Andrew Bronson Barna was raised in the Bay Area of California. He has a passion for athletics and played many sports throughout high school while excelling in academics.
Barna passes his free time with extreme sports like snowboarding and dirt biking or more laid-back activities such as fishing and reading. He has always succeeded in academics and received an academic scholarship, which he used toward earning his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arizona.
Andrew Bronson Barna has received numerous awards for academics and athletics. He continues to play sports and pursue his passion for learning. Currently, Barna has taken up the hobby of photography. He spends many hours per week hiking the trails of Arizona, California, and beyond in search of epic photos.
Even more, Andrew enjoys helping those in need. He has volunteered for the city of Gilroy, California, serving food to elderly individuals at the senior center. He has also helped the city of Gilroy’s mentally disabled program. Barna further contributes to many Humane Societies around the world.
What is your hobby?
I have many hobbies, most of which revolve around sports or academics. Right now, I’m really into hiking and taking photos while I hike. Hiking is a hobby that is great for physical and mental health. It combines exercise with time spent in nature, admiring the scenery, wildlife, and more. Taking photos while hiking is fun and challenging, as I’m continuously advancing my skills as a photographer. I’m grateful for the hobby of photography, which allows me to continue learning outside school. I am always admiring photos taken by other photographers and learning from their successes and failures.
How did you get started with this hobby?
I have always been into athletics, so hiking kind of came naturally to me. I have lived in California and attended school in Arizona, and both states offer scenic places to hike and snap photos.
Playing sports introduced me to the importance of physical exercise at an early age. I’m sure my hobbies will always revolve around exercise in some way.
I’ve always enjoyed viewing nature and wildlife photography. I knew this was a hobby that would be fulfilling because I can share my photos with family and friends and even turn them into art for my home.
Tell us what you love about your hobby.
There are so many things I love about hiking. I can’t think of a better feeling than standing on a mountain peak and taking in the breathtaking views. I love that the reward of an incredible vista is always waiting at the top.
I also love to get a good workout, and hiking provides that. I am taking photos while hiking gives me an added purpose and is mentally stimulating. I’m never bored when hiking with my camera in the mountains because the natural scenery is forever changing.
What types of things/equipment have you spent money on for your hobby?
I enjoy hiking in all weather conditions, so I have spent a good deal of money on purchasing proper hiking equipment for all seasons. It’s important to stay cool during hot summer days hiking in California, so I spend money on breathable, moisture-wicking clothing.
It’s equally as essential to staying comfortable and warm in winter. Quality gear can get you out on the trails more often and for longer amounts of time. The more I get into hiking, the more gear I acquire.
I have purchased a lot of gear for hiking, including quality hiking boots, numerous jackets, hiking gloves, hiking pants, reusable water bottles, hiking poles, and a lot of other gear. My compass and map are essential to not getting lost in dangerous parts of the woods.
I usually hike with my camera, so I’ve purchased that kind of gear as well. I have a portable charger, a quality camera, various lenses, and a quality case to carry it. These items can be heavy, so it’s important to have a supportive and durable pack as well.
What are some of your favorite places to shop for your hobby?
I have always loved all the major outdoor companies and stores. I support Patagonia as often as possible for their efforts in creating sustainable products that are incredibly durable and benefit the environment.
I also can never resist stopping into Dick’s Sporting Goods or REI when I see they’re located nearby. These stores offer everything you need for an outdoor adventure in a single destination. Just going inside REI inspires me to plan another hiking, camping, or photography adventure.
How much money have you invested into this? How much would a beginner have to invest to get started?
I’d say I’ve invested about $500 in my hiking equipment. That’s mostly because I enjoy having top-quality gear. I often purchase new gear and gift my older items to goodwill or friends and family getting started in hiking.
However, I think a beginner could get started with as little as $50 to $100. The most important item to have is a quality pair of hiking shoes. A sturdy pair can prevent injuries, especially when hiking on slippery rocks like those in coastal California.
