Stars come out over a van parked under trees

Photographing Van Life, Part 2

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We are closing in on two months on the road and Tera and I are finally starting to get the hang of van life. From finding our next camp spot to where to fill up on water, the things that stressed us out the most at the start are definitely starting to become a lot easier.

A woman cooks food over a campfire
Tera camp cooking by the van. Photo: Mike Schirf

We started off July in Hood River, OR, definitely one of Tera and I’s favorite stops so far. It has a bunch of great riding and just a nice friendly outdoor vibe. One of our favorite things to do when we were there was to walk down to the water with the pups and watch all the kite boarding and wind surfing. In Hood River I focused on shooting the dogs a lot. The light was awesome each night we went down to the water and they had so much fun it was hard for me to not enjoy the moments with them. I do have a stock photo library that I submit to so I always try to take advantage of those great stock photo moments of the dogs in the water and people kite surfing.

Dogs splash in the shoreline of a lake with a man out of focus in the background
Milly and Patsy enjoying Hood River in the evening light. Photo: Mike Schirf

After Hood River, we actually started making our way back to Park City for a job that I had with the Park City Chamber. We wanted to break up the drive a bit so on the way home, Tera found a climbing spot in southern Idaho called the Finns.

The Finns are exactly what they sound like, giant limestone fins, hundreds of feet high, just asking to be climbed. The routes here turned out to be quite difficult, at least on the main wall. Tera is a much stronger climber than I am so she was able to put up a few routes that I then struggled my way up after. Difficult climbing aside, it was a great place to spend the 4th of July. There weren’t very many people around and the pups were perfectly happy being in a place where there were no fireworks.

Feet hang over a cliff high above the ground
Capturing the climbing lifestyle. Photo: Mike Schirf
Capturing the climbing lifestyle
Capturing the climbing lifestyle. Photo: Mike Schirf

As far as taking photos in the Finns, it’s difficult to shoot rock climbing with only two people as I needed to be belaying Tera with both hands and paying close attention. So when we are in a climbing area I try to capture a sense of place and the lifestyle around climbing more than photos of climbing itself.

After the Finns it was off to home sweet home, Park City. Since I was super busy shooting for the chamber I didn’t get to shoot much for myself, kind of a bummer, but I used any spare time I had to hit the trails. I made sure to GoPro a few of my favorite trails so if I ever find myself homesick I can just pull them up on the computer. It was really great to be home for a little over a week and see some of the friendly familiar Jans faces in the store and out on the trails.

After things finished up in Park City, Tera and I made our way up north to Ketchum, ID where I had another job lined up with a clothing company based out of Jackson, WY, called Stio. Jans actually just started carrying them so make sure to stop by and see what they have to offer.

We met up with the Stio crew just outside of Ketchum and took a shuttle up North where they dropped us off, and we rode our way back to town, staying in the Coyote yurt one night. I unfortunately can’t share any of the photos right now, but keep an eye out for them in next year’s Stio catalogs.

Two dogs sit at the base of some big cliffs
Well-trained dog models out for a hike. Photo: Mike Schirf

After the shoot Tera and I spent a few nights in the Sawtooths checking out some of the various hot springs and finding some of our favorite parking spots for the van to date.

Now we are up in Washington and loving every minute of it. We spent a few days outside of Levenworth where we did a really cool 6 pitch 5.9 climb in the Enchantments called Outer Space. I brought a little camera with me but didn’t have many opportunities to take photos. Hanging hundreds of feet up isn’t always the most ideal place to pull out the camera, but I did take some photos at the top.

A woman stands with climbing rope at the top of a climb
Showing a sense of place at the top of a climbing route. Photo: Mike Schirf

We are planning on spending another few days in Washington and then we are off to the great white north where our first stop will be Squamish. I’ve seen so many beautiful photos taken in British Columbia, and I am really excited to see what opportunities present themselves and to see what I am able to capture there.

Mike Schirf, Photographer,