A Light Show on Independence Day
Story and Photos by Matt Demke
“Hey, do you have anything going on the next couple of days?”
“Where are you taking me now?”
Most of the backpacking adventures my cousin Tristyn and I have been on in the last year or so have started with that conversation. After hours of scouring website after website looking for a trail, I usually present my findings to Tristyn, who hardly ever argues about the location. I excitedly explain that I have a great idea for our next trip, and he, being six months younger and therefore the junior partner of us nineteen-year-olds, normally goes along with it, even though when to leave is usually a last-minute decision.
I have special criteria when it comes to selecting a trail—hence the hours of scrolling and clicking. First, it has to be an out-and-back trail, not a loop or connecting trails. I find something magical about a hike in, turning around, and having the same yet different experience on the way out. Second, it has to have promising photographic scenery. Some trails are beautiful but don’t lend themselves to the best picture-taking opportunities. Last, it has to be a real challenge. Something about the physical exhaustion gets me going more than anything else.