Finally got around to editing a pic

Back in June, Silent Bob, our friend Eric, and myself went camping. While there, I knew it was going to be clear so I had to ask the owner if there was somewhere in his fields (the campground is on land owned by a farmer) I could do some astrophotography. Apparently, he has a spot alongside one of the roads through his fields just for people like me. I tried to get a Milky Way shot, but even 40 miles away the light pollution bubble from Pittsburgh was just too bright. So, I pointed up at what is called “The Summer Triangle.” It took a bit for me to get around to editing it, but here it is. And, we are going back out there next weekend!

Milky Way on June 26th

Decided I couldn’t pass up a clear night! So, I planned ahead by scouting out a location. I found a spot near Punxsutawney, PA that looked like it was on state game lands, that hunters are free to use during hunting seasons. I was excited to see the weather cooperate! After work, I hit the gym real fast, came home, ate & showered, put on the hiking clothes (still coated in Permethrin from the Michigan trip), grabbed my gear and drove off. After an hour an a half, I got to where I was going to shoot my pic.

When I got there about a half hour after sunset, the original spot I wanted to go didn’t look like it would work. Too much high brush. But, I was along a train track. So, I set up using the road crossing as an opening to see the sky. As I sat there, I saw lights in the through the tree line behind me from a building that wasn’t on google maps. Didn’t think much of it.

I got focused in and waited for dark, and the few passing clouds to disappear. I had planned on shooting around 11:15, that’s when the milky way would be visible. And to the naked eye, it was! While waiting, I walked about a quarter mile down the track to see if maybe next time I could try farther down. I did find a spot that would be promising, but I was set up so I didn’t move.

11:15 rolled around, and the whole plan went off without a hitch. 20 minutes later, I got what I needed. This time around I worked on lighting up the foreground, which seemed to go fairly well.

As I was just finishing turning around, state police showed up stating someone called saying someone was on their property. I explained why I was there (showed them one of the many frames I took), and that I had parked on the road, and was along the tracks. As far as I know, train tracks generally aren’t private property, especially on one that goes on for MILES. They thought the idea was cool though, and just took my info, and suggested I knock on the nearest door next time to not cause any fright if I come up again. I agreed, but stated my next target area would be in West Virginia. I left around 11:45.

All day today I wanted to edit the pic….. but the OFFICE demanded I work today. I got home and got to work on it. 6 hours later (with a meal break!). I found out my lens needs calibrated a tad, it is just ever so slightly out of infinite focus. Apparently sometimes they come like that, but this works for now. I present to you: Milky Way Over a Railroad Crossing.

Ahh, Fresh Air

So, Silent Bob, our friend Eric, and myself went camping over the weekend. I learned one thing: when enjoying the jokes, remembering to bust out the camera to make a video is hard. Backpacking trips will be more focused on video, camping trips will be more picture based.

We got there Friday afternoon, just after a nice rain storm. Setup was kind of smooth. After we got done, a deer passed about 30 feet away from camp. If you check the pics below, behind the blue tent is Silent Bob’s hammock, which is at the bottom of the picture with the deer. After that, we settled in for a nice sunset.

The rest of the evening was cloudy, with a few spots of clears skies. Sadly, not enough for me to get a photo of the galaxies in the area between the constellations Virgo and Leo.

Saturday morning I woke up to the sun right on my eyes. We had breakfast and went to scout the entire campground for the best spots. No, I won’t tell you all of them, but if you are in a group requiring two sites, I recommend C1 and C2. However, we are going to be doing this at every campground we visit.

After we got back, we just relaxed the whole night, b/s’ing and telling lots of jokes. There was a minute there after dark where I tried to grab some pics, but it clouded up before I finished focusing the camera. So, instead, I took a pic of the clouded-over moon through the trees.

Sunday morning we got pretty wet. The camera stayed packed away, as we woke up to rain, ate breakfast quickly and got out of there. This whole thing also let me know I need to find a good image host that allows larger pics, as I had to shrink the file size of a lot of them. Nonetheless, enjoy the pics!

New things coming!

