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2017 Wildflowers, part 3

Really, this is Parts 3 & 4, but we’ll pretend that it’s just one part. Part 3 only consists of a couple photographs. In late March, I was in Phoenix for work and a friend had told me that the wildflower bloom up near New River was nice, so I spent my one evening in Arizona grinding my way through rush hour traffic to arrive at the referenced BLM lands north of New River just as the sun was setting. I found the first patch of flowers and saguaro that I could find, set up as fast as I could, and managed 20-30 minutes of photos in that one spot before it was dark. After that, the desert was too dark for me to even spot any wildflowers… though I did have fun bombing through dirt roads in the desert in the dark in my rental SUV!

Back in Southern California the buzz was all about Carrizo Plain National Monument, up in San Luis Obispo County, north of Santa Barbara. I tried and tried for several weeks to get up there, all the while seeing photos from friends of mine who were just killing it up there, but various things at home kept me from getting there until this past weekend. Finally I managed to get out of town… only to slog my way through $#(*@# Los Angeles–on Easter weekend no less. The 4.5 hour trip took me 7 hours.

In some ways, I wish that I’d made it up to Carrizo Plain earlier in the season. The big fields of Hillside Daisies down in the valley would have been less thrashed by tourists, and perhaps the fields of purples and oranges on the mountains would have been more pronounced. But it was still a lot of fun to shoot there, and there were still good photo opportunities. Not to mention that, if you took the time & energy to hike up into the mountains, those patches of orange and purple that seemed faded from the valley floor were suddenly much more healthy looking!

Cactus, yellow wildflowers, and saguaro near New River, Arizona, USA.

 

Yellow wildflowers and saguaro cactus near New River, Arizona, USA.

 

Saguaro and yellow wildflowers near New River, Arizona, USA.

 

Hillside Daisies (Monolopia lanceolata) at sunset in the central valley of Carrizo Plain National Monument.

 

Mixed wildflowers on a hillside. Temblor Mountains, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California.

 

Looking down into the valley of Carrizo Plain National Monument from high in the Temblor Mountains.  Do you see the cars at the trailhead?

 

Wildflowers on the slope of the Temblor Mountain range. Carrizo Plain National Monument.

 

A massive field of Hillside Daisies (Monolopia lanceolata) below the Caliente Range in Carrizo Plain National Monument.

 

A smattering of purple in a field of varying yellows off Simmler Road in Carrizo Plain National Monument.

 

The view of the painted Caliente Range in Carrizo Plain National Monument, across a field of Hillside Daisies (Monolopia lanceolata).

 

Hillside Daisies (Monolopia lanceolata) at sunrise after an overnight frost in Carrizo Plain National Monument.

 

Stars and Hillside Daisies (Monolopia lanceolata) in the moonlight at Carrizo Plain National Monument.

 

Hillside Daisies (Monolopia lanceolata) in the valley of Carrizo Plain National Monument

 

Looking down towards Soda Lake in the valley of Carrizo Plain National Monument from high in the Temblor Mountains.

 

Looking down into the valley of Carrizo Plain National Monument from high in the Temblor Mountains.

 

A hiking trail leads up into the Temblor Mountains and patches of colored wildflowers in Carrizo Plain National Monument

 

A painted hillside in the Temblor Mountains in Carrizo Plain National Monument.

 

Mixed wildflowers on a hillside. Temblor Mountains, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California.

2017 Wildflowers, part 2

As completely overrun as Borrego Springs has been since the news started running stories about a “Super Bloom,” I hadn’t planned on heading back out to the desert again until the hype was over. However, Friday night a friend got in touch to say that the bloom of dune evening primrose had exploded in the past week. The friend has a bit of a thing for primroses… and because I’ve learned much from him over the years, I kind of do, too! They are very photogenic.

A week ago, sunrise was at 6:00 AM and I got up 90 miles away in San Diego at 3:00 AM on a weekday–to avoid the weekend traffic and be there well before sunrise. This trip on Saturday was definitely not a weekday, and the change to Daylight Savings Time made sunrise about 7:00 AM, but this time I was up at 2:45 AM for the long, dark drive. The fog was thick and scary until Highway 67 turned east. To my complete dismay, I arrived at 4:45 AM out at the east end of Henderson Canyon Road–that’s more than two hours before sunrise–and there were already a dozen cars there! I didn’t encounter any other people, however, until around sunrise… so they may have all arrived the night before and been sleeping.

The dune evening primrose had indeed exploded and were gorgeous. As were the rest of the flowers. Things were only mildly trampled, and not yet too much burnt from the sun. But between the sun and the caterpillars, I doubt this bloom will last too much longer.

The Big Dipper watches over a field of wildflowers at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Night sky over dune evening primrose in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Wildflowers at sunrise in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Dune evening primrose at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Dandelions mix with dune evening primrose, desert sand verbena, and desert sunflowers off Henderson Canyon Road in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Dune evening primrose and other spring wildflowers at sunrise in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Sunrise light on the mountains of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park behind fields of spring wildflowers.

