From the East rim of Steens Mountain, the longest escarpment in North America, we look out over the Alvord Desert a mile below. Melting high-altitude snow irrigates the land close to the base of the mountain and reaches out as much as a mile. Once that water is gone, the desert itself, in the mountain's rain-shadow, almost never receives moisture from rain or snow. Even the occasional late-afternoon thunder shower immediately evaporates.
Similarly, overhead, clouds form from the mountain's upward deflection of the prevailing winds and cast their shadows on the steep canyon walls. Occasionally the clouds extend beyond the mountain before their moisture is reabsorbed by the rising hot dry air of the desert and they disappear.
As the day progresses, however, more and more cloud shadows make their way further into the desert creating a rich, earth-bound display of the constantly changing cycle of formation and dissolution happening above.
Wind and silence dominate.Close