For those of you who’ve followed my work for awhile, you know that I love photographing trees. One of my other loves is hiking in the nearby mountains. Combine the two, throw in some snow and I’m in hog heaven! The Cuyamacas as they’re known are about 40 minutes from downtown San Diego and they top out at 6,500 feet. They’re just high enough to get snow, but it takes a cold storm and big dumping for it to stick around.
Five years ago, a massive firestorm fed by Santa Ana winds burned through a huge swath of San Diego before turning around and heading up into the mountains. The Cedar fire burned almost the entire Cuyamaca range - blackening lush forests of oak, pine and elm trees (along with hundreds of houses) in the process. In the place of the greenery, nothing but black branches and ash remained.
I tried photographing the stark sticks, but I never came away with anything that I liked. I decided that I wanted to wait until they were blanketed with snow so that I could capture the contrast between the black limbs and the white snow. Over the past couple years, there hasn’t been much snow and what snow we’ve had has melted pretty quickly so I haven’t had a chance to get my shots.
Well, this week, just shy of two feet of snow dumped in the mountains. The morning after the storm, I dug out my old Pivetta mountaineering boots, gaiters and long underwear, played hooky from the studio and headed off to Stonewall Peak near Julian. It’s a popular hike so I figured that there would be plenty of folks out playing in the snow. There were, but none who made it past the parking lot. I ended up being the first person breaking through the snow on the two mile trek to the top.
Man, that was a lot of work! I’ve run the trail in about 45 minutes, but trudging through the snow took three and half cold hours there and back. For those of you in colder climes, a little snow is no big deal. But for those of us in perfect weather all the time, no-need-to-wear-anything-other-than-shorts San Diego; it’s cool.
Anyhow, here’s a few of my photos…
Finally, here’s a link to a slide show with a bunch more photos. (They’re in color and haven’t been retouched.) Winter Wonderland