Every year I publish a few of my more meaningful shots with the backstory of how they came to be. They’re available for purchase through this link or by clicking the specific picture below.
The Heart of the Desert
At the time this photo was taken, I didn’t know the significance that it would hold for me in later years and it’s shown me something different every time I look at it. For one, I didn’t notice the writing in the clouds when I took the picture nor when I first edited it (not added by me, that was there) which looks like “LOVE” at one angle and “OREO” at another. The writer in me wishes for the former, although the cookies are certainly a nice sweetness.
But hiking up to Fremont Saddle to see Weaver’s Needle holds a special place for me because it’s one of the few places I ever took my dad hiking. The uphill trudge required a few rests, but we made it, together with his friend Ron and my other friend and great photographer Brian and he always brought up the hike whenever I told him that I was going out exploring.
A few years after that hike, during some off time, I managed to sit down and read “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey, which to my surprise, contained the following quote:
“Where is the heart of the desert? I used to think that somewhere in the American Southwest, impossible to say exactly where, all of these wonders which intrigue the spirit would converge on a climax – and resolution. Perhaps in the vicinity of Weaver’s Needle in the Superstition Range; in the Funeral Mountains above Death Valley; in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada; among the astonishing monoliths of Monument Valley; in the depths of the Grand Canyon; somewhere along the White Rim under Grandview Point; in the heart of the land of Standing Rocks. Not so. I am convinced now that the desert has no heart, that it presents a riddle which has no answer, and that the riddle itself is an illusion, created by some limitation or exaggeration of the displaced human conscience.”
Counter to Abbey, however, I believe that for everyone, the desert does have its own individual heart, and for me, it’s at Weaver’s Needle. Thanks for reading.
The Gods Are Watching Over Us
This photo is one of my favorites, but, at the time, wasn’t the one that I wanted from that particular trip. My wife and I had been dating for a few years and had been able to get out on some great trips and this one was set to be one of them as I had secured permits to “The Wave”. The Wave is a unique and iconic sandstone formation in the area known as the Arizona Strip lying on the border between Arizona and Utah. Only a few permits per day are offered for The Wave so when I got them, I was extremely excited and planned the trip immediately. Nature had other plans for us though.
The night before the permits, we pulled her Subaru into a campground near the trailhead sometime as the sun was setting. We knew that there was going to be some rain, but, at the time, our understanding of desert rains was fairly limited. As it turned out, it was to be an epic thunderstorm. The road to the campground crossed two large washes and so when we woke up in the morning after the huge storm, we faced the prospect of trying to cross 20 feet of mud in her Subaru or waiting to get towed through that 20 feet of mud. We punted, and went for it and ended up burying the Subaru to the floorboards. After 3 years together, you’re still figuring out how to cope with these sorts of challenges, but we handled it surprisingly well. We hiked out a few miles to a ranger station who laughed at us, then called a towtruck, who was 3 hours out because he was already chasing down other idiots who buried their cars in the area. After being towed out, it became clear that the road into the Wave trailhead wouldn’t be passable for the Subaru, so we gave up on our mission and decided instead just to drive around taking some photos.
As we drove up through Monument Valley, the clouds never let up and even grew heavier. They eventually settled on the top of some of the spires. They came to a perfect level just as we were leaving and I saw them just touching the tops of these ones, as if hiding some mystery that lived on the top of them. The Dineh sheep in the foreground really made the photo for me.
Grandma and Grandpa’s Anniversary
Note: I do not recommend canvas for printing this because of the dark sky and stars.
My most favorite two pieces of rock in the world. Driving into the Buttermilks (the climbing/bouldering area near Bishop California) at dark, you can’t see much because it’s so dark, but you know that there are monsters outside your car. They’re immobile, but they’re there and to a climber can be equally as scary as the ones that do. These two boulders are, in my eyes, the most beautiful of the giants out there. Named Grandma and Grandpa Peabody, they were once one enormous round boulder that split into two. They’ve since sat there, reveling in the dark eastern Sierra skies for ages. When you’ve been there that long together, maybe every day is worth celebrating as an anniversary, watching over the bright lights from Bishop, a satellite or two and as many stars as you can count.