Being Flexible






Sometimes unforeseen circumstances come crushing down and put an end to something we may have planned for a while. There are two ways to deal with them. Either we give up in disappointment or we turn ourselves around, improvise and make the best out of the new situation. I believe creative people would have an easy choice. They are improvising all the time, looking for possibilities, rather than limitations. Being creative means creating something new out of whatever is available.

The week before last, my love one and I were supposed to go for a six days backpacking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a trail that follows the mountain range along the west coast of the Americas, from Canada into Mexico. The whole trail obviously isn’t possible to do in six days (we would rather talk about months then), but we were heading for a minor part of the trail along the Cascades just east of Seattle.

Or so we thought. When we passed by the ranger station nearby our trail head to get some final information before heading out in the wilderness we were startled by what they could tell us. The whole area was closed down because of a big wildfire. There was simply no way we could proceed with our plan.

After the initial moment of feeling paralyzed, we started to look at maps and books we could find at the ranger station to search for alternatives that could be just as enticing as the trip we had planned. After some back and forth we ended up choosing an area close to Mount Baker, one of the most characteristic mountains in the state of Washington.

It was another three to four ours drive to get from where we were. So when we finally reached the nearest small town, Glacier, the day was more or less gone—we had already lost the first day of what was suppose to be our six days hiking trip in the mountain. More so, we found out next day, we would have to wait even one more day before we could hit the new trail. We wanted to do something called the Copper Ridge loop. The problem is, it’s very popular and it’s situated within North Cascades National Park. The latter means all camp sites are strictly regulated and you need a permit to camp anywhere in the park—a specific permit for each camp site and the date. Nothing was available before the second day. So what should have been a six days backpacking trip finally ended up being only four days.

However—and of course—we didn’t just do nothing until we finally could get going. The same evening we arrived to Glacier, we drove up past Mount Baker ski area to a plateau between the two gorgeous mountains of Baker and Shukshan. The sun was setting and it was a gorgeous moment for both of us. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. The pictures accompanying this post are all from that evening at the so-called Artist Point.

It was a gorgeous evening and for a photographer an amazing moment, particularly after the sun had gone behind the mountains. Part of what made the evening so beautiful and colourful were clouds lining up in the horizon, spreading the last minutes of sunshine across the sky.

Of course, those clouds were also a forecast for the rain to come next day. We have never been stopped by rain, though, so the second day we hiked up to the glacier tipping down from the peak of Mount Baker. As any of you who follow Adrian «Chillbrook» and his blog know, bad weather is god weather for photographers. To make it short, we had another great day. When we finally got on the trail for the backpacking trip, the sun returned and we had another couple of gorgeous days—in a different way. I’ll get back with pictures from this hike as soon as I have had a chance to process them.

In the end, we had just as fantastic six days as we probably would have had if we had been able to stick to our original plan. As long as one doesn’t give in, there are always possibilities…

When was the last time you had to improvise and come up with an alternative plan in an incident of a moment? I would love to hear your story.

Facts about the photos: All the photos were taken with my Canon Eos 5D with either a 16-35 mm lens or a 24-105 mm lens. The photos have been processed in Lightroom and nothing else.

88 thoughts on “Being Flexible

  1. Hi Otto, thank you for sharing this experience and your breathtaking photography. Improvising is essential, otherwise we would miss out on so many unexpected delightful events and places.

  2. I think you’re right, creative people are always looking for the alternate route when faced with a challenge. Good for you in finding another spectacular place to take gorgeous photos!

  3. My mom always said everything happens for a reason. You got some gorgeous photography out of this change of plans. I’m beginning to find out in my travels to just go with the flow.

  4. The photos are gorgeous. In our traveling lifestyle, we sometimes have to change or rearrange our plans. Being flexible is always a great plan.

  5. Your images are stunning, Otto, and it seemed to turn out pretty beautiful after all you went with the flow. Recently I had an experience where I quickly had to chance all my plans. I was photographing a wedding, for the pictures of the couple I had chosen a beautiful spot at the beach and pier, but the bride’s make up artist showed up 2 1/2 hours late, so that put me under immens pressure of having to change the planned location. Quickly I came up with two totally different locations and at the end it worked out very well. Yet another challenge came up as the bride’s flowers haven’t arrived for the photo session, but luckily I had an about 100 year old sun umbrella of my grand mother in the car and that solved the problem as the bride had something to hold in her hands. Well , just talking about being flexible.

