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Danner Mountain Light First Impressions

My first major purchase of 2018 was a pair of hiking boots.You may have noticed throughout my blog that over the past couple months, I've developed a bit of a fascination with hiking, particularly thru-hikes like the Appalachian trail. This has lead, of course, to the hope that I will one day be able to participate in my own thru-hike. As romantic as the idea sounds, I know that a thru-hike is not something to be taken lightly so it's become a goal of mine to spend more time outdoors and exploring some more local hiking opportunities. 

I fully admit, I haven't been too great at keeping up with this goal of mine. I'm terribly cold-natured and so cold weather is a bit off-putting for me--something I know I'll have to get over if I want any chance at thru-hiking. But the weather is slowly starting to warm and so I'm hoping to give this goal a bit of a more honest go.

I wrote last year that we had the opportunity to visit the mountains of North Carolina. It was during that trip that my hiking boots at the time, a pair I've owned since I was about 13, finally wore themselves out. Growing up my family had always been outdoorsy, especially during our trips to Germany, so hiking isn't a particularly new concept to me, just one I haven't actively practiced over the last 10 years or so.

Anyway, all that rambling brings me to this point. As silly as it sounds (and trust me, I know it sounds silly), I wanted my first purchase of the year to be a couple things. Intentional, of course, in that I wanted to buy something that would last a lifetime. Something classic, durable, and something that would motivate me in achieving my goal.

Enter the Danner Mountain Light. If your recognize these boots, it's because they're already a bit famous. Recreated in the spirit of 1970s hiking, these shoes were originally made for the movie Wild.

I was a bit hesitant, at first, about the idea of dropping so much on a pair of shoes but again, these were made to last a lifetime (with proper care, of course). I'd given myself a new rule over the past year that any major purchase (anything above $150 for a single item), would need to be strongly considered for at least 3 months before deciding to buy. Which is exactly what I did. Now that' I've had them for a couple weeks, I feel ready to talk a little more about them.

The first thing that struck me was how comfortable these boots were. One of my biggest concerns were comments that they ran a bit narrow and were a royal pain to break in. But upon trying them on for the first time, I realized that these boots were in a league of their own. The biggest difference I noticed right off the bat is that the tongue feels curved and padded. With any other hiking boot I've owned, the tongue tends to press down, putting pressure on the top of my foot. But with these it was the exact opposite so I felt much less constricted than I normally do in a boot like this. Though I tend to buy 'wide' shoes, the narrowness (as described in some reviews) wasn't an issue at all for me. Though I haven't done any serious hiking with these yet, the only discomfort I've felt so far was the stiffness around the ankle portion of the boot. It's uncomfortable, but slowly molding to me the more I wear them. Thicker socks definitely help with this. I've worn them out and about days and though smaller walks in the woods and haven't had any issues.

Overall, I am loving these so far. They've pretty much replaced all my other boots in terms of comfort and warmth. The only small drawback I've found so far is that they are not considered water proof (that said, they do just fine on a rainy day). I love their classic look, and as you may have imagined, the red laces definitely appealed to me as well (seeing as my theme for this year is Red). And most of all, I love that they're made to last. Danner even has rebuilding options for shoes that need a little extra TLC.

Overall, if you're in the market for a new pair of hiking boots, I can't recommend these enough. If you're looking to save a little, I believe Danner usually does a Father's Day Sale. Amazon has these boots as well, and I've seen them drop to under $300 on occasion so that's another option if you're looking to save a little money.

Also, I would like to note that this post was not sponsored in any way. I bought these shoes of my own accord and using my own money.

What I shoot with

I've been meaning to do this post for a little while and I figured today as as good of a day as any! So I'll just dive right in, here's my usual shooting gear:

1. Fujifilm X-Pro2

I have a love hate relationship with this camera but the fault is all my own. I absolutely love love love the tones that Fuji photos have which is the main reason why I have been so determined to master this little beauty. The thing about this camera is (at least for me), that you really have to know it inside out to get the shots you want to get. When I get it right, I absolutely adore the photos this camera produces. But you have to get the settings right. I've found that with Nikon there was a lot more...room for salvaging a photo if I didn't nail it. With this camera, even with shooting RAW, if the settings aren't spot on, the photo is pretty nonredeemable (in my personal opinion. Then again, I have very high expectations for myself).

Overall, natural light is where it excels at (which is what 90% of my shots are), but I'm still struggling to getting the settings right for indoor/low light situations.

One of the biggest things I love are the dials. I've got my aperture, ISO, and shutter speed right at my finger tips which makes it super easy to adjust my settings on the fly.

