Over the River and Through the Woods

Oh my gosh, my trip to New Mexico and Utah was a huge success!  As many of you may know, the reason for my trip was to work on my new photography project called Woman.  (The post before this described how this project started, or you can read more about it here.)


So I set out on an adventure to photograph one of my favorite adventurers in evening gowns. I thought that I was an adventurer; she has been camping since she was a young girl and has been on rivers rafting for more than 10 years now. Backpacking really requires special attention to food and how to pack light. She has it all down pat. I really enjoyed learning things from her! I called her up a few months ago and told her about my project, Woman, and that I would love to come photograph her doing what she does best. She was very excited and planned a trip out for us.

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Upon arriving in New Mexico, where she lives, we started packing. We cooked and dehydrated food for our trip, blew up rafts to check for holes, and I got all of my camera gear ready. It took us 2/3 days to pack properly and then we headed out.

We started our trip out by rafting a two day trip on a private stretch of river. I was asked not to give its location so that it does not become populated. That is something that I truly love about Samantha. When she goes into nature, she goes to run into nobody,  to fly fish, and to be truly one with nature.  She is so passionate about the conservation of the rivers and trails she hikes on that she will do anything to protect it.  Including not telling a soul how amazing it is. (Her husband is a river and stream restoration leader as well.) I felt torn, because in my career, I want to share the world with others. I want others to get outside and be healthy. I want to encourage people to find trails and new things to explore. I want to tell people where I have been so they, too, can go. But I completely understand her point of view, and it was fun to ride this river that not a soul was on. And it felt good to keep it a secret.

From there, we went to Utah to raft the Green River, which was a four day trip.

Cool story:

We camped on private land where the owners allow people to camp the night before put-in. We got there on a cloudy and extremely windy afternoon and set up camp. Afterwards, we decided to go on a walk. On that walk, down the edge of a huge wheat field, we see someone far off in the distance coming towards us in their car. We figure they are the owners of the farm and were coming to greet us.

The young woman pulls up to us and tells us, “Can you please not walk passed this point? You can walk anywhere on the farm, but you are not allowed to walk past this point.”

We look in the direction she is pointing, and it is just pasture and we can see some sort of machinery a couple of hundred feet on the right under some trees.

I asked her why we couldn’t, and she just responded, “You just can’t.”

We small talked for a while and she was very friendly. She was the daughter of the farmer. She drove off and we turned around. Samantha and I wondered and wondered, what could it be?! A dead body? Pot plants? Torture chamber? Haha, we joked about it, we didn’t really think that was it, but we were so curious! About two hours later, she drives back up to our camp.

We’re thinking, “Wonder what’s up now?” She proceeded to tell us that she didn’t want us to go in that other direction because there was a huge mountain lion that had been walking the property, she saw it there a day prior and didn’t want to freak us out. OMG, I was so relieved.  I was thinking, “Girl, you should have told us so we can be aware and watch Otis, (her three legged husky dog).” I sure as hell wouldn’t have been walking and prancing around in the tall grass it could have been hiding in! I was just glad it wasn’t some torture chamber out in the middle of b.f.e. Utah. Haha. And, luckily, the mountain lion had just feasted that day on a deer that was grazing in the wheat field in front of our camp. I could see the tree that it was attacked under, a lone tree in the field next to the dirt road.


That night, Sam and I were sure to put all of the food away and to keep Otis, inside the tent.  In the morning,  I woke up to dogs barking like crazy near by. I got out in a hurry to see what was going on. In the distance, where the farm lady told us not to go, three hound dogs were on this one tree in particular.  The Fish and Game was called in with hounds to find the mountain lion. They sniffed the lion tracks and went right through our camp. I knew I would be through it because of Otis, but I’m just glad that it had a full feast that day or I may have a different story to tell.

End story:)


We finally got our things together and packed the boats up for take off. We had 8 gallons of water on our rafts, a gallon a day for both of us. That was for food, drinking water, and things like brushing our teefies. I packed evening gowns for Samantha to put on and get shots on our four day trip.  I choose red gowns because of the beautiful red orange rocks that we would be in the middle of.  We had a map of the river that let us know where camp sites would be. It was fun because there are no signs where the camps are, you have to read the map and really look for the inlets of where the tiny trails are that lead from the banks of the river to the actual camps. If you missed the camps then you were finding a new one down the river. On our third day we missed two of the camps that we were trying to find, because they were so overgrown. This was the closest to sunset that we came before setting up. We finally found one that was really quaint. Some people get big flat rocks and set up little tables to cut veggies on and such.


I had never gone on a multi day rafting trip, besides the two day one prior, and I learned a lot. It made me want to explore so many more rivers.  I got some really great photos of Samantha in her red gowns against the red rocks out there.  I am so excited for my next subject!

After our rafting trip, we headed back to New Mexico.  I stayed for a few days after and she took me to her secret fishing hole in the mountains near her home. We saw three snakes and a lot of cat scat! We got some photos of her in another gown, fly fishing. I was real pleased with those as well.


I have made it back to Austin and I am diligently working on editing photos. I have about 4 thousand as well as tons of video footage. I am working on making videos of the “how I got the shot”.  I recorded video the whole time, from the time I left to the time I got home. I can’t wait to piece it together! I think I am gong to call it Digital Native.  The term is referring to the first generation of people who had computers in the classroom, which is me. It also reminded me of myself in the sense of photography. I love digital but I also love film and I love those two things out in nature. Just seems right.


Okay guys, thank you for reading all of this if you made it this far, I know it was long, and I could write so much more. Haha,  but I’ll try and let the photos tell the story!


Love ,



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