For our semi-annual vacation this year, Penelope and I went to Death Valley, Tahoe and San Francisco. I posted the Death Valley wildflower photos a few weeks ago. Here are some of the landscape shots I captured in Death Valley.
Over my vacation a few weeks ago I spent a few hours photographing wildflowers in Death Valley. I found 21 different species in bloom in 3 separate areas of the park. The first area, near Ashford Mill had mostly Desert Gold and Sand Verbenas. The second area, off Green Valley Road, where we camped and which received a good amount of rain (on February 25th-26th) had Cryptantha, Woolystars and Fiddlenecks. Finally the big score came on my birthday on the 27th just below Jubilee pass on the way to Shoshone.
The ground by the road was covered with over a dozen different species of wildflowers. I photographed many flowers I had never seen before. It was really quite beautiful. Hopefully the rain will keep up and more flowers will pop up throughout the desert. There is something really magical about finding wildflowers carpeting the ground in one of the harshest desert environments on the planet.
Below are some of my favorites from the trip. Read on to see each of the 21 different Death Valley wildflowers I photographed.
Desert Five Spot
Desert Gold Poppy
Last weekend my lovely wife Penelope and I took a trip to Death Valley for the Desert Explorers Rendezvous. The Desert Explorers are a group of fun, knowledgeable folks who like to spend time exploring the desert. The exploration frequently involves 4WD vehicles traveling over challenging terrain through beautiful scenery in and around Southern California. I've written about the Desert Explorers before.
The photos below are from a day trip we took through Death Valley. We hit dirt between Zabriskie Point and Furnace Creek, heading up Echo Canyon road. Along the way we saw wildflowers, petroglyphs and drove up a rock waterfall, a very difficult part of the road. We eventually ended up in the city of Amorgosa, Nevada after traveling roughly 40 miles on a 4WD trail.
Here are some photos from the trip, as you can see the flowers are starting to bloom. I would say this weekend or next would be the perfect time to see them in all their glory:
After driving through Emigrant Pass, we decided to take a side trip to Tucki Mine. The four-wheel drive road to the mine is about 9 miles long and fairly rough in some places. It was a nice drive on a beautiful canyon road, some of which was covered with snow. Once we reached the mine we ate lunch and checked out the cabin that the National Park Service keeps maintained for emergency use.
The Park Service maintains this cabin at the Tucki Mine in Death Valley
After camping at the Wildrose campsite on Saturday night, Penelope and I hit the road around 8 A.M. We took Emigrant Pass into Death Valley. On our way in we passed a ranger on the snow-covered road. I waved, he nodded and that was that.
Later on we discovered that the road we were on was actually closed, he was headed in to lock the gate on the other side! I'm guessing he saw our vehicle and wasn't worried. The road was beautiful. There was about six inches of snow covering the pavement and the ground was white as far as the eye could see. It was really amazing.
We took a side trip to Skidoo mine. We made it about 5 of the 10 miles when we decided to turn around. We were driving through three foot deep snow drifts on a steep, narrow mountain road with sheer cliffs off to the side. We had chains, but didn't need them as we weren't slipping at all, but I decided it just wasn't worth the risk so we turned around at a great lookout point.
Emigrant Pass is covered with snow after a big snowstorm the night before.
As I mentioned on Tuesday, my Search and Rescue team got called out. I am a member of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Cave Rescue Team, although we don't put out fires we have assisted with evacuations and security during fires in the past, notably the large fires 4 years ago, a year before I joined the team.
Yesterday at about 0400 I hit the road and drove out to the shipping container that is our gear storage shed, where I met Sonny Lawerence. We picked up the Sheriff's vehicle and headed up to the operation center in Twin Peaks where we were briefed and given our mission.
Our assigned task was to patrol the commercial districts of Crestline and Rim Forest looking for looters. If we saw anything odd happening we were instructed to call in to the command post on the 800MHz radio. We were issued Nomex shirts and rubber goggles, along with an 800MHz HT to compliment our 800MHz mobile in the truck.
We began our mission after a eating a county-catered breakfast. I spent the day driving around slowly between the two tiny commercial strips of Crestline and Rim Forest. In Rim Forest we saw a guy with his pickup trucked backed up to a hardware store and another guy inside. We called it in, and as we were waiting for the Sheriff's Deputies to come the guy in the pickup took off. One of the Deputies knew that guy inside who was the owner. Other than that our day was uneventful, although I did get some cool shots of Tanker Helicopters sucking up water from Lake Gregory:
We didn't get too close to the fire, here is a photo of the Grass Valley fire:
And here is a photo of the Slide Fire: