Back in the Desert

Last week, I went for my first desert hike of the cool season — finally. And of course I went back to the Coyote Mountains Wilderness!

I had “bookmarked” some older photos where some spots looked like there could be a little slot canyon or two, and with the help of the 3D view in Gaia GPS I was easily able to simulate the angle of my photos, and place waypoints on the map accordingly that would help me to find them.

Still feeling a certain “inertia” I decided to give myself a late start. I’m clearly out of practice: preparing food, snacks, water, gathering all the camera gear and packing the backpack seemed to take forever! I left mid morning and used the drive out there to catch up with listening to some long-form articles that I had bookmarked.

Towards the end of December, the weather forecast always predicted a good possibility of rain in the area, but when I arrived, everything looked really, really dry. If it had rained there, it must have been very little, and now that it is January already, if there will be additional rain it’s probably going to be too late to give more annuals the chance to germinate and sprout, but we’ll see…

When I arrived, shortly before noon, and looked at the odometer, I couldn’t help but think that I’m in the same spot again, drove a little over 100 miles just to get there, and wondered: “Is this really worth it?”

But as I began to walk, I almost immediately found the Desert Holly against the mud hills worth of a photo (first image, below) — this was a good start. In the canyon and on the mud hills, I came upon a few more plants here and there, including the beautiful Desert Trumpet and the Turtleback, Psathyrotes ramosissima — this was a rather scraggy looking specimen but it was new to me, so I of course had to make a photo!

I paused for my lunch somewhere in the canyon and later, the spots that I had marked did turn out to be slot canyons, one of the two quite enjoyable! (I’m splitting those photos into a separate post.) While exploring the two canyons and their details thoroughly, I did find myself “in the zone” — completely absorbed by the place, the moment, and all its sights and impressions big and small. When I emerged from the second canyon to head back, I thought: “Wow, that was really worth it!” :)

Heading back I increased my pace and managed to get out of the canyon just in time, as the sun was setting, and I’m quite happy with those landscape photos. I probably should have stayed right there longer, but since I didn’t have a headlamp with me and the route back includes a steep rocky section that even with a headlamp would be a bit iffy to traverse in the dark, I chose to use the remaining light to get back to my car. I was still treated to this wonderful light on the landscape, as you can see in the last photo, below. (and the one shown in the previous article, When The Blue Hour Isn’t Blue.)

And now I want to go back for more, of course. :)

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Next: January 2012 Throwback

6 thoughts on “Back in the Desert”

  1. Oh dear, major desert envy happening own environment is nothing to complain about but oh! I would love to touch down into this one for a spell. Beautiful images, Alex. The desert twilight colors are a treat. I love the first one of those photos; the dots of shrubs (not a sage, something else?) and the curving wash, the lovely colors. Lots of room to roam in that photo. What an interesting phenomenon the rock stack is! The Turtleback with its glowing blue leaves, little yellow flowers, and scraggly, spent stems – I love it. Beautiful. The minimalist positioning of the Atriplex is admirable. My favorite is the Desert trumpet – wow, what an effect that is, with the reddish stems, the greenish stems, and the flowers! It’s as if the plant played with its shadow or was wiggling! :-) The colors and shallow DOF are perfect.
    I have to laugh at how organized you are but it paid off – you found slot cantons and got into the zone. I’m far, far less organized, as I think you know, but I have the luxury of retirement so I can afford to be less methodical. Respect!

    • It sounds more organized than this excursion really was, I guess. All I did was place those two waypoints on the map, the rest was more or less playing by ear and being a little bit aware of the time, perhaps. :)

      The shrubs are mostly Mesquite; the defining plant of the Colorado desert (which is a part of the Sonoran desert) if I remember correctly. Thank you, Lynn!


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