Avante Guard Photographer Anne Brigman
The California photographer, poet and mountaineer Anne Brigman broke boundaries by any era’s standards. Nearly a century before the memoirist Cheryl Strayed (“Wild”) laced up her hiking boots and took a walk on the wild side in the Sierra Nevada mountain range — a precursor to millennials’ obsession with forest bathing — Brigman was going on expeditions deep into its Desolation Valley and Donner Summit around Lake Tahoe. Never mind these were inhospitable areas ridden with predators and imposing, hellish granite outcrops.
Residing most of her life in Oakland, Calif., she typically arrived to Sacramento by stagecoach and set out on foot without the luxury of the trails and maps hikers have today. The occasional guides who set up her campsites were bewildered by her choice of terrain, barely explored by the nascent Sierra Club.
“Fear is the great chain which binds women and prevents their development, and fear is the one apparently big thing which has no foundation in life,” she told The San Francisco Call in 1913.
From “In the Sierra Nevadas, Baring Body and Soul,” by Rebecca Kleinman for the New York Times; Photo by Brigman; Portrait of Brigman by Louis Fleckenstein, circa 1934
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