Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dragoon Mtns west - photoseries

Two weeks ago, I went on a nearly all-day trip to the nearby Dragoon Mtns with fellow artist and WetCanvas'er Drusilla, who lives on a ranch in the area.  Not knowing much about the local sites, she offered to take us out to the western side of the Dragoon Mtns.   A week prior, I had been to the eastern side of the same mountains with another local artist; some of those photos were featured in my recent blog post on winter skies and odd cloud formations.

Anyway, on the day we went, it was a beautiful sunny day with not a cloud in the sky.  Access to the Dragoons is via a road that lies just north of Tombstone.   Dru gave me lots of background about the local history of the Dragoons, including pointing out the location of Council Rock, where the Apache Cochise signed a treaty with the whites over a century ago, and she showed me the remains of a very old adobe fort, probably built around the late 1800's.  I did get some photos of that, along with many of the mountains, which are primarily composed of pink granite that has eroded and crumbled into a variety of shapes from massive boulders to balanced spires and occasional whimsical shapes.  We hiked a bit up the trail that traverses the mountain saddle from west to east, which I definitely plan to come back to in the future. 

Below are some select photos to show the rugged beauty of the mountains and surrounding area.  The rest may be seen in this new Picasa gallery.  The vegetation in the area is part Chihuahuan desert scrub at the base and part Pinon-Juniper woodlands in the mountains.   Some people think that the desert doesn't have four seasons, but it most certainly does.   They are subtle and perhaps not appreciated or seen by those who are used to the "in your face" season changes in the midwest or east coast.   Some of these photos do capture the essence and delicate beauty of the "winter desert"; others highlight the sculptural forms or minute detail in nature that I have an affinity for. 

Granite hill crest
A spent agave flower stalk adds a sense of space to the scrub oak hillside and large protrusions of granite
Lone Oak
A scrub oak sits atop a small hill near a large outcropping of rock
Afternoon shadow play
Shadows cast by the canes of an ocotillo - a native desert shrub - fall on the adjacent rocks, forming an interesting pattern.
Tree form with rock
This dead or dormant tree, nestled within the surrounding rocks, creates a dramatic contrast against the bright afternoon sky.  Manzanita, ocotillo and dried grasses add to the botanical diversity

Lichen in Detail
This chartreuse species of lichen forms distinctive colorful patches on the Dragoon rocks
Catching the Sun
The afternoon sun lights up the tips of these grasses, producing a sharp contrast against the distal field, trees and mountains.

Winter Afternoon
The late afternoon light warms the face of the Dragoons, while a large yucca casts a long shadow in the foreground.
High Desert Shadows
The late afternoon light showcases the folds and contours of these hills adjacent to the Dragoons, while the winter grasses break up some of the foreground shadows.
Yucca Pair
These yucca plants, characteristic flora of the Chihuahuan Desert Scrub, appear to float in a sea of dried grass.
Sunset from the Dragoons
The Huachuca Mtns form the distant horizon for this picturesque sunset

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