crystalann_b I love unexpected photo opportunities that arise as a result of being in the right place at the right time. This was one such opportunity that presented itself on the narrow rocky ridge of Mount Wakefield as we were making our way down in the cold rain after packing up a soggy campsite. I had buried my camera in a waterproof bag in my pack and had planned on a quick "head down" descent into the valley below. Surprisingly, I noticed light to my left and looked up to this scene of golden rays dazzling the Tasman Valley. The illuminated falling rain, glistening mountain slopes, and bright surface of Tasman Lake dotted with glacial icebergs caused me to stop where I stood and grab my camera. Every detail of this image resonates with my experience and love of the New Zealand mountains - utterly grand valleys, braided rivers, and sharp peaks that coalesce in the wonderland of Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Just right to inspire more adventurous aims and stoke the fire of exploration. Give me more of this!!!! #Aoraki #NewZealand #exploremore #adventure #whatgivesyoulife #wilderness_culture #thisistramping 3w

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crystalann_b The last few weeks have been filled with non-stop immersion in the New Zealand mountains! So much so that I've hardly been able to keep up. There are many trips, experiences, and photos to process - plenty to keep me busy for awhile. I'll do my best to share what I can when I can while still pursuing more adventure. I've decided that I love the simplicity and challenge of walking in the mountains, of taking the path less traveled (if at all) and of finding my own way based on clues in the landscape. I love being ruled only by the weather, terrain, and the rising and setting of the sun. I am continually astounded at the beauty I discover with each intricate detail of wild places uncovered. Despite the difficulty of route finding, the drudgery of a long day spent slogging in the rain, the pain of hauling myself up a bush-clad cliff, or the fear of falling on exposed rock slabs - I keep coming back for more. There's something here that's worth working for. This is what I hope to capture in words and photos. It isn't always glamorous and often far from it but it is always what I seek - even when I don't know it myself.

I experienced all of the above conditions on my recent 5 day traverse of the Douglas Range yet I also witnessed this sunrise, improbably steep terrain undimmed in grandeur, and a brilliant meteor at dawn on the first day of 2016. I wouldn't have it any other way. #Kahurangi #NewZealand #nelsonshines #wilderness_culture #whatgivesyoulife #adventure #exploremore
1mon

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crystalann_b Where I was hiding for the first week of 2016 - a five day, four night traverse of the Douglas Range in Kahurangi over the rugged and formidable Dragons Teeth (pictured). What a view to start 2016! #Kahurangi #DragonsTeeth #NewZealand #exploremore #adventure #whatgivesyoulife #wilderness_culture #nelsonshines 1mon

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crystalann_b The Gates
The view down the steep-walled valley to Milford Sound from the finest campsite I've had the privilege to make. Gertrude Saddle in Fiordland epitomizes what I love most about this landscape. The sheerest of cliffs, thundering waterfalls, snow-crowned peaks, deep lakes, twisted forest, and fiords reaching into the Tasman Sea. This is what I search for.

#NewZealand #thisistramping #exploremore #adventure #whatgivesyoulife #wilderness_culture #Fiordland
2mon

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crystalann_b After a week of working on the Heaphy Track I am headed south yet again - more pictures coming at ya soon!! **Pictured: Lake Barra and the Southern Alps of Aotearoa** #MountAspiringNP #NewZealand #wilderness_culture #whatgivesyoulife #adventure #exploremore #thisistramping 2mon

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crystalann_b Summit views from the West Peak of Mount Campbell just after dawn - remote South Westland peaks and valleys. #NewZealand #wild #exploremore #adventure #MountAspiringNP #whatgivesyoulife #wilderness_culture 2mon

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crystalann_b Exploring the local landscape yesterday - Rawhiti Cave in Golden Bay #NewZealand #adventure #exploremore #GoldenBay #wild @topodesigns 2mon

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crystalann_b A throwback to an image I didn't share over the summer due to the constraints of the square crop. Here is one of my favorite memories from my summer in Katmai National Park, Alaska - the most perfect rainbow over a wild and unnamed valley as seen from Solstice Ridge. #wild #whatgivesyoulife #wilderness_culture #exploremore #Katmai #Alaska #adventure 2mon

