A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about landscapes

Ski Bumming 2012: Magnificent Mountain Landscapes

The mountain landscapes, Zen moment #3,268,103, and Woo

sunny 21 °F

There are days when the mountain blooms into a magnificent masterpiece of winter landscape. After a week straight of strong winds and heavy cloud cover (which produced gorgeous blankets of light powder), I woke up to a beautiful bluebird day. The air was crisp and clean, and the snow crunched underfoot as I walked down the street to the gondola. The sky was a deep, rocky mountain azure that made the brilliance of the new snow that much more intense. I was glad I remembered my sunglasses.
IMG_0361.jpgIMG_0357.jpg
As I rode up the chairlift, I realized that the day was not about skiing; it was about appreciating the magnificent mountain splendor. I made it my mission to admire the mountain from as many different perspectives as I could. After unloading and coasting to a stop at the top of the run, I stopped and marveled at the mountain scene that stretched before me. It inspired awe. I smiled broadly.
IMG_0378.jpg

The Statues
IMG_0388.jpg
I made a few runs, skiing slowly while focusing on the landscapes. After a week of pummeling winter weather, the trees looked like dazzling white statues against the distant mountain slopes and deep blue sky. Throughout the morning, the lighting continued to change. Not only because the sun continued rise, but small patches of streaming clouds continued to pass over the mountain at various times. These clouds moved at different elevations, sometimes hovering just above the mountain, and other times covering several acres of the mountain slopes. The shifting light patterns were part of the magic.
IMG_0384.jpgIMG_0362.jpg

Mountain Scenes
IMG_0382.jpgIMG_0371.jpgIMG_0431.jpg
Zen moment # 3,268,103:
Once again, I hiked to the top of Wardner peak. I sat down in the snow bank in my favorite patch of pines to catch my breath. I was digging the trees, and eating my lunch, when, as usual, I saw a scene to take a photo of… I stood up in knee-deep snow and set up the following shot. I hear a soft rustle above me, but I kept my focus and WHAM! A huge pile of snow landed right on my head! The trees gave me the ultimate snow job. I had taken my helmet, hat and gloves off to eat my lunch, so I had snow everywhere. I laughed. It was all I could do. Trees are tricksters! I hung out for another 20 minutes, and not one more chunk of snow fell off any of the trees. What are the odds?
IMG_0403.jpg

The Views From Wardner Peak
IMG_0425.jpgIMG_0420.jpgIMG_0427.jpg

Concerning Woo
IMG_0429.jpg
I was riding the chairlift the other day when a hotshot skier rocketed by below me. The people in the chair behind me saw him and instinctively howled out a long, “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.” The word “Woo” seems to be what we all yell out to vocalize our enjoyment of life. At one time, possibly the early 1900‘s, the word that was used was, “WEEEEEEEEEEEEE,” (picture someone riding a slide or Ferris wheel). So what’s next? In another eighty years, will we be yelling, “WAAAAAAAAAA?” Some of you readers should take this logic to the street and be on the cutting edge of cool. Start yelling “WAAAAA” before anyone else.

I digress.

I began to notice how many times I heard “Woo” being hollered on the mountain. It’s damn near universal. Since I have a lot of time to think about these things, I began to wonder about the various meanings of woo. At the time, I only knew two definitions of woo (and I realized I just rhymed a lot). To woo a lady (something at which I am quite good at if I do say so myself), is to make amorous advances towards someone. Secondly, Woo! The vocalized exclamation of enjoyment.

I went home and looked up woo on the internet and came up with some other definitions: In Chinese, Woo means the number five. While I was thinking of Chinese, I wondered if people aren’t yelling woo, but wu. Wu is a dialect of Chinese spoken in the Yangtze delta.

The next time I was up on the mountain and began to hear the distant calls of “Wooooooooooo!” I started laughing. I imagined them not yelling for enjoyment, but to encourage romance. Or maybe they really like the number five. Or perhaps, they are fans of the Yangtze dialect.

It’s been a good week on the mountain, however the winds of change are blowing once again. Sadly, this upcoming week is going to be my last week of ski bumming here in Idaho. Against my better judgment, I have agreed to go back to work for a month down in Mexico. I know it sounds foolish, but I have recently bought tickets to Alaska in May. I figured it would be a good idea to refill up my coffers before I head out on that (hopefully) epic adventure. May is far away, and for now, I’m going to enjoy these last few days of relishing the life of a ski bum.

