Walking the John Muir Trail with Greg Balkin

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread.  Places to play in and pray in.  Where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul" - John Muir

We found this lovely quote via Greg Balkin and after viewing his photographs, you'll see that the words spoken by John Muir are infused in Greg's experience spending a month in the high Sierra's along the John Muir Trail.  

In his work, the California based Balkin fuses his love for the outdoors and his love for portraiture by carving out a unique place amongst wedding photographers.  Greg is willing to get out there and get dirty.  And by out there we mean really far away, like Joshua Tree, to document an elopement, for example.  So it's no surprise that when given the chance, Greg was more than willing to put his body and mind through the rigors of hiking for 26 straight days along the famed John Muir Trail in California.  Below are some of Greg's favorite photographs and memories from the experience.  

Panorama Trail with Half Dome

"It's hard to sum up the mixture of emotions when you take the first steps on a trail that will be your home for the next 27 days. All I know is that every fear or "what if" consuming your thoughts melts away when you round the corner to see a view like this during your first mile. Friends, welcome to the John Muir Trail."

Somewhere south of Pinchot Pass
"My home for 26 nights. It started raining pretty hard on us, so I tried to quick pitch my tent (just the rain fly and tarp). I'd call it a semi-success."
Sunrise, High Sierra Camp
"These colors appeared out of nowhere and barely lasted a few minutes. We were walking back to camp from exploring Sunrise meadows, turned around, and got smacked in the face by these clouds. I've never seen such intensity in the sky before."
Cathedral Peak towering over Upper Cathedral Lake
"I'm not going to lie, it's easy to lose track of where you are or the landscape around you after walking for so long and that was the case this morning. Sometimes the trail gives you a nice wake up call and you have to stop and stare for a little bit, realizing how beautiful everything really is."
Sunrise, Thousand Island Lake
"Note to future self - wake up for every sunrise when camping near lakes and mountains because you will be rewarded with memories like this. Side note, we heard our first (and only) bear the night before and it was terrifying."
Thousand Island Lake
"We met this guy the day before on our walk up to Thousand Island. When we made our way back onto the trail early that morning, he was already up fishing and enjoying those awesome views."
Approaching Silver Pass Lake
"We finally hit some much needed downhill after making it up and over Silver Pass (10,900 ft) before another rainstorm moved in. Fun fact - We met Kyle on our second day after he offered us some pizza. A few days later, he ended up joining our group for over a week of hiking."
Edison Lake
"Waving goodbye to our friends for a few hours as they wait for the next boat to pick them up. It's a good thing we showed up early - we didn't realize these boats barely fit five people and need water dumped out via an old tin can."
Muir Pass
"This is me. That stone building is a storm shelter on top of Muir Pass (11,995 ft). Whenever I travel or hike somewhere new, I try to get a photo of this jump. One day, I hope to compile all of those photos and create an awesome photo book." 
Somewhere between Deer Meadow and the Golden Staircase
"Making our approach to the section we dreaded the most, the Golden Staircase. It's about 1,700 feet of elevation gain up switchbacks and stairs over a very short distance. Ouch."
Lake Marjorie
"One of my favorite sunsets along the trail. The colors kept changing throughout the sky, but the best part was the sliver of light that perfectly hit these peaks."
Somewhere between South Fork Trail and Dollar Lake
"When there's no end in sight, it feels like you're walking forever. That's exactly how today felt. You walk thousands of feet uphill only to reach the top and see the miles that still need to be covered."
You can find more of Greg's adventures on his website, www.brightwoodphotography.com or on his Instagram account.  
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