Appalachian Trail sign at McAfee Knob parking lot, Blacksburg, VA
Portraiture is possibly my favorite form of photography. Faces show character in every laugh line, every weathered wrinkle, in tan lines left by always-worn sunglasses, in the trickle of sweat through trail dust. In the scraggly beards of men who have walked the woods for weeks.
On our drive through Catawba valley, my husband said, “It’s getting close to peak thru-hiker season.” We were headed to Sawtooth Ridge, a portion of the Appalachian Trail between McAfee Knob and Dragon’s Tooth, near our home in Blacksburg, Virginia.
“It is?” I asked, my wheels turning. I had just checked my email and seen a photography challenge regarding culture, and I thought, oooh, maybe I can cover AT culture. Shoot portraits of rugged hikers.
“Yeah, if they left Springer Mountain [Georgia] on March 1, they’d start getting here near the end of…