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crystalann_b Gratitude for the sunrise - This beautiful light display was the highlight of a misty and moody two nights in the southeastern portion of Kahurangi National Park. On this morning I woke at 4 am and slowly picked my way up the small path on the forest ridgeline under a dark cloudy sky to finally emerge above the bushline beneath Mount Patriarch. Clouds whipped and swirled over the peak so I decided to shoot from this low point. At sunrise the sky lit up incredibly to the east and brilliant rays moved over the distant lowlands. This light didn't make its way to the mountains, however, and I felt as though I watched it from afar. Despite the gray mist that lingered, I found that I was acutely aware of the subtle increase in brightness from the rising sun as I looked out across this scene. If nothing else, rising in the dark and seeking the sunrise makes you keenly aware of its effect which so often otherwise goes unnoticed. #Kahurangi #nelsonshines #NewZealand #exploremore #wilderness_culture #thisistramping #whatgivesyoulife #wild 3mon

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crystalann_b The McBride Peaks at dawn as seen from the river's edge of the Dart as it flows through Daley's Flat. Whenever I photograph rivers I find that I'm drawn to the edge and set my camera quite close to the water. I feel I'm able to attain an accurate perspective of a river's true character from either this rocky edge or from high above. The lower perspective reveals the details of one section of river while the high perspective lends a sense of scale to the vastness of a river and its valley. On this occasion the details are the focus. ↟↟ #NewZealand #DartRiver #MountAspiringNP #newzealandfinds #wild #wilderness_culture #whatgivesyoulife #exploremore 3mon

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crystalann_b Shades of blue as seen from paddling the McBride Burn as it flows into the newly formed Dart Lake. Floating through this stand of grey and white dead beech trees was a surreal and unique experience that afforded many intriguing angles for photography. However, the difficulty of shooting from a packraft cannot be overstated! I amused myself as I attempted to get this shot while floating haphazardly (often in the wrong direction). I kept having to paddle back to this spot and then start the float all over again as I shot. All in good fun! #NewZealand #tramping #exploremore #wild #whatgivesyoulife #packraft #DartRiver #DartLake 3mon

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crystalann_b Another look at the reflections found on Key Summit from my Fiordland visit just over a week ago. I so enjoyed watching the sunset from this vantage point as the Darran Mountains turned shades of gold and blue. #Fiordland #NewZealand #wilderness_culture #whatgivesyoulife #wild #exploremore #tramping #KeySummit 3mon

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crystalann_b Take the opportunity to camp above the clouds. The MacPherson drainage filled with rising clouds last Sunday morning as seen from our Lake Barra camp. ↟↟↟↟↟↟↟ I've been asked to share a few of my favorite things that are either brought with me on adventures such as this or keep me inspired in my daily life. Take a look at my handpicked items and find out why I consider each essential enough to drag with me all over the world at http://shopcatalog.com/curator/crystal-brindle/ hosted by the curiously unique @shopcatalog 3mon

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crystalann_b Approaching the steep-walled basin of Lake Barra across slopes of snow grass and pineapple scrub. Late afternoon sun lights this scene in the remote and difficult to access MacPherson drainage in Mount Aspiring National Park that we explored last Saturday. Here we are part-way into our 13 hour approach to the lake from the Haast highway sidling beneath MacPherson's Knob. #NewZealand #MountAspiringNP #tramping #exploremore #wild #whatgivesyoulife #wilderness_culture 3mon

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crystalann_b The Way of the Land

I witnessed this sunrise on Sunday morning after a 4:30 am wake-up call from our camp above Lake Barra. We woke to perfectly clear skies and low clouds in the valleys - conditions characteristic of the New Zealand mountains and my personal favorite to photograph. We strapped on crampons and crunched over frozen snow to the west summit of Mount Campbell to watch the sunrise. The Tasman Sea was shrouded in cloud but every mountain in all directions was visible - even as far north as Aoraki/Mount Cook. I precariously positioned my tripod on the snowy summit and surprisingly managed to shoot without dropping anything (or myself) to the abyss below. This view was my favorite - here the high peak of Mount Campbell grabs the light above a frozen Lake Barra (bottom left) and the tall mountains of the Southern Alps dominate the background. My friend Danilo went on to climb this high peak while I descended the snow slopes back to camp with my gear. It was an incredible feeling to be alone in this spot as the light danced on the snow and the landscape awoke. I walked on unbroken snow where no one else outside of our party had trodden save the skilled alpine-dwelling chamois. They ran easily in this high place where I struggled. Just unbelievable! What an experience. #NewZealand #SouthWestland #MountAspiringNP #wilderness_culture #whatgivesyoulife #wild #exploremore
3mon

