Silk Ridges: Algodones Dunes under Monsoon Skies

These three more abstract and minimal photos are the first from a second outing to Algodones Dunes.

Last weekend, a monsoon system from the southeast moved over the Imperial and San Diego counties. Pouring rain and thunderstorms reached even the coastal regions of Southern California, which is somewhat unusual. On such days with unusual or extreme weather, I like to be out with the camera, and we began the day in the back country with a visit to my favorite Cottonwood tree, before continuing up to Julian and Laguna Mountains.

The closed cloud cover over the entire region and all the way to the east was amazing. The idea of seeing and photographing the wonderful, smooth shapes of the Imperial Sand Dunes against storm-torn clouds was irresistible. We continued east and arrived in the late afternoon. The temperature was surprisingly low at the dunes (84F/29C) and while the humidity was relatively high, there was no stopping – I just had to wander into the dunes.

To be up close with these amazing shapes, forms and patterns was absolutely fantastic. The sand was warm and in places so soft that I sank in up to my calves, in other spots it was hard and I didn’t sink in at all. Three more cars pulled up around sunset but for most of the time we were entirely alone. Algodones Dunes is the largest dune ecosystem in the entire United States, spanning a length of 40 miles/64 km). The feeling of being alone in this vastness is hard to describe. Humbling. Freeing. An experience all by itself. The photos are a mere side product of it, and I hope they can transport a little bit of this experience to you.

More to come!

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