Instrumental Contributions, And As Always, Too Many Dogs
Over the last year I have had a lot of "firsts" in my career. The most perplexing, but by far one of the most exciting, was figuring out how in the world I would actually begin to turn Love Gaston into more than just a daydream. I had fantasized about finally beginning the project and had seen an extensive amount of pre-existing beauty to utilize which would breathe life into my project, but the hardest question I couldn't answer--where to begin? I had so many unanswered questions and things I'd yet to iron out. What kind of camera should I get? How would I learn to use it? Where would I take my first photographs? What all would my collection encompass?
I finally forced myself to begin, still overwhelmed by all of my unanswered questions about the process. I phoned one of my best girlfriends from high school, Angelica, who lived out of state, for advice. She picked up photography years ago, though she focused primarily on portraits. I told her what I was trying to accomplish and always being one of my biggest fans and more than willing to help me, we began actively scheduling Skype dates. She walked me through the different types of cameras and the array of options within the settings that I could toy with to get the most out of my photos, as well as different tools to edit the photos. So, naturally, when I finally bought my camera, I harassed everyone I knew to go with me to take photos and to practice. I should clarify that statement, by "everyone," I mean my poor roommate who was trapped under the same roof as me and was often berated with the promise of coffee, and whatever else she wanted that day, to go on one of my self-proclaimed adventures.
I'll never forget the sunrise photos I decided were a, "must have," at top of The Pinnacle on Crowders Mountain. Her sweet, blissfully unaware, boyfriend was in town visiting and I had asked them the night before if they would wake up with me and hike the mountain so that I could take photos at the top at sunrise. Realistically, as valuable as I found their company to be, I mostly wanted to not be the only person trapped in the dark, on the side of the mountain, in the event of a bear attack. They've both known me since college, so when they originally agreed, they'd been counting on the fact that that I am no where near an early riser. Foolishly, they expected that there wasn't a hope or a prayer of me waking up at 5 AM to be at the top of the mountain by sunrise. Yet, to their surprise, I came bounding in her room the next morning screeching for them to get out of bed and to get in the car. Alexandra only took a solid 15 minutes to pry out of bed, but Jonathan took much more begging, pulling, prodding and ultimately threatening to get up and out of the house.
Now, this was back in January so we were layered up like Ralphie's brother from A Christmas Story, and as we were leaving, we made the mistake of bringing with us our too many dogs. I have two Goldens, and Alexandra also has a German Shepherd, Huck. Alexandra is about 5'3, 100 pounds soaking wet and Huck was only 8 months old at this point, deep in the throws of dog training, so you can imagine who ended up wrangling Huck up the entirety of the mountain at 6 AM- poor, sweet Jonathan.
From the beginning of our hike, I'm stopping almost every 5 feet to take pictures of everything and anything, high on life and Starbucks, thrilled that I'm out and about with two of my favorite people and while getting to take pictures. Alexandra walked Say and I walked Beau while Huck, determined to be the leader of the pack all while circling back now and then to keep an eye on his flock, dragged Jonathan up the mountain way ahead of us. Right before we reached the top, Huck circled back to herd us all back together once more. I noticed poor sweet Jonathan had sweat pouring down his face. We finally reached the top and I could hear Jonathan grumbling under his breath about having to wake up early and climb a mountain without breakfast while Beau and Say began recognizing where they were and were now as uncontrollable as I had been since our arrival at the park.
The sun had been rising the majority of the hike up, but it didn't fully rise until we reached the top. The view was fantastic! I traded Jonathan a Golden for Huck and Huck and I scaled a tight pathway to get a better view and it was well worth it. Huck frantically called to Beau and Sadie from where we stood the entirety of the time I took photos and attempted to take in the well earned view, (seriously, if you'd heard this dog you would have thought I was trying to throw him off the side of the mountain) but it was still an incredible experience and I was able to get some pretty cool shots of him, too. I got to experiment with my camera and it was some of the first photos I took of Gaston County with it! All in all, we all made it down the mountain, Jonathan got his breakfast and I believe it goes without saying that Jonathan will never volunteer for another hike with me, or Huck, ever again.