Truchas Peaks IV

2011

Within the Sangre de Christo mountain range, 25 miles north of Santa Fe, are situated the Truchas Peaks (Spanish for “trout”). This range of four summits include the 13,102′ South Truchas Peak – the second highest peak in New Mexico – and the 13,024′ North Truchas Peak.

The birth of the Sangre de Cristos Mountains — the southernmost subrange of the Rockies — occurred 80 million years ago as the Farrallon Plate slid under the North American Plate at such a shallow angle that it formed a wider belt of north-south mountains, resulting in a broader region of lower mountains farther inland.

During the succeeding 60 million years, erosion stripped away the high rocks to reveal the ancestral rocks beneath that have since been eroded by water and glaciers, sculpting the mountains into more dramatic peaks and valleys.

Shooting east during late afternoon light, while simultaneously stroking my camera south, enabled me to intensify the texture of these north-south trending subranges of the Truchas Peaks

The fourth and final set of Truchas Peaks images, each resulting once again from single exposure camera pans, as I blend the varying textures with the constantly changing light.

Truchas Peaks<br>Truchas Peaks IV — 2011 Truchas Peaks II<br>Truchas Peaks IV — 2011 Truchas Peaks III<br>Truchas Peaks IV — 2011 Truchas Peaks IV<br>Truchas Peaks IV — 2011 Truchas Peaks V<br>Truchas Peaks IV — 2011 Truchas Peaks VI<br>Truchas Peaks IV — 2011

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New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3

2011

Texture & Time

These six images complete my attempt to visually convey the 200 million year passage of time when Ghost Ranch’s oldest exposed rock became part of a collection of varicolored siltstone, mudstone and sandstone deposited by rivers.

Ghost Ranch<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3 — 2011

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Mexico Central Plateau

2016

West of San Miguel de Allende, the Laja River rises in the Sierra Madre at about 6,000′ elevation, arches east and then south through the central plateau, past San Miguel de Allende, where it flows into the Lerma River.

Looking east 15 miles to San Miguel across Presa Allende Lake — created by the Ignacio Allende Dam to control Laja River flooding — offers a wonderful sense of Mexico’s central plateau high desert landscape.

Mexico Central Plateau<br>Mexico Central Plateau — 2016 Mexico Central Plateau II<br>Mexico Central Plateau — 2016 Mexico Central Plateau III<br>Mexico Central Plateau — 2016 Mexico Central Plateau IV<br>Mexico Central Plateau — 2016 Mexico Central Plateau V<br>Mexico Central Plateau — 2016 Mexico Central Plateau VI<br>Mexico Central Plateau — 2016

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San Miguel de Allende’s Pyramid

2016

Fifteen miles west of San Miguel de Allende, situated on a small mesa surrounded by canyons, the Canada de La Virgen Pyramid was occupied between 500 and 1000 a.d. by the Otomi people, one of the many indigenous ethnic groups of the Middle American Indian population that inhabited the central plateau region of central Mexico.

The House of the Thirteen Heavens — which served as a horizon clock, an observatory, and a burial ground for the elite — was in perfect alignment with the sun, the moon, and all but one of the planets in our solar system at sunset during the Otomi New Year’s Eve, March 4, 2011, while the missing planet, Saturn, was situated precisely 180 degrees from the setting sun, just at the visual beginning of the ritual causeway to the site.

The interplay of the pyramid’s various-sized wall stones reflects the meticulous layout and care of the construction of this pyramid complex begun more than 1,000 years ago.

San Miguel Pyramid<br>San Miguel de Allende’s Pyramid — 2016 San Miguel Pyramid II<br>San Miguel de Allende’s Pyramid — 2016 San Miguel Pyramid III<br>San Miguel de Allende’s Pyramid — 2016 San Miguel Pyramid IV<br>San Miguel de Allende’s Pyramid — 2016 San Miguel Pyramid V<br>San Miguel de Allende’s Pyramid — 2016

 

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Beaufort, South Carolina Low Country

2014

 From northern NM high country to South Carolina tidal lowlands amounts to an 8,000’ transformation in elevation.

