Happy Summer Solstice!/“Basking in the Glow”

         Hello friends! It’s been quite some time since my last post, since Earth Day back in April actually, wow... suffice it to say that life has been pretty crazy busy, but rest assured that I still have plenty to share and update and many things in the works!😉 

         Speaking of which, I need to get back at it, but I just wanted to take a few minutes to hopefully brighten everyone’s day and let you know in the coming weeks, there will be much happening! In the meantime, wishing everyone an awesome Summer Solstice, time to bask in the glow of the long days of plenty... 

          “I have backpacked, camped, and hiked throughout Shenandoah National Park at least a dozen times over the past 3 years.  Living in Pennsylvania, it has become my "backyard" National Park, if you will. Growing up in and around the Appalachian Mountains my entire life, I'll never forget that first experience of entering the gates of Shenandoah on Skyline Drive and how, all of a sudden, everything just looked and felt different.  I think it's a testament to just how pristine our National Parks are! And to this day, it never ceases to amaze me, that feeling I get as soon as I enter Shenandoah, that suddenly, things are just truer, just better.  It may not have the scale of some Western National Parks, but at close to 200,000 acres of mountainous forests and with forty percent of that beingfederally designated Wilderness, believe me, this place is pure Mother Nature! I learn something new, and have countless wildlife experiences every time I am here.  This image is one of many I have captured in my Shenandoah adventures, and represents just a slice of the splendor which awaits!  Photographed in early June 2014, I decided to hike down to see Lewis Falls for the first time as the sun was setting before heading to set up camp for the night.  It was breathtaking...  Thesetting sun was angled right into the hollowed out ridge line basking the falls and cliffside in its glow! Perched high on the facing overlook cliff, I set up and fired off a few exposures just before the sun was down and the light had passed. What an exhilarating moment I remember it being on that warm June evening! I sat and enjoyed twilight a bit before hiking back up the mile and a half and then off to find my camp spot by the light of my headlamp.  All the while, thinking what a day it had been.”

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“Basking in the Glow” 

Happy Earth Day/“Innocence”

         I hope everyone has enjoyed a lovely Easter weekend with friends, family, loved ones and/or doing something they love! And a Happy Earth Day, and not to mention that Easter Sunday was also John Muir’s Birthday (April 21st) AND Saturday began National Parks Week which runs through Sunday April 28th, wow what a time of the season!  

         As you read this, I myself will be doing something that has become kind of a Spring rite of passage for myself to honor National Parks Week and Earth day. I will be backpacking for a couple days in Shenandoah National Park! :-)  I am giving up Easter with family and missing my beautiful girlfriend, Anna, unfortunately this year. But as life has been a whirlwind for weeks now, I felt very strongly about getting out and re-connecting with Nature for a few days. And I think timing is going to be incredible this year as weather has really been coordinating with Mother Nature to produce a gorgeous steady progression of Spring blossoms here in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic!

         I will have more on my Shenandoah adventure and what it means to me when I return. But for now, i will leave you to appreciate perhaps my favorite Spring photograph to date, “Innocence”. This is not from Shenandoah, but rather from another ritual I have every Spring which is visiting my Dad and the wonderful woods along the ridge where he lives. They are abundant with Redbuds, Dogwoods and Cherry Blossoms, making Spring bloom time prime time😁 

         The year I photographed this image, things were happening unusually early in the season, the Redbuds were popping late March into early April, about 2-4 weeks ahead of a more normal blooming period. But I happened to be there on such a perfect day. And in the glorious sunlight of mid-morning I stood staring up and around at a sea of pink and purple popping out amongst the dots of bright green and a crystal clear blue sky that I can only describe as heavenly. How innocent it all looks is what I remember thinking to myself. So fresh and pure and new. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, a true symbol of the rejuvenation of spirit this season brings!

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“Innocence”   -   Brandon Kline

2019 Nature’s Grandeur Calendar

         Looking for a little bit of Nature’s Inspiration for the upcoming year? Well, I am proud to present my first ever, self-designed Wall Calendar, which I am titling Nature’s Grandeur! I have completely designed every bit of this calendar myself and with the help of a local printing company, I can happily share it with you!

