Summit for Someone: Appalachian Photography with Steven Reinhold

Summit for Someone has “summit” in the name – but not every Summit for Someone adventure fundraiser is a mountaineering trip. The Appalachian Mountains Photography Workshop is actually a backpacking trip and photography workshop in one!

“Focused on Photography” runs June 5th-8th in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest. Team members will hike about 25 miles over four days, learning photography skills along the way. This trip is appropriate for beginners and advanced outdoorsfolk and photographers alike!

We sat down with Steven Reinhold, your Focused on Photography guide partner. Listen in to learn more about the trip, the Appalachians, and what he feels is unique about the Summit for Someone program. Or, read the transcript below.


Hello, everyone!  We are super excited today to have with us Steven Reinhold, who is going to be running our “Focused on Adventure” Appalachian Mountains Photography Summit for Someone trip this summer. Thank you so much for joining us, Steven!

Yeah, my pleasure! Good to talk with everyone.

So tell us a little bit about your history with Big City Mountaineers.

Oh, I’ve been involved with Big City Mountaineers for almost ten years now. My first Summit for Someone climbs was one of the Backpacker Magazine climbs of Mt. Whitney, and I was– I was immediately hooked with the process. Y’know, I had just a great climb, had a good, fun time with the fundraising process.

From then, I started doing about one Summit for Someone climb every summer. And after a little while, I reached what was my goal – I called it the– my Seven Summits. So I had completed seven Summit for Someone climbs, and from then I kinda– I was wondering what was next, and then decided to use my adventure company that I run to start up a photography workshop to kinda broaden the horizons for Summit for Someone.

Awesome! Thank you so much for getting and staying involved with Big City Mountaineers in that time.
You started a guide company; what are– what are some of your favorite things about leading people on mountain adventures?

Well, my favorite thing is seeing people’s faces when they, y’know, get outside. Particularly when it’s somebody that doesn’t get outside a lot – Big City Mountaineers kids, or– or people that I’m guiding.

Y’know, you guys call it “Access for Awe,” and I love that phrase. Because there’s a specific moment that you see that on somebody’s face when they’re outside, particularly for the first time, and they get that access to awe. Y’know, awe-inspiring moments, and for me, that’s my favorite thing about leading people outside.

Yeah, it’s a really beautiful moment when you can see that on somebody’s face.
So the Appalachians are your home mountains, is that correct?

Yes! Yes. Born here, raised here, and I love ’em, for sure. I travel a lot, but this is definitely my home base. I’m close to Asheville, North Carolina, and the Great Smoky Mountains.

What draws you to the Appalachians? What’s so magical about them for you?

Well, I love the mountains; they’re beautiful. Y’know, pretty much a rainforest around here.

Then also, the people around here are wonderful. I’ve got a lot of family, and I just enjoy people’s company around this area.

So what’s something your average person might not know about the Appalachians? 

Well I kind of touched on it there before, but particularly in the Great Smoky Mountains – the taller mountains, the ridgelines are considered temperate rainforest. They get enough rain every year to be in that classification. So we get some really neat, neat forestry and plant life around here which just makes the Appalachians really, really pretty.

I did not know that, thank you so much for sharing that!


So let’s shift a little more to talking about the Summit for Someone trip. What does the Appalachian Photography trip entail?

So our trip, as opposed to– Y’know, a typical Summit for Someone climb would be considered more of a mountaineering event. The Photography workshop will be more of a backpacking event. We will be on the Appalachian Trail for roughly 25 miles – three nights, four days. And along that timeframe, we’ll be going over how to take outdoor photography, how to use your camera, how to take, y’know, specifically, camp shots, astral photography, things of that nature.

So as opposed to having to climb a mountain to do your fundraising, you get to go on a backpacking trip and learn to use your camera.

Do you have to already have some experience with a camera in order to get something out of this trip? 

No, no, not at all. Y’know, we suggest bringing a digital camera. [We’re] teaching, y’know the basic principles of photography, we’ll start out with that, make sure everyone’s on the same page. And in particular, we’re going to, y’know, go over those principles in relation to outdoor or adventure photography.

And then we’ll also go into covering the more professional level of photography as well. Very welcome to anybody that willing to get out there and fundraise for Big City Mountaineers and sign up. We’re looking forward to hosting them.

Awesome. So what are some highlights and challenges that participants might encounter on this trip?

Well, I mean I think—what I was saying there, the highlight and the challenge would be doing 25 miles on the Appalachian Trail. So it’ll be a backpacking trip with a photography portion mixed in. We’ll be doing some decent-mile days, y’know, seven to eight miles a day, with a lot of elevation gain, carrying our own packs.

So yeah, you know, a full-on backpacking trip. That’s the highlight and the challenge.

Yeah, for sure! Do you have a favorite moment from last year’s trip that you’d like to share with us?

Again, I kind of touched on this earlier – my favorite moment of that trip was just having that trip in general. The moment that it actually started.

Because, like I said, I’d done a lot of stuff over the years and participated—at that point, I’d done eight Summit for Someone events. And y’know, I was kind of trying to figure out a way that I could keep participating in Summit for Someone. I live in a small town, I don’t have access to too many donors or sponsors.

I went through eight climbs, just thinking of how can I, y’know, give back to Big City Mountaineers in a better manner. And decided to host that photography workshop, and then that would span the, y’know, demographic of Summit for Someone climbers. And last year was just—y’know, we had a full house, and it was just a neat moment.

Awesome. Thank you for sharing! Do you think that there’s anything sort of special or different about leading a group of fundraisers rather than leading a more typical group?  

For sure, for sure. It seems to be more of a cohesive group. Everybody’s gone through the rigors of fundraising, and a lot of times, y’know, when you’ve already got that fundraising goal and then you get to go on this trip, you feel like it’s more of a victory lap, so to speak. And then obviously, there’s the good vibes that you get from helping contribute to Big City Mountaineers’ cause, so that’s a bonus for everyone involved.

But it just seems like—every Summit for Someone event I’ve been on has just been a wonderful experience. I’ve maintained contact with lots of people that I’ve met through those years, and… yeah. There’s just nothing like a Summit for Someone event. They’re pretty special.

Absolutely. Thank you so much for doing this. Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you think that prospective team members should know before signing up for this trip?

Well yeah, for sure! So the stretch of Appalachian Trail that we’re going on is a pretty famous section. It’s called the Roan Highlands, and it has the world’s largest natural rhododendron garden on it. So we’ll have rhododendron gardens and what we call mountaintop balds, which are like grassy, kind of treeless mountaintops.

So that section that we’re going on, we planned this trip hopefully around the time that those flowers will be in bloom. So hopefully, we’re gonna get a special show and some good things to take some pictures of, for sure.

Yeah! That sounds super beautiful.

Yeah, it’s pretty neat. A lot of people come from far and wide to do it, so. Pretty special occasion.

Absolutely. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Well just, that, y’know, anybody who’s thinking of signing up, I’d highly encourage you to. A Summit for Someone event. They’re really cool, a great growth opportunity, and this one is good ‘cause it gives you a neat chance to be able to capture your adventures and record those memories in the future by learning how to—learning photography as you go backpacking.

Awesome. Well thank you so, so much for talking with us today, Steven. We really appreciate it!

My pleasure, my pleasure. See you guys soon! [Laughs]

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