Monday, April 22, 2013

Lost in the Fire // Things I Miss // LowePro Pro Trekker 400

I’m piecing life back together one item at a time. It is a process that is more tedious than I care to explain, yet I am super thankful that everything has worked out. The most difficult part is that life, like a river, continues to flow, and so I float along trying my best to row, while putting the puzzle back together. I was able to eddy out in Bozeman just long enough to catch my breath and hug my family and closest friends.
For those in the dark, I lost the vast majority of my belongings in a cabin fire about 6 weeks ago. I sometimes ask myself, what do I miss the most? Well, it’s not my LowePro Pro Trekker 400, but instead my Bolivian textile blanket. The deep blue intricately woven llama throw that often lay under my sleeping pad, was used as a make shift yoga mat, curtain, blanket, table cloth, towel, dresser, or airport meditation cushion during the past 3 years, making any location feel like home. It was just a piece of fabric but represented so much more; a period of time, a past adventure, a reminder to venture out of my comfort zone and know that I could be at home anywhere in the world. It’s the unique irreplaceable things that are the most difficult to let go of.

However my Lowe Pro Camera Backpack is a close second to that textile throw, partially because it was full of all the precious equipment that allows me manipulate light into expressions of creativity and beauty. If I had been there when the fire started, and could have run in to grab one thing, it would have been my Lowe Pro pack.

I used the LowePro Pro Trekker 400 primarily for travel photography this past fall in Churchill, Manitoba working with Polar Bears International. It was the ideal kit for carrying all of my media needs including a Canon 7D, Canon 100-400 F4.5, Canon 24-105 F4, Sigma 17-50 F2.8, a small Giotto tripod and ball head,Novoflex classic ball head, Canon Intervalometer, Cokin grad filter set, polarizer, extra batteries, extra memory cards, Apple Mac Book Pro Retina, Charger, four 1.5 TB hard drives, compact flash card reader, multi tool, wrench, water bottle, warm layer, gloves, hat, and snacks.

The Pro Trekker 400 was my portable office, the perfect travelling companion, keeping my tools organized and accessible whether photographing beluga whales in the Churchill River at sunset or boarding a Tundra Buggy to assist in documenting the Western Hudson Bay Polar Bear Migration. Those who know me will attest that I am a kind of a tidy heidi. Everything has to have a place, and if it doesn’t it has to go. This pack provided a streamlined solution for travelling with all my photo necessities.

I was enthusiastic to see how the Pro Trekker worked for my mountain pursuits. I had the opportunity to shoot skiing with it at Bridger Bowl in early January and was pleasantly surprised with its functionality and versatility in the mountain environment. I had to get a little creative with my safety equipment needed for skiing. The front lap top pocket worked for my shovel blade and I made space inside the main compartment for the shovel handle and probe as well as a few extra layers, and snacks. My smaller water bottle fits well in either of the side zipper pockets. Having space for an extra body and lens proved worthy as I could set up one camera with a small tripod and I could shoot hand held photos with the other. I later passed a camera off to a good friend and fellow photographer Graeme MacPherson who assisted in shooting. It was nice to have room for the extra gear and feel that it was well protected and concealed during my own powdery descent.

Matt Shortland dropping the knee at Bridger Bowl
Although I no longer have the Pro Trekker 400, nor the contents it contained (typing that phrase makes my chest sink), I look forward to replacing it as soon as possible.
Living with less has been an extremely refreshing experience. I drove home from Alaska 10 days ago and had enough space to fully lounge out and sleep in the back of my car! That has never happened before!
Flames can consume the tangible things in life, but they can never destroy memories. I will never lose the moments, the experiences, the friendships, or the hugs. Each day of life is an experience, and that is the only thing we get to keep with us, always.