A beginner can always use the athletic clothing he or she already has. However, those who are planning grand adventures may want to spend more to get started. It’s important to have a quality water source (water bottle or hydration pack), a supportive backpack for supplies, and quality clothing that can be layered. The outdoor temperature can change drastically from the bottom of the mountain to the top, and being unprepared is dangerous.
A beginner should never venture into the woods or onto unknown trails alone. Hiking with others is ideal, and at least one member of the party should have a compass, maps, or local trail knowledge.
Are there any good books for beginners?
There are so many incredible books written about the beauty of hiking, camping, and photography.
A Story Worth Living by John Eldredge is one of my favorites. It’s about a group of friends who share the adventure of a 1,000-mile-long ride on BMW F800GS adventure motorcycles. It is a true story that is so epic it’s difficult to believe. A Story Worth Living inspires me to continue adventuring as long as I live.
The Bucket List: 100 Adventures Big & Small by Kath Stathers is another one of my all-time favorites. This book includes 1,000 adventures meant to inspire trekkers of all ages and abilities. It’s a coffee table book I come back to again and again when I need the motivation to get out and explore.
I believe The Bucket List can motivate far more than trekkers as well. It includes numerous travel adventures, including cultural experience, adventure travel, monuments, natural wonders, and unique culinary experiences.
Another major draw of The Bucket List for me is that it includes more than 300 incredible photos. Just browsing through the pictures inspires me to grab my camera and go exploring, whether near or far.
Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah is another book that captivates me no matter how many times I read it. It’s packed with nature and also includes mystery, suspense, sadness, romance, and all the elements of an enthralling story. The characters inspire me to continue pursuing my goals no matter what challenges life throws at me.
Where the Forest Meets the Stars also reminds me how books can transport you around the globe and into the lives of others. It’s proof that we don’t always need our smartphones to remain entertained.
I think any of these books can be used to inspire beginner trekkers to head out into the woods and experience all of the magic the Forest and mountains have to offer.
Are there any online videos you recommend to help beginners?
A Story Worth Living has now been made into a film, so I highly suggest seeing that if you don’t have time to read the book. I prefer the paperback copy, but the movie will definitely inspire adventurers to get off the couch and get out there.
I also enjoy browsing YouTube for hiking and photography knowledge. Hiking 101 for Beginners on YouTube is a must-see for anyone who wants to get into the sport.
This video teaches proper hiking techniques, how to build the best campfires, day hike preparation, and so much more. It’s an excellent resource for preparing for your first hikes.
How has your hobby changed your life?
My hobbies of photography and hiking have changed my health in many ways, mentally and physically. I think hiking is excellent for mental health, as it removes you from the stresses of everyday life for as long as you’re in the woods or on the mountain. We all need certain times when we can just disconnect and enjoy our surroundings.
Physically, hiking is demanding, and every time you head onto the trail you’re pushing yourself to become better. I think that everyone can benefit from that type of physical exercise and motivation.
Hiking has also changed my life by bringing photography into it. I’m always working to advance my photography skills, and seeing the improvements I’ve made inspires me to keep doing more.
I’m grateful to the sport of hiking and the hobby of photography for giving me something productive to do in my spare time. They’re both physically and creatively challenging, and I love that I’m able to enjoy them both a short distance from my home.
What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?
I encourage those who are just starting to hike to refrain from becoming discouraged. It’s essential to start with easy trails and work your way up to more challenging summits. You don’t have to be the best hiker; you just have to enjoy the process.
Additionally, I suggest purchasing quality hiking shoes. They have a major effect on keeping you safe in the woods. Hiking poles can also relieve strain from the muscles and joints while providing stability. They’re especially important for those who are getting into hiking later in life and may not be in the best physical condition.
A beginner should always carry a compass and maps of the hiking area. Smartphones don’t always work in the wilderness, so you may have to rely on more primitive methods to find your way home. These tools can be the difference between life and death.
I recommend that all beginner hikers start by joining a club or gathering with a group of other hikers. There’s no better way to learn the ins and outs of the sport than from those who have more experience than yourself.
Individuals who want to get into photography should consider taking a course from a local university. This can help surpass many of the challenges those who teach themselves face. YouTube also offers an abundance of valuable photography courses.