Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Big Empty

West of the Guadalupe Mountains is more of the big empty. Vast stretches of grasslands, salt flats, and mountains. A few roads go here or there. This is a land of vast ranches.

The Sierra Diablo are a range out in that big empty. From the west they are a gentle slope of grass. From the east they are a big escarpment. On the road to Van Horn they are a huge feature that you drive under for miles and miles.

On a day of heavy overcast and intermittent rain, I made the drive from Van Horn north to the park beneath the wall. The thick cover of clouds clipped the top of the peaks of the ridgeline. Rain fell off and on. The miles went by.

The first image is of the peaks and canyons of the Sierra Diablo.

The roads seem to stretch forever out here. Here is a lonely length of road with the lone volcanic cone of Sierra Blanca in the distance. I am some 40 miles away from the mountain, but it is plainly visible in the distance.

On this day, I saw no other vehicles-I had the whole road to myself. That is actually pretty common out here unless you are on I-10 or maybe US 180 which also sees a few more vehicles.

The vastness of the open range here is fantastic. This is not like being just outside the city with a house every couple of acres. This is empty land. The next house might be 10 or 20 miles. The next gas is often 50 miles and might not be open when you get there.
When you can see for miles like this you can see both sides of a storm. Here is a view of a distant rain shower as it crosses the open range somewhere in Hudspeth County.

Hidden out in all this vastness is one of my favorite little towns-Dell City. Tucked up along the state line it is a small farming community that grows hay and chile peppers.

To drive across the Salt Basin and suddenly find yourself among chile pepper fields is a treat for the senses. The green fields, the countless butterflies and the views of mountains in several directions is fantastic. The huevos rancheros plate you get in town is pretty darn fantastic too!

Here is a view across the pepper fields toward the Horned Mountains.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Guadalupe Mountains-Labor Day 08

I spent a long week over Labor Day in the Guadalupe Mountains of far west Texas. Normally people might say that camping in Texas during August was insane. It is easy to see why, but those people do not know the Guadalupes.

So, I took an extra day to make it a four day weekend and headed west. After driving across the Permian Basin and the heat of the desert, you climb up toward the 5700' elevation of the camp. I get there to find the temps in the 50's. Ahhh, Texas in August!

By the next morning clouds had rolled in and it started raining. Little was I to know but that would be the norm for the entire four days. We seemed to alternate between, drizzle, fog, and rain. On occasion we got a few minutes when the sun would pop out. The first image is one of those few moments. I had been standing in rain and fog when suddenly, this light just happened. Wow, what luck!

Mostly the mountain seemed to look like this:

I felt lucky to get the light when I did.

The Guadalupes have a habit of "catching" the weather and literally holding it around it's eastern valleys. Often time you can watch the clouds spill over the mountains like water. It is often also very different weather just a few miles west as one drops into the salt basin to the west. There have been times I have seen it 45 and misty in camp and 75 and sunny 5 miles away.

This was not quite like that. The seasonal late summer rains socked the camp in, but rain and clouds would cover much of all west Texas this weekend, but there were a few times when the sun would shine.

As a side note-one thing the rain did was make me realize it was time for a new tent. My current tent has been a rock for 11 year but it is small at 26 sqft and after 4 days in the rain, I decided I needed a tent I did not touch at both ends. So I have a newer longer model to try on my next trip.

The rain also made me alter my plans. Instead of hikes into the high country, I spent most of my days west of the mountains seeing the salt basin. I made it out to the Salt Basin Sand Dunes one afternoon to catch some wonderful afternoon light on the dunes. I was afraid the rain would make the road to them impassable (it does not take much to turn it to slop), but it was dry enough to make the drive in. Then after a hike in I got some great light on the sand.

See more images from the trip in my Galleries on the main website:


Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Start of a New Journey

The launch of a new blog for my new website www.WildernessPhotographer.net Yes, I got my own domain. The website will be my main page with links to here for what I have been upto.

I hope to make this blog the travelogue of my photography. I'll post images and notes from my trips here. I'll be posting gallery images on the main site. So be sure to check them both (link on the side).

I'll slowly be incorporating some of the elements of my other two blogs and winding down the Images of Texas blog. The Traveling Camera will continue, after all where else are you going to see images of an Arca-Swiss in action?