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It was one of those grey Pacific Northwest days, where the moisture-laden clouds from the Pacific blanket much of the landscape here. I had been hiking through a dense foggy temperate rainforest, hoping for a break and the clouds. But it wasn't until the very top did I break out of the clouds.

Up from that rocky vista point, I spied a beautiful amalgam of the rocky peaks floating above the clouds which had settled in the valleys below, permeating the dense carpet of conifers. The mesmerizing motion of the clouds put me in a trance on that rocky outcrop, and I let time go by despite the long day that was ahead of me. I closed in on one of the rocky slopes that showed the beautiful line of trees indulging the moisture-laden mist.

Garibaldi Provincial Park
BC Canada

Check out my 2018 Photography calendar here: goo.gl/Nd7p9G . All proceeds from the purchase of this calendar go to +NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and +WildAid

#blackandwhite #beautifulbritishcolumbia #hiking #garibaldipark #canada
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The trail was long and hard. It wound its way through the dense coniferous forest, rising with slow certainty towards an as of yet unseen vista. I was laboring heaving with the weight of my camera gear, wondering how much further the destination was. And after more than an hour of uphill slow, the vegetation thinned out, and the views expanded. I turned around, and the entire vista of Maligne Lake expanded in front of me.

There is perhaps nothing more exhilarating that seeing the endless cascades of the snow-capped mountains rising up from a velvety green forest floor. And I have been fortunate in being able to visit and pay homage to the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies, perhaps the most beautiful of them all.

It was as though the stereotypical mountain landscapes that we drew as a kid came to life, except it was far more majestic and awe-inspiring. Bare sedimentary rock faces were alternately in light and shadow as the clouds cast dappled light on the rugged landscape, while towering peaks with glacial remnants shone in pearly white. Maligne Lake slowly tapered off in the distance towards its source, lost in the multitude of canyons.

As I watched this scene slowly transpiring, an old quote from John Muir popped in my head: "We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us."

Maligne Lake
AB Canada

You can find more of my photography in my 2018 calendar, available here: https://goo.gl/Nd7p9G. All proceeds go to +NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and +WildAid two non-profits whose missions I wholly support.

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I almost didn't make it here. Between a kerfuffle caused by lack of information about road conditions, and my own planning over-zealousness, I was about to make the choice of not hitting this destination. But I changed my mind at the last minute. And after two days of hiking in absolutely serene surroundings in an alpine landscape, I absolutely fell in love with this place that I almost missed going to. This place was Arslanbob, a hidden village nestled in the shadow of snow-capped peaks reaching to 4000m and above.

The magic started right with the drive to Arslanbob. The sight of mountains all around as soon as I left Osh behind calmed my rattled min. The rolling green hills that seemed to stretch endlessly, dotted with a few oak trees and scattered farmsteads, reminded me of the Palouse in USA, except for the backdrop of the snow-capped Pamir range in the distance. And this blissful scenery gave me company all the way through to my destination, and erased away any second thoughts I had about my destination.

One of the biggest lessons I learnt was just to follow your gut instincts while traveling, and make the best of what you are offered. Had I not, I would have missed this beautiful vista where the afternoon sun glinted on the snow-capped peaks rising above the village, while fast-moving clouds created ever-changing lighting conditions on the grassy slopes.

It's Giving Tuesday. Join me in supporting these two wonderful organizations +WildAid and +NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). You can purchase my 2018 Calendar here ( https://goo.gl/Nd7p9G ) whose proceeds will directly go to these two non-profits.

Arslanbob
Kyrgyzstan

#hiking #centralasia #kyrgyzstan #arslanbob #hiddengems #givingtuesday
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Barely 24hrs prior, I was slogging along an uneven ridge on the High Divide in Olympic National Park, with views of Mt Olympus on one side, and an amalgamation of green valleys and mountain ranges leading to the Pacific on the other side. The hot late summer day and the lack of shade made hauling a 35lb pack all the more excruciating, but the scenery more than made up for it.

But the very next day, I found myself in a green haven, hiking through lush vegatation down one of the valleys along a leafy trail that followed the gurgling sounds of a life-giving creek. Tall conifers shared the canopy with vine maples and broad-leaved oaks while the undergrowth was dense with idyllic ferns and vanilla leaves, with huckleberry shrub loaded with juicy ripe berries spread all over.

A few hours in, the sound of rushing water, far more intense than the gurgle, caught my attention. Following it through the undergrowth, I came across this beautiful cascade where the creek wound its way through a leafy canyon. Barely any light filtered through, leading to a soft and mellow scene. It was a welcome respite from the prior twos of hiking in unbearably hot weather.

See this life-size in my 2018 Calendar that you can purchase here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/sathish-jothikumar/2018-photography-calendar/calendar/product-23412643.html
And for a limited time, save 5% using code LULUORDERS5

Olympic National Park
WA USA

#olympicnationalpark #nationalparks #cascades #waterfall #backpacking #solduc
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Bamboo shoots as tall as skyscrapers, and not just a dozen or two, but a forest of thousands of towering bamboo all arching upwards and forming a canopy of vibrant green fronds that covered the sky. That was the stage at the beautiful Arashiyama Bamboo forest in the outskirts of Kyoto

I felt like a dwarf walking through this forest, enthralled by the hypnotic greenery. And even though I was never far from civilization, the low light and the ephemeral mist made the thicket far more mysterious and eerie. But the crowds thronging the pathway on that late spring day ensured that I would never be far away from people, which made capturing a shot of the greenery quite challenging

This one was a single image shot at F8, ISO 3200 at 1/8s

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Kyoto Japan

#japan #asiatravels #bambooforest #magicalkyoto #greenbeginnings
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Up in the remote mountainous hinterlands of Kyrgyzstan lies an absolutely immense lake at 10000ft, surrounded by beautiful treeless jailoos (summer meadows) that are ringed by glaciated peaks stretching as far as the eye can see. This was Songkul. And every summer, herders bring cattle and horses to this high altitude terrain to let them feed on the fresh grass that grows for miles around, while still homesteading in a very traditional way - sheepskin-insulated yurts that they set up every spring and pull down in fall.

