were still in the budding and blooming stage late April/early May.

         Then out of nowhere came a freak late April snowstorm dumping roughly six inches on all that fresh green! Albeit beautiful but disconcerting with all those delicate blooms! It melted considerably fast though with warming temps the next day and the remaining blossoms had survived. Unfortunately that first evening I was here, I had lost the light to attempt a good photograph.  So it had been stirring in me, wondering if I might still have a chance of this Dogwood being in bloom a week later...

         Miraculously, it was!  A precarious hop, skip, and a jump across some rocks put me out on the Big Poe Creek in great position.  Balancing on a rock, trying not lose my gear or myself in the water, this ethereal fog began creeping in and consuming the mountains at sunset. I snapped the shutter.  And in this moment of awe at Mother Nature's unpredictable beauty, I rationalized all the events in my life over the past 9 months - that made me question so many things about happiness, passion, and how we move forward - which led me to this adventure and to this moment of clarity.  I listened to my heart and let my spirit guide me and I've been doing my best to do so ever since.


“May Your Spirit Be the Guide”   -   Brandon Kline