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crystalann_b The clearest of skies after the hardest of climbs.
This spot is remote, wild, rugged, exceptionally beautiful, and requires quite the commitment to reach. We camped here on Saturday night above the steep-walled and almost impenetrable lake basin of Lake Barra on the slopes of Mount Campbell (pictured in background). I think that sometimes photos have a tendency to belie the difficulty involved in the approach necessary to attain such views. I feel that the struggle to reach such a vantage point only heightens the fulfillment of the experience but this is often lost in the photo. So, to say the least, getting here and getting down was an experience I won't soon forget. The idea to access this untracked valley came from the unstoppable and talented Danilo Hegg. We quite literally dove into the bush at Macpherson's Creek from the road and crawled our way through the forest to bushline, sidled across snow grass, and crossed snow fields to finally reach this spot above the frozen lake after sunset. With little information of the route we had to take the landscape as it came and adjust accordingly. There is nothing like moving in this way - to explore in like fashion with the ways of old and to feel each contour of the land. It must be experienced to be understood! I'm glad to have had the opportunity to experience South Westland in this way. I'm hooked! #whatgivesyoulife #exploremore #adventure #tramping #NewZealand #SouthWestland #MountAspiringNP #camp #wilderness_culture
3mon

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crystalann_b Moonlit magic over the Dart River and the snowy Barrier Range as seen from the riverbank beneath Daley's Flat Hut. **As a dark image it's best to view this with little glare!** This landscape in Mount Aspiring National Park was the conclusion of last weekend's two night/three day backpack, bushwhack, and paddle up the Dart Valley. I joined some seriously committed and skilled fellow outdoor enthusiasts on this mission and was thrown into a few new experiences along the way - always the best strategy for adventure, right? We spent a memorable weekend paddling through the recently formed Dart Lake and stands of beech forest, admiring the brilliant turquoise waters of the McBride Burn, and walking across the desolate landscape of slide debris. Good challenging fun all the way! Looks like fine weather again this weekend - this time we're aiming for the mountains near Haast Pass. Time to get out there! #NewZealand #wild #BarrierRange #DartRiver #tramping #shelterfromthestorm #adventure #exploremore #whatgivesyoulife 3mon

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crystalann_b Mount Christina and the Darran Mountains as seen from Key Summit. Yesterday was an exquisite day to be in Fiordland. After thick morning clouds gave way to brilliant sunshine I drove what has to be one of the most spectacular roads on earth between Te Anau and Milford Sound. Due to changes at the end of last season this was my first visit to this area since 2013. How great it is to see this landscape again - just as mystical and sublime as I remember! Highlights of the day: hearing and watching avalanches roar down the steep walled basin above Lake Marian with snow pouring over waterfalls and photographing a 360 degree sunset panorama of ridiculous mountain grandeur from Key Summit. Yes please! It was too great to capture on camera but here's one view. More angles to follow. #KeySummit #exploremore #Fiordland #whatgivesyoulife #sunset #NewZealand #wild #wilderness_culture 4mon

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crystalann_b New Zealand back roads are my favorite. Here's one of the best found between the settlement of Paradise and the start of the Dart River track. I've returned from an epic few days in Mount Aspiring National Park and am now exploring Fiordland. More to come soon! #Paradise #NewZealand #MtAspiringNP #sunset #whatgivesyoulife #exploremore #backroad 4mon

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crystalann_b Last night I toyed with the idea of running out to Hooker Lake without my camera gear, but, as I approached the car park and saw golden light on Aoraki and wispy clouds above I changed my mind and brought my camera and tripod along. I half jogged, half walked to this spot on the Hooker River and was surprised to find the light totally gone. I set up my camera anyway and watched as the sky grew dark with little color. A few minutes after sunset I began to pack up my things and turned around to discover incredible purple light filling the valley - true alpenglow! I scrambled to get a shot and was mesmerized by the changing hues. I finally left at 8:30 - 20 minutes after sunset with alpenglow still lighting the peaks! It was amazing. Today I drive south to embark on a backpacking and packrafting trip in the Dart Valley - stay tuned! #NewZealand #Aoraki #exploremore #wilderness_culture #whatgivesyoulife #alpenglow #HookerValley 4mon

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