nature photography

Snowshoeing on Mt. San Jacinto, Desert View Trail & Round Valley, 6.6 miles RT, max elevation 9,100', 900' +/-, January 19, 2019

Snowshoeing on Mt. San Jacinto, Desert View Trail & Round Valley, 6.6 miles RT, max elevation 9,100', 900' +/-, January 19, 2019

We had quite a bit of rain over the past few days and I really wanted to try snowshoeing. We had already made plans months ago to spend the weekend in Twentynine Palms, but instead of hiking in the desert like we normally would have, we decided to take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to Mt. San Jacinto. We rented snowshoes from REI in Burbank and were lucky to get the last two pairs available for the upcoming weekend. Seems everyone had the same idea: Take advantage of the snow while you can. I got up at 4 am and we were on our way by 5 am. When we arrived in Palm Springs at 7 am, the parking lot was already getting filled up; families with sleds, coolers, snowshoes, etc., all gearing up for a winter play day. We got our tickets for the 8 am tram and were on our way up the mountain in no time. The tram is a unique activity to do in and of itself. I never get tired of being hoisted up a steep cliff inside a floating bubble travelling up a cable. The transition from desert floor to sub-alpine is amazing and in just 10 minutes we went from the desert floor at 2,643’ at Valley Station to 8,516’ at the top of Mountain Station. The air at the top of the tram was in the 30s. The snow was hard packed and crunchy with some ice. We headed over to the Desert View Loop to try out snowshoeing for the first time. It was actually quite easy. To me it felt a bit like an elliptical machine. The Desert View loop is a short trail with a gentle incline and five notches overlooking wonderful views. It was the perfect place to start. After we had gotten the hang of things, we headed over to Long Valley Station where we filled out a permit and continued on into the San Jacinto Wilderness with our destination being Round Valley. By this time, more people had arrived, some wearing microspikes and there were many groups of snowshoers and winter backpackers. I really enjoyed being able to “float” on top of the snow in the snowshoes. I also liked having a sturdy grip with the snowshoes’ crampon that dug its teeth into the hard packed snow for traction. I felt very secure both ascending and descending. There were a number of people on the trail today, but we were still able to enjoy some alone time. After arriving at Round Valley, we contemplated going up one more mile up to Wellman’s Divide. But instead, we changed our minds and decided to start heading back, knowing we had a cozy room waiting for us in Twentynine Palms. The weather was warming up now, and the snow was starting to get slushy. I think it was a little after 2 pm when we arrived back at Mountain Station. We had no problems getting on the next tram down and were headed out to spend the rest of the weekend relaxing and enjoying the desert. It was a wonderful day. I think I am hooked on snowshoeing and I cannot wait for the opportunity to do it again!

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Descanso Gardens, December 23, 2018

Descanso Gardens, December 23, 2018

I woke up Sunday morning feeling inspired. It had been a while since I’d last visited Descanso Gardens. I used to go there every weekend to take photos of the flowers, the trees, the plants, and through the years, I’ve come to know the garden with it’s changing seasons quite intimately. Now that I’ve been spending most of my weekends hiking, I just don’t have as much time to spend visiting the garden. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed being here until my walk this morning. It felt so refreshing and it was, as usual, beautiful. I’m going to make it a plan in the new year to create a balance so that I can still set aside some time to visit this enchanted place.

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Sunday's 2nd Hike: Wildlife & Wildflowers at Grizzly Flat, 2.4 miles RT, 643 +/-, April 15, 2018

Sunday's 2nd Hike:  Wildlife & Wildflowers at Grizzly Flat, 2.4 miles RT, 643 +/-, April 15, 2018

On the way back from Devil’s Canyon today, we stopped off at Grizzly Flat so I could take some butterfly photos with my DSLR.  I don’t hike with my DSLR anymore because it’s too cumbersome on strenuous hikes.  I also don’t want to ruin it when I need to climb up rocks or navigate through tall brush.  I brought it along today just for this hike since it’s an easy one up a nice, wide trail.  The sun was in and out so it was mostly cloudy, but the hike was very nice.  There were lots of wildflowers in bloom, hence the butterflies were around them.  I didn’t see a lot of activity today, but I did see a few as well as some other critters in the short time we were on the trail.  One of these days I’d like to hike up this trail a little further although it’s hard when you’re searching for butterflies because you end up spending a lot of time just in one spot waiting for that perfect shot! 

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Devil's Canyon, 5.3 miles RT, 1,357 +/-, April 15, 2018

Devil's Canyon, 5.3 miles RT, 1,357 +/-, April 15, 2018

We’ve been doing a lot of canyon hikes lately.  Devil’s Canyon was another one I’ve had on my “to do” list since we’ve been driving past it on the way to other hikes.  The trail takes you down into the rugged San Gabriel Wilderness.  It follows a babbling brook into the heart of Devil’s Canyon where it opens up to flat, sandy trail next to sparkling pools, cascades and smooth boulders that make a great place to have lunch.  There’s also a primitive backcountry campground that you can stay at just a little further up the trail.  I liked this hike a lot.  The trail is quite narrow in many spots so you need to stay focused, but it’s not sketchy.  The grade is also gradual, so climbing up isn’t so bad since you’ll gain all your elevation on the way out.

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Descanso Gardens, March 30, 2018

Descanso Gardens, March 30, 2018

I had the day off on Friday so I headed out to Descanso Gardens to do some photography and catch the tail end of the tulip bloom.  I haven’t been getting there nearly as much since we started hiking every weekend, but I did want to at least check out the spring bloom.  Here are just a few photos from my trek around the gardens.  Not nearly as many images as I took last year when we had the big super bloom, but still very pretty and always an enjoyable way to spend an hour or two.
 

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Dawson Saddle to Mount Hawkins 8,925' and Throop Peak 9,138', 6 miles RT (1,480' +/-) December 3, 2017

Dawson Saddle to Mount Hawkins 8,925' and Throop Peak 9,138', 6 miles RT (1,480' +/-) December 3, 2017

My alarm went off at 4 am, but both of us were tired and needed more sleep.  I got up, fed the cat, gave him some playtime and then went back to bed.  About 6 am I woke up and knew if we didn’t hike we’d spend the day regretting it.  We suited up, grabbed the packs and headed out.  By 10:30 we were at the trailhead for Dawson Saddle, 7,901’.  This was the latest we’d ever started a hike, but at the higher elevation the air was chilly and the winds were about 30 to 35 mph.  I was glad we were starting off in the mid-morning sun.  Dawson Saddle is an absolutely beautiful trail.  It was built by the Boy Scouts in 1982.  My favorite section of this trail is going up over the ridge where the views are incredible on either side.  It’s also nicely graded so even though you’re climbing, you don’t really notice it much.  Soon we arrived at the junction for the PCT where you can take a left to Mount Burnham and Mount Baden-Powell, or you can follow it to the right and summit Throop Peak and Mount Hawkins.  We’d already done Throop over the summer, so our plan was to skip Throop and just stay on the PCT heading over to Mount Hawkins.  As the trail skirted around Throop, you could notice some fire damage.  It was still a very pretty trail and the views continued throughout the trek.  Eventually, we reached the fork where the PCT heads down or you can veer left to reach the rocky summit of Mount Hawkins.  Once at the summit we had nice 360 views all around.  We took a break to enjoy the solitude and crisp mountain air before heading back.  On the return, we passed by the use trail that heads up to Throop .  We decided since we were already here, why not check it out.  The trail was steep and faded in and out in spots, but it was just a short distance to the summit.  Right before the peak, the trail became well defined again and the plaque dedicated to Amos G. Throop became visible.  I think it may have been around 1:30 by this time, so we didn’t hang around for too long before heading back down.  We got back on the Dawson Saddle trail and continued another 1.9 miles before reaching our car.  After bagging two peaks in one day, sushi and sake seemed like a good idea.  It was a perfect ending to a lovely day.  

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Wild Flower Hill at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants, June 10, 2017

Wild Flower Hill at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants, June 10, 2017

Woke up to a very cloudy morning with some slight drizzle.  I’d already planned on going back to the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants to pick up a few more items for my butterfly garden and also take another trek up Wild Flower Hill.  Along the nature trail all the plants are tagged with their names, so it’s a It’s a great way to learn about them.  After a short hike up the hill, I spent some time in the nursery contemplating what additions to add to my garden.  I came home with a few selections:  red fairy duster, aster chilensis 'point saint george' and verbena lilacina.  I’m sure the butterflies are going to enjoy them!  Here are some images from my short hike today.
 

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