First Hike

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality

Last week I posted a short history of my photographic prowess, or lack thereof. Toward the end, I mentioned I had a revived interest in taking pictures, and was trying to decide whether to use a digital or a film camera. Although I didn’t say it, I was also trying to figure out where and when I would have an opportunity to get out and shoot. All of those questions and more were answered over this past weekend, courtesy of my wife.

She had the idea for the two of us to visit a local wildlife refuge on Sunday afternoon to “try a short hike and see what we could see.” I agreed, and packed both of my cameras for the trip. When we arrived shortly after lunch, we drove around for a while just looking at what was where (it’s not a small place; the refuge is some 8,000 acres in size, with a mixture of grasslands, forests, and wetlands all bordering a huge lake).

We made our way to the Visitor’s Center, where two volunteers cheerfully answered our questions and offered several suggestions for hiking trails. The Visitor’s Center also had a neat little exhibit area with native wildflowers, and bushes of aromatic wild roses nearby that reminded me of the Cherokee Rose bush my mother had in the backyard of the house where I grew up. My wife grabbed the digital camera and started shooting, so that pretty much decided what I would be using for the day! I picked up the film camera and took a few shots as well, hoping that I wouldn’t mess up too many frames on the roll.

We left the Visitor’s Center and drove over to one of the nearby hiking trails. According to the maps, it had several ponds and trail loops of varying distances from one to two miles. Given that my cameras do not have long zoom lenses to photograph wildlife without getting too close and scaring them, we decided to photograph whatever local flora we found. And, since neither of us has been out hiking in years, we decided the distance would be short enough for us to make it a good first effort.

We started down the trail by crossing a small footbridge, and made our way through a tree-shrouded grove past our first pond. We moved along past that and out of the grove into a grassland area, snapping photos of assorted flowers along the way.

The trail led us to another large pond with a wooden pier that had the sign “Crawfish Pond” on its side. After exploring the pier and looking out over the pond, we continued on the trail to a rest area in a shady spot on the opposite end of the pond. We stopped there for a little while, commenting on how pretty and peaceful the hike had been – we had only seen three other people the entire time we were there and they were back at the head of the trail, leaving the entire area just to us.

We left the rest stop and continued down the trail, which branched off in different directions at different points depending on how far one wanted to hike. We chose a shorter route that led us between Crawfish Pond and a smaller one called “Frog Pond”, where we also stopped to explore for a few minutes. It wasn’t quite as pretty, so we didn’t spend as much time there before moving on.

We gradually made our way along the trail, passing several bluebird houses set up along the way. These are mounted on posts with large cones under them to deter squirrels from climbing up and taking over the birdhouses for themselves.

We made it back to our starting point safe and sound, later learning we had traveled about a mile or so. Again, we had not been on a hike in years, so it worked out well for us.

We left the trail area and followed a “driving trail” through some of the wetland areas. The refuge is a rest stop for migrating birds, and we had hoped to see some of them. Unfortunately, we found only a few egrets and geese, and a couple of large birds which I believe were herons, all out of camera range, but we enjoyed the drive around the relaxing scenery.

After the driving tour, we decided to call it a day and headed for home. Next, I had to get my film developed – something I had not needed to do for several years! Amazingly, very few places are left in town that will develop 35mm film, CVS Pharmacy being one of them. So, I took my completed roll (I had started another that was still in the camera) over to CVS and had them process it. An hour later, slightly anxious with anticipation, I went back and picked up my prints and photo CD.

How did they look? See for yourself; several of them are posted with this blog entry. I did find some problems with several shots, and I think I know what happened; to be sure, I’ll have to do some testing with another roll of film. But all in all, I was pleased with my work.

Now that I’ve gotten the ball rolling, I wonder where I’ll be going and what I’ll be shooting next? I guess we’ll all have to wait and see!

Tags: , , , , ,

This entry was posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2010 at 11:30 pm and is filed under Today's Reality. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment

Lelisia "Lee" Hall

Wonderful idea! A Photo Essay! I think you’ve inspired me to attempt to do one too! And I agree that you should be pleased with the results of your photographing! Keep up the great, FUN work! I’m eager for more!

May 4th, 2010 at 11:31 am

Leave a reply

Name (*)
Mail (will not be published) (*)