In late April, my good friend Gary Martin and I took off for a photography workshop with Scott Stulberg in Death Valley. But rather than fly into Los Angeles, we chose instead to drive from Gary’s home in western Wisconsin instead. It took four-and-a-half days, but photographically-speaking it was a rich and rewarding trip, with surprises around every corner. We drove through Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and a tiny corner of Arizona before we made our way to Death Valley. We lingered for two days in South Dakota, marveling at all it had to offer. What a beautiful place.
As we left Custer State Park one morning, we found ourselves winding along the northern end of Highway 87, otherwise known as the Needles Highway. This part of the road winds through tall granite hoodoos or pinnacles that tower hundreds of feet above the forest. They are massive and craggy and beautiful, so we stopped at a pull-off to photograph them. As I mounted my camera on the tripod, Gary, who was squinting at the pinnacles, asked, “Are those people up there?, pointing to the left-most tower. Mounting a long lens on the camera I looked, and sure enough, there were two climbers, about to summit the tall, skinny rock. We photographed them for about an hour as they made their way to the top, ultimately standing side-by-side on the summit. “Sure would be nice if we could find them so that we could give them some of these pictures,” Gary mused.
I took that observation as a challenge – and an opportunity to perform something of an online science experiment. That evening, when we had settled back into our hotel in Lead, I booted my computer and brought up Facebook. I posted this message on my wall:
One week later, I got this response:
Thanks for hunting us down to share your photos. Nice job on those. It would be cool to see some more of the shots. And I'd be happy to give a short interview. Evenings work best for me. Looking forward to chatting with you.
A friend of a friend knew someone who was a climber in North Dakota, but he knew of a climbing club in South Dakota. He sent a message on is own Facebook page asking the climbing community about my question, and a couple of days later, magic.
So anyone who tries to tell me that social media is a waste of time will get an argument. Just sayin’.