Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Inside The Blue Line

Sunset from Armstrong, from Bob Marcellus' book Inside The Blue Line.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

I have a lot of friends who are hikers and even 46ers, but Bob Marcellus is in a different category altogether. A self-described “hiking machine,” Bob has polished off three rounds of the 46 in the last 5 years. Bob’s latest project is a self-published book, Inside The Blue Line, in which he shares 156 of the images he’s captured while hiking in the High Peaks and elsewhere in the Adirondacks.

Jeff: I’ve known you as a telemark skier for more than 20 years, Bob. When did you get into hiking?

Bob: I first hiked in the Adirondacks as a kid with my Dad, and his stories of climbing the Trap Dike in the 1950s have stayed with me ever since those first early hikes. As an adult, my choices took me in other directions, such as skiing and cycling, and hiking trips to the mountains were few and far between. The spark was re-ignited during the winter of 2007. A friend had climbed Cascade, and told me she was thinking about doing some more peaks solo. I told her I didn’t think hiking alone was a good idea, and offered to go with her.

Jeff: What motivated you to go after all 46 of the High Peaks?

Bob: At first, I had no specific designs on the 46 even though I knew what it was. Our first hike was April 29, 2007, and by mid-June I was a Motivated Hiking Machine. Passionate would be an understatement. By early July I had completed about half of the 46 peaks, mostly by stringing two, three, four, or even five peaks together in some very long days. It was around that time that I started to see the reality of actually completing all 46 peaks. Ironically, my friend went on to pursue other activities after about 10 peaks, and from then on I climbed mostly solo.

Buttermilk Falls

Jeff: How long did it take to finish your first round of the 46?

Bob: My first climb was Algonquin on April 29, 2007, and I finished on Sawteeth less than 5 months later, on September 23, 2007. Now that is a pretty tall climbing schedule, but certainly not a speed record. I'm not a fast hiker, just persistent. I truly love walking in the woods.

Jeff: Obviously you didn’t stop hiking once you finished the 46. What came next?

Bob: Like a lot of 46ers, I started going back to the peaks that I liked best. There were quite a few of those. Since then I’ve finished another summer round and also a winter round. The Winter 46 were a challenge that I’m really proud of. To give you an idea of how few climbers complete the 46 in winter, my summer climber’s number is 6169, but my Winter 46er number is 472.

Morning clouds on Giant

Jeff: I know this isn’t a fair question, but do you have a favorite peak?

Bob: There always seems to be some magic on Skylight when I am there, but there’s peace and beauty to be found on every peak. If you climb to a summit and don't think it's so special, go back another time and you just might be amazed. Any time that I can climb to a summit and look around, it makes me so grateful to live so close to so much beauty.

Jeff: Any plans beyond the Adirondacks?

Bob: I’ve hiked quite a bit in Vermont, and the White Mountains are on my to-do list. A few years ago I climbed to 13,500 feet on Mount Rainier, and I hope to get another chance at that summit sometime. I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to hike and explore and photograph what I see. My goal with photography is to share what I see, and hopefully what I feel. That’s the inspiration behind my book, Inside The Blue Line.

Jeff: Tell me more about Inside The Blue Line.

Bob: My goal for the book is to inspire others to walk where I have walked. I have more than ten thousand images that I’ve taken, and the book allows me to share those images with as many people as possible. I was able to set up the book exactly as I wanted, with my own personal message, and then send it to the publisher to be printed exactly as I wanted. Inside The Blue Line is just a small glimpse of what I have seen in my travels, and is an extension of who I am.

Jeff: Can you describe the process you went through to publish your book?

Bob: I chose to compile and process Inside The Blue Line entirely myself, using Photoshop Lightroom. Even though I did almost no photo correction, I did adjust for the brightness you see on a computer monitor that does not translate so well to the printed page. Cropping, photo size, and position on the page were all aspects that I had complete control of. It takes quite a lot of time to get things the way you like and I am glad I took my time doing it. The book was published by Blurb, and the first copies rolled off the press less than a month ago.

East Branch of the Ausable River, near Beaver Meadow Falls

Jeff: Congratulations on the book, Bob. Is it available locally?

Bob: It is being sold at Fountain Square Outfitters in Glens Falls. You can also get the book directly through the publisher’s website, or by emailing me at adkbobmarcellus@gmail.com.

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