         The calendar is 8.5x11 inches, showcasing the beauty each month of the year has to offer (and with a few exceptions, photographs have been taken in the proper corresponding month, those that aren’t are very close)! I also had some fun researching significant dates and the calendar has several fun, noteworthy (in my opinion) observances to coincide with traditional federal and religious dates.  What about Moon Phases you ask?... Yep got ‘em! Add a little biographical info, Artist Statement tidbits, and a few pics of me doing what I love and that’s it in a nutshell. 

         The 2019 Nature’s Grandeur Wall Calendar is $17.50 flat rate (shipping factored into cost). Just give me a call or shoot me an email to place your order! I am accepting orders until January 11th, to coincide with my Holiday Savings Print sale! Below is the direct link for more information on the Artwork Discounts -

http://www.brandonklinewnp.com/holiday-savings

🌲🎄❄️🌨☃️🎅🎁

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...to a New Day Dawning

         Fast forward one year from when I captured “Find Your Way” and “Let Your Light Shine”... 

         I was delving deeper into my passion for the natural world than ever before and found myself on my second backpacking adventure. My brother had taken me out for my first experience that April, and boy did I fall in love with everything about it! Itching to get out again, I planned an itinerary in the Autumn for the two of us in Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah was my first National Park, as I had driven through it on the way to his place that April. I chose it for this backpacking excursion because I really wanted to get out on the trails and into the Wilderness of the Park.

         Looking back on those four days, it is hard to put into words the spectrum of emotions I experienced, both physically and mentally. The diversity of Autumnal beauty we were immersed in as we hiked down and up and down and up in elevation was nothing short of spectacular!

         To say our third day was grueling is putting it mildly. I had planned a hike taking us approximately 8-9 miles while gaining over 2,000 feet of elevation change. As a fairly experienced backpacker now, I have since trekked more daunting tasks. But back then,  it almost broke me. I recall at one point, as we were hiking up the last leg of decent elevation gain on the Appalachian Trail en route to Hawksbill Mt., I was (in my head) yelling at myself to “enjoy this man, you are on the AT for the first time!” My body, dehydrated (as I had sucked through my water early) and exhausted, just wanted to fall over down the cliff side. By the time we got to the spring and then chose our camping area for the night, I was nearly in tears of joy for having made it. 

         I awoke pre-dawn as planned and continued the half-mile to Hawksbill Summit to catch the sunrise. All the aches and pains and struggles were, at the moment of the Sun breaking the horizon, justified into something more grand than I could have imagined. I told my brother, who had met me up there for the moment, that if this photograph came out right I was going to title it “Appreciation”. Appreciation, for what it takes to be out here, for the trials endured and embraced to witness such beauty, for the journey we travel to a new day dawning.

(part 3 of 3) 

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 “Appreciation”   -   Brandon Kline

Spring Delights...

         Good morning friends,

         I know that depending where you are in the country, or at what elevation, the progression of Spring may not quite be the same as what I'm describing.  You could be looking more at Summer greens or still at Winter snows for that matter!  Here in central Pennsylvania ranging anywhere from a couple hundred feet in the valleys to approximately 2,000 feet on mountain tops, Spring is greening up!  In fact, when you look upon the valleys, hills, and mountains, you can probably see just about every shade and variation of the color green you can imagine.  It is such a lush and wonderful scene!  Most of the early season flowers have past peak bloom and are leafing, but you can still see surprises here and there and every now and then when you turn a corner, such as I did a few years ago in Shenandoah National Park, you are stopped in your tracks with the delight of a Dogwood, gleaming white against the vibrant shades of green in the Spring Sun and you are mesmerized by it's showy glow!

         Yes, it is early May now and the lush, fresh forests grow more verdant everyday, but delights such as the Dogwood are still out there for you to admire.  And even when this icon of Spring drops it's pure white flowers for the greens of Summer, there are plenty more delights for your senses to come... The show is far from over, throughout the next month, see what mid to late season bloomers you can spot as the forest fills in and the heavy musk of lilac gives way to honeysuckle in the ever growing days and the warming evening air that is to come...

