Anza Borrego Wildflowers, Super Bloom, Cougar Canyon

The Anza Borrego desert is about as green as it gets, and there is a super bloom of wildflowers, that is going off in places that haven’t seen flowers in over 10 years. This unusual display of color in the desert has made national headlines in the media, so there are some pretty big crowds, especially on the weekends.

If you have a 4wd vehicle, and the patience to drive around the sightseers, you can avoid the crowds by heading out to Sheep Canyon, which is located in the northern part of the Anza Borrego desert. You’ll have to drive over some pretty rough ground, but as your author saw last weekend, someone did it with a brand-new Toyota 4Runner. You will have to drive through the stream at a couple of points, but the water is nowhere near as deep as it used to be a few years ago. See the creek photo from 2011, to get an idea of how deep it was; the water used to be up to the floorboard of the vehicle, with 33″ tires, and you had to drive through that canopy of trees. Much to the dismay of local offroaders, the park service has filled that in with dirt, and they have also smoothed and graded the road way down.

Right before you hit the end of the line, at the primitive campground, the dirt road forks off to the left, to Cougar Canyon. Park in the turnaround, and walk along the path, beside a brook that should be flowing with water well into the spring. The foot path forks off to the right, to Cougar Canyon itself. More info here: Explore the wilds of Cougar Canyon

If you stay in the primitive campground, Sheep Canyon is directly to your left, see the photo of it below. Once you start up the canyon, there isn’t any defined trail, you are scrambling over boulders and following cairns. You can see the palm tree groves directly ahead, but the canyon also forks off to the right, and there are some small tree-lined areas around a stream. This hike is definitely harder than going up to Cougar Canyon. There is a lot of erosion here, as seen in the Sheep Canyon photo, which means that you’ll be driving over a wide wash area on the way in, that has a lot of deep sand in it. It’s a good idea to air down the tires for that section of the trail, to keep from getting stuck.

The photo of Sheep Canyon is from 2015, and you can see how little vegetation there is on the sides of the hills. The 2017 Anza Borrego photos show much more plant growth on the hillsides.

You might be asking yourself how this Anza Borrego super bloom compares to the Death Valley super bloom of 2016? The latter was far more impressive, but this San Diego county super bloom is a standout in it’s own right. Even if flowers aren’t your thing, the drive into Sheep Canyon is worth the trip, it’s the crown jewel of the park.

All photos taken with a Sony a7R; the wide pictures were done with a legacy Pentax-M 35/2.8 prime, and the longer photos were shot with a Sony Fe90 macro lens.

Dan Euritt

California High School Rodeo Association (CHSRA) State Finals photos, 2016

Photos from the 2016 California High School Rodeo Association (CHSRA) State Finals in Lone Pine CA. All pics shot with a Sony a7R and a Minolta 200/4 manual focus prime lens.

Dan Euritt

Hurley Pro Surf Contest photos Sony a7R & Tamron 150-600mm lens 2016

Jordy Smith took home $100k for his Hurley Pro Surf contest win, and he deserved every bit of it. Flowmaster Joel Parkinson placed second, followed by Filipe Toledo and Tanner Gudauskas, both of whom were on fire throughout the contest. Top seeds fell like rain, with Brett Simpson and Kolohe Andino doing a lot of the damage. Tour vets Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning were both in good form, but they didn’t even make it to the semis.
This contest saw good swell, a couple of controversial heats, and lots of airtime. If you weren’t there by 6:30-7:00 a.m., you missed the free surf, which rocked. Take a crew of pros looking to warm up for the contest, throw ’em in the ring with some hard-core locals, who all have attitudes, and you’ll see surfing on the edge. The pics will give you a hint of what went down. The Swatch Womens Pro was run concurrently, and the ladies gave as good as they got in the free surf session, and the contest as well.
On the technical side of the fence, the lighting at Trestles in the fall is never good, even if the sun comes out at dawn the surfers are lit from the side, not the front. The lighting conditions only get worse from there. The Sony a7R delivered the picture quality of course, but autofocus with the LA-EA4 adapter was less than precise at long distances. Everything was shot at 600mm, f/6.3-f/8, with a Tamron 150-600, if a surf photo looks soft it’s due to a slight mis-focus. Back-button autofocus, “setting effect:OFF” in the menu made the EVF plenty bright, iso100, which allowed for testing the isoless capability of the camera. The jury is still out as to whether or not it’s better than turning up the gain on the camera.

Dan Euritt

SuperGirl Pro surf contest photos a7R & Tamron 150-600 lens

Coco Ho was the winner of the 2016 SuperGirl Pro, working her way through four heats on the last day, including the final round against Malia Manuel. The SuperGirl Pro is a qualifying event for the World Surf League competition, and by virtue of her final round appearance in the SuperGirl Pro, Malia went to first place in the Womens QS point standings. Laura Enever and Carissa Moore went down in the semi-final rounds. Biggest air of the day award went to Courtney Conlogue, as seen in the surf photo below.

All photos shot with a Sony a7R, Sony LAEA4 adapter, and Tamron 150-600mm lens.
Dan Euritt