Organ Pipe 2001

Thanksgiving is always a special time, the raison d'etre of a four day weekend. With four days and a fast car, one can get to explore many places. By this time of the year, many places in the mountains of California have already experienced some snowfall and are impassable. The desert, however, is usually just about perfect. This year it was raining through most of the Southwest, but the magic weather maps were inconclusive about Arizona. So fate dictated that I throw my gear in the car and head to Arizona.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is on the border with Mexico on the leftmost edge of the Gadsden Purchase. It is mostly wilderness and is filled with wonderful open expanses of the Sonoran desert. Aside from a few abandoned mines and old OHV roads, there is not too much there...a perfect place to get away. I spent a total of three days on this trip, two of which were primarily driving through the desert. Being alone and in a place without any reliable water sources and a threat of flash flooding, I didn't do any backcountry hiking. Instead I took a wonderful drive and day hike through the Ajo mountains and a sunset and evening hike around Victoria mine. The desert between these two places was drastically different with distinct vegetation and soil. There are very few maintained trails, so during the day they were somewhat crowded. It was easy to take the more difficult legs of the trails and find solitude. I can say that the silence of the desert is profound.

The Photographs

I took these pictures with the same old Miranda camera on two rolls of TMax 400. The pictures were scanned from negatives with a SprintScan 4000. Click on the link in the upper right to start cycling through them.

My favorite pictures from this series are: