It is hard to self-actualize and transcend when you cannot feel your toes. I wanted to motivate and rally to photograph at sunset, but cold wet feet and patience worn thin from post-holing for 6 miles was enough to keep me in my camp chair.
My wife and I really wanted to camp so we drove to the sunny(er) side of the Cascade Range. Our aim was to camp somewhere off the forest roads near Dufur, Oregon. It should have been no surprise that there was an unusual amount of snow at an unusually low elevation. We were mildly surprised. We did find a great spot and decided to go for a hike. Having not considered snow at this elevation, we did not bring snowshoes. We did a 6-mile hike anyways and decided the hike landed as a type-2* fun adventure. It was a warm and sunny winter day with clear blue skies, the woods were beautiful and the dog was having the time of his life. What moved this hike into the you’re-glad-its-over category was the snow condition. It was almost frozen, just enough to trick you into thinking the snow will support your weight. It did not. A cadence of no cadence whatsoever as a leg or two sank into knee-deep snow at random intervals was maddening by mile five. Let me see if I can recreate the pattern, here. (Bold is when someones foot sinks and your sole is removed piece by piece)
During this exercise in hip-displacement and recovery-breathes to calm the nervous system, boots fill with a seasonal snowpack’s amount of crystalized water, because we were lulled into a belief that summer conditions existed and we didn’t bring leg gaiters. My hope was to return back to the van with plenty of time to find a location to create sunset photographs. We returned to the van… and that was that.
in 1943, Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, formulated a structure to represent and explain universal human needs. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is expressed as a pyramid with the base of the pyramid representing the greatest and most immediate life needs, stacked upon by the lesser immediate needs; food and shelter at the bottom of the pyramid, you being your best you at the top, love and esteem in the middle, with some other stuff.
The basic idea and purpose of this model is to explain that one is not able to move up the hierarchy without first satisfying the lower base needs - It is hard to think about love when you have not had water to drink for weeks.
Again, my hope was to photograph at sunset. After battering my cognitive needs by walking irregularly for six miles, and after my toes decided to curl and cramp into little foot-fists due to being wet and cold, I was unable to motivate into the upper tiers which are made manifest by creating photographic art. In short, I was too cold and tired to care one lick about making photographs.
This long-winded rant is leading up to the important moral, the nugget in the gravel- filled stream of word-flow. Three nuggets, actually…
Always plan ahead and prepare for your day
Listen to your body
Have compassion and don’t begrudge yourself
Also, do not trick yourself into thinking the weather is going to be anything other than wintery… in January!
*type-1 = Fun, straight up; type-2 = Not fun, but you pretend to have enjoyed when telling people