It has been nearly two years since I visited Little Finland with Jason Hines, and almost that long since I even looked at the images I made while photographing there. Little Finland is located well out into the Nevada desert and receives few visitors except for the intrepid and adventurous. It is located well off the beaten path, requires a bit of navigation skills to find, and is definitely not a summer venue. Even on my visit during the Fall of 2013 the afternoon temperature hit close to 119 degrees. The images here of glowing, colorful sandstone belie the intensity of the heat of that day. My chilled water bottles turned lukewarm within 30 minutes and the heat combined with a soft wind felt like I was in a blast furnace. Scouting shots in such conditions was equally a challenge. I spent some time in the shade of a hoodoo trying to find any relief from the heat. There was none to be had.
As the afternoon waned, and the sun moved toward the horizon, the temperature eased a bit and the sandstone sculptures began to reveal themselves. Little Finland sits on a long, linear plinth of sandstone, above a fairly nondescript Nevada desert landscape. It can only be described as a geologic phantasm of sculpted sandstone. Erosion through wind and water is a powerful force but wielded in the hands of an artisan like "mother Nature" it becomes other-worldly. Hoodoos, sculpted walls of stone, hanging rocks, and animalistic forms all reside in this desert abode.
Fo me, stone carved in this way, has always contained a kind of internal power that I am drawn towards. By there very shape the stone exhibits a kind of life force where you can imagine them breaking their earthly bonds and walking about at night, perhaps hunting for photographers to consume. This is especially true of the "creature-feature" sculptures which look like dragons or alien insects with jagged jaws of teeth.
But on this day the stone creatures did not prevail. They remained rooted to their foundations, posing only for the occasional photograph. The heat however, never really relented. And as it turned out the adventure was only beginning. Jason and I left the ridge in a heat laden, enveloping darkness. And we immediately got lost. We knew where the road was, and sort of knew where the car was parked, but darkness and heat turns a simple walk into a way finding nightmare. After stumbling about we eventually found the road and the vehicle, which had a flat rear tire. Hot, hungry, and tired, we were faced a tire change. Late into the evening and at temperatures still near 110 degrees we worked on the tire in the light of our headlamps and lanterns. The light drew in every manner of flying insects that buzzed-bombed our heads or lighted on our clothes. And then there were the scorpions under the vehicle which made getting the tire out from underneath a bit of a challenge. In the end it all worked out and we both had a good story to tell. But I think the dragon got the last laugh.