We had some really good rains the other evening, in fact, it rained all night. Perfect. All this rain we've had this year should bode well for the Spring flowers. In fact, the bright yellow daisies are already popping up by the side of the roads. By the end of February, we should start seeing flowers down by Cottonwood. Before the rain unleashed I went into the Park, it was late afternoon, to see if I could get some photos. I drove out Queen Valley Road and climbing up to a bluff overlooking the valley, got a nice shot back towards the Barker Dam area, with the light falling on the distant rocks and the threatening clouds on the horizon. I meandered around in the cold and found these pictures of a red barrel and some chamisa, all so vibrant in the light. The scent of the desert is intoxicating when it rains, earthy and wonderfully fragrant at the same time. As I was leaving, the rain started and I got a couple shots from the car as I was driving out through the Park. While driving, I was listening to a classical music station which fit the mood perfectly. At one point, the announcer indicated the next piece would be Debussey's 'La Mer', one of my favorites. He noted that occasionally the printed material for a concert would erroneously list the piece as 'Blamer' instead of 'La Mer', interesting... The other piece that often gets listed incorrectly is Franz Liszt's 'The Battle of the Huns'. It is often referred to as 'The Battle of the Nuns', which sounds more like a Russ Meyer movie... I'll leave you on that note.
The other day I got up early and decided to explore the rocks around Hidden Valley. The first shot I took was of this lone pine with the light just beginning to creep up the rocks. I cropped it in linear fashion as in Japanese scroll paintings. The rock formations in Hidden Valley sometimes resemble the fanciful, molten rocks in Chinese paintings, especially if there is early morning mist. I love just clambering around this area, with no real destination, just seeing what I discover as I move about in the chilly morning air. Everything changes as the light gradually floods the nooks and crannies of the canyon. A claret cup cactus previously in darkness is suddenly illuminated. I'll have to return in the Spring when they're blooming. The second shot is a group of boulders that I came upon just before a wash-valley overlook. They appear as if they'd been placed there by unseen hands, a fortification of sorts. The next photo is a panoramic of the wash below and the rocks beyond, looking out towards Ryan Mountain (Click on it and it will expand). The last photo is my interpretation of pine cones in a wash. I call it Pine cone peonies in homage to those masterful Asian painters of the past.
We hiked out to Samuelson's Rocks yesterday and were lucky enough to see seven big horn sheep in the area. I've never seen any there before, so that was a real treat. Unfortunately, I didn't have my long lens with me, so you can just see them in the picture on the right, up on the rocks. The hike is about four miles round trip. You park at the first pullout on the right coming into the Park from the Western entrance and walk south, through some rock formations and then sloping down to the valley below, where you'll see the single small hill where the rocks are located. I processed these in an 'antique style', as if printed on old, weathered glass plates found in a garage, to give them a sense of 'history'. Here's some more info on Mr. Samuelson.