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Once in a blue moon


Sometimes, things just don’t work out. Try hard we might, the complex physics of nature are simply out of our control. Armed with this powerful and pragmatic mindset, two disparate groups met on a whim and came together to shoot for the moon. This is the story of their successes and failures—and perceptions of both—in attempting an astronomical feat.

In August 2020, photographers Jesse Thornton and David Johnston were shooting the Perseids meteor shower at Seneca Rocks. The next morning, Thornton was exploring the base of the famous formation when something caught his eye: a line spanning the void of the iconic Gunsight Notch that was anchored on Seneca’s north and south summits. He watched a group pull the line taut on both sides and, to his astonishment, start walking back and forth. “I had never seen anything like this before,” Thornton said. “In my mind they were tightrope walkers, but I had no idea what I was looking at.”

Thornton drove to a better vantage point and spent a mesmerizing hour shooting photos and video of the walkers precariously perched on the highline. He posted the images and footage on his Facebook photography page, prompting friend and fellow photog Perry Bennett to encourage him to find out who these wild walkers were. Through some social media sleuthing, Thornton discovered the balancing act was performed by members of the Steel City Slackers, a slacklining group based in Pittsburgh.

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