Rain brings spontaneous desert symmetry breaking: some areas become rivers and streams, while others stay high and dry. La Quinta Cove brings hiking trails into this equation. Looking high over the landscape, those trails and dry streambeds may be hard to distinguish—until the rain comes. In the distance, just above the tan tanks on the left of the image, the Salton Sea serves as a reminder of how water and the desert interact.
Tag: La Quinta
Desert Until the Valley Floor
Flying is Easier Than Hiking
The path at right is a fairly treacherous, dusty way up to the top of this hill; it’s the one I took last year to capture images like this one. Flying to the top with my drone is, by comparison, a bit less strenuous.
My trips to this hill last year were constrained by the limitations of gravity; bringing my drone with me this year opened up whole new vistas and geometries. The artificial nature of this water retention area is far more apparent when view from the air.
Where the Houses Stop/Palm Trees and Sprawl
Like a child’s legos, spilled out onto the floor until they reach the wall of the room, the sprawl of Coachella Valley reaches from one mountain range to the other.
Of course, when that sprawl does reach the edge, modern California’s land conservation kicks in and a hard barrier appears between homes and desert.
Christmas Sunset Together
At the Top
Exploring La Quinta Cove
A hike through La Quinta Cove, like many hikes, is a mix of experiencing natural and human-adjusted forms. That’s normally more subtle on the east coast, but this desert hike shows the clear shapes of water retention and control structures carved into the landscape.
Erosion can be a major issue in areas with sparse vegetation; the areas supported by the roots of this small tree stand apart from the eroded absence-of-soil nearby.
The alien (to me) landscapes and strange life forms make the hike feel like exploring a strange new world.
Creosote on Christmas
Tiny Figures and Big Rocks
Can you spot the tiny figures at the top of the hill? I’m confident that tiny figures produce a sense of grand scale in images—particular desert shots, like this one, where the inhuman nature of the place can make understanding the sizes of objects difficult. Nonetheless, I find myself wondering how small the figures in an image can be before the viewer loses the ability to recognize them as human.
Water Escape: Coachella Valley
Coachella Valley is a desert that was once home to a lake, so careful management of water—both where it should go, and where it shouldn’t—leads to some fascinating human-engineered structures. I like this image for the sense of depth, but also for the way that the unmodified hills rise above the human-produced forms in the fore- and mid-ground.
Off for a Hike
My favorite images are those that contrast (apparently) natural and human-populated places. Escaping all of the noise of the holidays to a hike in the desert has a certain appeal at this time of year.