Water, water and more water, as the tidewater fishing fleet courses amongst the lowlands, always followed by wonderful skimming pelicans…

Low Country<br>Beaufort, South Carolina — 2014 Low Country II<br>Beaufort, South Carolina — 2014 Low Country III<br>Beaufort, South Carolina — 2014 Low Country IV<br>Beaufort, South Carolina — 2014 Low Country V<br>Beaufort, South Carolina — 2014 Low Country V<br>Beaufort, South Carolina — 2014

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Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon

2015

Back home from China in Santa Fe; several weeks later I drove east across the high plains of Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle before heading south to Ft. Worth to see friends. En route, I stopped to have a look at Palo Duro Canyon, situated just south of Amarillo, that claims to be the second largest canyon in the U.S. Typical spring weather — wind and furious thunderstorms across Texas’ high plains — did not disappoint.

Early Spanish Explorers discovered the area and named the canyon “Palo Duro,” Spanish for “hardwood” due to the abundant mesquite and juniper trees. Palo Duro Canyon’s elevation at its rim is 3,500 feet; it is 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and 800 feet deep, compared to the Grand Canyon — the largest in the U.S. — which is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 6,000 ft deep.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park comprises 30,000 acres at the north end of the canyon. Water erosion from the Red River deepens the canyon as it moves sediment downstream, while wind and water erosion gradually widen the canyon.

Humans have resided in the canyon for approximately 12,000 years. Nomadic tribes hunted mammoth, giant bison, and other large game. Later, Apache Indians lived in the canyon, but were soon replaced by Comanche and Kiowa tribes, who resided in the area until 1874 when Colonel Ranald Mackenzie was sent into the area to transport them to a newly appointed reservation in Oklahoma.

In 1876, Charles Goodnight entered the canyon and opened the JA Ranch, which at its peak, supported more than 100,000 head of cattle.

Texas Panhandle<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Windmill<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Windmill II<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Palo Duro Canyon<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Palo Duro Canyon II<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Palo Duro Canyon III<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Palo Duro Canyon IV<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Mesquite & Pinon<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015

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Abiquiu Lake

2014

Abiquiu Lake is a reservoir located in Rio Arriba County 60 miles north of Santa Fe.

The Rio Chama was damned in 1963 to create the 5,200 acre Abiquiu Lake, which is more than 12 miles long  at an elevation of 6,100 feet.

From the bluffs along the southern side of the lake, the views north of the red cliffs that frame Ghost Ranch are just beautiful. Behind (south of) the lake is the very distinctive 9,862′ mountain, Cerro Pedernal.

Abiquiu Lake<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014 Abiquiu Lake II<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014 Abiquiu Lake III<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014 Abiquiu Lake IV<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014 Abiquiu Lake V<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014

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Icebergs

2014

As snow continually falls, but rarely melts in Antarctica, the weight of its ice sheets constantly increases, while the weight of the air bubbles in the ice are squeezed out and the ice crystals enlarge, making the ice appear blue. Along the coasts, the glaciers/ice shelves slowly crack off, calving as icebergs; due to their displacement, about 90% of all icebergs are actually below the ocean’s surface.

Small amounts of new ice appear to be white because they contain plenty of air bubbles, while small quantities of water appear to be colorless. But as ice continues to form, the pressure of the added weight squeezes out the air bubbles, increasing the ice’s density. And just as large quantities of water appear to be blue, since they absorb other colors more efficiently than blue, a large piece of compressed ice – a glacier – can also appear blue.

Until recently the Antarctic Ice Sheet had been considered to be fairly stable in how it retreated. A recent study by Peter Clark, a climate scientist at Oregon State University, concludes however, that “New evidence shows that the ice sheet is much more dynamic and episodic, and contributes to rapid sea-level rise.” Published in the journal Nature, his study includes measurements at Antarctica’s largest glaciers – Thwaites and Pine Island – proving that during a warming trend which occurred 14,600 years ago – these ice sheets launched enough icebergs into the ocean that the sea level rose 6.5 feet in just 100 years. This evidence of dramatic melting in Antarctica’s past supports predictions for its future: that so many of Antarctica’s melting glaciers are now on the brink of a similar massive retreat.

Icebergs are fascinating, as they can be as big as mountains, or islands, or as small as very small chunks of ice, of any shape, and having any texture; and they can range from very blue to quite white, depending on the sunlight or lack of it; and the nearly 90% that is underwater can either be somewhat visible, or not visible at all.

So often in nature, when concentrating on one scene or object – such as a mountain, or a cloud, or an iceberg, it is fascinating how often one can see in one’s own mind – recognizable shapes – pareidolias – if you will: Dancing, Passing by, Two Critters, Penguin in Repose…

Dancing<br>Icebergs – 2014 Passing By<br>Icebergs – 2014 Two Critters<br>Icebergs – 2014 Penguin in Repose<br>Icebergs – 2014 Very Wrinkled<br>Icebergs – 2014 Very Folded<br>Icebergs – 2014 Gliding By<br>Icebergs – 2014 Shivering<br>Icebergs – 2014

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Beagle Channel

2014

A year and a half ago, I spent two weeks along Antarctica’s northwest coast.

Flying to Buenos Aires and further south to Ushuaia, the ‘southernmost city in the world’ (Latitude 55 degrees S) which sits on the north bank of the Beagle Channel, the interior passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Named for Darwin’s ship that sailed this passage in 1831, the Beagle Channel separates Argentina’s very southern tip, the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, from Chile’s islands to the south.

Upon exiting the eastern end of Beagle Channel beyond Picton Island, Chile — a passage can then be set to cross the famed and feared 500 mile wide Drake Passage that separates South America from the ‘ice continent’.

Along the north side of Beagle Channel are lovely snow-covered mountains descending down to the water’s edge. Although this passage provides an inland route across Cape Horn, it is too narrow for sizeable ships to navigate its notoriously harsh and unpredictable weather.

Beagle Channel<br>Beagle Channel - 2014 Beagle Channel II<br>Beagle Channel - 2014 Beagle Channel III<br>Beagle Channel - 2014 Beagle Channel IV<br>Beagle Channel - 2014 Beagle Channel V<br>Beagle Channel - 2014 Beagle Channel VI<br>Beagle Channel - 2014 Beagle Channel VII<br>Beagle Channel - 2014 Beagle Channel VIII<br>Beagle Channel - 2014

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Bosque del Apache V: Last Light

2013

As the last light falls on the bosque’s marsh grasses, the range of red-browns gradually fades against the Chupadera Mountains, leaving hardly any visible contrast with the tens of thousands of snow geese and sandhills that have now settled in, quieting with only occasional chatter.

Nearby grasses bordering a canal contrast ever more softly against the flowing water in the marshes. And then it becomes so quiet, no one would believe that only a few hundred yards away a vast carpet of migratory fowl await daybreak’s signal to once again awake, rise and fly out to the fields to feed.

Last Light<br>Bosque del Apache V: Last Light - 2013 Last Light II<br>Bosque del Apache V: Last Light - 2013 Last Light III[<br>Bosque del Apache V: Last Light - 2013 Last Light IV<br>Bosque del Apache V: Last Light - 2013

 

 

 

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Bosque del Apache V: Overflight

2013

Tens of thousands of snow geese and as many as 15,000 sandhill cranes begin arriving mid-November to rest and refuel from their long southern migration flights. Most will stay until the end of January, spending each night safe from predators in 2-to-3 feet of marsh water. At dawn, the snow geese begin stirring; soon their honking and flapping of wings raises to such a din, flock after flock lift off, ‛flying out’ to the surrounding fields to feed. As the sun sets, they return to the wetlands for the night.

This time of year thousands of people are drawn to Bosque Apache to witness this twice daily incredible ‛sight, sound, and motion’ show, which is further enhanced by the low-angled winter sun as the birds circle against the 7,000′ Chupadera Mountains.

Sandhill Overflies Snow Geese<br>Bosque del Apache V: Overflight - 2013 Snow Geese Overflight<br>Bosque del Apache V: Overflight - 2013 Snow Geese Overflight II<br>Bosque del Apache V: Overflight - 2013 Snow Geese Overflight III<br>Bosque del Apache V: Overflight - 2013

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Bosque del Apache V: Framed by Mountains

2013

Twelve years ago I moved from Maryland’s very flat, eastern shore to Santa Fe to live amongst beautiful mountains bathed by incredible high desert light. Yet I still can’t quite believe the anomaly that is the 4,500′ Bosque del Apache wetlands preserve.

The wetlands’ color and texture magically blend against the Chupadera mountains’ 7,000′ east face during the sun’s morning ascent.

