Joshua Tree National Park
Photography and Text by Colby Hastings
As you walk through this desert, a strange sense of otherness descends upon you. The landscape is devoid of life, save for the gnarled native Joshua trees themselves, their branches splayed at odd angles, reaching over trails and casting eerie shadows in the dust. A singular red color dominates your field of view in each direction, rarely broken by signs of life, human or otherwise. The farther you walk the more you are convinced you have landed on some other planet, or perhaps time traveled into a future earth after the human race has long since died out.
As the day lengthens and you trek further into the desert, however, you start to notice signs of life. A rabbit darts just out of sight on the edge of the trail, a hawk circles overhead, cacti peek from behind boulders. Many of the trees themselves are sprouting massive blossoms, their green and white foliage stark against the dust.
When the sun begins its descent on the horizon, the rocks themselves come alive – glowing luminescent pink and yellow and orange against the darkening sky. Shadows morph and shift, creating myriad patterns and images in the sand. Sunbeams peek through the cracks in the rocks, sprinkling the valley with light. The display transports you once again to another land, but one full of magic and light and life. Leaving the desert these visions linger with you, imprinted silhouettes of an otherworldly realm.
About the Author: Colby Hastings is a graduate student at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania.