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April 8, 2014

Shrouded Quinns

….the Great Basin is a recent development in the geologic story of the West…. [Eocene] Nevada was a lot higher than it is today…. Elevate Nevada into a rugged plateau more than two miles high, much like the Altiplano of the central Andes today, and you have an image of the Nevadaplano — a highland region that dominated Nevada before it collapsed like a punctured soufflĂ© to make the Great Basin…. Visualize snowfields between the rugged peaks. Meltwaters seep across the landscape…. The Sierra Nevada today lies about where the western flank of the Nevadaplano once sloped toward the Pacific Ocean. In effect, the Sierra is what remains of the Nevadaplano’s western edge. The rest of the Nevadaplano was destroyed by the stretching and collapse of the crust that made the Great Basin.

–Keith Heyer Meldahl, Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains


It may be lower, more broken and dryer these days, but during chilly winter twilight, the ghosts of the Nevadaplano still seem to haunt the empty volcanic expanses, high sage hills, and distant snow-dusted peaks.

Lunar Lake under Clouds


Somber Mesa

Owls of Spring

March 28, 2014

Deep Springs Owl

Spring has arrived in Deep Springs Valley, leaves are shooting forth, and a very obliging pair of owls is to be found every evening hooting away in one of the campus trees.

Owl Pair

Deep Springs Owl 2

Spring or no, we’re looking forward to a stormy forecast for the coming week.

Valley Spring



Cloud Garland

March 21, 2014

Cloud Garlands

Anyone who pays attention to western weather knows that it’s been a dismal winter in California. But it’s had its moments – this one is from a much needed March storm in the northern White Mountains, viewed from Fish Lake Valley.

Favorites of 2013

January 28, 2014

Looking back at my Favorites of 2012 post and my goals for the coming year, I can’t help but reflect that 2013 did not go at all according to plan. I shot very little in my beloved New Mexico, I did not make it to Idaho or the northern Rockies, and I generally got out shooting less than I had hoped. But the year’s twists and turns easily made up for these unrealized plans and brought opportunities I never would have hoped for last January. One unexpected pleasure was two trips with fellow photographer Greg Russell, the first to Cape Solitude in the Grand Canyon and the second in California’s White Mountains. A family trip to Zion and a wonderful visit to the Columbia River Gorge in spring were also great fun, and yielded some decent images as a bonus. But the biggest and most wonderful surprise was my move to the western Great Basin. My home terrain in Deep Springs Valley will keep me occupied for quite a while all by itself, and the great mountain-studded emptiness of Nevada lies just down the road, country that has long called to me but which does not offer up it’s secrets lightly. After 2013′s abrupt education in the speed with which life and plans can change, my ambition for the coming year is to take every advantage of my surroundings. Deep Springs Valley is beautiful every day, the Death Valley backcountry lies just over the ridge out my window, the Eastern Sierra offers constant temptation, and the endless basins and ranges beckon to the east. Meanwhile, here are my personal favorites of the last twelve months.

Evening light in the Little Colorado Gorge, Grand Canyon National Park:

Little Colorado Shining

Stone, sun and shadow, Zion National Park:

Sunrise on the Streaked Wall, Zion National Park, Utah

Lycosa spider, Gila Wilderness, New Mexico:

Gila Spider

Sunbeams and Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon:

Multnomah Sunbeams

Evening light over Deep Springs Lake, California:

Deep Springs Lake Spotlight

Black toad (Bufo exsul), Deep Springs Lake, California:

Toad in Brown

Autumn in North Twin Canyon, Arc Dome Wilderness, Nevada:

North Twin Evening

Twilight beams over Toiyabe and Toquima ranges, Nevada:

Mount Jefferson Portent

Fall aspens and cloud shadows, Arc Dome Wilderness, Nevada:

Dappled Slope

October snow and lake of fog, Deep Springs Valley, California:

Split Mountain over Fog

Snowstorm, Deep Springs Valley, California:

Arctic Deep Springs

Dawn light on the badlands of Esmeralda County, Nevada:

Esmeralda Morning

Here’s a glimpse of shots that didn’t quite make the cut (please enlarge!):

2013 Favorites Collage

And one final shot to round things out with something new – I haven’t lived with this one long enough to decide whether I truly like it, but it’s certainly my last quality shot of the year, from a December trip to the Eureka Dunes in Death Valley National Park:

Eureka Curve

2013 Favorites: Eli

January 28, 2014

As I did last year, here’s a collection of shots of my son Eli for friends, family and well-wishers:

Snow and Fog

December 25, 2013

Split Mountain over Fog

We may have entered calendar winter only a few days ago, but the season made its first appearance back in October. A storm whitened the Inyos and the high Sierra to our west overnight, and as it lifted in the clear morning it left a lake of fog over the low end of Deep Springs Valley. The fog lingered surprisingly long, creating a gorgeous play of white and gold light as the sun penetrated the valley and brightened the big peaks of the Palisades 9,000 feet above.

Deep Springs Cloud Layer

A wide view:

Valley Clouds

The smoothness of the snow and fog were especially beautiful in contrast to the rough geology of the valley’s southwest end, with Mount Pinchot high above.

Fog Lake

We won’t be seeing any fresh snow for a while, but the winter mood lingers on with cold nights, logs burning in the fireplace, and our little single-leaf pinyon pine hung with lights and ornaments. Merry Christmas!


December 21, 2013

Esmeralda Morning

Esmeralda County, right across the state line from me, is Nevada’s least populated, with fewer than 800 residents, and the second-lowest population density in the Lower 48 states. To most people, even to many fans of Nevada and outdoor enthusiasts, it’s a blank space on the map. It has no National Parks or Monuments, no State Parks, only a couple settlements that qualify as towns even by Nevada’s loose standards, not even much history except for tales of hardscrabble mining, and almost no surface water. There’s really nothing much over there, except for Nevada’s highest mountain, Boundary Peak, and 3,600 empty square miles of absolutely gorgeous mountains, valleys and badlands.

Lone Mountain and Ash Beds

In other words, it’s the kind of place I like.

Red Sky Monte Cristo

There’s an awful lot to explore out here, and I’ve got a big mental list of places I need to revisit in good light. The massive bulk of the White Mountains is a constant presence to the west.

Badlands and Boundary

Monte Cristo Sunrise

Desert Castle


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