June 08, 2015  •  1 Comment

It was slightly more than a fleeting thought, a lark as it were, that took us over the pass in search of that stunning force of nature I love to photograph - the wild iris.  But as all of us who are paying attention have discerned, this has not been a "normal" year as far as weather is concerned. The iris have just begun to send shoots out of the ground, let alone bloom stalks.  But we did encounter forces of nature we weren't expecting at 9:30 in the morning.  Ominous, dark clouds were building and let loose with hail so intense that we pulled the car off the side of Highway 64, facing the bonnet into trees to protect the windshield from breaking.  Thankfully, the wave passed almost as quickly as it appeared, giving way to bright sunshine, and yet another wave of less intense hail some miles down the road.  This is fairly typical weather during monsoon season in the Southwest, but that usually doesn't even begin until mid-July.  The first week of June has just concluded.

With no iris on the horizon, I had to be flexible and alert my brain to the fact that the hail and rain had given a good cleaning to the air and land, leaving potentially perfect scenics.


With the rain and air settled, water in one of the ponds I frequently photograph was still, and reflecting the dramatic cloud uplift in the east.

pond near the Highway 64 passpond near the Highway 64 pass

The grass and reeds that become part of the pond's makeup also produce abstracts of other-worldly proportions.

grass on a pondgrass on a pond

Both the San Juan and nearby Tusas Mountains are actually part of the southern end of the Rocky Mountains.  Rising nearly vertically 2,000 feet from the base, the Brazos Cliffs are part of that chain and represent some of the oldest geology in the state.  Known to rock climbers, and those who fish and hunt in their shadow, the Brazos are also a common photographic subject.  The challenge is to be there at the right time, when particulates in the air don't reduce clarity.  Following a good rain, the cliff faces are scrubbed and ready.

Brazos Cliffs from Highway 64 passBrazos Cliffs from Highway 64 pass

until next Monday,


a passion for the [email protected]


Steve Immel(non-registered)
You chose one of my favorite drives in all of New Mexico, Daryl. What a gift to be so close to that gorgeous stretch of road. The grass and reeds are an intimate counterpoint to the sweeping vista of the Brazos Cliffs and the crystalline mountain pond. Makes a guy hanker for a road trip.
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