Farewell for this week, and I hope to hear you yelling out your appreciation for the number five!

Posted by Rhombus 21:51 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes mountains trees snow winter skiing clouds photography idaho Comments (2)

A Trek Into the Guadalupe Mountains Wilderness

Dog Canyon, Camping in Pictures, West Dog Canyon, The Trees of the Guadalupe Mountains

sunny 55 °F

The rugged Guadalupe Mountains of west Texas are located about one hundred miles northeast of El Paso, and sixty miles south of Carlsbad, New Mexico. They are pretty much smack in the middle of nowhere, surrounded on all sides by endless miles of Chihuahuan desert, eroding buttes, foothills and smaller mountain ranges. This I believe is to their greatest advantage.
DSC_0069.jpg
Because of their lonesome locale and wilderness area designation, the Guadalupe’s don’t see a lot of action like their trendier, friendlier mountain cousins further north (aka the Rockies). Having visited this park on two other occasions, I had learned enough about these mountains to warrant another visit, and this time I was headed into the back country.

The backside of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park has been on my mind for a long time, and I’ve finally taken it upon myself to go and see what there is to see. The ranger station at Dog Canyon is the starting point for any adventures that begin on the west side of the park. To get there, one must travel sixty miles west and south off of the beaten track along beautiful winding desert roads. Watch out for cows, cow crap, and gorgeous evening views of this lonesome locale.
DSC_0006.jpg
The first day of our adventure started off frigid. A cold front had moved in, combining with the crystal clear night that turns the desert mountains into a freezer. It’s a dry cold, however, so it’s not as bad as it could be. I was prepared for anything, but on that morning, I realized I had forgotten a pair of gloves. Cursing myself, I went about my early morning of making coffee (pressed French style), making breakfast, and packing my gear into my pack to head out into the wilderness.

Our plan was straight forward: We’d hike in five miles or so to the Mescalero campground by way of the Tejas Trail. We’d continue on another eight miles the next day catching the Marcus Trail to the Bush Mountain Trail which would bring us back to Dog Canyon.

You are probably wondering, “Why such a short loop?” The answer has several reasons, the first being that there is no water to be had in the wilderness of the Guadalupe Mountains. You have to carry all the water you need for as many days as you are planning to hike. They recommend about a gallon a day per person, so for us that meant each of us were carrying an extra eight pounds of water weight on top of our already full backpacks. I’ve stopped caring how much my pack weighs, I’ve come to realize that no matter how light I try to pack that it is ALWAYS heavy.

Secondly, my travel partner has recently recovered from a broken ankle, and we wanted to challenge it, but not overdue it on our first backcountry adventure. I figured thirteen miles in the mountains would be a sound challenge for us to gauge our meddle.

With a grunt we launched our packs skyward, and wrestled them onto our backs, securing them with a “snap” and set off up into the mountains.

It never really warmed up at all. The wind remained strong, growing more powerful as we climbed higher. Though it was sunny, it was still cold. However, it was a nice autumn day for a hike and our spirits were soaring as high as the ridges we climbed that day. It was good to be hiking mountain trails once again.
DSC_0059.jpg
The November sun was low angled and slanted in from just over the ridge. This made for long shadows on the pines across the canyon wall. It was beautiful, really, and made for pleasant views and photographs as we made our way to Mescalero.

We arrived at Mescalero at about 3 pm. This gave us a couple of hours to set up camp, relax, and make dinner before the sunset, and the moon rose, bringing in the night. I decided I wanted to document the finer moments of what goes into a good backpacking adventure.

Thom’s Finer Moments of Camping:

Journal Writing.
DSC_0063.jpg
A Snooze in the Hammock.
DSC_0093.jpg
A Good Pack and a Place to Hang It.
6DSC_0092.jpg
Water Bottles.
DSC_0091.jpg
A Good Tent.
2DSC_0090.jpg
Dinner.
DSC_0096.jpg
Food is very important subject for the backpacker. It’s all I can think about, for the most part, and I really look forward to a good dinner after spending all day on the trail.