Framed by Mountains<br>Framed by Mountains - 2013 Framed by Mountains II<br>Framed by Mountains - 2013 Framed by Mountains III<br>Framed by Mountains - 2013 Framed by Mountains IV<br>Framed by Mountains - 2013

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Bosque del Apache V: Early Light

2013

This is my fifth extended visit to Bosque del Apache, one of my favorite locations in New Mexico, 160 miles south of Santa Fe. Created in 1939 to protect the last remaining 17 living sandhill cranes, the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge’s selective damming of an offshoot of the Rio Grande has developed into nearly 100 sq miles of managed wetlands and adjacent feeding fields, providing a critical stopover for migrating birds including ducks, hundreds of thousands of light geese, and now thousands of sandhill cranes.

In late fall, the bird migrations on their southern trek stop to rest and feed, then return again in early spring as they fly north for mating season. With the first rays of sun, thousands of light geese begin stirring, until their deafening cacophony raises them in waves upon waves, to be followed by hundreds of the much larger and more majestic sandhills in groups of 10 to 20 at a time. Since they only fly to surrounding fields to feed for the day, once the sun begins to set, the light geese and Sandhills rise again and return to the safety of adjoining marshes for the night.

Low-angled winter light on the wetlands, marshes, grain fields and surrounding mountains presents a spectacularly soft tableau.

Early Light<br>Bosque del Apache V - 2013 Early Light II<br>Bosque del Apache V - 2013 Early Light III<br>Bosque del Apache V - 2013 Early Light IV<br>Bosque del Apache V - 2013 Early Light V<br>Bosque del Apache V - 2013

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White Sands IV

2013

At 4,000′ elevation, the 275 square mile White Sands’ dune field comprises the world’s largest surface deposit of gypsum. Located 250 miles south of Albuquerque, and just north of the White Sands Missle Test Center, White Sands National Monument is situated in New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin between two 8-9,000′ North-South mountain ranges — the San Andreas Mountains to the west, and the Sacramento Mountains to the east.

The white gypsum sand is unlike typical desert sands made of quartz, or sand found on most beaches. Because the white gypsum reflects the sun’s rays resulting in a high rate of evaporation of surface moisture, the white gypsum sand is cool to the touch.

Because of southern New Mexico’s exceptionally clear weather, Germany trains their fighter pilots from an airbase 20 miles SE of White Sands; often they leave contrails that contrast dramatically against New Mexico’s blue, blue skies.

White Sands West<br>White Sands IV - 2013 White Sands East<br>White Sands IV - 2013 White Sands West II<br>White Sands IV - 2013 White Sands East II<br>White Sands IV - 2013 Jet Contrails Over White Sands<br>White Sands IV - 2013

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San Luis Valley

2013

San Luis Valley — 8,000 sq. miles, averaging 7,600′ elevation — is the largest high desert valley in North America. Situated in south central Colorado, with a small portion extending south into central New Mexico, this gradually-sloping, 122 mile long north-to-south flat basin, 74 miles wide, separates Colorado’s two largest mountain ranges – the San Juans to the west, and the Sangre de Cristos to the east.

As part of the Rio Grande Rift, San Luis Valley extends east from the Continental Divide. The Rio Grande River rises out of the eastern San Juan Mountains and flows south into New Mexico; Colorado rivers west of the Continental Divide are drained by the Colorado River. Receiving little precipitation, the San Luis Valley is comprised of desert lands; with no clear southern boundary, it is generally considered to include the San Luis Hills of southern Colorado and the Taos Plateau of northern New Mexico.

Along the eastern edge of San Luis Valley are two significant features:

Blanca Peak, at 14,351′, is the fourth highest mountain in Colorado, and the highest peak in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Situated at the southern end of the more extensive Sangre de Cristo Range, it is the highest peak in both ranges, and is located 20 miles east-northeast of the town of Alamosa. Blanca Peak is also the highest point of the entire drainage basin of the Rio Grande, and is higher than any point in the U.S. east of its longitude.

Fifteen miles northwest of Blanca Peak, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is situated in the lee of the Sangre de Cristos. These sand dunes, reaching as high as 750′, are the highest in North America.

Southeast Across the San Luis Valley<br>San Luis Valley - 2013 East Across the San Luis Valley<br>San Luis Valley - 2013 Sangres Across the San Luis Valley<br>San Luis Valley - 2013 Sangres & San Juans<br>San Luis Valley - 2013

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Independence Pass

2013

At 12,095′ elevation, this narrow strip of the Continental Divide is the high and extensive Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado. Situated midway between Aspen and Twin Lakes, it includes eight of the twenty highest Rocky Mountain peaks. Independence Pass is the highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide in the US.

