My love of photography began early with my grandfather, Melvin Lockhart. One of my favorite childhood memories was watching his slideshows of family vacations. No trip to my grandparent's house in Bartonville, Illinois was complete without one. Grandpa would ask, “Where do you want to go?” and then proceed to locate the reel and set up the projector. Now to most people family slide shows are boring -- but his photos were masterpieces to me. He was proud of his shots and told the stories of each trip as if it were the first time. He would also point out and explain to me the things he did well (or not so well) with each slide. Although I didn't know it at the time, he was teaching me how to look at the world -- How to frame it and to tell its stories. I always kidded him that he never took pictures on cloudy days. His pictures were always bright and sunny -- which was perfectly reflected his nature. He was always curious, and even into his 90s, he took his camera everywhere he went.

Born and raised in Morris, Illinois, a small city seventy miles southwest of Chicago, my landscape growing up consisted mostly of farmland and prairie grass. After high school, I attended Eastern Illinois University and earned a degree in Finance. From there, I went to law school and received by Juris Doctorate at Northern Illinois University. I returned to my hometown and the family law practice where my oldest brother and I were following in the footsteps of our father and grandfather. But I was restless and unfulfilled -- and thus began a long search. I eventually felt called to seminary, not the usual career path after law school! My minister recommended I check out Emmanuel Christian Seminary in East Tennessee. I had never set foot in Tennessee – didn’t know a single person there, but liked the idea of living and studying in the mountains. After much soul searching, I headed for the hills of Tennessee and began a new adventure. While I never did complete seminary, I did find a way to integrate my faith and my legal background and my love of photography at Milligan College, where, in addition to teaching Digital Photography, I taught courses in business ethics, business law and various other legal studies courses.

When I arrived there in 1995, I was awed by my beautiful new surroundings. I was absolutely taken with the region, its people, its culture, its history and, of course, its mountains. Exploring the beautiful places there became a passion of mine. But back then the Internet was in its infancy and information about hikes and waterfalls was sketchy at best. You either had to go to the forest service to get descriptions (which weren’t always easy for newcomers to follow) or find a local who’d show you the way. It became my passion to point visitors in the right direction and to showcase all the wonderful destinations I discovered on my blog Appalachian Treks. I especially enjoyed sharing my findings with those who’ve lived in that area all their lives, but never really explored the region’s natural treasures.

Starting in 2012, Colorado became a frequent destination for me. I had been to the Centennial State twice before, once in high school and again after law school -- both times visiting Rocky Mountain National Park and the Maroon Bells. Coming from Appalachia, I was in awe of Rocky Mountains -- so majestic and mammoth. I fell in love with the area and made it my mission to find work and move here, which I did in 2017. Wanting to have a place to share my discoveries (and my photos), I created this blog as a way of documenting my journeys and (hopefully) helping others to discover the wonderful Colorado communities and all the beautiful places I've visited for themselves.

My grandfather taught me that photography is storytelling. It's capturing and then sharing life’s journey and its beauty with others. My hope is that those who live in or visit the the Southern Appalachians and the Colorado Rockies will be encouraged by my photography to step out and explore, to look a bit closer, experience the wonders of nature, and to then share what they find with others.

Thanks for visiting my blog and happy trails!

Mark W. Peacock
Cañon City, CO

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