I started this trip with the natural elements behind each Wolven Threads design at the forefront of my mind as before leaving Santa Barbara, I spoke with Kiran about the intent behind each graphic and its link to either the Fire, Earth, Water or Wind element.
As the days unfolded, and I thought about writing this article, the power and meaning behind each element began to sculpt my perception of reality. I realized how each force plays a key component in maintaining the balance of life on Earth, and how most of the time, I operate life without directly recognizing or appreciating the strength of these elements.
In an extreme turn of events, I was almost immediately thrown into facing the force of the first element head on.
As with any road trip, the excitement that ensues upon hitting the road is overwhelming. There’s an immediate sense of freedom that begins to permeate the soul and the very act of living without boundaries for a designated period of time seems to inspire beyond belief. I was experiencing these emotions at full force, mere hours into our trip when I received a phone call from my housemate back in Santa Barbara. I answered the call through the speakers of my car and she immediately began to inform me that a fast-moving fire broke out in our neighborhood. Our home was in a mandatory evacuation zone, the hills visible from our front porch were in flames and with 45mph winds pushing the fire through the neighborhood the community was scrambling to pack up their belongings and evacuate.
Hearing these words and existing physically removed from the situation sent me into shock. With all the devastating fires the past year, and the number of friends I’ve known to lose their homes, I began to confront the very real possibility that the belongings I had packed for my trip would be my only material possessions from that moment forward. I found myself entering a complex emotional state where I felt concerned for the safety of my neighborhood, yet aware that the situation was beyond my control and the only thing to do in the meantime was think positive thoughts and trust in the universe.
That night I slept very little, and as I tossed and turned in bed, I thought a lot about how life can drastically change in a split second. I reminded myself that even in the worst case scenario, I would always have myself to depend on for strength and that everything I could potentially lose was just a material possession and nowhere near as important as the safety and health of my friends and family.
The next morning I learned that 20 structures had burned in what had been labeled the Holiday Fire. Thankfully my home was among those the firefighters were able to protect and seventy-two hours into our trip I learned the fire was completely contained.
Naturally, this entire experience resulted in immense gratitude and made me understand at an even deeper level the force of fire. When we shot these photos at Red Cliffs National Preserve in Southern Utah, I had just come out on the other side of worrying about the fire and I’d realized the experience gifted me the perspective to look at life in a humble new way. That day, fire taught me to foster more gratitude in life and acknowledge the lessons present in even the most stressful of situations.
After traveling through the desert of Arizona and Utah, we were astonished to discover majestic snowy peaks and fields of wildflowers upon entering Victor, Idaho. Our main destination in this area was the Grand Tetons National Park, but after connecting with some local friends we decided to start our first day in the area with a hike in the mountains near Grand Targhee Resort.
This hike was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever experienced. We started at the base of the mountain at the resort and slowly made our way up in elevation, surrounded by wildflowers and trees for the first half of the hike until we reached a switchback that took us along the mountain ridge overlooking a vast valley with the towering Teton range in the distance.
Those moments were a breathtaking example of the ever-present beauty in Earth and after grappling with the devastation of fire, it was a comforting reminder of rebirth through seasons and the ability the Earth holds to heal itself.
When I look at these photos I can still remember the crisp mountain air and soft breeze rustling through bushels of yellow blossoms. It makes me feel at peace and grounded at the moment, two emotions that the Earth nearly always seems to inspire within me.
The Wavy Dress is a showstopper, even during a sunset on the water.
After days of making our way towards the Grand Tetons National Park, we finally found ourselves looking up at towering blue mountains. One of my favorite things about this National Park is how much water surrounds many of the viewpoints. On a calm day, with ideal lighting, the mountain range is perfectly reflected in the lake and rivers. This was not the case during our time in the park, but I was enamored to discover that instead of mountain reflections, the water emits a mystical sparkle from the late afternoon sun. To make things even more magical, moments before we started shooting Vanessa and I saw a bear cross the river in the distance! It was my first time seeing a bear in the wild and I could not believe how majestic it looked against the mountain backdrop and sparkling river.
While the stereotypical metaphor of water indicates to go with the flow of life and take the path of least resistance, I feel as though water can teach us even more about perception. It’s the only element that has a reflection, and because of that, it mirrors our world in a different light. It serves as a reminder that there’s always at least two ways to see a situation and those perceptions exist in reality simultaneously. I find this fascinating because it reminds me that every human perceives the world in a different way, through their own reflection of socialized norms, cultural ideologies etc. Understanding this, and realizing the way you perceive the world isn’t the only truth, is so important towards learning from others and practicing compassion.
As I sat at the edge of the river, I thought about this and how my perception of the world is merely a reflection of my internal dialogue, expectations and learned behavior. I thought about my journey to the Tetons and how each obstacle only pushed me to learn more about myself and further my understanding of life. At that moment, looking out on the glimmering water, as I imagined a lone bear making its way further into the forest, I felt so deeply appreciate of life and the gift we all hold to learn from, and grow with, one another.
The Light Warrior Cami paired with the Bali Gold Bell Bottoms.
Our journey back to California was a quick one, having pushed our schedule back a bit in order to spend as much time as possible in Idaho and Wyoming. Because of this, we spent little time documenting our journey home and instead drove long hours with little rest stops back towards Vanessa’s home in Northern California. From there, I made my way south solo and upon returning home I felt as though I needed to venture into the mountains and truly appreciate the natural beauty of my hometown.
A couple of days after returning home, I drove down the street, past the devastation of the Holiday Fire and up into the mountains off of Hwy 154 to the wind eroded sandstone rocks of Lizard’s Mouth. There, I set up my tripod and let my natural surroundings and the element of wind inspire these photos.
I wanted to end my road trip journal and photo story for Wolven Threads in Santa Barbara as it seemed appropriate considering the intense way my journey unfolded during the first day of our trip. The rate the fire moved through the neighborhood certainly was due to the strong winds that night and it was luckily contained rather quickly due to the lack of wind in the following days. In a strange symbolic way, it seemed my trip had come full circle and while I had only been traveling for a week, I felt like lifetimes passed me by in the process.
Perhaps the most important thing I learned, is to experience each moment in the present and in the face of stress or disaster, remember always, even the worst case scenario presents an opportunity to grow.
About the author, Corina Brown
Corina shares her personal fashion sense and helps support other artists and designers on her blog Wild and Free Jewelry. Since 2012, the Wild & Free Blog has worked in collaboration with bohemian jewelry and fashion labels, networking the realms of Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, in an effort to bring exposure to other designers who wish to share their artistic vision with the world. With her love for design and photography, Corina hopes to shed light on a new side of fashion and inspire others to follow their hearts and dreams. ♡