Capture The Moment

 The author looking onward in Tonto National Forest

The author looking onward in Tonto National Forest

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960 Full Moons

Annually there are only 12 full moons.  That means if we are lucky enough to live until 80 we’ll get to experience 960 full moons and around the same number of perfectly clear moonless nights.  This is a recent thought I had the other day while camping in the Chiricahua National Monument in southeastern Arizona. I was debating whether I should awake to leave the comfort of my sleeping bag to venture out into the cold morning air at the grudging hour of 3 a.m. I knew

 that the skies would be illuminated by the stars. In the remote Chiricahua National Monument almost no light pollution was going to disrupt the vast beauty, I’d behold. With high hopes to catch a glimpse of the Milky Way, I woke that cold morning, ventured into the cold air and saw one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  That early morning, along with countless others taught me something very important about life, it really is what you make it. I want mine to be filled with early morning hikes, climbs and adventures because that’s what makes my soul feel most alive. So wake up early, go on that hike, take that leap of faith to say yes to that intimidating opportunity, watch a full moon rise and be taken away by the beauty of the stars on a clear night.  These moments are not to be taken for granted, remember we have a finite number of full moons left.

Here are several apps that help me remember to capture the subtle beauty around us.

My Moon Phase is a lunar calendar which shows you the current phase of the moon, the time the sun and moon will rise and set, the times of blue hour and golden hour, My Moon Phase will even notify you when a new lunar phase is coming up.  This notify feature is a pleasant mindful que to keep my camera in my car so I can be prepared seize a picture of the moon on my way home from work.  Before I developed my interest in photography, I didn’t fully understand the implication that lunar phases have on creating opportunities to capture unique beauty and lighting compositions.  With this app you’ll never miss a full moon again.

Another great app for the star gazers and astrophotographers is Dark Sky Map (Android) and Dark Sky Finder (IOS).   The app shows heat maps that vary with the amount of light pollution, near cities the light pollution is red hot and as you get further away it cools down.  From my home city of Tempe, Arizona I have to drive over 3 hours in any direction to reach a spot that is clear of light pollution. This is an excellent resource to find night photography destinations.  Dark Sky Map coupled with the website freecampsites.net is a powerful combination.

Stars and fun with light trails

Another app I use frequently is AllTrails as the name implies the app lists a lot of trails (though not quite all of them).  AllTrails provides helpful maps, directions, and trip reports for thousands of trails across the US.  This app allows me to save trails and make personal lists; I have over a hundred trails marked across the southwest.  Instagram is a another great resource for planning hiking destinations too. If you don’t know where to hike this AllTrails is the perfect place to begin your search.

Similar but with a focus on rock climbing is my personal favorite Mountain Project which is the defacto resource for beta on climbs all across the globe.  Mountain Project has information on approaching, protecting, and summiting problems of all skill levels.  It’s community driven resource with hundreds of thousands of toprope, sport, trad, bouldering, alpine, aid, and ice climbs.  Most with user submitted photos and beta this app is a must for climbers at any ability level. Just be sure to take a outdoor climbing class through somewhere like REI, your local gym or alpine club to learn the necessary skills to ensure a fun safe time.

These are a couple of the apps I use pretty much daily to plan rewarding adventures. Whether it be sunset photography, tackling multi-pitch climbing routes or witnessing one of the remaining 8 full moons 2018 has to offer (including the one tonight!) continue to seek out adventure and meaning with the time you have been given.  Life is collection of moments, some good, some bad take advantage of the moments you have to make them memorable and meaningful.

Milky Way from the Chiricahua National Monument