One Step at a time 2

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

This is part two of my blog “One Step at a Time.” Part one detailed my prep for a section hike on the Appalachian Trail with my daughter so she could cross something off her bucket list. Then I covered the beginning of our journey. This blog covers the final leg of our trip. Hiking Trail

We had arrived at our planned stop for the night much too early. Feeling confident and energized we decided to keep hiking. We proceeded to our next planned stop the Gathland State Park to refill our water bottles. We rested there for a while as local emergency workers tended to a fellow hiker. Once he was safely on his way to the hospital we refilled our water bottles and found the now familiar white hash mark that told us we were still on the trail.

Hiking 3

Over the next four miles we found very few landmarks or scenic views to enjoy. This made that leg of our journey seem very long and tedious. By the time we reached the shelter we were both tired and ready to shed our backpacks for the night. We explored the shelter and decided the loft would be the perfect place to spend the night.

Shelter

Although neither of us was hungry we decided to have some dinner and hopefully lighten our packs a little. So far the hardest part of the hike was those backpacks. We were surprised when another hiker arrived since we had been alone in the woods most of the day. We chatted with this experienced hiker until nearly dark when we retired to the loft. An hour or so later another hiker wandered in. The two men chatted about hiking in the lower section of the shelter while we lay in our sleeping bags watching the lightning accent the sky.

Our morning started in the Ed Garvey shelter at sunrise. Neither of us slept well yet we were up, had breakfast and on the trail at 7 am. Our new plan was to complete our journey before dark. Thankfully as we left the shelter there was a sign pointing us in the right direction. It would really suck if we retraced our steps from the day before. As we proceeded along the trail we were alone once again with nature.
The heavy fog that engulfed the area prevented us from enjoying the scenic view from the Weverton Cliff. Since we were still miles from our destination we took a break before descending the switchbacks that awaited us. We were grateful to be going downhill, but the thin rock ledge that led us in one direction, then another was a bit nerve racking for us unseasoned hikers.

Our arrival at the section of the trail that joined the C & O canal was a relief. We would be on level ground for a while. But we were confused about which way to proceed. Thanks to a helpful day hiker we headed down the path hopeful that we were going in the right direction.

Hiking 4Once we began encountering more hikers we knew we weren’t far from Harpers Ferry. With a leisurely walk across G Byron Memorial Bridge we were across the Potomac River. Once we crossed into West Virginia we took a break and placed a call to our ride home. Two states down one to go.
By now we were both tired and ready to be done with our hike and those backpacks. The last leg of our journey took us into Virginia via a heavily traveled road. It took us nearly an hour to reach the parking lot where our ride waited. She greeted us with cheers and cold drinks. We had done it, 20 miles 3 states and we did it in a day and a half.

Hiking 5Back at home we were both sore and tired. We enjoyed hot showers and some pizza before spending the rest of the day as couch potatoes. This was a journey I had never considered. We laughed, we complained, we chatted for miles. This was a unique experience I am glad I tackled. Would I do it again? Nope. I look forward to the numerous day hikes that are in my future but I won’t be carrying a tent or sleeping bag for miles again.

Have you ever challenged yourself to do something a little out of your comfort zone?

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my experience.

Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.
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My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Step at a Time

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

This Blog began in May with a phone call from my daughter. She was looking to cross something off her bucket list and wanted me to accompany her. By the end of the call we had a plan to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail complete with tents, sleeping bags, food and water. Since my daughter like me is directionally challenged this is quite an undertaking for both of us.

Hiking TrailI originally planned to write a single blog detailing my prep for this trip and the hike itself. However I doubt anyone would sit and read a blog that long. So I am splitting this into 2 blogs. This one will cover my prep for the trip and the beginning of our journey. My next blog will cover the final leg of our trip.

The first thing I needed to do was get in shape. Yes I hike to capture critters on film. But this was a longer distance and I would be carrying everything I needed with me.

Deer I began by walking ½ a mile to the end of our street. I should mention that the hill just up from the house kicked my butt everyday for the first 2 weeks. Once I had concord that hill I began adding distance. Eventually I was up to 5 miles. Those five miles included 4 hills.

The next phase of my self imposed training was to add a backpack. I had never worn one before so I needed to get use to it. I began with my tent and sleeping bag attached. Then I added weight to the backpack each week.

At the suggestion of a friend I searched on line for hikers who had completed our route. Some made me a bit skeptical about attempting this, while others encouraged me and helped with some valuable information.

Meanwhile my daughter was training for a half marathon. I was sure she was much more prepared than me and continued to push myself daily hoping not to slow her down on our hike. By the end of August I was as ready as I was going to be.

I packed my backpack and put it on, and my heart sank. Then I remembered I still had the weights in there from my training. After removing the weights and repacking the backpack I knew this would be a challenge, but I could do this.

On the eve of our excursion my backpack was down to less than 20 pounds. We had a map of our route complete with landmarks and an elevation chart. Thanks to some fellow hikers we knew where we could refill our water bottles and where we were going to camp for the night. We allowed ourselves 3 days to complete our hike.

Hiking Start When our hiking day finally arrived our planned starting point wasn’t accessible so our first challenge was getting onto the trail. However we had my hubby dropping us off and he is really good at this sort of thing. So within minutes we were at the South Mountain Inn parking area. We strapped on our backpacks as a gentle rain fell. Just after 8 am we said our goodbyes and my daughter and I made our way onto the Appalachian Trail.

Guided by a series of white hash marks we wandered into the woods and left civilization behind and began to enjoy the tranquility of the trail. This leg of our journey had the most elevation and would be the most challenging for both of us. As the rain subsided we longed to reach our first peak and the well deserved rest we had promised ourselves. We had heard stories of snakes and bears along the trail but encountered neither. We did get a glimpse of a coyote and maybe a fox.
SJ Brown coyote

The Appalachian Trail is well marked most of the way. At the first road we encountered we experienced a few minutes of concern. We weren’t quite halfway to the shelter where we planned to spend the night; it was much too early in our journey to be lost. Finally we spotted that prized hash mark that told us we were still on the trail.

Hiking 2The next few miles were a mix of elevations speckled with occasional breaks and lighthearted chatter. We arrived at the Crampton Gap shelter at 1 o clock and decided it was way too early to stop for the night.
This seems like a good place to stop, for now. Come back next month and find out how our journey turned out.

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my thoughts.

Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367

My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

 

 

 

Sharing

S J Brown Photo verticalBy S. J. Brown

I am stealing this title from a previous post I wrote in 2015. Sharing is something I was taught to do as a young child and still do today. As a child on a daily basis I shared with my big sister, even when she didn’t want to share with me. In more recent years my sister and I have shared our memories and put them into a manuscript that we hope to publish.
S J Brown SistersAs an author I share my thoughts and experiences. As a wildlife photographer I share my images and my love of the natural world. For this blog I thought I would share some of both. I think it is more important than ever for all of us to be mindful of our wild places and the critters that live there.

S J Brown Mule DeerI think living with nature can be challenging, but so well worth it. Even when the birds get to our strawberries and raspberries before we do.
S J Brown Blue JayI think we can all do our part to help out the natural world. I do what I can be sharing my images, recycling, reusing, and reducing when I can. I flip horseshoe crabs, tag monarch butterflies, and plant trees.

S J Brown Horseshoe Crab

Each week I share a wildlife image with my social media community.

https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367

https://plus.google.com/107089848958196015385

https://www.linkedin.com/in/s-j-brown-40667b47/

2 KodiakIs there something your parents taught you as a child that you still do today? Have you shard that lesson with your children?

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my thoughts.

My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

 

What’s In a Name?

By S. J. Brown

On the day each of us was born our parents gave us a special name they pondered over for weeks or even months. Parents have been known to name their children after friends or relatives, places, objects, and myths. Many people who aren’t fond of their given name will use their middle name or a nick name. But does it really matter?
Let’s think about this, would Hulk Hogan have been taken seriously if he used his given name Terry Jean Bollette? How popular would dear Abby’s column be if it was called Dear Pauline?

How would using the scientific name for animals change your perception of them? Isa Eutamias as cute as a chipmunk?

SJBrown Chipmunk

Could you image calling our national symbol, Haliaeetus leucocephalus ?

SJBrown Bald Eagle

How about having Meleagris gallopavo for Thanksgiving dinner?

SJBrown Turkey

Do you think you would watch a Geococcyx californianus cartoon?

SJBrown Road Runner

I am often asked about my name. Once you say it a few times it doesn’t sound odd. It is a form of my given name. Why not just use my name? It’s not a bad name, just very popular among my generation. Early in my wildlife photography career I switched to using my initials in an attempt to get my work looked at and considered for publication.

S J Brown Photo vertical

Most publishers then and several now believe a woman couldn’t get the kinds of wildlife they were looking for. The train of thought here is that only a man would get close enough to capture the a bear, or alligator photograph that would captivate their audience.

Most photo submissions are done over the internet and don’t require any real interaction between me and the publishers that purchase my work. That means the majority of publishers assume I am a man when they review my work. Yes the check is made out to MR. S. J. Brown, but the bank will cash it for me.

Have you ever considered changing your name? Has someone’s name caused you to make assumptions about them?

Thanks for stopping by

Find me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

 

 

Paths Not Taken

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

All of our lives are filled with choices. Those choices often leave us to wonder about the paths we chose not to take. Looking back there were a lot of paths I didn’t take. After spending 2 years in Cosmetology school. I decided cosmetology wasn’t the path I wanted to take. That was a good decision on my part.

I have worked as a short order cook and a waitress. Although I admit I like food and eat it daily. However working with food was another path I didn’t take, another good choice on my part.

SJBrown Sparrow

In the field there is always a path not taken that could be the perfect place to spot a fox, bear, or even a wolf. But that path could also be a waste of time.

SJBrown Wolf

This weekend I have traveled before. I hope to be sitting down with a publisher to convince him to publish “ Suburban Sisters”, a book I co authored with my big sister.

Cover, Intro EctThe last time I sat down face to face with someone in hopes of being published she loved my work, but she thought it should be made into a text book. By her estimation that would take about 30 days. I decided following that path wasn’t right for me or the book.

We all have paths we chose not to take. Hopefully the paths we did chose lead us to fun adventures and happy memories. . Feel free to share your path stories.

Find me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

Thanks for stopping by

 

 

 

 

The West Virginia 6 Pack

IMGP6507.JPG

Let me tell you about the West Virginia 6 Pack. No, I am not talking about a beverage or food of any kind. The WV 6 pack is what I am calling 6 people from WV who traveled to Delaware to visit the beaches along the bay and rescue some wild critters.
Our little group consisted of me, my hubby Jay, our Granddaughter, two former neighbors and their grandson. This was the first year we were able to include our granddaughter in this annual rescue mission. She is 13 and lives in the Parkersburg WV area so just getting her to our home was a 5 hour drive.
The following morning we were up before the sun for the 3 hour drive to Delaware. There we met up with the rest of our group. We were all anxious to get started despite the nasty weather that greeted us. We donned our rain gear and proceed to the beach to brave the wind and rain.

SJBrown BeachOne by one we approached the horseshoe crabs that were in distress. The motion of the waves they rode to shore on forced some of the horseshoe crabs onto their backs. Like turtles horseshoe crabs cannot always turn themselves over when they land on their backs. Some beckoned to us by waving their claws, while others chose to save their strength and remain motionless.

SJBrown Crab ClawThis annual journey to lay their eggs could leave numerous horseshoe crabs baking in the sun if people didn’t come to their rescue. Migrating shore birds also come to witness this yearly occurrence. They come to gorge themselves on horseshoe crab eggs before continuing on their journey to their summer homes.

SJBrown BirdsOur strategy is really quite simple we walk along the top of the waterline flipping horseshoe crabs as we go. On our return trip we venture along the water’s edge. Our little group saved dozens of Horseshoe crabs, a turtle and a blue crab, all before lunch.

SJBrown Horseshoe Crabs

SJBrown Crab 1On the long ride home we discussed our plans for next year. Yes my granddaughter wants to do this again, despite the hours of driving required. She does think we should pack our lunch next time.

As a wildlife photographer and author I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States for over 15 years. I am always accompanied by my husband and spotter in my pursuit of the next critter encounter.
My work has been published internationally in books, calendars, greeting cards, magazines and newspapers. Sharing my photographs and written words are a way to share my wildlife encounters with others and possibly inspire them to explore their creative side.

https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

 

 

Welcome Spring

IMGP6487By S. J. Brown

Spring has finally arrived here in West Virginia. I no longer need to travel South to find warm weather and baby critters to photograph.

