[av_heading heading=’Behind the scenes of this photo’ tag=’h3′ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#949494′ style=’blockquote classic-quote’ size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’0′ av_uid=’av-2eg1nq’][/av_heading]
Taken in the Marie Lakes Basin in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, Eastern Sierra Nevada, on July 3rd, 2013

There sure are a lot of beautiful places out there. Why then do we feel compelled to visit the same ones as everybody else? Is it the desire for a shared experience, a chance to create community and fraternity? Or is it the safety of knowing with certainty that our adventures will happen in beautiful locations? And if that’s the case, how is it that we can feel a simultaneous and completely contradictory compulsion for discovery? Or how when we find some quiet, pristine nook of wilderness we exclaim, “And I was the only one there!” Odd how our adventures in the woods contain a seemingly paradoxical desire to stay on and stray from the beaten path.

This shot from the Marie Lakes Basin was created out of that very dichotomy. I started this backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail out of Tuolumne Meadows, arguably one of the most famous trails in hiking. And indeed, for the first day and a half I passed a person every 20 to 30 minutes. “Isn’t this incredible? Isn’t life awesome?” we’d say, relishing in our shared experience. But then, I felt the urge to stray from the path.

Hiking cross country over a few granite ridges and saddles, I found myself in the striking Marie Lakes area, without another soul around. I hiked all around the basin, hopping creeks, scuttling over granite aprons, and climbing talus slopes. That evening, toward the tail end of sunset, I positioned myself above this cascade and captured this view as twilight faded. There wasn’t another person around for miles. So are the best experiences on the beaten path or off? Perhaps a combination of both.

View more beautiful Sierra Nevada photos.

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