 My hands-down biggest gripe however is this: there is currently no wireless remote for this camera. There's app that you can download but it's unreliable and most times downright frustrating to use. 

2. Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2

This is my go-to portrait lens (and it also does really well for detail shots even though it feels like you have to stand a thousand feet away from your subject for it to focus). She's sharp as a tac and has decent compression (I'll admit, the Nikon 70-200 really spoiled me with this).

3. Fujifilm 10-24mm f/4

I'd been wanting a wide-angle lens for as long as I can remember so when I switched to Fuji, this was one of the first major purchased I made. I debated a long time between primes and the zoom and ultimately decided that the loss in f-stop was worth the flexibility.  The corners can get a bit soft at times but overall, I love the range of photos I can achieve with this lens.

4. Fujifilm 18-55mm (kit lens)

The kit lens is usually the first to go once you start diving into the finer details of photography, but not with Fuji. Whereas with other camera's its just a starting point, Fuji has made a really solid "kit" lens. This one gets used the least (I usually break out the x100s if I want something inbetween my wide angle and portrait lens) but it's great to have for general roadtrips or for general purpose not-really-sure-what-focal-lenght-I'll need photography.

5. Fujifilm x100s

This. This camera right here. If I could sum her up in a quote, it would Shakespeare: Though she be but little, she is fierce. And that really sums her up right there. Small camera but takes insanely beautiful images. I also find her much less temperamental than the x-pro2. She was my first dip into the Fuji world and i haven't been able to look back since. There's also built in macro mode (in this one you have to switch to it but in the new models -- x100t and x100f, it'll do so automatically) which i absolutely love as well. It's the perfect take-anywhere camera.

Seeing Red

This time of year I start seeing a lot of "word" goals for the year. Words like Patience or Simplify. I have a really hard time summing up how I want my year to go in a word so I'm going to take a different approach. I'm giving my year a color. To me, a color can stand for a lot of things. It sets a mood in a different way than a word does and I don't feel as boxed in by it.

This year, my color is red. Up until this point, I was never a huge fan of red. It's bold and attention-grabbing whereas I tend to lean more toward subdued, unassuming hues. I've always hated being the center of attention and I think it reflects in the colors I am drawn to. But over the past weeks I feel myself drawn more and more to it, mostly because I think it symbolizes how I want to approach the coming year. Red is an intentional color, it makes a statement. And as I get older, I find myself discovering something that I feel like so many people already have -- living intentionally. Not sitting on the sidelines, not watching from a distance. Not being afraid to be in the center sometimes, of drawing attention to myself. Whether its the things I do, or buy, or the people I surround myself with, they should all be things that move me forward in life. And red just feels like that powerful push forward, toward personal growth.

Alpspitze (Garmisch-Partenkirchen), Germany

Remember how I was talking about posting photos even if I wasn't satisfied with them? Case-in-point right here. Nothing can prepare you for the breath-taking effect the Alps can have on you but I really struggled capturing this trip the way I wanted to. One of my goals for 2018 is to study landscape photography and improve upon it so that when we do go on exciting trips like this, I'll be properly prepared to the capture the moments the way I see it in my mind's eye.

Winter in Abstract

Ever have one of those days where you do a quick shoot, only to realize when you're editing that there was a major detail you overlooked and now you have to completely scrap the photos? Maybe that's just me. Thankfully it's a pretty easy shoot to re-do but frustrating none the less. So instead, here's some more winter photos (the last of them, I promise!) to tie you over till the next post. I may or may not be hoping we get one last little storm sometime before the end of winter!


I love snow. I can't drive worth a darn in it which is why I am one of those people that buys plenty of supplies for milk sandwiches if there is even a hint of it on the news but other than that I really love snow. I also haven't seen snow in a couple years as it hasn't really properly snowed since we moved here (a dusting maybe but hardly anything worth writing home about).

So when the weather started hinting at the potential for a little winter weather, I didn't get my hopes up. Then, just shortly after midnight, the snow began and I woke up pleasantly surprised this morning to a mini winter wonderland just outside my door.

Needless to say, we spent a good chunk of the morning outside. Anyone that knows me knows that I am very cold-natured so this shot was a little chilly to say the least.

Hello 2018, you are already living up to expectations!

A Sort-Of-Unexpected-But-Not-Really Snow Day

I have a thing for detail shots but I recognize that they're probably only interesting to me (at least the ones I took). But with the surprise of snow (I mean, we knew it was coming but I was skeptical if it was going to stick), I had a little opportunity to brush up on some detail shots as well as play around with composition. It's looking like the snow will be sticking around for at least another day or so (albeit not as pretty or pristine as it was today) so I'm looking forward to getting a couple more shots since snow is so rarely seen in this area!