Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Death Valley National Park, California

Some photos from our April, 2014 trip. It had rained the night before and there were actual puddles (two that I saw, about the size of a manhole cover) at Badwater Basin, lowest point in the United States. There's a snail in these sporadic puddles, that exists nowhere else on earth. I studied the nearest puddle earnestly, but spied no snails. It has been an exceptionally dry year here in California and I think the snails are hiding in the rare mud.

More on our Southern California desert tour here.

Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level) and the Devil's Golf Course—both former lake beds from several thousand years ago, now coated in salt and mineral deposits.

Mesquite Flat sand dunes, about 120 feet tall.

Natural Bridge and Marble Canyon.

Furnace Creek Resort features the lowest point for golf in the U.S. (214 feet below sea level). Date palms in the background. When traveling through this desert region, be sure to try some fresh dates—delicious.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Mono Lake - Spring, 2014

I just returned from a 1,500-mile road trip to California's coast, southern deserts and Eastern Sierras, and I took many, many photos. Editing down my thoughts and images from the trip has been, what I'd call, a task. So here's Mono Lake, because it's simple and direct.

Mono Lake, technically, is anything but simple, being full of salt, seabirds, tufas, and decades-long water-rights issues between conservationists and Los Angeles consumers—but as a photo subject—it is simply the eternal muse. I will never tire of gazing at Mono Lake. It is full of magical moments. You just have to show up.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mt. Diablo Morgan Fire Recovery

We headed up to Mt. Diablo Easter Sunday, to see some greenery, wild flowers, fire damage, and environmental recovery. The Nerds for Nature project has launched a monitoring program that utilizes social media and nerds like me to record Mt. Diablo's comeback from the September, 2013 fire. The fire was accidentally started by a still-at-large target shooter and burned 3,111 acres.

There's four camera stations along an old fire-interpretative trail from a 1977 lightning-strike fire, that burned 6,000 acres. (I only found one station because I didn't study my Google map thoroughly beforehand, and no, I still don't have a smart phone.) Once photographed, the views are posted to social media with their proper hash tags and over time, a stop-motion animation will be created, showing plant regrowth of the region. Exciting!

Here's view #4 for the project:

And some general shots of the area.

The picnic area just below the summit is fried, but it's making a comeback.

A big ol' tree, most likely not going to survive, but note the shoots at the base.

And ground cover below.

Still lots of California Poppies scattered all over the mountain—hurry or you'll miss them.

And other flowers as well, although not as abundant as hoped, due to the ongoing drought. Hopefully we'll get more rain this year.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lime Ridge - Walnut Creek, CA

I haven't done any hiking on Lime Ridge since we moved here four years ago, but all that changed since we've been hanging out at Boundary Oaks Golf Course on a regular basis. Lime Ridge rises right out of the links. One of the practice holds is an actual tiny foothill of the ridge. It's nice to see the view from the golf course, and while Jackson practices, I head on up, trying to avoid cow herds in case there's a territorial bull near by. There's a manzanita trail (with that peculiar scent of manzanita—like an old-time corral) that the cows aren't allowed to graze upon, so that's the better bet.

A wind-blown Oak

A long-ago fallen tree

The fingers of fallen-tree fate

View of Walnut Creek with Shell Ridge beyond