Back to the Red Desert

October 09, 2010  •  Leave a Comment

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It's nearing time for the second annual Red Desert trip and I'm getting excited. This year we're heading into Adobe Town, described as the Crown Jewel of the Wyoming's Red Desert.
 
In terms of shooting objectives this year I've intentionally targeted off the beaten path destinations in an attempt to further define my photographic vision and take a step away from a world drowning in visual cliches. Years ago I'd frequent the town of Pinedale, Wyoming as a point of entry for exploration into the Wind River mountains. More recently - starting with a short trip to the Snowy Range back in October 2008, Rock Springs and the Red Desert north of I-80 last September, Chugwater back in May of this year, and various other short day trips into the region, I've experienced a growing interest in the Northern Colorado - Southern Wyoming - Western Nebraska region. Culture, landscape, environmental issues and history are newly interesting as I explore these off the beaten path destinations. After watching Utah turn from "free to wander" to "fee to wander" due to excessive crowds, It's nice to have a place virtually to yourself again. I hope the southern Wyoming secrets never gain too much popularity and the rugged beauty remains difficult to experience.
 
Part of the fun of planning trips like this is the research and exploration before the trip. Anyone wanting to learn more about Adobe Town should take a look at this on-line brochure. It's not actually a town but a proposed wilderness area in southern Wyoming that's being threatened by oil and gas exploration.
 
I'll be heading in this year another photographer buddy Dan and am really looking forward to exploring the parts of the map no one pays attention to. I'm thawing out some Ektar, Velvia and Delta in anticipation of some high-desert, medium format drama, one final shoot before winter sets in.
 
It looks like the weather might hold well - though cold in the evenings. Looks like high 50's - low 60's during the day and high 20's at night - a good opportunity for the down bag. The big concern is rain. What passes as roads here "turn to gumbo," as Erik Molvar of Wyoming's Biodiversity Conservation Alliance said. The high clay content in the soil when mixed with water is big trouble for the automobile. I pray for minimal wind, too - though in Wyoming this is almost unavoidable. A good cleaning of the gear is necessary after a trip like this. Every time you swap a lens out you get dust in where it's not supposed to be.

We'll be in the Subaru this year again and I'm a little concerned about the ground clearance issue. The Subaru isn't an off-road vehicle, and has limitations in deeply rutted double tracks and sand. We just have to play it smart and not get too ambitious. This shot was made last year early one morning as I was attempting to get closer to the Boar's Tusk, a rock formation in the Red Desert north east of Rock Springs. You can see the double track in the distance toward left-center of photo. If I'd tried to power through the section I stopped short of, I'd probably still be stuck out there, my wheels spinning uselessly in the air as the bottom of the vehicle rested heavily on desert scrub.
 
It sounds like we might get rain late Monday but we'll be out and en route home by then. It could make for dramatic skies Sunday night/Monday morning though.
 
Because this is a car camping trip and not a backpack, the tendency in the past has been to just "bring everything." But more and more I'm really trying to resist this and take only what I think I'll need. So while I don't need to be quite as militant as say, on our trip to Haiti in March, I do want to streamline gear as much as possible so I'm not rummaging through useless gadgets to find the one thing I need when the time comes. Always a challenge.
 
On a side note, I just visited a real eye doctor for the first time (...a photographer and artist not paying better attention to my eyes... I smack my forehead again as I realize how stupid this is...). I've been noticing my close-up vision deteriorating for a while now and have been wanting to get it checked out. All is well with the mechanics - in short, my eyes are healthy and strong, just gettin' a little old. So reading glasses for up-close stuff will make it all good.
 
That's it for now... hopefully we'll make some good images and have something to show after next weekend.
Happy trails.

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