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Photographer captures portraits of through-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail

Quirksee - 2 hours 18 min ago

Photographer Ian Tuttle was driving when he saw three backpackers resting under a tree near the Pacific Crest Trail.

He pulled over. Did they need water or a ride somewhere? Maybe a beer? Just the beer, the hikers told him. And so Tuttle ended up spending the next hour with them, talking over beers and taking their photos.

As Tuttle resumed his drive, he had a lingering thought: “How amazing it would be to meet more of these hikers.” He understood the allure of the arduous trail; he himself had once taken a long journey by bike across the country — an experience he calls “indelible.”

So he returned to the PCT three more times this past summer, geared with a heavy 1951 press camera — the kind you see in old movies with the big flash, Tuttle says — and a cooler full of fresh, hard-to-pack treats for the hikers. Each time, he set up camp for one to three nights in hopes of connecting with through-hikers. Unlike sectional hikers, these hikers attempt to finish the entire 2,650-mile trail in one stretch, a feat that typically takes five months.

Some encounters were shorter than others; “these guys are hiking 20 to 24 miles a day, and they can’t dawdle,” says Tuttle. But long or short, each meeting offered an intimate glimpse into what Tuttle calls each hiker’s “odyssey.”

“I like backpacking, but that’s extraordinary — five months on the trail,” he says. “You’re at the mercy of the landscape, of the weather, of other people, certainly,” he says.

In all, San Francisco-based Tuttle photographed 38 hikers from near and far and heard their stories. He shared the following photos and captions.

// Powered by Cincopa &amp;lt;a href=’http://www.cincopa.com/video-hosting’&amp;gt;Video Hosting for Business&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt; solution.&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Portraits of PCT through-hikers&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;All photos provided by Ian Tuttle.&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Chris, Mile 1071&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Chris and Sarah were some of the first hikers I met. It was hailing hard for about 45 minutes, and finally the storm moved on and things dried a bit, and they appeared on the trail. A few other hikers had gathered around my camp and I listened to them talk about the trail, the people they’d met, the storm.&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;originaldate&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AM&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;width&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 943&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;height&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1200&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Sarah, Mile 1071&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Sarah at one point said, &amp;amp;quot;Hopefully Oregon will be almost effortless.&amp;amp;quot; Weeks later I had my notebook open and another through-hiker saw the quote I’d written and said, &amp;amp;quot;Ha! That pretty much sums up this whole journey.” &amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;originaldate&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AM&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;width&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 945&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;height&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1200&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Justin &amp;amp;amp; Luke, Mile 1606.5&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;I met Justin first. He was soft-spoken, and I asked him where he was from. “Canada. I’m hiking with my older brother.” “Is he here?” “No, we agreed to split up at the half-way mark so we could experience the trail independently.” I thought of my own brothers and wondered if we would make a similar decision. A truck crested the pass and pulled into the gravel. “Hey, that’s my brother right there!”&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;originaldate&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AM&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;width&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1200&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;height&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 945&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Nat, Mile 1071&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;“When you’re out day after day, your vision, hearing, feeling, all your senses change,&amp;amp;quot; said Nat.&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;originaldate&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AM&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;width&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 946&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;height&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1200&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Erin, Mile 1071&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Erin is an artist. She and her husband Nat celebrated their one-year anniversary around the mid-point of their hike.&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;originaldate&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AM&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;width&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 946&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;height&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1200&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Shazam, Mile 2259.5&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;I met Pixel and Shazam early one August morning in Washington, north of Mt Adams. They began their hike on April 23 at the kick-off party, and reached the Canadian border on Sept. 9.&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;originaldate&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AM&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;width&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 941&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;height&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1200&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Pixel, Mile 2259.5&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Hiking the PCT was Pixel and Shazam’s honeymoon.&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;originaldate&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AM&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;width&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 940&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;height&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1200&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;Lost Lake&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;originaldate&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AM&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;width&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 2000&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt;height&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span&amp;gt; 1992&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;

You can see more photos from Tuttle’s “Through-Hikers” collection on his website.

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