Waiting For Water to Boil.
DSC_0100.jpg
Morning Coffee (French Pressed)
0DSC_0101.jpg
A Hand Warmer (Hot Tea in a Cup)
DSC_0106.jpg
A Little Ingenuity in Action (I rigged this up to protect our food from nocturnal nibblers).
DSC_0098.jpg
The sun set early and it was dark not long after. The moon was rising high however, and the canyon side across from our camp was bathed in a ghostly white light. It was bright enough for shadows, and we had no problem negotiating around our campsite in the night.

The clear skies kept the temperatures down around freezing. It was hard to leave the comfort of the down sleeping bag in the morning, but we fought our weakness, and got up to meet the day. After boiling water for breakfast concoctions (coffee being my favorite), we packed up our gear, swept our tracks away (leave no trace) and headed out again along the trail.

The day was off to a good start, and as we hiked along the ridge of side canyon that leads to West Dog Canyon, we warmed up with our efforts. The trail was pleasant, and textural. We walked through crunchy oak leaves dropped by the trees. The oak leaves of the mountain desert have a much smaller leaf than in the Midwest, but they smelled great all the same.

DSC_0152.jpg
Walking westward, we left the small copse of oaks beyond and headed out onto an exposed ridge once again, and began our long descent into West Dog Canyon. The switch backs seemed endless, and it was hard on the legs, but eventually we made it down to level ground once again. West Dog Canyon is beautiful. The bottomland is sandy with lots of grasses, cactus and shrubs growing on it. I was surprised at how much color there was to the landscape.
DSC_0198.jpgDSC_0206.jpgDSC_0208.jpg
DSC_0203.jpg
DSC_0154.jpg

We ate lunch at the intersection of the Marcus and Bush Mountain trails hunkered down in a nearby sandy draw to gain some protection from the relentless wind. I boiled up a cup of water and added it to my once steeped grounds in hopes of another decent cup of coffee. I was not disappointed, and I enjoyed my lunch of peanut butter and honey on tortilla, and a cup of coffee. I felt like a cowboy.
DSC_0238.jpg
I looked up at the top of the high ridge that separates West Dog, and Dog Canyons, and I knew I was in for a long slog. The trail was relentless, and every step I made was uphill. I followed the switch backs higher and higher, doggedly keeping pace. As I looked out over the landscape, I became enthralled. It was gorgeous! There were long views of the canyon and mountains. The trees seemed to have been planted by an artist as to give the landscape the most appealing leading line into the view.
DSC_0228.jpgDSC_0231.jpgDSC_0218.jpg
In my opinion, the trees are what make the Guadalupe Mountains so beautiful. On every ridge, there are perfectly placed trees adding depth and dimension to every landscape. My camera was in my hand for every step up and over this ridge, as the vertical angles of the slopes combined with the trees made for very appealing scenery. The Guadalupe Mountains are a national park for a reason, and the Bush Mountain Trail has been one of the most beautiful trails I’ve hiked this year, and perhaps in my life.
DSC_0269.jpgDSC_0253.jpgDSC_0256.jpg
Upon reaching the top, we took a brief rest before continuing on down the other side. We had reached out hiking limit, and this is a dangerous time. As the last run down the mountain on a pair of skis is when the most injuries occur, the last mile down the hiking trail has the same feel to it. We picked our way carefully, continuing to admire the view, and made it back to the car safe and sound.
2DSC_0267.jpg
There isn’t a much more euphoric experience in life, as setting down your heavy backpack after many miles of rugged trail hiking. I felt light as a feather, sore in my left shoulder, and moving a bit gingerly, but I was happy. It was a great hike, and I look forward to heading back into the far reaches of the Guadalupe Mountains once again.
DSC_0293.jpg

Having successfully enjoyed the backside of the Guadalupe Mountains, we took on the highest reaches of the state by climbing 8751 ft. Guadalupe Peak. Then we headed south to new landscapes and new roads... We are enroute as I write this.

Cheers!

Posted by Rhombus 07:36 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes trees hiking canyons backpacking photography texas Comments (0)

Deep Underground: The Hueco Tanks and Carlsbad Caverns

Journeys in Texas Continued: The Wind, Explorations of the Hueco Tanks, and Carlsbad Caverns of New Mexico

sunny 75 °F

“One night a wild young cowboy came in, wild as the west Texas wind.” Marty Robbins

I understand these lyrics a lot better now. I have a full appreciation of the wind that whips the grassland and mountains of west Texas. I have fully experienced the Wild West Texas wind during two nights of attempted sleep. The wind was just as Marty writes, it came on all of a sudden, as a cowboy would enter a bar, and suddenly the wind turns violently strong whipping everything in its way. I have never experienced wind like this, and I was impressed.

