We can all use a little more outdoor time, a chance to reset and get lost. To only think about what’s in front of you. To follow the road wherever it leads. You should really stop reading this and go get outside right now. But before you do, check this out...
After a minor hiccup missing our ferry, we’re back on track and speeding down the highway of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. We’re on our way to meet our shuttle bus that will take us to the beginning of our thru-hike along a portion of Olympic National Park’s rugged wilderness coast – the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the lower 48 states.
We’re dropped off at the trailhead with our packs, and set out on foot for what will be 5 days traveling along the coast. We start out along a beautiful sandy beach, but before long we’re into the difficult rocky terrain this section of the route is known for. It’s a tough slog navigating the seaweed covered boulders, ubiquitous tidal pools, and gigantic driftwood logs. Each step requires total concentration, but after a while, we begin to find the rhythm.
Our schedule is dictated entirely by the tide, as the route takes us almost exclusively through the intertidal zone. We must pass certain headlands before the water gets too high each day, or risk getting trapped by the tide in treacherous rocky terrain. In some cases headlands are only passable via steep overland trails with weathered and often questionably rigged fixed ropes.
Along this stretch of remote coast there are zero amenities. We camp near water sources where possible, but drought conditions force us to ration our water when there are no streams to be found. As with many other wilderness beaches on the open ocean, there is an abundance of human garbage, washed in from far and wide. In some cases, beachcombers before us have put the trash to good use, fashioning some pretty functional setups.
While it’s a lot of work to travel to these remote areas, nothing compares to the regeneration you get from being in the wilderness. Watching the sun dip into the Pacific Ocean every night is a welcome reward for our efforts.
Our crew is stuffed into a backroom in the CRC building in Regent Park. Out in the dining hall, the tension mounts as more and more hungry mouths wait for food to be served after a breakdown in the kitchen. We’re waiting to film Frances Deacon, a vibrant 92 year old woman who comes here to help serve food to people in need. Full stomachs make happier people, says the kitchen manager as he signals for us to continue waiting. Slowly the meals start landing on tables and we are let loose to begin filming Fran as she floats around the room welcoming everyone who’s come for a much needed meal.
This is just one small part of Fran’s story – a story that has led to her being honoured with the Spirit of Philanthropy award from the Toronto Foundation.
In partnership with writer and creative director Inna Gertsberg, I had the pleasure of directing, editing, and shooting the stills for this piece for the Toronto Foundation. Thanks to DP Dwain Barrick, producer Justin MacRae, and our entire cast and crew for all their hard work putting this together.
Also checkout this alternate version we produced, edited by Sean Danby. Special thanks to Andy Mcleod.
Hold onto your seats ladies, and a few of you gents, the Graphite Stallions have arrived. I recently had the chance to shoot this campaign for the sassy start-up that hosts naughty art parties for bachelorettes and other functions. Thanks to Dan Cantelon, Marc Levesque and the folks over at TAXI 2 for the fun concept!