New Experiences At Grayson Highlands State Park

New Experiences At Grayson Highlands State Park

As I mentioned in my last post, I was fortunate enough to spend a week at my families cabin in the mountains of Virginia. Grayson Highlands State Park is less than 20 minuets away from the cabin, so you best believe that I visited it! My Dad's family actually used to own a portion of the land that became the park. You can still find a family graveyard in it's boundaries.

Over the week I was there I made multiple trips to the state park. On each trip I made sure to push my boundaries, and try some new things photographically. Despite my reservations I found that I really enjoyed everything I attempted, and now I have a few new skills!

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Michigan: Sleeping Bear Point, and Grand Traverse Bay

Michigan: Sleeping Bear Point, and Grand Traverse Bay

The advent of a new year brings with it the desire to reflect on the past year, and to make resolutions to make the next year even better. I decided to do this by revisiting some areas I have not photographed in quite some time: Sleeping Bear Point, a part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and downtown Traverse City. Mostly I chose these locations because I thought it would be fun, but I also wanted to see how my photography has improved since my last time visiting the locations.

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Sam A. Baker State Park

Sam A. Baker State Park

The St. Francis Mountains are an ancient range rising from the Ozark plateau. Millions of years of erosion carved away at the volcanic rock creating the many valleys, bluffs, and shut-ins that can be found there today. The land is a beautiful rugged wilderness: hiking through these mountains can feel like you are going back to a time before humans. Sam A. Baker State Park perfectly captures the essence of this area.

At the heart of the park is Mudlick Mountain, one of the significant domes within the St. Francis Mountains. The mountain is surrounded by the largest wilderness preserve in the Missouri state park system. The park features an extensive network of trails that allow visitors to experience the untouched beauty of the Precambrian mountains. There are also many options for backcountry camping, including three shelters built in 1930 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

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Saint Louis: Tiffany

Saint Louis: Tiffany

After my adventure in the Smoky Mountains I decided to stay close to home for the next outing. I visited Tiffany, one of Saint Louis' many neighborhoods, with my friend Jason Gray... While the neighborhood is largely residential, Jason and I walked around the areas under development. This gave me a chance to use up the film I had left over from the Smokies.

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Tennessee Part IV: Exploring Knoxville

Tennessee Part IV: Exploring Knoxville

After five days of non-stop activity, we were looking forward to a couple days of rest in Knoxville. Our Airbnb was a giant loft in Old City above a coffee shop. The name, Awaken Coffee, is an obvious play on words, especially because there is a church that operates out of their back room.

For breakfast we decided to stop in. After we finished our meal of fresh local donuts and New Orleans style chicory cold brew, we set off to explore our surroundings. 

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Tennessee Part III: Climbing Mount LeConte

Tennessee Part III: Climbing Mount LeConte

For our fifth and final day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park we wanted to climb Mount LeConte, the third tallest peak in the park. We woke up before sunrise to a silent campground, stars still shining in the sky. We rolled up our sleeping pads and tent, and heated water for coffee and a warm breakfast of hikers granola. The sun was just starting to rise as we began the long drive across the park back to Trillium Gap Trailhead.

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Tennessee part II: Hiking in the Smokies

Tennessee part II: Hiking in the Smokies

We began our last morning at the Little Black Cabin like the previous one, with a breakfast of fresh eggs and homemade bread. We packed up the car, bid farewell to the cabin, and set off towards our first destination of the day: Clingman’s Dome.

The drive into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was phenomenal. The winding roads were fun to drive, and offered many breathtaking views of the mountains. While it was an incredible sight, the scars from last year's unfortunate fire were evident, especially on Chimney Top Mountain which was a barren black rock at the top.

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