I grew up with snowy winters, wet springs, humid summers, and crisp autumns, and until very recently had only spent two weeks of my life in any climate much different than that of New England. Nova Scotia and Scotland, I would say, do not have any weather which might be challenging to a New Englander, especially one who particularly enjoys the cloudy weather (such as myself). To say the least, the arid and scrubby Los Angeles environment has required a little adjustment on my part.
Well, the time eventually came to escape the city for a while, and in Los Angeles the options for getting away are basically either to go through the cities to the north, west, and south, or to head eastwards into the Mojave. The choice was not a difficult one.
Along with me came Dan, a new friend (whom you may recall from my recent adventures into LA’s music scene), and Miranda, an old friend (since back when I barely knew how to operate a camera!). We filled the long ride with conversation and music, Dan’s control of the stereo leading us into unfamiliar sonic territories as the sun slowly rotated into its noon hour. We stopped in Yucca Valley for coffee and fresh water, resting briefly on the porch of the cafe while reading the current issue of a new-age feminist art zine, copies stacked up high in the newspaper stand by the door.
We soon headed back out, took a short detour north into Landers to see the Giant Rock, and were soon on our way east into Joshua Tree.
The landscape in the desert is simply beautiful — and of course unlike anything I had yet seen. The flat, sandy plains extend further than one might reasonably travel in a day, interrupted by small outcrops, rising into low, gentle hills in the far distance. Closer to Joshua Tree National Park itself, the outcrops gradually turn into piles, which grow yet into much larger features, creating a sense of traveling through valleys and basins rather than plains.
We pulled off the road to wander a bit on foot, and while Dan and Miranda went their ways to explore, I clambered into a chamber inside of a large pile of boulders. From the interior, the indiscriminate late-afternoon light took on a mysterious glow, as if it were already sunset.
Though sunset was yet an hour away, we selected a location from which to catch the sunset, and drove onwards. Unfortunately, I had somehow failed to consider that we were surrounded by elevated features on all sides, and soon enough the sunset was happening much earlier than I anticipated. We hurried onwards to see what we could make of it.
To say that we barely made it in time would be quite generous — I was hurrying along as quickly as I could manage with my bag and tripod and was hardly able to get off two shots before the light was gone for good (I think it was this scramble which convinced me that a lighter set of legs ought to be in my future). Luckily nobody was in any rush to leave, so we pushed onwards nonetheless, enjoying the afterglow of the sunset as we made our way deeper into the trail.
The path soon opened up into a clearing, and the shot was right there in front of me:
Sometimes the light just hits you and makes you stop for a second. But this light was fading fast, and having just lost some nice light a few minutes earlier, I was keen to set up a shot before this moment passed, too. Lesson learned… at least until I go and forget it all over again. We hung around the clearing for a while, admiring the otherworldly silhouettes of the eponymous joshua trees, largely quiet in the beauty of the scene.
You can see more photographs from the Mojave over here!