                                                                                                           Brandon Kline

         

"The Delight of a Dogwood"

Getting back out on the Trail!...

         Hello friends,

         Well, I am pretty happy to say I had a very successful and amazing time getting back out for a few days in the backcountry of Shenandoah National Park this past week!  It felt great to get back there this Spring as I was unable to make it there last year during this time.  And as always, Shenandoah did not disappoint in the least!  

         I arrived on a very wet, foggy day to find the true freshness of Spring revealed in the cleansing rain.  It was magnificent!  The Park is so alive right now with bright green, beautiful white Dogwood blooms, early season wildflowers such as violets and wild geraniums, gushing waterfalls thundering in Spring flood, and although a great many were beginning to leaf, there was still a lot of purple between 1,000-2,000 feet elevation from the Redbuds!  I spent both of my nights in different parts of Shenandoah's Federally Designated Wilderness areas - the first, off of the Mount Marshall Trail, which was a new trail for me, and the second... Yep, I couldn't resist the calling of my home away from home off of the Tuscarora/Overall Run Trail.  Both hikes also included short stints on The Appalachian Trail, always a cool feeling to set foot on :-)

         After a damp, but glorious first night, the remaining day and a half I spent there was wonderfully warm and sunny with cool breezes carrying wafts of wild Lilac through the air.  Talk about bliss!  All in all, I covered roughly 12 miles, taking in the delights of the Spring mountains.  I caught my first glimpse of a Shenandoah Salamander(a species only found here), making friends with him in the rain on my first night.  I heard a pair of Barred Owls hooting "Who Cooks For You, Who Cooks For You All" across the forest at each other in the night.  The morning and evening chorus of birdsongs added extra serenity to spending time with the Dogwoods and Wildflowers.  And the rushing flow of the waterfalls was a welcome refreshment to the spirit.

         I wrote in my journal on my second morning, something profound, yet so true in relation to my thoughts of what I may hope to see and photograph while here... "You can plan for this, you can plan for that, but you can never prepare for what Nature will show you."  She is full of surprises and wonder and challenges, all of which are good for the soul.  Until next time, my beauty...

                                                                                                            Brandon Kline  

Hiking to "A Home Away from Home"...

         In correlation with yesterday's blog pertaining to Earth Day and National Parks Week, guess where I'll be while you're reading these posts Monday April 24th-Wednesday April 26th this week??!

         Well, if you guessed Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, you are correct!  Yep, I'll be dusting off the backpack and getting back out on the trail for a few days as I make my annual Spring migration to Shenandoah to soak in some of the best Mother Nature has to offer in honor of Earth Day!  As I write this, I am still in debate as to where exactly I'll be hiking these few days, but if I am lucky I may just catch the magnificent display of Redbuds and Dogwoods in the Park's Northern District before the blooms are over.  And who knows, I may just have to go visit my "home away from home"...

         "This backcountry locale in my "backyard" National Park, Shenandoah, has become a home away from home for me.  Since the first time I camped near this serene waterfall I have returned more than half a dozen times to date (and only planning on adding to that over the years to come).  Right here, I have enjoyed some of my most profound and intimate moments of experiencing immaculate Mother Nature.  And the fact that it lies within a section of Shenandoah's Federally designated Wilderness, makes it even more special.  Hiking 3.5 miles in darkness the night before, I awoke on my first morning here and rolled out of my hammock, slid down the carved out hollow right next to me and photographed this magical moment at dawn.  The most amazing black bear encounter of my life has taken place right here, as a young juvenile played and foraged for nuts in late Autumn not more than 20 yards from me for a good 10 minutes or so!  I have been here in early Spring to celebrate Earth Day and seen these Falls booming at 2-3 times the volume you see here.  At the perfect time in October, this forest is ablaze with Maples, Hickories and Oaks.  And, every time, whether it be amidst the intoxicating smell of fresh Spring rain, or Autumn leaves in the cool air, and the deafening sound of the falls as I hear nothing but them aside from an occasional owl hooting, I can lean back and lose myself in dreams under the stars and the moonlight... This place soothes my soul, this is living folks, this is real magic!"

                                                                                                        Brandon Kline

         

"A Home Away from Home"