SJBrown 6 Crocus

 

No more hats gloves and 3 layers of clothes. Although my early morning excursions still include a hooded sweatshirt. Critters are more active this time of year that makes them easier to find. Birds are arriving in their summer home and building nests. Mammals are taking care of their newborns and reptiles are on the move heading for their mates and nesting sites.

SJBrown 1 Mama SquirrelHorseshoe crabs are waiting for the new moon in May to signal them to come ashore and lay their eggs. We also make the annual trip to the Delaware shore. This time we are taking our granddaughter with us to flip Horseshoe crabs. She loves the outdoors and has also been bitten by the photography bug. However this will be a new experience for her she will actually be touching wild critters.

SJBrown 3 Horseshoe CrabWhen you flip a horseshoe crab you get to immediately see that you have helped. Almost the instant their claws touch the sand they begin advancing toward the water. Although this is an annual event for us each year is a bit different. In addition to our original location we added another beach and a refuge to our Delaware trips.

SJBrown 4 Bald Eagle

In the coming weeks I will be visiting a favorite location in Maryland. I will be zooming in on waterfowl and their babies.

SJBrown 5 Duckling

I will also be out planting trees along watersheds in the area along with a number of other volunteers. I have begun planting my veggie garden and lots of flowers are popping up all over the yard. Yes I plan to add a few more.

Spring is my favorite time of year with fall coming in a close second. What is your favorite time of year?

As a wildlife photographer and author I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States for over 15 years. I am always accompanied by my husband and spotter in my pursuit of the next critter encounter.
My work has been published internationally in books, calendars, greeting cards, magazines and newspapers. Sharing my photographs and written words are a way to share my wildlife encounters with others and possibly inspire them to explore their creative side.
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

 

 

10 Days on the Road

IMGP6487By S. J. Brown

On the eve of my latest photo trip the living room was filled with duffle bags, camera equipment and anticipation. Jay and I were hoping for sunny skies, warmer weather and co operative critters. Our plan was to take the scenic route to Texas with stops in several states along the way.
Mother Nature decided she didn’t like our planned route and was not very nice to us the first 2 days. There was a major storm heading East across the country while we headed West. When we learned this storm was spewing out tornados Jay and I decided to take a more southern route.

Jay’s job while we are on the road is to drive, spot critters, and watch my back. More than once a critter has approached me from behind while I was photographing. On this trip Jay did an excellent job of protecting me from a bear.

sjbrown1 JAy with BearIn Alabama we discovered that Alabama isn’t very good at posting signs for most of our destinations. Mississippi was a bit better at this and I was able to capture a number of critters during our short stay. Louisiana is where we spent a chunk of time. However we did have to change our plans again. Most of the locations we planned to visit were flooded from that nasty storm. Still I captured over 2 dozen species of birds, mammals and reptiles. The flooding at one refuge worked in my favor. The high waters forced the migrating birds closer to the road and within the view of my lens.

sjbrown 3 Stilt

I was able to photograph more than one alligator on this trip. One was quite intrigued by the camera, while another was more interested in bathing in the sun; a third was a bit camera shy.

sjbrown 5 alligatorWe continued our travels and ventured into Texas, our furthest most west point for this trip. After a few days we proceeded toward home. We had just 2 days to get back to the real world.

These trips are about more than capturing critters on film. They are a chance to escape from everyday responsibilities and rejuvenate. What do you do to escape? Is there something special you do just for you, for an hour or an entire day?

sjbrown 2 EgretAs a wildlife photographer and author I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States for over 15 years. I am always accompanied by my husband and spotter in my pursuit of the next critter encounter.
My work has been published internationally in books, calendars, greeting cards, magazines and newspapers. Sharing my photographs and written words are a way to share my wildlife encounters with others and possibly inspire them to explore their creative side.
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the birds I see, Clancy’s Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

My Other Life

IMGP6487By S. J. Brown

All of my online friends know I am a wildlife photographer and Author. Hubby and I travel quite a lot and visit out of the way places to get close to critters.

SJBrown FoxWhat few people realize is I have a day job. For years hubby has asked me to quit my day job and write and photograph full time. I may just do that one day, but not yet. Wildlife photography is expensive. Yes when we travel I skimp on accommodations and meals, but I still have to put gas in the car and film in the cameras and replace equipment from time to time.

