January 6, 2017

Homage to Camp Mornings: Behind the Shot with Forest Woodward

Fresh dew, warm coffee, a little campfire - need we say more? Photographer Forest Woodward shares his love for mornings around camp.

Morning seeps slow up here in the Cascades, and like the slow pour of hot water over fresh grounds, there’s a promise of good things to come. The sun rises like that first puff of steam, releasing an energy which is nearly palpable: aromatic and enticing. We emerge from our down cocoons, don our jackets, and as the day’s warmth begins its spread, our bodies stir themselves awake, each moment more alive than the last.

The evening before, we had weathered a cold and damp night at the base of our climbing objectives, socked in by a thick soupy fog-turned-rain. Unseasonable peels of thunder ripped through the shroud as we hunkered down and took shelter under a grouping of large boulders, building a small fire as much for warmth as for a feeling of safety and comfort.

friends gather around a campfire

Waking the following day I am the last to rise, yet still manage to straggle up before the sun. A mate gourd circles among calloused hands as we watch the fog around us dance north through the pines. A modest fire helps to cut the chill as hot drink warms from within, and excited chatter unfolds of schemes and dreams for the day to come. The storm has passed and our day’s climbing objective looms above.

As we wait for the sun to hit the south-facing granite spire and dry off the previous night’s antics, a crossword circulates and conversations flow as free as the caffeinated beverages which fuel them. Promises of coffee and mate rouse us forward, yet there is something much more that fuels this daybreak gathering.

We huddle to enjoy the essence of a camp morning; that unique time between objectives such as “getting there” or “getting after it” or “getting home.” This is a time when imaginations are unfettered, camaraderie is implicit, and the simplest of joys are rediscovered.

Admittedly, I am the worst at waking up early, so I write this from a place of limited experience. However, I have found that the days when my wake up time correlates with the sun, warm beverages, the low murmur and laughter of friends, and the smell of damp earth exhaling the last of a cool night—those are the mornings that stick out among the haze of red eyes and roll-over snoozes, busy minds, and shuttered blinds.

These are the mornings when we don’t need the reminder to embrace life and live passionately; we wake up already in the act.

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