Tuff Cones

The Making of an Explorer

Story and Photos by Josh Packer

I guess you could say I’ve never been much of an explorer, at least in the traditional sense of the word. I do like to explore new experiences on my own, such as creating a home network, troubleshooting IT issues, or developing new photography techniques through watching YouTube videos and then practicing.

But sadly, even though I’ve lived in Idaho pretty much my entire life, I never really got into being outdoors. Don’t get me wrong—I love the smell of a campfire, or the aroma in the woods after a rainstorm. It’s just that hiking was never fun to me. Before I took up photographing Idaho as a hobby, I actually dreaded hikes, which struck me as tedious. But now I enjoy capturing the beauty of, say, a hike in the Driggs area, or a climb up Menan Buttes. Lately, I’ve come to regard each new outing as another opportunity to explore my home state.

I decided to set out on such an adventure with my brother David after we explored Fall Creek Falls recently [see “Even a Tent,” IDAHO magazine, December 2014] and I realized the beauty of the area surrounding me in southeast Idaho. But my personal history as a non-explorer made it hard to figure out where to go next. What’s more, in the past couple of years, I had spent my free time at school, getting a Master’s degree at Idaho State University and becoming a certified public accountant. The workload, especially during tax season, not only prevented me from exploring, but even kept me from spending much time with my wife and two children.

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