My most recent adventure was a 4-day excursion through the Allegheny Mountains by way of the Clarion River, a 26-mile boat trip through some of the most desolate river and mountain landscapes imaginable. I grew up on the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains and spent my childhood and adolescence hiking, floating and exploring the Rivers and Mountains of Northwest Pennsylvania. This is a picture of me at 8 or 9 years old, with my net and buckets…it’s no surprise I grew up to become a Biologist, working in one of the largest wetlands of the world!
In late spring/early summer each year I return home to Erie, PA for this annual tradition that my dad initiated more than 50 years ago. I’ve been taking this trip for 25 years now and look forward to it a little more each year. Each year, the environment changes and there are always new places to explore. This trip is a photographer’s dream as the Clarion River cuts deep into the desolation of the Allegheny National Forest.
Clear, spring-fed streams cut through the mountainside, while falling waters rush through giant rocks left behind by glaciers millions of years ago. Hiking my way up the mountain along this stream, takes me to the peak of the mountain where the stream begins as an icy-cold trickle from an underground source. These streams are refreshingly cold and will numb your feet if you stay in them too long. The cold water in these streams creates an ideal habitat for native brook trout to live.
The setting sun peeks through the mountain forest, where I found this old moss-covered pine with a twisted trunk. Setting up for this image with the best vantage point had me laying completely down in the mud. I am typically not satisfied with a photo shoot until I am wet and muddy.
Fields of ferns blanket the forest floor in some areas of the Allegheny National Forest. In some places the ferns will go on for acres. I often search out these areas to set up camp for an early morning sunrise shoot through the endless field of green.