In our sturdy little tent (named Columbus), we attempted to sleep, but it was a long time coming. The wind hammered, harangued, whapped the sides of the tent, pushing them in with such ferocity as to slap us around every few minutes. I was viciously slapped in the face, until I finally rolled over and let my back be massaged by the tumult. It took awhile to get used to the noise, and the beatings, but eventually both of us slept.

What was just as amazing was the how quickly it came and went (just like Marty‘s cowboy). At one point, I had finally fallen asleep. I awoke a few hours later to silence, with just a breath of fresh morning air under sunny skies for wind. I doubt anybody would believe me if I tried to tell them of the gale in the night.

The wind is part of the allure of west Texas.

Besides the wind, the geology of the northern Chihuahua desert is just as impressive. Ihave been spending my quality time exploring the Hueco Tanks, east of El Paso, and Carlsbad caverns of New Mexico. Between both parks, I have spent more of my days underneath the earth as I have spent walking above it.

Hueco Tanks State Park
0DSC_0014.jpg
Huecos are hollows, or water carved recesses in rock. The Hueco Tanks area are just that, an ancient low lying mound of rock that are filled with huecos. The huecos store water in them even during the driest parts of the year. In the desert, water is life, and life has flourished here for thousands of years. Man has used these watering holes for just as long. The low rocky mountains are a jumble of humongous rock slabs, piled up boulders and narrow caves and crevices. Man has been leaving their signatures for as long as they have been coming to the tanks. The ancient visitors left pictographs of masks, and hunting scenes, more recent but still historical visitors (in the 1800’s) chiseled their names, dates, and home into the rock. Modern morons have left their mark-using spray paint, sometimes covering up the priceless ancient markings.
DSC_0003.jpg
The park is well regulated, and they keep track of who comes and goes, as they only allow a limited number of visitors each day. They are doing a good job preserving the ancient sites, yet allowing the boulders and rock to be used what it ought to be used for: the great playground that it is.
0DSC_0020.jpg
Hueco Tanks state park is designated by four “mountain zones.” Three of the zones are closed to the public and are only reachable by ranger-guided tour. One of the zones, North Mountain, is open for day use only, and that is where I spent my time exploring. With a map, a climbing guide to the boulders, and my reckoning, I spent a day traversing north mountain.
DSC_0145.jpg
3DSC_0045.jpg
It was tremendous fun to explore through the giant boulders, rock slabs, slot canyons and caves. It reminded me of exploring Joshua Tree National Park’s rock islands, and my approach was much the same. With determined effort, I found I could climb, slither, slide, crawl and squeeze my way through the mountain. I was in my element, my urge to explore unleashed.
DSC_0137.jpg
DSC_0056.jpg
DSC_0047.jpg
DSC_0058.jpg
Using these methods, we stumbled upon most of the ancient sites. One cave was filled with paintings of masks in exquisite condition. The rock was slick from the hundreds if not thousands of feet that have visited this amazing cave. This was a good place, an ancient place, and one I will never forget.
DSC_0082.jpg
DSC_0087.jpg

Though we were not the first people to explore these mountains, and find these ancient sites, it felt like we were the first. It was exciting, and fun, and the thrill of discovery was intoxicating. I happily left the mountain in the late afternoon. I was satisfied with my efforts.

Creatures of Hueco Tanks
Lizards and Horse Lubber Grasshopper
DSC_0153.jpg
DSC_0005.jpg
DSC_0103.jpg

DSC_0126.jpg
At the campground, late in the night, I had stepped outside to use the bathroom. Beware, when stepping out to go pee in the desert. EVERYTHING is sharp. As I found relief, I looked up at the stars and found my self gazing at the constellations. I wondered what the ancient people thought of the stars. I became inspired and I captured a photograph of Orion (the Hunter), and Taurus (the Hunted) before I crawled back into my sleeping bag.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
DSC_0177.jpg
A few days later, I found myself once again heading down the natural entrance to the big room at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. For once, I was prepared: I had a working camera with fresh batteries, and sturdy tripod. The caverns were mine to explore by camera. In past visits, I was hampered by a lack of batteries, or tripod, and unable to photograph the impressive decoration and wonder these caverns hold.

