Brayden Weeks - How The Grand Tetons Made Me Believe In Hard Work, Rewards, And Nature

Hello! Who are you and where are your hiking roots?

Hey there! My name is Brayden Weeks and I am a travel, adventure, and outdoor commercial photographer based in Twin Falls, Idaho.

I grew up half of my life in Salt Lake City, Utah, which was my first exposure to big mountains and the outdoors since the Wasatch Mountains were right there.

Growing up I did quite a bit of outdoor activities in Boy Scouts, from small camping trips to backpacking in the backcountry. Though being the kid I was, I didn’t particularly enjoy the outdoors as much as I should have.

Now, the outdoors is where I can find solitude, personal growth, spiritual growth, and true creativity.

It wasn’t until I got out of High School and started taking photos that I really started to appreciate the outdoors.

For about two years, I had the opportunity to live a couple hours away from Grand Teton National Park which really elevated my appreciation for being outdoors. After spending many weekends hiking, exploring and photographing these mountains, I was definitely hooked to the outdoor lifestyle.

Now, the outdoors is where I can find solitude, personal growth, spiritual growth, and true creativity.

What’s your Story From The Mountain?

A few years ago when living near the Grand Tetons, my wife Ashlyn, and I did a day hike to Delta Lake, which is right below the The Grand Teton Peak. At this point, I hadn’t done a lot of hiking since I was in Scouts, so it was a challenge nonetheless. This was also one of the first big hikes I had done with my wife which made it all the more memorable.

The gatorade blue glacial lake, the towering mountain peak that all of a sudden seemed so close. It was all so overwhelmingly beautiful.

It was one of those hikes that, at one point, it felt like you should be there by now, and then it’s another turn or uphill climb and that cycle would repeat a few times. But it in those unexpected turns or climbs, came new views to enjoy to compensate for the struggle.

Of course, the struggle is just part of the adventure. This trail remains one of my favorites, as it has many switch backs, leading you higher and higher on the mountain, giving you beautiful views of the valley below. By the time you reach Delta Lake you will have gained elevation of 2,329 ft, and gone half of the 7 and a half mile round trip.

Once we had reached the lake, I remember thinking “man, if all hikes had this rewarding of a view, then I will do the hardest of hikes for them.” It was the first time I had accomplished a hike, and really felt that reward at the end.

The gatorade blue glacial lake, the towering mountain peak that all of a sudden seemed so close. It was all so overwhelmingly beautiful. Ever since that hike, I have become addicted to wild places that feel unique and untouched by the rest of civilization.

Through hiking/climbing, have you learned anything about yourself or nature you’d like to pass on to others?

After spending a lot of time outdoors the last few years, photographing its beauty, and being surrounded by it, I have learned that nature is a place where I can find true serenity and peace.

It might sound cliche, but in nature, there are no distractions, no worries from the outside world. It is a place to ponder about life and and really reflect on yourself and what is important.

Along with finding serenity and peace, I have found that if you need a boost of inspiration for creativity, then nature is also the place to go. For example; now that I live in Twin Falls, Idaho I love to go into the Snake River Canyon and watch a sunrise or sunset, as it helps start or end my day with a clear mind and soul. 

I have come to realize that our world is literally built up of creative laws. What I mean by that is, there are so many colors out there, from trees to animals. So many patterns and repetition, throughout nature.

Mother Nature is the best artist there is, and she is the place where I can find my creativity again. Long story short, whether it is inspiration, peace and quiet, or even just looking to just have time to yourself, nature is a great place to start for all of those things, and is the lesson I would like others to learn for themselves. 

What’s your favorite item in your pack?

I know this item technically isn’t a hiking item, but I wouldn’t be a photographer if I didn’t say this haha - My favorite item in my pack is definitely my camera which is a Sony a7Riii, with my lens setup consisting of the 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/4, and 70-200mm f/4.

Mother Nature is the best artist there is, and she is the place where I can find my creativity again.

I do believe in putting the camera down every once in a while so it won’t be a distraction, but I am also one who loves to live through the lens when possible. To me, taking photos or making a video of your hikes and other outdoor experiences is just away way to capture the memories you make.

There is just something about capturing the beautiful memories you make and being able to share those experiences with others and see their excitement and awe, and hopefully inspire them to get out and make similar memories themselves.

Do you have any advice for other hikers who are just starting out?

For people who are just starting to hike, I do suggest starting on easier trails, to build up to the bigger ones. It is just like running a marathon - you don’t just go and run the marathon with no prior running experience. You learn to run one mile at a time and build up to the marathon over time. 

I never realized how much endurance hiking takes. It is definitely something you want to stay healthy for. That includes being in shape, eating the right foods, getting enough rest, etc.

I also would advise to beginner hikers, to be present in the moments. I am not a big fan of playing music when hiking, or listening to anything else for that matter. I believe that when hiking, you should be enjoying the scenery around you, being open to what it can teach you or how it can make you grow as a person.

Even if you are hiking with someone else; make sure you are present with them and growing together. 

What have been the most influential hiking books, podcasts, or people?

Oh man, there are so many people that inspire me to get out hiking. To name just a few, though, would be fellow photographers: Chris Burkard, Keith Ladzinski, Cory Richards, Paul Zizka, and Nate Luebbe.

I don’t listen to many podcasts, but the one that I absolutely love is The Stokecast. A few different books that I inspire me to get out would be “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, “Alone on the Wall” by Alex Honnold, “The Ice at the End of the World” by Jon Gertner, and “The Grand Canyon” by Pete McBride.

Where’s your next adventure?

As of right now, I am still planning my adventures for this year. But hopefully my next adventure will be in the Canadian Rockies before the winter is over. It is a place that I have seen in many photos, videos, blogs, etc, and it looks like such a wild place.

I would love to explore this area in the winter and see what kind of winter wonderland this mountain range can be, especially in Banff and Jasper National Parks. So if anyone has any recommendations, I am definitely open to them!

I also have recently taken up rock climbing, and would love to do more climbs this summer wherever that may be. I would also love to do some big mountain climbs one day, as I still haven’t done a lot of mountaineering.

Where can others learn more about you?

I would love to connect with others through my social channels on Instagram and Twitter (@brayden_weeks). I also have my website where others can learn about my work, come collaborate with me, or even just come say hi.

Other than those places, they can catch me on the trail wherever a good trail can be found!

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Hey, I'm Greg Kamradt, the founder of Terra Mano.

We interview awesome hikers/mountaineers/climbers/photographers and share the stories behind their ambition. By sharing these stories, we want to help others become inspired to reach their goals.

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