Minnesnowta, And The North Shore

An adventure up the North Shore, by Brandon Sharpe

Forever Angelic #chicago lnkd.in/gjdjM_P

Average Temperature
Miles Long
Feet in Elevation

Any Great Start To A Good Adventure Has Its Set Backs.

Gunflint Trail, Minnesota  •  Temperature: 28°

On a bit of an adventure exploring the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and the Northern Shores and Lutsen Mountains of Minnesota over the next couple of days, in search of old man winter.

Have always wanted to explore this area in the winter and I am definitely not disappointed in its beauty.

The trip started off like any other good adventurous trip does… full of problems from the start. I knew that there would be snow but I honestly didn’t anticipate it until later in the trip. Maybe I should should point out that I guess the start of this trip didn’t technically start out all that bad. I woke at sunrise to jump in the car and head north for Michigan on the first day. The sun was out and plentiful for the first half of my 8 hour drive north to The Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Once I got far enough north to not be considered even in the confides of normal Michigan and well past the Wisconsin border the snow started to show its face. I quickly developed a plan to rent a hotel for the night as the winds were picking up drastically and there was no way I was going to be able to find a stealth camping spot in conditions like this. I was lucky to find a hotel that was relatively cheap and bucker down for the night.

That is until I got the bright idea to gear up and head over to the other side of the lake I was staying at. My thoughts were that I could get over there and shot the hotel from across the water as it was an old historic cabin of sorts and would of looked really cool. As soon as I got out the front door of the rustic cabin the wind literally knocked me to my feet, changing my whole plan all together.

The rest of the evening was spent inside under the covers. 😉

Split Rock Lighthouse

Idyllwild, California  •  Mile: 151.5

In the thru-hiker world, meaning I did absolutely nothing but eat copious amounts of delicious foods, let my body rest, shower, and edit photos I have taken while on this journey so far.

I feel like I have far to many to share already and I am only about 151.5 miles in to a 2,663 mile journey, that puts me in a town called “Idyllwild” a nice cozy and quaint mountain town near Palm Springs California.

The desert is a pretty tough place. It’s hot and dry and the climbing up and down is exhausting at times. Sometimes you find yourself yelling at the switch backs, as you look off into the distance and see the trail off the distance repeating the very action you are currently struggling to get through.

Would I want to be anywhere else? The answer to that is simply, nope. My body has started to adapt to the conditions of hiking 20 mile days, while carrying a 35lbs bag on my back. My strength is good and my mind is in a even better place. I wake when the sun rises and sleep when it sets only to wake momentarily to gaze at the billions of stars that float right about me from camp.

In this photo if you look closely you will find a hiker marching down the trail looking off to the mountains in the distance. The scale of the mountains to people on this trail is astonishing to me, and I am told these are babies to what lies ahead.

This is a dream, and I am living it.

Room With A View

An adventure up the North Shore, by Brandon Sharpe

This Land Was Your Land

Grand Portage, California  •  Mile: 200

Some of those things include, summiting Mt. Jacinto at 10,834 feet. From up there you could see the whole entire world beneath you. It was really a spectacular thing to be able to look back at the distance we have covered as well as see the mountains we have yet to cross ahead. John Muir himself wrote “The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth!” and I think he was pretty spot on.

If that climb wasn’t awesome enough, next up was Fuller Ridge, where we would weave in and out and up through thick forest areas to be put out at amazing views of the mountains we were crossing. At times you could even see the ridge itself and it would hit you at that point, that we were literally walking along the tops of these mountains. A powerful thing to experience.

After the spectacular views of Fuller Ridge, the next day we had to descend the north facing side of the mountain for about 15 miles, only to be lowered down into a desert valley filled with sand. The only water source for this hike was a random water fountain in the desert. Walking through a hot desert in the sand equals no fun. We arrived around 3pm at “Ziggy and the Bear’s” place, a loving elderly couple who opens their home to thru-hikers during the hiker season. We call these type of people “Trail Angels” and boy are they amazing human beings.

After a night of rest and relaxation to get ready for the next day, we headed off into the desert once again to climb up to around 8,000 feet to a valley that reminded me of Zion National Park. That night as we set up our tents we noticed some really awesome clouds forming in the desert we just left and thought not to much of it, other than the strong gust of winds that would rip through river bed we had been hiking through. Little did we know we were in for one of the toughest nights on the trail yet. Those aforementioned clouds weren’t so innocent and they were about to show us what kind of power they really can possess.

“Alone In The Wilderness”

Angeles National Forest, California  •  Mile: 400

I never saw myself in this type of predicament when I was young and dreaming of all the places I would go and see in my life. I never saw myself as an extreme athlete or hiker of any sort. I never saw myself as a photographer now that I think about it, but I guess we don’t really always get to choose were we end up. Not that I am complaining by any means.

Now that I am here, I often ask myself are you happy that this is where you ended up? Are you happy to be dirty every second of every day? Are you happy to be constantly hungry and dreaming of foods you can’t possibly have at the moment?

Are you happy to be sweating every day, and smelling even worse? Are you happy to be hiking 20+ miles every day of your life, and will you be happy with the man you became at the end of your 2,600 mile journey?

But most importantly, are you happy being out here all alone in the wilderness?

 The answer to all these questions is a simple, Yes. Now that I am here in this moment and living it, I wouldn’t dream of being anywhere else in the world. I wouldn’t dream of doing any other thing than what I am doing right at this very moment. Its all about living in the now anyways.

This is my home now. Out here, all alone in the wilderness.


Exploring The Pacific Crest Trail: Part I

A photography expedition by Brandon Sharpe