It didn't take COVID-19 for me to appreciate the medicinal benefits of occasional social isolation. Quiet time in nature has been a part of my routine since childhood. When you grow up two miles down a dirt road in south Alabama you are destined for a lifetime of boredom unless you learn to love the whistle of wind past long leaf pines and exploring the outdoors. It was a sound that put me to sleep as a Boy Scout for many years. I learned to love exploring the wilderness. I remember being so deep in the woods that Mom would honk the car horn to summon us for supper (that's dinner back home). I don't know if it was nature or nurture, but I still love soaking up creation by myself. When I began shooting in earnest a few years ago my camera joined me as a constant (and silent) companion on these hikes. Solitary hiking and shooting are symbiotic. No one asks me to hurry up. When I see something interesting I stop and take as many photos as I like. It also gives me time to think about what I'm shooting; the beauty of it all. My camera slows me down and enhances my senses. It's accurate to say that I more deliberately appreciate everything God has blessed us with here.
Speaking of blessings, Montana de Oro State Park fits squarely in that category. Located between Los Osos and Avila Beach on California's central coast, it's a treasure enjoyed by hikers, mountain bikers, and horses alike. From a flat bluffs trail to 1,500 feet of vertical climb over 2 miles if you want to head towards the mountains, this is a great place to get isolated for a few hours.
This gallery is from a hike on March 24, 2020. You might have to work to stay isolated on the bluffs trail, but the "Rule of The Harder" is still in effect. If you aren't familiar with that hiking truism, I'll fill you in: the harder the trail, the less people you'll see. Over the course of the 5 hours I was hiking I saw less than 10 people and 3 of them were mountain bikers. I had a great time soaking it all up. Enjoy!