Joshua Tree Nat'l Park - Sunday, 3/24/13
Maybe 35 or 40 miles up Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy from our campsite in Desert Hot Springs is Joshua Tree Park. And I do mean up. From Desert Hot Springs @ approx 1,000 ft the road climbs to over 4,000 ft. The Park itself is a vast 1,234 sq miles of mountain ranges and a melding of the Colorado Desert with the Mojave Desert. Neither of us had ever visited this great park, and we had to choose where in those 1,234 sq miles to go in one day. We picked the closest places in the Northwest section: Black Rock Canyon and Indian Cove. Both areas offer great views and hiking and have campgrounds, but during Easter Week, both were full. Never mind, we are comfortable at our current site in Catalina Spa and Resort.
Joshua Tree, a member of the Agave family. Twisted and spiky, this oddity grows only in the Mojave Desert between 1,300 and 5,900 ft. Legend has it that Mormon immigrants named the tree after the biblical figure, Joshua, seeing the limbs of the tree as outstretched in supplication, guiding the travelers westward. Probably as good an explanation as any.
And, my goodness, we are sooo fortunate to arrive in spring with the Trees in bloom. Waxy, white flowers form a mass on long stalks at branch tips. Not much fragrance, but they are breathtaking.
This beautiful bloom is on the Mojave yucca (which also has spikes that can kill ya!).
Beavertail cactus. Looks heart-shaped to me....
I think this is a (common) side-blotched lizard. They were all over the place.
Joshua tree with snow-capped San Gorgonio in the distance.
Half way down the hill, a fellow hiker agreed to take our picture. Gorgonio still glistening (between us) many miles west.
Here comes the funny part. When the ranger lady was telling us about the nature trail hike, I thought she called it the Heidi Nature Trail. I must have had my ears tuned to a different station, because what she really said was, "Hi-View." We'd figured a 1.3 mile loop would be an easy half hour or 45 min, depending on how often we stopped to poke at things. Hi-View meant a moderate climb 400 feet to the top of yon mountain! Took longer, we even got winded a couple of times, but we survived!
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We debated what to do after our morning hike and decided to drive a few more miles east to Indian Cove, not having any idea what to expect. Boy, were we in for a surprise!
Who piled up all those rocks? After lunch, we commenced to explore.
This Chuckwalla wasn't too sure about having his picture taken. A big fella (or gal), about 12" long.
Towering rock formations makes the area popular for amateurs like blue-shirted Jimmy and...
... red-shirted Nickie. We scrambled all over these rocks as much as our bodies would allow! Also saw a number of rock climbers with equipment, climbing and rappelling.
One small sampling of the massive rock pile.
Flowers and climbing rocks, what a great combination.
When we'd had enough fun scampering and hopping from rock to rock half the afternoon, we got in Smartie to drive home. This is the sign we saw ON OUR WAY OUT!