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My wife Karen took my picture after we reached Indian Pass about 2000 feet above our base camp in Indian Basin. Bridger Wilderness, August, 2004.

 

About the Photographer

     I am Richard M. Denney, and this website presents the visual fruit of two of my life-long passions, photography and wilderness backpacking. My photographic interest developed in the 1950's, when, while growing up in Portland, Oregon, I delivered papers to support my youthful efforts at black white darkroom work. With help from my understanding and handy-man father, I assembled a modest darkroom, complete with enlarger, in our unheated garage. Maintaining developing solution temperatures at a constant 68° was a challenge throughout the long, cool winters. 

    My devotion to my second passion, backpacking, developed somewhat later. Our home was near the Columbia River Gorge, in sight of Mount Hood, and only 60 miles from the Pacific Coast. Typical of most youth, I probably took for granted the exquisite scenic beauty of these areas. After graduating from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, I began graduate work in Biology at Stanford University in September of 1969. There I was first introduced to the idea of carrying everything one needed into wilderness areas for multi-night backpacking trips. In late August, 1970, I was initiated into the backpacking culture by taking a modest overnighter with equally inexperienced friends. After hiking a short distance into the Tioga Pass area of Yosemite National Park, I spent a cold, windy, rainy night trying to stay dry in an open, plastic tube tent. Fortunately, the morning dawned crystal clear. I was literally overwhelmed by the unbelievable magnificence of the sheer, gleaming, white granite domes, the impossibly blue sky and lake water, and the intense greens, reds, purples and yellows of the alpine meadows. The experience jolted me alive with an impact akin to a spiritual experience. 

 

High above Snow Lake in Yosemite National Park, near Twin Lakes, California. 1988.

     From that day on, throughout over twenty-seven years of a career in research and teaching Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, my family and I have taken every available opportunity to backpack, camera in hand, into wild areas of the American West. My children, now in their twenties and early thirties, have been avid backpackers ever since we took them on their first trip at the ages of two and four and one-half years. At ages six and three and one-half, we backpacked with my son and daughter for six nights into the Grand Canyon. When her little legs tired, my thirty-three pound daughter hitched a ride in a  "Snuggli," a highly versatile, corduroy sling I hung from my pack frame onto my chest, partially counter balancing the sixty pounds or so I carried on my back. On the 3500 foot climb out of the canyon on the last day, my daughter (in her Snuggli) and I passed a few exhausted hikers, as we slowly, but steadily, climbed the trail. I distinctly heard one, passed hiker whisper to a another, "Wow! Did you see that?," presumably commenting on my rather large pack plus child on the front. I wish I could say that my physical condition today is as it was thirty years ago. It is not. Yet, when spring and summer come, we cannot wait to head out on multiple 8-12 day trips. 

     Even after nearly thirty-five years and hundreds of nights of wilderness backcountry travel, I am still constantly overwhelmed by the awesome magnificence of the wilderness in the American West. In these isolated locations, splendid views are everywhere and cry out to be recorded digitally or on film. I try in my images to convey my own intense emotional response to Nature's beauty. So, this is my advice to anyone healthy enough and fortunate enough to be able to do so: put on those boots get hiking! Take a camera. There is unbelievable beauty out there. Getting there can be a challenge. But, the remaining American wilderness is ours! And it is free!
My wife Karen and I revel in the magnificence of the field of Yellow Alpine Avens overlooking a turquoise glacial melt lake below Indian Pass. Bridger Wilderness, 2004.