Thursday, June 25, 2020

Wind & Rocks

I'm used to seeing beautiful skies out in east Joshua Tree. I guess I'm spoiled. Yup, definitely spoiled. Today started out like many others, with a solid blue sky. The only difference was high winds were predicted for late afternoon.
I wasn't following a trail (this is designated wilderness area), just following waypoints across open desert en route to a destination, and looking for interesting rock formations along the way.

About an hour or so into my hike, I noticed the wind picking up. My only thought was that it might mess up my sky, wrecking an otherwise beautiful day for photography.

I noticed what looked like clouds moving in, but realized these weren't clouds. These were areas of blowing sand and dust.

As I passed the rock that, from this angle, looks like an old man with a big nose, the sky was losing much of it's blue color and the wind was getting stronger. A little disappointed, I continued my hike.

I hiked by the old fire ring that, based on the wood decay and rocky breakdown, appears that it's been here a VERY long time!

The photos above look like they were taken on a foggy day. Definitely not the case, as there was flying sand and dust everywhere!

The big thing I learned on this hike was that as the skies started to white-out, it made it easier to concentrate on the rock formations and textures. Normally I'm very focused on the sky backdrop, and it's a big part of how I compose my photos. With the sky effectively neutralized, it forced me to focus 100% on the rocks. In the second photo, I see some "eyes" carved in the rock. Let's go check it out.
Getting closer. Let's climb the rocks...
There we go. Very cool! Almost like having a version of Skull Rock out here in east Joshua Tree. But given the remote location, very few people have seen this skull rock!

A small, interesting shelter.

Rocky textures in b&w.

Looking down!
The rocky textures and patterns seem to really stand out against the neutral sky.

B&W works well for these conditions.

It wasn't until the sun was setting and the wind was really blowing hard that concern entered my mind. I wondered if there were ever times of complete "white-out"... when the sand was blowing so hard you couldn't see the surrounding hills to navigate. Much like hiking at night. As I pushed against the wind, I hoped it wouldn't come to that. I spotted an alcove, and the thought crossed my mind that if things got too bad, I could shelter in there for a while.
The alcove reminds me of a tortoise shell.
Inside, the alcove was calm and perfectly protected from the wind. However, I didn't rest for long. I was quickly loosing daylight and still had a long hike back to the Jeep.

Sunset during a desert sandstorm!
After safely making it back to the Jeep in near total darkness, I checked my phone. There was one of those emergency alerts sent out to all local residents regarding a High Wind Advisory. Stay off the roads if possible. The 40-mile drive back to the house in my open Jeep in high winds and blowing sand was a real white-knuckle experience!!

Thanks for joining me on another desert adventure!
Stay safe and stay healthy.
Linking with Skywatch Friday.


  1. ...let's OK, you can keep spoiling us too!

  2. Hello, your photos are always stunning. I love all the rock formations, the old man with the big nose , the skull rock and the shelter. Too bad the high winds had to come during your hike. The blowing sand in an open jeep does not sound fun, glad you made it home safely. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy weekend ahead!

  3. wow - I'm glad you got home safe - beautiful rock formations as usual

  4. Absolutely wonderful cliffs
    what lovely patterns they show

  5. Glad you made the ride home safely. Love all the melted rocks. I see so many things in those rocks like elephants, people, houses. I could look at those rocks all day.

  6. The rock formations are fabulous!!
    Hope you had your mask on to protect you from all that dust.
    The sand storm would have scared me out of my wits.

  7. Your photos always amaze me! So glad you made it home safely!

  8. Your driving home in a sandstorm sound s like driving in thick fog which is a bit of a white knuckle experience. Awesome captures but the skull wins out for me

  9. You know, maybe those rock formations are not rocks but fossils of a giant race of human like people!!??
    Great photographs, great eye, another great outing you shared.

  10. Quite the excursion. The rock formations are incredible.

  11. Wow that really wasn't adventure! You know we already worried about you don't you? Interesting points about the compositions. I immediately registered the subject of each of those photos and then captions confirmed. Elephant! Indeed. Please stay safe. Sat phone? EPERB?

  12. You really did outdo yourself with patterns and formations. And please don't do anything I wouldn't, wait, then you wouldn't have anything to put in your blog. But please try to be a little less adventurous! Please?

  13. I have read about the 'white-outs' of sand, seems to me it would be tough, especially on my eyes.
    Sherry and I read and viewed this, ooo'ing and aaahhh'ing The formations today were super. THANKS
    Sherry & jack outhere on the first ooast.

  14. Fantastic photography! They look like scary skeletons

  15. So many faces! My brain wants to see faces in things, and these put me on overload... Wonderful! And that sunset picture is dy-no-mite!