My traveling partner and I had made reservations for two of the wild cave tours, one for the Hall of the White Giant, and The Spider Cave. These tours were on two consecutive days in the afternoon, so we had the mornings to spend walking around the natural entrance and the Big Room. This turned out to be the perfect combination to exploring Carlsbad, (outside of dating a caving ranger).
DSC_0191.jpgDSC_0262.jpgDSC_0267.jpg
The Natural Entrance and Big Room are beautiful, and full of amazing decoration. The whole route is on an asphalt path, guarded by railings and lit up by decorative lighting. I had a great time setting up photos of the caverns, much like Ansel Adams had years before. The exposures are long, and a tripod is necessary to keep the images sharp. What is great about the tourist route of the caverns is that the lighting never changes. I had all day to get my exposure and focus the way I wanted it.
DSC_0308.jpgDSC_0281.jpgDSC_0279.jpg

Which do you prefer? Black and White or Color?
I can't decide which I prefer.
DSC_0268.jpg
DSC_0263.jpg

I would highly recommend to any photographer who wants to learn to take long exposure extreme low-lighted photographs to practice in a cavern. Not only are the subjects beautiful and interesting, the lighting is constant, and a great place to learn.
DSC_0273.jpg
The walk was pleasant enough, but as this was my third visit to the place, I wanted more adventure than the easy routes could offer. That is where the ranger-guided tours of some of the other caverns came in. While I’ve gone caving on my own before, (a serious no-no in the caving world), I had never had the right gear, or gone on an actual caving exploration. I was curious to see what it was like to go on a modest exploration on well-explored routes.
DSC_0222.jpg
I was pleased to find cave exploration as fun and exciting as I hoped it would be. Once again, I found myself crawling, scooting, slithering into narrow, passages and crevices. I climbed up rock chimneys, and pulled myself up ropes, and ladders to get to our destinations. I was sweating from the exertion, I was filthy with mud, and dirt, and water. Above all, I was smiling.

The White Giant is impressive, a massive stalagmite rising up from floor, one of the cooler seldom seen decorations at Carlsbad. Spider Cave was full of pure white crystalline decoration, and rooms of delicate halectites, draperies, and soda straws. It was just as fun to crawl through the cave as it was to see these beautiful decorations.

The ranger talked of other rooms in the cavern that aren’t open to the public. Carlsbad has over a hundred miles of known passages, just about three miles of them are opened to the public. Granted, they are an amazing three, but just think about what other gorgeous views could be hiding under the ground.

The only way to see some of the other caverns is by applying for a permit to the four that are currently open to explore by permit, becoming a ranger, or by dating a ranger. The rangers have more access to some of the restricted caves in the area. I’m going to take the advice of one of the rangers and check out www.caves.org. I want to explore more caves, and this is a great place to get involved.

I am spending the day here in Carlsbad, New Mexico getting more supplies, (food, and gas) and taking care of some business. While on the road in the U.S., a great place to stop is the local library in whatever town you might be visiting. Not only are they clean, full of information, and quiet, almost all of them now have a WIFI connection.

It has been a great week here in west Texas. I am now heading into the Guadalupe Mountains to explore some of the high country, including a return to the highest point in Texas.

So long, and Adios, Amigos!
DSC_0054.jpg[

Posted by Rhombus 13:56 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes rocks canyons photography caving texas philosophy boulders slot exploration caverns Comments (1)

The Wonders of Palouse Falls, Washington

Working the River, The Enjoyment of Revisiting Old Haunts, Palouse Falls Hiking, and Loafing

sunny 70 °F

I’m back in the lower forty-eight once again, working on the boat that sails up and down the Columbia, Willamette, Snake, and Palouse Rivers. It’s a good gig. It is fun to travel a river that requires a lot of nautical skill, vigilance, and know how to navigate it. Our watch officers are busy, and it’s good to see them ply their craft. Baja and Alaska aren’t nearly as navigationally interesting or challenging as our Columbia River trips.