    1. When things like this happens during a wedding, it’s always very stressful since it’s a once in a life time event. But it seems like you did very well under stress. Thanks for sharing your experience, Cornelia.

  6. I love that you didn’t let the initial change keep you from having a fabulous experience, even if it wasn’t what you planned! As a Realtor, I have to remain flexible all the time – my job depends on other people’s decisions! I have to be ready with alternative plans all the time, and can’t believe anything is set in stone until I get my commission check. 🙂

    1. I am sure you have to be very flexible in your job. Any time we interact with others, we have to adjust to whatever comes out of the interaction, don’t we. Thank you for the comment, Barbara.

  7. I say, swim with the river, not against it. On our visit to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, I was exasperated upon seeing smoke from a controlled burn in the distance of the landscape scenery I wanted to capture; with clean air, of course. I took the shot anyhow [], reminding myself that park management is an ongoing process and part of life in the canyon. The next day, I did an about face and discovered some incredible pink wildflowers [later identified as slendertube skyrocket] in the stage of perfect open blooms. I decided to make them the subject of my concentration. By doing so, I captured an image of a sphinx moth [] coming to feed on these wildflowers. The moment was exhilarating and magical. It is one of my most treasured images, and memories, from the visit to the North Rim: and I could never have planned for it!

  8. There are so many wildfires in the west right now, Otto! We are planning to visit Sequoia National Park in September. We planned to go last year and a fire prevented us going then. I’m not 100% sure it’s going to work out for us this year, but we hope so! Your photos are beautiful and I’m certainly glad you had a wonderful experience. I actually think that nearly every week I have something in life that changes a direction and I’m reminded that resilience is a quality that needs continual cultivation!

  9. Breathtakingly beautiful – as mountain areas tend to be. And you always make the most of it! In my travels, as well as in my life as a teacher, it is essential to be flexible and open to new solutions and new plans.
    On our latest trip to northern Spain this summer, we had difficulties in finding the right roads and places in the Basque country. As they have their own language, the names were not always in Spanish as well, so we made some wrong turns…but right decisions – and ended up in lovely surprises we otherwise would have missed. Sometimes maybe things were meant to happen or not meant to be?

    1. Language challenges definitely offers some possibilities to be flexible. But when you just go with it as you did in Northern Spain, it can be an adventure in itself. Thank you for sharing your experience, Ann-Christine.

  10. This was the hardest of the questions you’ve asked us. I tried all day yesterday to think of an example, and couldn’t. That seems impossible, but then I realized that my whole life tends toward improvisation: in work, travel, and so on.

    Finally, I remembered two instances where improvisation was called for. During our recent flooding, it some real improvisation to get home after a short trip. I drove roads I didn’t know existed, and added about three hours to the trip, but I did find some lovely flowers that I still haven’t identified.
    The most dramatic reason for improvisation came a decade or more ago, when my aunt called and said, “Since your uncle died, i can’t keep up with the house. I’m selling it, and your mother is going to have to move to Texas and live with you.” Oh, my! That called for making the best of a bad situation — although, eventually, it turned into a perfectly fine situation.

    1. I would be surprised if you would have had lots of occasions when you would have had to improvise. I bet the message from your aunt was quite a shock. Good the read, then, that it turned out nicely. Thank you for sharing your moments of improvisation, Linda.

  11. Jag LER:) och jag känner så väl igen mig/oss i dig/er.
    Vi är väldigt förändringsbenägna, har inga som helst problem att göra helomvändningar när situationen så kräver…och det är en livsnödvändighet att kunna agera utifrån de premisserna…tycker jag.
    Det gläder mig att ni fick fina dagar ändå…och, javisst…det blir alltid vad man gör det till.
    Snart på väg mot nya äventyr…lite söder om dina trakter:)

    1. Du vet aldri hva som venter rundt neste hjørne – så fremt du tar sjansen på å titte rundt, ikke sant? De mest spennende opplevelse kommer fullstendig uplanlagt. Sa, et rungende JA til fleksibilitet og improvisasjon. 🙂 Og så må du ha et flott eventyr – hvor nå veien enn bærer.