  16. Another great hike and adventure, Peter.
    The rock formations are impressive again. Black & white is a very good choice for these circumstances, I think.

  17. A beautiful and great collection of faces made by nature. I like it.

  18. Ich staune und bewundere immer wieder die spektakulären Fotos.

  19. The rock formations are as impressive as ever and it's nice to see them in different meteorological conditions than beneath sunny skies. I've been in a complete white-out in the mountains a couple of times and it's not an experience I'd recommend.

  20. Mind Expanding Photos - So Much To See - The Monochrome Shots Are Priceless - So Stoked For You And Your Motivation For Exploring Your Surroundings - Or For The 80 Mile Round Trip Of Surroundings - Enjoy The Family Time This Weekend And Keep Catching Those Sunsets


  21. I just love your photo treks. Joshua Tree is an amazing place. If I had a bucket list, a visit there would be on it. Wonderful photos, and a gorgeous sunset.

  22. What wonderful rock formations, especially the Old Man with the Big Nose--awesome!

  23. Well you made it through no matter what. Super rock formations---lots of faces and the skull looking rock was interesting. Would be awful to be caught in a windstorm

  24. I can see very well many shapes in the rocks you are sharing today.
    Even a few crooked figures.
    We can say wind and weather are sculptors as well!

  25. An old man, skulls and I see a thinker, too. Could you breathe properly?

  26. Wow! Fantastic sky shot ~ light is gorgeous there and what amazing rock formations you got to photograph ` thanks ^_^

    Be Safe, Be Well,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  27. yup, you are spoiled - with gorgeous skies and with gorgeous nature on you, practically, doorstep.

  28. Amazing rock formations, probably shaped by those sandstorms over the eons. The face of the old man stooped over is so striking, down to the last detail.

  29. These formations look eerily detailed!!! Especially the old man's face and the one looking down! Wow!

  30. Some great rock formations you captured. Your hikes always give us something new to see and enjoy. Have a great weekend.

  31. I really enjoyed these images, the weather can make any day into a thrilling adventure. I have never visited Joshua Tree but I certainly can't wait until I do.

  32. Glad you made it back safe. Amazing captures of the rocks in black and white!

  33. I'm surprised you didn't turn around earlier. Glad you made it out safe. So many "faces" in the rocks this time.

  34. Wow, absolutely glorious. Thank you!

    Glad I've joined in on this Skywatch Friday fun - seeing some amazing photos.

  35. I loved seeing all the faces in the rocks! What an adventure.

  36. Beautiful photos! Yes, it looks like an elephant and a old man. The formations are wonderful.

  37. Wow what an adventure! Glad you found the alcove!
    Great pictures, they almost speak!

  38. I enjoy my virtual hike to the desert with you. Very interesting rock formation and beautiful rock sculptures. Towards the ending, your hike sounds exciting and scary too. Glad to know you made your way home safely. Have a great weekend.

  39. Gosh there are so many places to hide, I can see the big nose and why skull rock is named as it is.

  40. You used to map your hikes. I miss that.

    1. Ya, I struggle with that. It's fun to map a hike and share it with others. Seems like more and more, I want to keep the locations secret for a variety of reasons, so I've stopped sharing my maps (for the most part).

  41. White knuckle adventure yikes! I heard on the news that we are expecting dust storms from Africa. Perhaps you encountered it already. I giggled when I saw the face looking down. I loved the skull rock and the big nose and, and, and all the places you could hide. Have a great weekend.

  42. Such fantastic photos. I love all the interesting shapes you found. That second photo looks a lot like the praying monk formation on Camelback Mountain here. I'm certainly glad you made it to the car safely and survived the drive home.

  43. That sounds like some experience you had there, so I am glad you survived :)

  44. Glad you made it back OK. Each person who looks at your pictures will see a different thing, a person, an old man, an animal. Your desert is gorgeous as are your pictures.

  45. That old man face is one of the best rock faces I've seen. And the skull rocks are so creepy. What a photographer's paradise. And you have such a good eye.

  46. OK , now this one was scary! Eerie faces, nasty wind ... I am amazed (and happy) that you were able to pay attention to the beauty of the rock formations (and the occasional weirdness ). Glad you made it home safely. It sounds like your drive home was the most frightening part of the adventure. I think that really marks you as a true desert explorer, when you are fine with wilderness conditions that would scare mere mortals to death, but white knuckle it on the road!

  47. Sometimes it is good to have these less than ideal situations, to make us more grateful for something we otherwise take for granted. This is also a superb example of why, when we hike, we over-prepare. You never know what you might encounter! Glad you made it back safely to share all these photos with us, especially Old Man with Nose.

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