As for me, it’s good work. Each week we travel just under a thousand miles, making our way from Portland, Oregon to Clarkston, Washington, and returning down river to Astoria, Oregon, and finishing the trip in Portland. I know it sounds like a lot of illogical travel, but it is a good route that I will be traveling for the next six weeks.
DSCN5443.jpg
One of the stops we make along the way is on the Palouse River. I’ve written about the Palouse Falls area before, just about a year ago in fact. Palouse Falls is one of my favorite places in Washington State, and I decided to take advantage and hike down to see the expansive canyon and falls once again. I really like revisiting parks and natural places I’ve been to before. It’s kind of like visiting an old friend. I like to see if there are any changes, and find new nooks and crannies or views that I haven’t discovered yet.
DSCN5454.jpg
I caught the zodiac to shore well before the guests disembarked, and had quite a bit of time to compose some images in the strong morning light. Most of the land was tan, faded grass of late summer, but in contrast, there were large bushes of yellow flowers and sunflowers blooming along the hillsides. We anchor near a rock outcrop named by the Palouse Indians of the region as the “Heart of the Beaver.” The rock sits high above the river, and makes for a nice backdrop.
1DSCN5445.jpg

When everyone else arrived on shore, we climbed onto the school bus and made our way to the falls.
8DSCN5462.jpg5DSCN5468.jpg
I knew exactly where I was going, so while everyone else went straight for the tourist view of the falls, I headed left to the trail that would take me down to the lip of the falls. I was surprised by the amount of birds around. There were many songbirds, warblers, sparrows and the like, and they were all eating seeds from the sunflowers.
DSCN5469.jpg
I slid down the gravel talus pile next to the railroad bed. I more or less crouched down on one boot and skiied it, using my hands as balance when I needed it, and I was down in under a minute. Sometimes, you just have to let yourself go.

I walked the familiar trail downstream to the falls. It felt good to be hiking, and I was enjoying the warm sunshine, the sounds of the river, and excited to see what awaited me just around the bend.
DSCN5483.jpg
I brought my camera, of course, but I didn’t have any expectations of taking photos I hadn’t taken here on previous trips. However, when I reached the gaping canyon I found myself working new angles I hadn’t done before, seeing the falls, and surrounding countryside in new ways. I was inspired, and pleasantly surprised, by my excitement. I was once again in my element.
DSCN5490.jpg
I love this place. I can’t wait to come back again in the next few weeks. In a moment of inspiration, I climbed up the thin rock fingers that sit like an audience above the falls. I found some shade, I found a perch, and that was all I needed. I sat on my rock throne, twenty feet higher than the rocky slope that sits atop the sheer cliff of the waterfall wall. Perfect. I looked out at the surrounding canyon, and took in all my senses could offer me.
DSCN5487.jpg
It was a good morning, and I want to spend a couple of days at Palouse Falls, not just a couple of hours. I wearily hiked back to the parking lot, stopping at the upper falls to dunk my head in the water. It was cool and refreshing, and I thought about jumping in. The thought passed, and so did I.
DSCN5510.jpg
Back on top of the bluff, I looked over the canyon and found more gorgeous views. The compositions of the Palouse are quite fetching. I finished off my day by loafing. Loafing is a wonderful pastime. Lin Yutang, writes in “The Importance of Living” that, “The first thought that the jungle beast would have is that man is the only working animal.” And this is true! Too many of us work way too hard, and would be far better off lying flat on a cool picnic table in the shade of a large copse of trees that are filled with the songs of birds. I did this very thing at the park, with my backpack as a pillow, and the warm breeze as my blanket, I fell asleep to the chirping of the birds. As I lay there I had the thought, that I should just stay here, and sleep away the afternoon. This was the good life, and I was enjoying it.

Alas, I didn’t make good on my pleasant thought (yet). Like the good american I am, I went back to work to live to toil another day.
DSCN5476.jpg
However, this little nap I had in the park has planted a seed of a plan in my mind. It won’t be long before it bears fruit, and this vagabond will be free once again.

Posted by Rhombus 18:14 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes waterfalls birds photography wildflowers Comments (0)

Landscapes and Seascapes of Baja Mexico

Spatial Experiences By Land and Sea

sunny 80 °F

There is a timeless quality to the landscapes of the southern Baja Peninsula. I feel as though if I visited these same vistas five hundred years ago to compare, nothing would have changed. They are timeless. The peninsula is perhaps one of world’s greatest interactive natural history museums.

These are peaceful views of incredible magnificence. They have grandeur.

