Sometimes No Campfire Is the Best Campfire

When camping along the river, I don’t always have a fire. I do that for various reasons. Sometimes it’s a matter of leaving a minimal footprint. Other times, it’s because I’m stealth camping and nothing will give your presence away more than a crackling, light-producing, smoke-belching campfire. On my last trip it was for aesthetic reasons.


I love how the fading sunlight hardens foliage shadows while illuminating tree limbs and trunks. If you look closely, there is a beautiful boulder to the right of the island.

One of my favorite things on summer canoe trips is watching night settle in. Yes, it is kind of like watching the grass grow; it’s a long slow process. I love to watch the bottoms of the leaves on the trees, the green gradually fading to darker and darker shades — until they become black silhouettes against the darkening sky.

From my Walhonding River campsite, I experienced one of the most blissful evenings of my life, watching this transition. The night’s entertainment also included a steady parade of bald eagles and other birds, wonderful cloud formations and a doe pausing at a gravel bar to nurse her fawn.


Part of the show. Not sure whether these were clouds or jet vapor trails breaking up.



Sometimes you can see figures in the clouds. I call this one “Headless Angel Hitting the Windshield at 60 mph.”



Just when I thought it couldn’t get better. I watched as this doe led her fawn across the river. They paused at a gravel bar near a small island so the fawn could nurse.



Sometimes shooting at full zoom through the haze creates impressionistic images like this one. The tree roots in the river took on an anguished human form.



The sun sets around the bend, hidden from view but reflected in the river.



Finally — darkness settles in. Same perspective as the previous shot. I love the brushstroke clouds.