Desert Wash

Posted by
Jeffrey (Scottsdale, United States) on 8 March 2015 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

Location: Scottsdale, AZ

As I continue to hike and photograph in the desert area around Scottsdale, Arizona -- I call it "hikography," as it really is a combination of the two activities and I almost certainly wouldn't be doing either if I wasn't doing both simultaneously -- I have come to realize that instead of working on only one photo project, which I gave the working title "Desert Chaos," I am really working on four sub-projects, including one that involves photographing the many desert washes I have encountered and with which I am slowly starting to fall in love.

A desert wash is a channel through which an intermittent stream runs during periods of intense rainfall. The soil in a wash contains more moisture than the surrounding desert, hence many plants grow more readily and even thrive in a wash, as compared to the surrounding desert. As such, while parts of a wash will resemble a dried-up riverbed, other parts are often lush with vegetation, as is the case here.

The scene photographed above is at the very head of a wash that developed roughly a mile downstream. As you can see, two hillsides have come together to form a shallow ravine, the "V" shape of which focuses the runoff of rain from each into a middle area, where it changes direction and is routed further downhill along a channel that forms as water scoops out and breaks down the soil and rock, carrying the mineral grains further downhill, where they ultimately fan out across the flatter desert below and are deposited as sand once the pressure of the current dissipates.