Living in a relatively small valley like Deep Springs, one gets pretty familiar with all the surrounding landforms and their personalities. The southeast wall of the valley comprises much of the Piper Mountain Wilderness, a spur of the Inyo Mountains full of granite outcrops, folded paleozoic strata, small alluvial fans, fault scarps, pinyon-clad summits, vertical gullies, and steep canyons. The valley walls are often shy about revealing their shapes and textures in bright light, and fleeting glimpses late in the day usually just tantalize a photographer’s creative impulses. But in snow and storm is where they really shine!
Sadly, this is about as much snow as we ever saw this winter, and about as low as the snowline ever got. The entire American West is hurting for snowpack, but California’s drought this year is truly frightening, with only three of the state’s many watersheds even breaking double digit percentages of average snowpack. Living here in the desert is some consolation, at least, as everything here is more accustomed to the dryness and better able to ride out the tough times. But even the desert needs a little rain and winter, and winter simply never came this year. These few dustings of snow felt like nothing more than an apparition from the ghost of a dead season.