After a very cold and rainy evening, I got to spend a night in those very same warm yurts, while having no idea what to expect at sunrise. And as the clock struck 5, I got out of the yurt and I was completely blown away by the transformation in scenery. The receding storm was pulling away the last bank of clouds, letting rays of morning sunlight set aglow the rugged snow-capped peaks on the other side of the lake. The clear air and the treeless terrain leave very little to lend perspective to the scene, with peaks rising 2800ft and 10mi away look merely stone's throw away. I spent hours photographing that ever-changing morning, even forgetting my breakfast hunger pangs.

This rugged isolation was what drew me to this magical place. And it was amply rewarded.

SongKol
Naryn Province, Kyrgyzstan

#centralasia #kyrgyzstan #tienshan #songkol #jailoo #travelphotography
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I remember this very special tree, with its gnarled trunk twisting and turning like veins on a human body and ending onto thousands of tiny leaves, donning its beautiful fall coat, appearing very many times on my photo-stream. Every time I came across it, I remember making a pledge to visit the place the following year; but those grand plans never came to fruition.

Until now.

The tree was a Japanese maple tree growing with the confines of the Japanese garden in Portland. And like any other maple tree, its takes on a different form in each of the seasons. But its fall coat is undoubtedly its most prettiest form - its leaves turn a deep red, contrasting beautifully with the moss on its trunk and the surrounding vegetation, a vibrant red dragon dancing in a lush green forest. I decided to squeeze in a day trip from Seattle just to capture this dancing beauty.

Naturally, a tree this popular comes with its own paparazzi (myself included). As the sun slowly crested the trees in the horizon on that late morning, I had to squeeze amidst the swarm of photographers, cameras and tripods to line my camera just right to capture the light filtering through the reddish brown fronds that were slightly past its prime, resulting in this image. I shot this at F18 (for the starburst effect), 1/2s and at ISO 200

Portland
OR USA

#portland #japanesemaple #fallcolors #reddragon #japanesegarden #starburst
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Vistas of endless fall foliage, miles and miles of roads lined with vibrant yellow and reds, and golden sunlight bursting through the fiery leaves - this was the scene that greet my fellow travelers and I as we made our way through the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan exactly a year ago. I was wary of visiting this destination so late in its fall season, but our journey there was duly rewarded.

I came across this quiet spot while heading down a dusty road leading to the shores of Lake Huron. As we drove, the vegetation encroached closer and closer, encompassing the entire scene, until all that remained was a brown road threading through a mass of yellow. I was enthralled by the peaceful setting - vibrant foliage, fresh wilderness, a lonely forest with nobody around, and the calming sounds of the woodland on its last legs before a desolate winter.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
MI USA

#michigan #upperpeninsula #fallfoliage #picturedrocks #gold
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Cappadocia, a geological oddity in the heart of Turkey; a mystical place with sandstone houses, fairytale pillars, beautiful red canyons and thousands of cave dwellings carved into the sandstone. It took me a very long time for my brain to even process the strange formations. And with the place still being inhabited, it feels like a living, breathing wonderland.

The few days I spent here were rooted in Goreme, a small town replete with dozens of restaurants and plenty of hotels to cater to all classes, and surrounded by these strange formations. Desiring an aerial view, I clambered up to the tallest point in this town where the vista finally opened up. From up above, I spied hundreds of conical sandstone formations scattered all around, and beyond that lay the distinctly colored canyons of the Red and Rose canyons. And as the sun slowly sank towards the horizon, the light turned to a warm yellow, and the shadows lengthened adding a unique dimension to the landscape.

I waited until the last of the light left the scene, after which my hunger pangs directed me towards the nearest restaurant. But it was sheer bliss while I was there.

Goreme
Nevsehir Turkey

#travelphotography #magicalcappadocia #turkey #asiatravel #sunset
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Its hard up there in the fringes of a livable ecology. Cold climes, poor soils and rugged terrain make life hard for the flora of this alpine ecosystem. Compound that with a really short growing seasons and with mountain goats and picky humans eager to feed and feast, it is a miracle that this fragile community exists at all. And that is why it is important not to trample this delicate balance during the outdoor adventures in this place.

But more than exist, the vegetation here thrives; during my visit a month ago, I was surprised to see throngs of ripe huckleberry shrub, late blooming daisies and lupines and plenty other wildflowers compete for space in a land dominated by massive glaciated peaks, steep valleys and deep canyons.

Of course it is all under snow know, as proper winter begins in this beautiful alpine terrain. Here's to a generation of montane vegetation growing, budding, flowering, seeding, and setting the stage for the next generation 8 months away.

Mt Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
WA USA

#wildflowers #daisies #alpine #mtbaker #hiking #pacificnorthwest
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