Dune evening primrose mixed with other spring wildflowers at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Desert sand verbena mixed with desert sunflowers and a sea of dune evening primrose behind. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Dune evening primrose at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

A field of dune evening primrose greet the morning sun in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Mixed wildflowers at sunrise in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Dune evening primrose, desert sand verbena, and desert sunflowers off Henderson Canyon Road in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Dandelions greet the morning sun in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Early 2017 Wildflowers

The photographer’s pollen-covered hiking boots [click to view larger].

With as much rain as California has had in the past couple months, many of us have been carefully watching wildflower reports from other photographers in the hopes that 2017 might bring a spectacular wildflower season.  And in the past week or so, things have seemed to accelerate–with more and more reports coming in and some of them pretty good!  Unfortunately, the news media has also caught wind of this and has been reporting a “super bloom,” so now wildflower spots that would normally see an admittedly fair amount of traffic are being completely overrun.  There were reports of 2-4 hour traffic jams of San Diegans trying to get down the hill into Borrego Springs this past weekend!

To avoid that rush, I was up at 3:00 AM on Friday and quickly out the door for a weekend of wandering Southern California in search of wildflowers.  First stop, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.  It did not disappoint… but I’m not sure that I would call it a “super bloom.”  The coverage was good but not insane.  Over the weekend I visited several locations within the Colorado Desert region of Southern California as well as some of the hillsides within the more urban part of Southern California that are now covered in California poppies.  It was a quick but incredibly (photographically) productive trip.  Below are some of the highlights.

Dune evening primrose (white) and desert sunflower (gold) in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California

Sunrise over the Cottonwood Mountains during wildflower season.

California poppies overlook a lake in Southern California.

Wildflowers at sunrise near the southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park.

Wildflowers bloom on the southern slope of the Cottonwood Mountains.

Mixed wildflowers cover a hillside in Southern California.

Dune evening primrose grows out of cracked earth in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park at sunrise.

A dense row of wildflowers lines Henderson Canyon Road at sunrise in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Wildflowers in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California

A field of desert sunflowers along Henderson Canyon Road in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Lupine in front of a boulder.

A field of desert dandelions along DiGorgio Road in Borrego Springs, California.

A field of lupine and other wildflowers, with a lone tree, at Joshua Tree National Park.

Wildflowers at sunset in the Colorado Desert.

A field of yellow wildflowers.

Wildflowers at sunset in the Cottonwood Mountains, overlooking the Salton Sea.

Sunrise light across a field of lupine and other wildflowers.

Snow-capped mountains loom behind fields of California poppies, Arroyo lupine, and California goldfields.

A sea of colors on a Southern California hillside.

Mixed California poppies, Arroyo lupine, California goldfields, chia, baby blue eyes, and an unknown white flower.

Snow-capped mountains loom behind fields of California poppies and Arroyo lupine.

A boat cruises past hillsides covered in California poppies.

A boat departs a marina in Southern California, past fields of California poppies and Arroyo lupine.

More Big Surf

Following the spindrift (and big surf) photos from Friday, I rented a Sigma 150-600mm lens and headed back out on Saturday.  This weekend’s giant surf (forecast to peak at 18 feet on some surf breaks in San Diego) was supposed to peak Saturday afternoon.  I visited Windansea, Bird Rock, and then Sunset Cliffs–all with mid-sized messy waves and zero surfers–and then, as the afternoon waned, decided to head back to La Jolla Shores just really because I couldn’t figure out what else to do.  It looked like the big surf event was a non-event.

Man, was I wrong!  It was going off at the Shores.  I’m not a great judge of surf height, but I’d guess that the bigger waves were more than double overhead.  Looking across at the Point La Jolla, it looked like Boomer was also going off.  In fact, you could see a SD Lifeguard PWC out patrolling the shoulders of the breakers.

I stuck with one break at the north end of the La Jolla Shores beach that had a half-dozen or so surfers on it.  The sets were huge.  Too big, I think for the surfers, as no one attempted any rides at all the first 20 minutes or so that I was there.  And throughout, I never saw anyone take the biggest sets–so as you look at the surfer shots below, imagine that these were the smaller waves that they were riding!

A surfer does a flip off the backside of a wave at La Jolla Shores. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Giant wave crashing behind a surfer at La Jolla Shores. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Surfer inside a barrel at La Jolla Shores. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

How big is that wave? Surfer drops in on a big set at La Jolla Shores. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Waves and surfers stacked up at La Jolla Shores. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Sunlight off the ocean

 

Seaplane approaching Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma, California, USA.

 

Rain approaches surfers off La Jolla Shores, California, USA.

 

Stormy skies and light beams off La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Tree at Windansea beach in La Jolla, California, USA.