Dense fog on LHHT
Ferns covering forest floor

Calm in the Laurel Highlands

My photography has always lent a sense of calm. Often I made it a point to go to a beautiful Pennsylvania park, forest, or otherwise to disconnect and slowdown. Being in nature, whether in a forest stand, among lush ferns, or near water gave me a sense of who I was. It’s been so long, too long really since I got out into nature. It was a variety of things, mostly life in general that I felt I couldn’t make time for myself to go to a beautiful place. I suffered and my photography suffered. I felt like lemmings were running around in my head and I had no way to silence them. No way to slow down, until I couldn’t take it anymore.

Destination was The Laurel Highlands. Always a beautiful spot, many beautiful spots in the highlands. I finally stepped onto the trail and into the wood for the first time in a year. Silence almost an eerie silence when I stepped out of the car to put on my boots. The treetops started waving in the wind, the rustle of the leaves sounded apocalyptic. At first, I was just trying to get my feet back. The first half of the trail was a steep down-hill and although I’ve done this trail quite a few times, it felt unfamiliar. Half way down I heard a helicopter overhead which was really loud and out of place. I looked for it in the sky but didn’t catch a glimpse. I’m not sure if it flew directly overhead or not, the tree cover shielded my view. After, the forest returned to it’s quiet with the occasional wind ruffling the treetops. I made to the bottom and continued my route finally finding my feet. I rounded the corner of the trail and came upon the most stunning lush green patch of ferns ever. Initially, I walked on by but soon stopped and told myself to be open to what the forest has in store for me. Doubling back to the spot and setting up my tripod to include part of unique looking tree stump in the sea of green. The sun splashed patches of light on the ferns. While I usually stay away and wait for the shade, I decided to challenge myself. I quite liked how the sun was coming down on the ferns in patches. I made a few shots that I was satisfied with and carried on.

By this time my feet had come back and being on the trail felt natural and familiar. I knew this place well and started looking for my super secret spot. If you know where this is and you know this trail, this is a nice place to sit a while, have some lunch, and rest before tackling the back half of the trail. The water was low in certain areas, not like its usual roar from the Spring thaw. Small trickles of water over the rocks were coming from the water pool. This allowed me to walk across the area and explore a little. This always allowed me to setup and compose a shot from the stream. A shot that I had always envisioned, although I would’ve like a wee bit more water.

Pool of water in the forest
Trickles of water

It was wonderful getting back out there and I am going to make it a point to do so again more often. Life again is changing and settling and I realize now for my own good and well-being that I need to get out and give myself space to slowdown.

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