SJBrown FrogWhen we are on the road I promise hubby one decent meal a day and a bed to sleep in. That means Knights Inn instead of Marriot. Our breakfast id generally served through a drive thru window and lunch might be peanut butter and crackers. However dinner is generally a nice meal.

SJBrown JayThe income from wildlife photography and writing are sporadic at best. Yes I have sold a single image for $500 dollars. I have also sold an image for $25 which doesn’t cover the cost of getting the image. The latter is much more common and that is why I work part time.

SJBrown PelicanSo what does a wildlife photographer do when she is not out in the field? This wildlife photographer is a cosmetic merchandiser. Yep I play with makeup. That means I go into grocery stores and stock their makeup departments. Then I tell the computer what I want it to send to the store and what to stop sending because it isn’t selling.
This job allows me to be done work for the week at noon on Thursdays. This leaves me over 3 days a week, every afternoon and every evening to write, photograph and submit. On our longer trips my boss covers my territory and is very glad to see me when I return.

SJBrown with PoniesIt’s actually not a bad job, I have had worse. How about you what was your worst job? What was the best job you ever had? I will be back on the road again soon, but I look forward to reading your comments when I return.

Thanks for stopping by.

My work has been published internationally in books, calendars, greeting cards, magazines and newspapers. Sharing my photographs and written words are a way to share my wildlife encounters with others and possibly inspire them to explore their creative side.
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the birds I see, Clancys Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367

Join my E mail list and be the first to hear about my latest adventure. sjbrown.pictures@gmail.com

Visit my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com to view more of my images

S J Brown Photo vertical

Planning

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

Have you ever wondered what goes into a field trip for a wildlife photographer? January is when I plan out large portions of my year. As snow piles up outside Jay and I spread books, maps and the trusted atlas on the dining room table. We have notes from shows we have watched on the public broadcasting station and migration maps as well.

SJBrown1After reviewing all this we pick a direction and plan out one trip at the time. The desired destination dictates if we will be on the road for just a few days or 10. This year’s 10 day trip will have us zig zagging from state to state and spending extra time in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
We budget for things like gas, food and places to stay. While we spend our days in refuges, parks and out of the way places. We need to plan to be in areas that offer food and lodging each night, but still close to the next day’s sunrise destination. I promise Jay one decent meal a day, and a bed to sleep in, anything beyond that is a bonus.

SJBrown2Before we hit the road we stock up on things like film and snacks. All the camera equipment needs to be ready to capture that magic moment when I encounter a critter. Over the years I have accumulated a number of camera bodies and lens’. This year my largest most expensive lens needed to be replaced before we hit the road. The only good thing about this is that it didn’t happen while I was on the road.
We plan out shorter trips as well. Two or three day trips include locations in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. On each of these trips I load the car with two camera bags, a tripod, raincoats, hiking boots, water shoes, and a duffle bag. Jay packs his duffle bag and the cooler. Longer trips require us to find room for additional duffle bags and food. What I may need to grab in a hurry goes in the back seat for easy access.

SJBrown3Over the years we have learned to plan for anything. Weather, traffic accidents, and lack of critters can divert us from our planned route. On a trip to Tennessee we spent very little time in the state. Instead I captured most of my critter images in Kentucky.

SJBrown4While in Main we struck out at our planned destination and traveled another 3 hours north to get shots of a mama moose and her offspring. The rainy conditions in Georgia pushed us to spend an extra day in Florida on another trip.

SJBrown5Wildlife photography is so much more than having a camera and a love of critters. However this is something I am passionate about and I plan to keep doing it for many years to come. Our next trip is just a few weeks away.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you plan a few adventures of your own.

As a wildlife photographer and author I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States for over 15 years. I am always accompanied by my husband and spotter in my pursuit of the next critter encounter.
My work has been published internationally in books, calendars, greeting cards, magazines and newspapers. Sharing my photographs and written words are a way to share my wildlife encounters with others and possibly inspire them to explore their creative side.
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the birds I see, Clancys Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.


Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367

Join my E mail list and be the first to hear about my latest adventure. sjbrown.pictures@gmail.com

Visit my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com to view more of my images

S J Brown Photo vertical