The Desert is Still There

It’s not entirely unexpected of course but, the desert is still there. And I know this because I checked when I went, on Monday. Finally! I chose to explore some side canyons of Canyon Sin Nombre a little bit in the afternoon, quite leisurely and without much ambition for serious hiking.

Before my short hike though, I went to see if I could find Funastrum utahense, one of the few remaining milkweeds in San Diego County that I haven’t photographed yet. I did find it, and at a very accessible spot too – right at the shoulder of County Highway S2. This will make it easy to return once it has flowers. I saw some new growth and some dry & empty seed pods so hopefully, I’ll be able to photograph the plant’s flowers on one of the next trips. :)

At Canyon Sin Nombre, I didn’t hike down into the canyon itself but instead, chose the hill and ridge just north of it. A lot of pale beige and completely dry Arizona Lupine “skeletons” were up there – it must have been a wonderful bloom in spring. I doubt it will be like this next year but from what I saw, the early November storm must have delivered some beneficial rain to the area because I did see some fresh plant growth:

Once more, I’m simply astonished what a little bit of rain can do. The desert is full of life – just add water! :)

After hiking along the edge of the canyon I turned north, and unexpectedly found a summit register on a lesser hill. The register named this “Pico de Canyon Sin Nombre” and I found it quite amusing because it was quite a bit lower than the surrounding hills. ;) From there, I found a way down into the side canyon that I wanted to walk.

The desert canyons are always quite rewarding, especially the narrower and smaller ones – in the winter months, the low sun doesn’t have so much impact there, allowing whatever little precipitation makes its way there to work its wonders. And that was the case in this canyon as well, as you can see in the plant photos, above.

For sunset, I decided to return to the hill with the dried lupines. It didn’t seem like the overcast skies would show much color for quite a while, but then a faint pink appeared, and steadily intensified. It was quite nice to watch, but the foreground with the dry lupines was so messy that I didn’t really feel like including it in a photo.

Here are the “landscape” impressions:

It felt great getting out there and I’m glad that I finally overcame the mental “inertia” that prevented me from going – and now I can’t wait to go again, of course! I’m tempted to get onto the unnamed hill in the last photo, just to see what the views from there will be like. :)

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12 thoughts on “The Desert is Still There”

    • Thank you, Earl! Depending on the route that I take (and the number of stops that I make looking for plants;-) and traffic, it takes me about 1.5 to 2 hours to be in that general area.

  1. Sometimes that inertia can be so very difficult to overcome, but it’s usually well worth the effort. These are some beautiful images, Alex. I really like the side-canyon image that looks like a stream of sand. It’s interesting to see the patterns that show the water flow from when it rains. That was a beautiful sunset, such nice color. And speaking of nice color, that first image with the yellows is such a simple but gorgeous image.

    • Thank you, Todd! Yes, that side canyon fascinated me because of this “stream” like appearance as well. In the main canyon is a dirt road and hundreds or thousands of footprints, this one however was nearly untouched – there were probably more animal than human footprints in it.

  2. I really enjoyed this post, Alex (sorry it took ME so long!). ;-) I’ve had that inertia this month, too. It’s good to read about your pleasure once you overcame it. I really like seeing the expansive landscapes along with the small flower details and similarly, I like that glowing bokeh in the first photo contrasted with all the detail in the first landscape. Speaking of lupines, yesterday I did get out for a short walk and found some tough lupine bushes, long ago gone to seed, with new growth on them. SO strange. It won’t amount to much but it’s fun to see it.

    • Thank you, Lynn! I didn’t even know that apparently, most lupines are herbaceous perennials – that would explain the new growth you might be seeing, perhaps… the ones in the desert here (mostly Lupinus arizonicus as far as I know) are annuals.


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