â€œBreakneck Ridge” is am image I’m quite proud of, partly because it has a very personal meaning, and also because of the circumstances during the time I shot the photograph. The hike up Breakneck Ridge is one of the most difficult and strenuous in all of the Hudson Valley climbing 800+ feet in less than half a mile, and though I have hiked it many times, this is the first since my ankle fracture 8 months ago. I had been waiting for the right time to attempt it again both in terms of my recovery and also for the right weather conditions.
When I noticed the beautiful cloud patterns and clarity of the air, I knew I had a good evening in which to try and capture the way this part of the Hudson feels like to me. Getting to the top was quite emotional for me, so much so that I lost my desire to photograph and instead just wanted to enjoy the experience of being alive. I was grateful and proud that my perseverance, commitment, and hard work physically during my recovery had paid off, and I had the opportunity and ability again to do something which seemed trivial before. Just being in nature, and appreciating all of its subtleties filled my mind, and everything else, including my 30 pound backpack, became unimportant. I decided I would enjoy the moment, wait until sunset, then hike back down and perhaps return another day to photograph.
As I was descending, beautiful light began to make the rocks around me glow, and I was inspired to attempt a few shots. As usual when this happens, I became totally focused and had to work quite a bit to find a composition that was both pleasing but yet dramatic. With so much going on visually, it’s easy to try and capture everything, but I tried to simplify, and focus on what I felt best described the evening light. Just then a speed boat popped into the frame, and it was a perfect accent to what is really a very busy river. Regardless of the photographic outcome, I felt it had been one of my best hikes physically and emotionally, and was simply grateful. Not until I examined the images at home did I surprise myself with the added bonus. This image will always remind me that achievement is just a matter of hard work and single-minded focus, and perhaps it will bring some of those ideas and feelings to you as well.