A Lifted Horizon

A Lifted Horizon

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"To burn always with this hard, gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life. In a sense it might even be said that our failure is to form habits: for, after all, habit is relative to a stereotyped world, and meantime it is only the roughness of the eye that makes any two persons, things, situations, seem alike. While all melts under our feet, we may well grasp at any exquisite passion, or any contribution to knowledge that seems by a lifted horizon to set the spirit free for a moment." ~Walter Pater"

Silent Conversation

Silent Conversation

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Last light gives way to an evening storm.

Airy

Airy

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Soft veils of rain drifting over the landscape as a monsoon storm moves in.

Path of Water and Light

Path of Water and Light

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First light illuminating an alluvial wash in clay badlands.

Life on Mars

Life on Mars

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Shadscale plants emerge in an alluvial wash carved in red clay, after recent rains.

Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence

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Lupine flowers and barley grass glowing in the last light of the day, surrounded by miles of sagebrush.

Heart of the Desert

Heart of the Desert

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Fracture patterns in frozen and cracked mud, in a desert canyon.

The Illimitable Desert

The Illimitable Desert

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“Around me stretches the illimitable desert, and far off and near by are the outposts of suffering, struggling, greedy, grumbling humanity. But I don't choose to join on that footing. I'm sorry for it and I help it when I can, but I'll not shoulder its woes. To live is to be happy; to be carefree, to be overwhelmed by the glory of it all. Not to be happy is a living death.” ~Everett Ruess

Verdant Awakening

Verdant Awakening

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Vibrant new foliage on aspen trees growing in an alpine meadow. The last of winter’s snow still lines gullies in the steep slopes beyond.

A Prince's Dream

A Prince's Dream

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These bleached patterns on a sandstone wall reminded me of illustrations from the book, The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery—one of my favorite books as a child.

Path of Life

Path of Life

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A thin ribbon of flowering bee plants lines an arroyo in otherwise-lifeless badlands. The scene reminded me of this musing by Minor White: “The path my feet took was lined with images, whole gardens of pictures. With exposures I picked bouquets, each more vivid from the previous.”

Melancholy Happiness

Melancholy Happiness

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Mule’s Ears in bloom swaying in the wind above a desert canyon. The river below is flowing fast after abundant spring rains. Thunderstorm clouds in the distance. Seconds later, the sky erupted, unleashing in heavy rain, lightning, and thunder.

Unfurling

Unfurling

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A close look at a rare Bear Poppy plant.

Meanders in Time

Meanders in Time

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This meandering canyon of a desert river cuts through layers of sandstone spanning the entire Jurassic period, when this area was part of the largest sand dune desert to ever exist on Earth.

Resting Place

Resting Place

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Desert badlands under a blanket of fresh snow, viewed from a lofty sandstone ledge.

Intricacy

Intricacy

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Desert brush showing its true colors in winter time.

A Day of Rest

A Day of Rest

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Desert butte glows in early morning light after an overnight snow storm.

Winter Cascade

Winter Cascade

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Snow-covered textured slopes of a barren desert butte.

Timelessness

Timelessness

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Eroded badlands, formerly the bottom of an ancient shallow sea.

Fallen Comrade

Fallen Comrade

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Dead aspen tree, likely felled by an avalanche in a prior winter, supported by its brethren.

Autumn Revelation

Autumn Revelation

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Flaring rays of sunlight piercing through the canopy of a cottonwood tree on an autumn afternoon.

Worlds within Worlds

Worlds within Worlds

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Sandstone cliffs reflecting in shallow canyon pool filled with fallen cottonwood leaves.

Ultramarine

Ultramarine

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Fallen cottonwood leaves resting precariously over a thin sheet of iridescent biofilm.

Quiet, Frosty, Morning

Quiet, Frosty, Morning

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A cold autumn morning by an alpine pond surrounded by aspen trees.

Purple Pathway

Purple Pathway

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Small shrubs eke out a living in an alluvial wash in mineral-rich clay hills.

Shadow Falls

Shadow Falls

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Rabbitbrush bush against sandstone wall.

This image portrays an effect known as multi-stability. If you look at it long enough, you’ll find it hard to tell whether the left side of the image is in front of the right side, or the other way around.

Social Trails

Social Trails

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Animal trails carve up a grassy desert hillside.

Sandstone Sketch

Sandstone Sketch

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Sandpaper plant growing in a crack in colorful sandstone.

Joshua Tree Diorama

Joshua Tree Diorama

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Joshua Trees, yuccas, and other desert plants before a grand desert vista.

Time to Wake

Time to Wake

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Bare cottonwood tree set against the backdrop of a green mountain slope, in early spring.

Deer Heaven

Deer Heaven

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Deer grazing on new spring grasses on mountain slope.

Luminous Emergence

Luminous Emergence

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New spring foliage on young cottonwood tree.

Basalt Kaleidoscope

Basalt Kaleidoscope

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Basalt slot canyon covered in colorful moss and lichen.