Hello escape artists! I hope you are already planning your escapes from the office this year, out to nature! Now, I know I’ve not posted a lot, well, that’s because I’m juggling a lot of escapes from the office. Some are indoors, some are meetings with a few clubs I joined. One thing I want to make clear: I’m not going to post things on a weekly basis. I’m not here to collect ad revenue, this is purely for fun. I would rather post content when I feel like it, not because it’s necessary to make a dollar, diminishing the quality. If you guys want to tag along, so be it (and thank you for tagging along)!

With that out of the way, I have a few things planned, one in April, and one in May. April is just a car camping trip, but I might make a video while out there. May is a backpacking trip to Michigan! There will be some video and many photos!

That being said, let’s turn our eyes to the skies. I finally have a camera to being learning Astrophotography. This week I was finally able to get out there. Check the new page for the pics: http://escapingtheoffice.com/astrophotography/

When I go to Michigan, it will be a dark sky area, so if one of the nights is clear, you can bet there will be some sky pictures! I know, I know, “camera weight, it’s extra in your pack!” I’m well aware, but it’s also only 3 days, and not a long distance hike, so I’ll carry the extra few pounds for the camera, tripod, len(s), batteries, and (if I can swing it) sky tracker. I think it will be well worth it!

Escape has not forgotten!

Hey Escape Artists!

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything. The past few months have been busy. I’ve gotten back into the gym, and eating correctly. Those of you still in planning for the AT or another long distance hike, when you get home, sure, take a few weeks off but then take measures to not gain weight…. this past Christmas I was heavier than when I left for the trail. I lost 35 pounds so far, and weigh less than I did when I got home last year. Don’t make my mistake!

For a hiking update, unfortunately I do not have one. This summer is pretty stacked with other plans:

I haven’t spent a lot of time in the wilderness per se, most of the times I’ve spent outdoors since March has been under the night sky. I have gotten back into Astronomy. I have been spending time with the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association. I plan on going to as many of the star parties they have scheduled as I can. They are once a month until November, at two different observatories. This is limiting hiking time. But, there are some gaps so we will see!

The Dark Sky chapter is also working on getting active in the area to reduce light pollution, which is something I’d like you to take the time to finish reading this, for something to consider. Light pollution is drowning out our night skies. We have lights on all the time at night that do not need to be on, or if they do need to be on, they are poorly installed and shining into the sky instead of down at the ground. There are many, many ways to get involved, but the first step is at home. Make sure your outdoor lights are on a timer or motion sensor so they can be on when they need to be, and off when they aren’t needed. Please watch the video at the bottom of the post as well.

But, getting into astronomy is taking up my time, and learning about it. At this time though, my posts & videos will probably be sporadic with some time in between them until I can juggle both hobbies easily!

It’s been busy!

Hello Escape artists!

The past few months have been very busy for me. I’ve moved and settled in, holidays have come and gone, I’ve let my nerd side shine in the office. But, here we are, January is almost over and my mind is constantly on the trail again.

A car camping trip is already being thought of for late March. I will make sure we have a hike while we are out there.

I am planning to go back to the AT in May. I have a mandatory two weeks off for work (because of the contract I am currently under). The plan is to get the sections I missed between Hot Springs and Damascus, VA. I missed about 70 miles between Hot Springs and Iron Mountain, so that will be first. I am hoping to finish that in around 5 days. Based on what time I have left, I will go as far as I can from where I left off near Roan Mountain and head towards Damascus. I will leave a couple buffer days to help shuttle to trail days (and make sure I have a ride back to my car, as I will have it the whole time).

Lastly, I changed the map page! I now have a completion tracker. I know it will take a few years to finish, as I will be sectioning from now on. But, as I make progress, I will fill it in! Once I get closer to PA I will start making weekend trips out to the PA sections. Keep in mind other hikes will happen alongside trips to the AT!

I apologize for disappearing for a while, but as Winter fades away, the wilderness is calling my name!

Opt Outside

Well, Black Friday has come and gone. Did you #Optoutside? I couldn’t unfortunately. I did have to work, albeit reduced hours, and then came home to work more on the move to a new home. It would have been the PERFECT day in my area to go hike. In the 50’s, not a single cloud…. I wish the timing would have been different. But, life is what it is. If you didn’t Opt Outside… find some time to go on a walk outdoors soon. Enjoy the weather.