Overlooking the alpine tundra environment above the treeline, Independence Pass offers incredible views east of Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak, and the second highest mountain in the contiguous United States.

Independence Pass<br>Independence Pass - 2013 Independence Pass II<br>Independence Pass - 2013 Independence Pass III<br>Independence Pass - 2013 Independence Pass IV<br>Independence Pass - 2013

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Flaming Gorge

2013

The Green River is both the inflow and outflow of Flaming Gorge Reservoir, whose elevation when full is 6,040′. Created in 1964 by the completion of the Flaming Gorge Dam, the reservoir is mostly situated in Wyoming, as its northern tip is only 14 miles southwest of Rock Springs, WY. Just its southern end dips into northeastern Utah.

Rising out of western Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains, the Green River is the principal tributary of the Colorado River. During John Wesley Powell’s 1869 expedition down the Green River, he named the Flaming Gorge for its spectacular red sandstone cliffs surrounding this part of the river. The Green River continues south through Utah, before it merges with the Colorado River 40 miles into western Colorado.

Flaming Gorge<br>Flaming Gorge - 2013 Flaming Gorge II<br>Flaming Gorge - 2013 Gorge Surroundings<br>Flaming Gorge - 2013 Gorge Surroundings II<br>Flaming Gorge - 2013 Gorge Surroundings III<br>Flaming Gorge - 2013

 

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Wind River Range

2013

Another Rocky Mountain range in Western Wyoming, The Winds run generally NW-SE for about 100 miles, and include more than 40 peaks in excess of 13,000′. Gannett Peak, at 13,809′ is the highest mountain in Wyoming, though only 33′ higher than the 13,776′ Grand Teton. Except for Grand Teton, the next 19 highest peaks in Wyoming, are in The Winds. Two National Forests and three wilderness areas encompass most of the Wind River Range, as the Continental Divide follows its crest.

Shoshone National Forest on its east side, and Bridger-Teton National Forest to the west, and the entire Wind River range, are all part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Portions of the range are also within the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Indigenous peoples of the Great Basin, such as the Shoshones and Absarokas (Crow) Native Americans lived in the range beginning 7,000 and 9,000 years ago.

The Winds<br>Wind River Range - 2013 The Winds II<br>Wind River Range - 2013 The Winds III<br>Wind River Range - 2013 The Winds IV<br>Wind River Range - 2013

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The Snake River Valley

2013

The Snake River’s headwaters are formed at the consolidation of three tiny streams, at an elevation of nearly 9,000′, on the southwest flank of Two Oceans Plateau situated in western Wyoming’s portion of Yellowstone National Park.

Flowing south through Jackson Lake, the ninth longest river in the US continues on south through Jackson Hole valley between the Tetons and Wind River Range, before making a large western sweep through southern Idaho’s Snake River Canyon, and then northwest through Oregon and Washington, where it becomes the Columbia River’s largest tributary, as well as the largest North American river to empty into the Pacific Ocean.

Looking east from the Tetons – the Snake continues its 1,078 mile journey to the Pacific — between the Tetons and The Wind River Range — as it flows south through Jackson Hole.

Snake River<br>The Snake River Valley - 2013 Snake River Valley<br>The Snake River Valley - 2013 Snake River II<br>The Snake River Valley - 2013 Snake River Valley II<br>The Snake River Valley - 2013 Snake River Valley Against The Winds<br>The Snake River Valley - 2013

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Lamar Valley

2013

Originally referred to as the East Fork of the Yellowstone River, the 40 mile long Lamar River rises out of the Absaroka Range along the eastern border of Yellowstone National Park, and meanders northwest and then west to where it flows into the Yellowstone River south of the Montana Border. The wide, expansive Lamar Valley is home to bison, elk, coyote, grizzly and wolf.

In 1995, wolves were re-introduced in the northeast corner of Yellowstone Park along the Lamar River at Soda Butte, Crystal Creek and Rose Creek.

Lamar Valley<br>Lamar Valley - 2015 Lamar Valley II<br>Lamar Valley - 2015 Lamar Valley III<br>Lamar Valley - 2015 Lamar River<br>Lamar Valley - 2015 Lamar River II<br>Lamar Valley - 2015

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