Untrammeled Canyon

Untrammeled Canyon

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View into remote desert canyon.

Desert Chiaroscuro

Desert Chiaroscuro

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Layers of colorful clay deposited in the Triassic period, glow in dappled light.

Claynigma

Claynigma

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Cracked layer of light-colored mud deposited by a flood over an area of red sand, dotted with raindrop “craters.”

Molten Gold

Molten Gold

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A pool reflecting golden light along the path of a small creek.

Defiant to the End

Defiant to the End

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Remains of a dead, dry, and twisted pinyon pine, perched on the edge of a rocky bench above a sea of white sandstone.

Pause in the Storm

Pause in the Storm

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A ray of light pierces through the dark sky, illuminating desert cliffs during a heavy monsoon thunderstorm.

Ahead of the Storm

Ahead of the Storm

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Making fresh tracks driving down a remote desert two-track road as a monsoon thunderstorm is bearing down.

Life Recovers

Life Recovers

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Aspen trees and snowberry bushes in dazzling autumn display among the skeletons of trees killed by wildfire years before.

Beautiful Skeletons

Beautiful Skeletons

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Snags of dead ponderosa pines, killed by a wildfire, against a backdrop of aspen trees in golden autumn color.

Courtship

Courtship

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Aspen trees in a high mountain meadow, set against a backdrop of cloud shadows on a mountain slope.

First Light, Desert Mountain

First Light, Desert Mountain

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First light on the steep slopes of a desert mountain covered in shrubs and trees in autumn colors.

Remembrance

Remembrance

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A shrub in bright autumn color at the feet of the fallen remains of an old pinyon pine killed in a forest fire.

Come Closer

Come Closer

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Desert brush and cottonwood tree in autumn display, against a sandstone cliff.

Gateway Drug

Gateway Drug

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Cottonwood trees in a meadow filled with willows.

Better than Gold

Better than Gold

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Not all that glitters is gold, thankfully.

Cottonwood in autumn display against a backdrop of blue clay slopes.

Change of Pace

Change of Pace

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Row of trees in autumn color along a creek in a steep desert canyon.

Shattered Colors

Shattered Colors

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Patterns in colorful mineral-rich sandstone.

Psychotropic Sandstone

Psychotropic Sandstone

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Deposits of iron and manganese in psychedelic patterns in a colorful sandstone alcove. If you look closely, you may find an ancient petroglyph of a bighorn sheep about half way between the center of the frame and the upper left corner..

Dream Within a Dream

Dream Within a Dream

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All that we see or seem / Is but a dream within a dream.” ~Edgar Allan Poe

Flowing Rock

Flowing Rock

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Colorful layered sandstone sculpted and smoothed by eons of floods.

Pollock Sandstone

Pollock Sandstone

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Streaks of minerals in colorful Jurassic sandstone reminded me of some paintings by Jackson Pollock.

Twisted and Bent

Twisted and Bent

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Cottonwood trees sprouting new buds in early spring.

Poppy Dream

Poppy Dream

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Bear poppy abstract.

One Last Dream

One Last Dream

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Cottonwood and tamarisk trees at the end of winter, just a couple of weeks away from sprouting new foliage.

Desert Autumn Celebration

Desert Autumn Celebration

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A small grove of cottonwood and oak trees in a deep canyon, in autumn display.

Golden Reprisal

Golden Reprisal

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Cottonwoods had a very good year in 2018, in stark contrast to other deciduous trees, where the effects of climate change have been more readily visible (at times devastatingly so). This was also the first autumn I saw large herds of photographers in this area. I am grateful I had it to myelf all these years, and saddened that nobody else is likely to ever experience this place in solitude, as I have.

Canyon Meadow

Canyon Meadow

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A small grassy meadow presided over by ancient cottonwood trees, in a remote desert canyon.

Rincon Sanctuary

Rincon Sanctuary

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Shaft of light shining onto a mat of soft grasses in a sheltered space behind a rincon (island of rock formed when a creek abandons its former path and switches to a new one).

Smooth and Curvy

Smooth and Curvy

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Smooth sandstone sculpted by desert creek.

Canyon Elders

Canyon Elders

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Old cottonwood trees show their age not only in impressive size, but also in the depth and complexity of the groove patterns on their trunks. These twins (and they likely are genetically identical) preside over a beautiful grassy patch in a remote canyon. This image was made on the 10th autumn I have camped by these trees. And what a decade it was.

A Moment to Rest

A Moment to Rest

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Fallen cottonwood leaves resting on wet stlt deposited by recent rise of creek water after a rain.

Desert Bighorn Ram

Desert Bighorn Ram

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Desert bighorn sheep ram surveying his domain.

Geologic Surrealism

Geologic Surrealism

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Sandpaper plant growing out of a crack in wildly colored Jurassic sandstone. Recent rains filled the smoothly carved potholes with water.

Piliferous Poppy

Piliferous Poppy

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Close look at a rare bear poppy.