From Land

Punta Friars on the East Cape
7DSCN0581.jpg
I’m sitting high up on a rock far above the coastline and watching the quiet movements of the earth cycle and flow. The swells are deceptive. They are a lot bigger than they look from the sea. They roll in and stretch over the beach in a thinning white carpet of foam. The distant coastal mountains arc back, and form “points” out to the sea. The sun has warmed everything, the rocks, the earth, the sand, and me. There is always a wind here, and I’ve grown accustomed to its enveloping embrace around me. It’s like getting a soft hug from a swirling warm ghost all day long. The sun also provides the light, which make this whole gambit possible.

I don’t know it yet, but In a few minutes, I’ll be sprinting over two hundred yards of boulders to assist in helping a kayaker who flipped over in the big swell get back to shore. But I don’t know that yet, and so for these last few minutes, I’m at peace. It is kind of funny how life is; you just never know what’s going to happen next. One second I’m completely at ease, and the next I’m completely in motion in body and mind. Let this be a lesson to you Chuck: Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean.

Boojum Trees and Skylight
DSCN0892.jpg
I love bright, diffused light through thin clouds.

To Hike Punta Juanico
juanico4.jpg
It was an unexpected stop at an unknown location. It looked cool. When I say cool, it means it was gorgeous, and better yet, I could get on the beach and explore. I was ahead of the curve by two hours--I was alone and had a plan. I started south, hiking up the first trail I’ve used here in Baja. There just aren’t many trails down here. Hiking on a trail again was kind of a novelty, after four months of making my own. Stepping easy, and making good progress (I was designed for walking up steep hills), I was soon atop the first overlook and blown away by the view. I stopped to smell the roses, so to speak.
DSCN1444.jpg
The thin trail continued to stretch further south over and up a much higher ridge, and I was happy to oblige my sense of wonder and excitement as I climbed higher to an ever improving view.

At the apex of height, the trail descended to a perfect secluded beach. I had visions of meeting my one true love at the bottom, or at least some alluring senorita, but alas, it wasn’t to be. One day….
DSCN1420.jpg
I did find a beautiful cardon cactus standing tall at the edge of the beach. It had five stalks rising high like the fingers of a skinny hand. I liked its position in life. Not too close to the sea, but close enough for an excellent view.

Dry Wash

DSCN1495.jpg
I purposely angled to the shady side of the arroyo in hopes of finding highlighted cactus scenes. Instead I found myself on the cusp of shadow and light, perfect for black and white. This common scene of a dry wash gets much more interesting in low angled light.

Last Hike on Danzante

The climb was sketchy at best. Loose chunks of crumbling rock and gravel pieces lay on a steep hillside of scratchy desert brush and small cactus. To fall, meant pain. I was climbing my way up to the top of a high bluff that would overlook the entire north side of Isla Danzante. This would mark my last hike on this island for awhile, and I wanted to make it a good one. On my first hike on this island way back in December, I hiked up to a high point, that I could see not to far away. This would make bookends so to speak, with all kinds of memories in between.

With deliberate steps I made it up, and took in the view. It was satisfying, over looking the rugged landscape of rock bluffs, islands, the mountain ridges of the Sierra de la Giganta, and the sea. A single clump of cardon was placed perfectly, and I knew that was the picture I would take home with me. I took one photo, took in the view, and said farewell.
DSCN1503.jpg

From Sea

The Layered Ridges
7DSCN1324.jpg
I love the layered shades of the coastal mountains and rocks. These landscapes are begging to be drawn; I want to sketch them out in shaded charcoal on my sketchpad. For now, a photograph will have to do.

Dolphins and Mountain Light
DSCN9874.jpg
Baja a remarkable experience because of the ocean wildlife melds so nicely with desert scenery and mountains. This photo has several names that come to mind: “Bottom’s Up”. “A Dolphin Mountain Gallery” or “Dolphins at Dawn.”


In looking at these photos, I wondered what goes into a good landscape? I decided one of the more important elements is space. With a strong subject and artfully arranged, they become appealing to the senses. That’s really all I am, an observer who arranges his own artwork to take home.

I hope you find time to get outside and see what it looks like beyond that next ridge.

Posted by Rhombus 10:11 Archived in Mexico Tagged landscapes beaches desert rocks seascapes oceans photography Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 11) Previous « Page 1 [2] 3 » Next