  12. Stunning photos, Otto. It sounds like you were both more than up to the task of improvising when faced with difficulties. Of course, it does help a lot when you’re with the one you love. 🙂

  13. Flexibility is the key to happiness, I’m convinced. Lovely pictures. I’ve been past that area, but not in it, as you were. Tell me, what photographic equipment do you pack with you on a 6 day backpacking trip? How heavy is your pack?

        1. I have always carried heavy backpacks, so I am used to it. It’s always worst the first and second day, and then the weight diminish anyway as you start to eat your food. 🙂

  14. Spectacular scenery. I like and agree with comments about using creativity to deal with what life gives you.I was going out of town with a friend last month and the day we were going to leave, her car broke down and she stayed home . Since I had made arrangements to go see another friend,I booked a bus for later that day, or it may have been the next.Had to take a city bus to get to the bus depot , then walk a few blocks and the money I saved on “special” fare went for paying a cab when I returned home.It was worth it though.At my friend’s it rained alot but we went on a couple of photo shoots anyway on local trails and when it rained HARD we worked on photo projects in her home and coloured. It was a good visit.

    1. Another example what comes out of being resilient and try to make something out of what could have become nothing. Good for you, Jane! And thanks for sharing your experience. 🙂

  15. when we were moving last month a wildfire got between us and the new place and raged on for days… but of course we found an interesting back roads way… where there is a will there’s a way, right? well maybe not always lol… the shots of the mountains are JUST STUNNING, before i read your article i thought no WONDER i confused a picture of your mountains with a picture of our mountains lol but these pics ARE our mountains, you should have popped by for tea lol we have a nice view of mt baker 🙂

    1. I had no idea you were so close to Mount Baker. Of course, then, you know all of its beauty. Generally I think when there is a will there is a way—although maybe not necessarily the first way that comes to mind. 🙂

  16. Otto, I just love these photos…perfect feeling in all of them, which magnifies your words (the love you have for nature). There is one thing that never seems to change, and that is Mother Nature throwing a wrench into the best-laid plans, and you tackle it just as you should – find where a new opportunity lies. Wonderful. So much to see in the Olympics Mountains 🙂

  17. Those photographs are stunning.
    The last time I had to improvise and come up with an alternative plan?
    I often just plan to improvise 😉
    And right now my whole life is improvised: I’m selling house – and do knot know (yet) where I’m going to live…….. (only that it must be a small place – closer to Århus – and my children (and soon grandchildren)) ….

  18. Magnificent series of photos Otto, Artist Point is well named. I often have to revert to ‘plan b’ when out with a camera – it can be frustrating, but as your photos illustrate, there is often a pleasant surprise.

  19. Sorry to hear your hike didn’t get off to the start you wanted Otto but you seem to have been amply rewarded for being flexible and making the best of what you have. Beautiful images and thank you for the mention, yes, dramatic weather is something I enjoy photographing very much but as my recent series shows, sometimes the sun shines, nature doesn’t play ball and you have clear blue skies. That doesn’t mean there’s not still a photograph or two to be found of course! 🙂

  20. Wonderful trip Otto and it can often be the case that the unplanned part of a trip can reveal more to us than what we had conceived from or time planning. I have to agree…we photographers love the inclement weather, but the sunshine and clear skies warm the soul.

  21. I haven’t visited your blog in a long time – sorry! I just have to laugh at this post – it’s a wonderful story, and I’m glad for you…but sometimes, it doesn’t work out so well. I was at Artist Point this week, on Monday, taking photos and enjoying a similarly gorgeous day, when I tripped on a rock and fell very hard, wrenching my arm and banging my knee. We got back to the car all right – as you know, it’s a short trail – but it was a long drive to the emergency room, and I have a shattered and dislocated shoulder that will take a long time to heal. Right side, of course, preventing me from driving and taking pictures…oh well! Sometimes, and I like to think most times, we do well with interruptions to our plans, but once in awhile we get a curve ball. I will try to make the best of this. Beautiful photos!

    1. Yes, that curve ball, is very disruptive. But most of the times those unforseen changes can be a benefit if we are flexible enough. I hope you shoulder is healing well. By the way, good to have you back visiting my blog, Lynn.

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