Out of the Woods by Choice

"You heard my voice; I came out of the woods by choice
Shelter also gave them shade
But in the dark I have no name"

-Mumford & Sons

I went on several (read: exactly two) camping trips to the Catskills and Adirondack's in the past two years. The first time was in 6th grade about two years ago. It was a tradition at my school for the 6th graders to go camping and I made sure that I would be free from my parents. So, the mountains were the home to my first taste of freedom and independence; even though I was still flocked by teachers at all times, but it's easy for you to forget who you're with, or even who you are, in the mountains. I brought two disposable cameras and snapped photos of anything I thought was cool. I didn't notice until two years later how beautiful the photos really were and how much I remember and miss the mountains. I'm glad I developed two copies of each photo so I could cut and frame my favorites and still have original copies. Some of them are so artsy; they look like they have an Instagram filter on them but it's just the lighting and age of them. 

Walking through the mountains, you feel truly enveloped in the earth: below you there's rich soil and a whole community of vegetation, all around you are these massive trees, and above you, little bits of sky and sunlight dot the screen of branches. The natural fragrances of the trees and flowers and earth are all around you, but not overwhelmingly so. Your eye might catch a flicker of movement, probably a rabbit or even a deer on the hunt for dinner. And all of this continues as you climb on, with or without a destination. But when you get there, to the top of a mountain or bubbling spring of a waterfall, you'll realize that the photos you took on the way there are better than the view from the top.

The mountains always make me think of Mumford & Sons songs and Mumford & Sons songs always make me think of the mountains.

Three states can be seen in this photo: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

The original #FromWhereIStand. I actually remember taking this photo quite clearly: we were hiking through a path in this swampy area and we had to cross over on this wobbly wooden board and I, more or less, wanted to document the moment.

We did this multiple times - here's an action shot.

This one looks really suspicious and cool; the guide was showing us how flammable birch wood is by lighting a strip on fire in the mud.

This one is probably my favorite (see the framed version a few photos up.) I don't remember taking it but there was an old-fashioned plane flying overhead that I wanted to capture and I accidentally got a bit of tree in it too, which I think makes it look better.

Looking back now, I love all the ways the light passed through the branches.

At first I was just going to frame the picture on top, then I decided it was lonely and added the bottom one, and then I cut a strip off of another photo to break the two up, and I love the way it turned out.

The sunsets and symmetry on the lake were breathtaking.

Another sketchy photo of a bunch of kids huddled around a spot on the ground. Totally normal.

These photos don't do the actual photos justice, and the actual photos don't do the mountain justice. They just act as a reminder of a time and place. I think I find more beauty in them today rather than two years ago because I've haven't been there in so long.

All photos taken by 11-year-old me with a disposable camera, circa 2013.


  1. Truly lovely photographs! xx

  2. These are incredible photos for a 11 year old, especially the sunset and the lake :)

    Rachel xx

  3. I totally get that connection that Mumford & Sons has with the wilderness... I always/only listen to them when I'm in the mountains, especially skiing! It's magical, really. And I love that line from Hopeless Wanderer. Great photos :)

    x Alyssa