I was having a down day, which happens, even in a really amazing place like Death Valley. Everything was getting on my nerves: generators firing up at 7:01AM, noisy campers the night before, people walking through my site on the way to the bathroom… it was just one of those days.
I decided to go for a drive and grabbed my Sony A7 on the way out the door. I thought maybe today was the day to hike Golden Canyon, but as I drove by it, I could see the parking lot was so full there was no way my car would fit in, and I wouldn’t want to hike a crowded trail anyways. I went about a mile more and saw this out my window…
It looked like the hike I needed: a long walk with no one near and not much to see, so I could think out loud and maybe pull myself out of this funk. I parked on the side of the road, checked the camera had battery and memory card, and started walking.
It took me about five minutes to actually notice what I was walking through instead of what I was walking towards. This dried out little bush caught my eye and I felt like I had to take its picture.
I ended up sitting in the dirt, lowering my camera and getting as close to level with the ground as I could to get the tree in the foreground in focus, framed by the Panamint range of mountains in the background. I don’t know how long I spent, maybe 10 minutes, but it sparked something in me and I started looking for more bushes.
This one is looking the other way, toward the mountains I had first picked out as my destination. Again, I had to get down in the dirt for the shot, but I didn’t mind at all. I was having fun and lost all track of time.
I kept walking, looking down at the ground more than I was looking out at my destination. I had thought I was looking for geology photos but the keepers from this photo walk turned out to be the bushes.
Isn’t that the way sometimes? You think you know what you want, but then you actually needed something else. My hike turned into a photo walk and it made me feel so good to be creative and attentive that my whole day turned around.
And just to give a sense of scale to the hike, that little dot at the end of the red arrow in the photo below is my car. It was about 30 minutes of serious walking from where I took this photo to where my car was parked. Death Valley is all about scale; feeling so small in such a vast space.
What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.