Thoughts on the Outdoor Life.

Heading into the storm on the Anne Margaretha.
Heading into the storm on the Anne Margaretha.

At the beginning of the year I was asked to write about my work and how it corresponds to adventure by my agency Tandem Stock to go along with their new book “The Art of Adventure, Outdoor Sports from Sea to Summit”, which I am honored to have a handful of images in along with some truly talented folks.  As I am sure it’s the same for everyone we all have our reasons and motivations for doing what we do, but being asked to share and clarify these things was a little intimidating. Ultimately the following essay didn’t make the cut, but it was good exercise that helped me focus on what was important. 

Looking for Common Ground in the World of Adventure – Louis Arevalo March 2014

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…” John Muir.

Undertaking adventures outside, in the wild, far from the safety of civilization brings profound moments of clarity. There’s something about a pursuit in which the outcome is uncertain that not only drives adventures, but also compels, through image and story, narratives that inspire those who otherwise might never venture beyond their comfort zone. An image of a skier slashing deep powder, a climber cresting the summit, or a runner on a sunlit trail might be all it takes to evoke a long-dormant desire to get outside and explore, and it’s this collective desire that unites us into a community. John Muir understood this connection, explaining, “When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.”

For me, it was a conscious decision to pursue a career as an outdoor writer and photographer. It’s only through getting out, off the beaten path and into nature that I regain the simplicity needed to live a beautiful life. The focus of my writing and photography is to make something honest in the same way that connecting with the outdoors makes me honest. I’m continually striving to generate work that will resonate true to everyone. From the sponsored athlete to the armchair enthusiast, if they can see a little bit of themselves in the work then it’s a success. It may be an unobtainable objective, but everyday, week, month and year, as soon as I have revised the last draft or edited the last image on a project I always see room for more authenticity in the work. The desire for this truth, that we all are connected, drives me to go out and produce more.

I’ve been wandering through forests, mountains, rivers and deserts for most of my life. I’ve climbed, skied, boated, swam, surfed, biked, loved, hated, and slept outdoors. Through all of these escapades I’ve found the most enjoyment in doing them with those who have the same passion and sharing them with everyone attempting to have an outdoor life.

New Beginnings.

larevalo_kjconnors_1014_0002-2Portraits are one of my favorite things to create and are some of the most challenging.

I received an email at the beginning of the month that some friends had just welcomed the first child into the world. “Could I make some portraits?”larevalo_kjconnors_1014_0004-2

Absolutely! was my immediate response then my palms began to sweat. larevalo_kjconnors_1014_0009-2

Second only to weddings photographing a newborn is something I consider to be very serious.

Driving to meet the family my typical nausea kicked in… Somehow I managed to hold it together long enough to make a few images.larevalo_kjconnors_1014_0019-2larevalo_kjconnors_1014_0007

The road to Tensleep, Wyoming

Carissa Gold Mine, South Pass City, Wyoming.
Carissa Gold Mine, South Pass City, Wyoming.

I had been sitting on my hands for most of the summer. With a large sailing trip planned for September I convinced myself to lay low for the months of June and July. By the time August rolled around I could sit still no longer. I reached out and invited myself along for a few climbing trips. One to Saddleback Peak(Elephants Perch) and the other to Tensleep, Wyoming.

Shiho Kobayashi at the Carissa Mine, South Pass City, Wyoming.
Shiho Kobayashi at the Carissa Mine, South Pass City, Wyoming.

As the dates grew closer for the Tensleep trip the forecast took a turn. A few people backed out, but others, having taken time off from work were committed. As for me, my schedule was clear because it was a week before the trip to Europe and besides I was excited for time away from the desk and nights of sleeping on the ground. The morning we left the Salt Lake Valley it was raining heavily. Into Wyoming on I-80 we managed to pull out in front of the storm. Knowing it would eventually catch up to us we decided to take it slow and made a couple of stops along the way.

Dave, the barkeep, at the Atlantic City Mercantile.
Dave, the barkeep, at the Atlantic City Mercantile.
Phonograph, Atlantic City Mercantile.
Phonograph, Atlantic City Mercantile.
Cash register at the Atlantic City Mercantile.
Cash register at the Atlantic City Mercantile.

Just west of Lander, Wyoming are the small mining villages of South Pass and Atlantic City. I’d driven to Lander, Cody and the Wind Rivers before and each time had ignored these signs. My impression was that it would be a tourist trap. This time driving to Tensleep, knowing a rainy camp was the only thing we had to look forward, I figured, “Why not?”

The Carissa gold Mine of South Pass City was our first stop. Mining in the South Pass erupted in the 1860’s. The Carissa Mine operated into the 1950’s. At the turn of the 21st Century the State of Wyoming purchased the mine and reconstructed it for the public to see. During the summer months they offer tours. Turning off the main highway we rolled down the improved road until this mine interrupted the horizon of the high plains.

Scrabble at out rainy camp in Tensleep Canyon.
Scrabble at our rainy camp in Tensleep Canyon.
Pancake breakfast in Tensleep Canyon.
Pancake breakfast in Tensleep Canyon.

After Carissa we made the short drive to small collection of old cabins and eclectic homes in Atlantic City, where the city sign read, “Population about 54.” We stopped at the Atlantic City Mercantile for sarsaparillas. This bar and grill is filled with antiques and memorabilia and was brought back to the public’s attention by Robert Redford and National Geographic. Built in the late 1800’s it was shuttered in the first half of the 20th Century then reopened in the 1960’s with its original name and look. Dave, the barkeep for the last twelve years, informed us they were fresh out of sarsaparilla so we had to settle for barley pops instead. Yes, it felt like I was tourist, but man it was till cool to stop and check out the history.

Camp fire at Tensleep Canyon camp.
Camp fire at Tensleep Canyon camp.
Sleeping in the mud in Tensleep Canyon.
Sleeping in the mud in Tensleep Canyon.

We did eventually make to Tensleep Canyon and did wait out the rain for another day before actually climbing. I stayed away from the desk, slept in the mud and did get a little climbing in to boot.

Paul on Happiness in Slavery, Tensleep Canyon.
Paul on Happiness in Slavery, Tensleep Canyon.
Shiho on Number One Enemy, Tensleep Canyon.
Shiho on Number One Enemy, Tensleep Canyon.

Sailing?

I’ve been out of the country for three weeks, two of which were spent sailing from Holland to Portugal on the Anne Margaretha. I am not sure what I expected from the voyage, but what it was was something completely new to me.larevalo_sail3_0914_0051