Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Joshua Tree

After leaving the lush oasis that was Palm Springs, a short drive out into the desert proper took me to the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park.

As with every other day I spent out west, it was blast furnace hot, but again, since it wasn't humid like back east, I could deal with it by drinking water constantly, wearing sunscreen and dressing to keep the sun off as much skin as possible.

Much of the southern side of the park is pretty barren desert, beautiful in it's own way but harsh.

It has a network of old mine roads, which, me being me and having a rented 4x4, I had to explore. Some were seasonal, unmaintained sand roads like this:
Others were just two-tracks that were barely distinguishable from the surrounding terrain.
I should actually send a letter of apology to the rental place, but since Dollar Rental was pretty asinine customer-service-wise, I probably won't bother. And besides, if you rent out 4x4 SUVs in the western desert, you probably have to expect that at least some renters are going to put them to use off-road. Still, that Jeep Liberty did everything that I asked of it, and that despite me bottoming it out countless times and pinstriping it on the brush constantly. As you can see, it climbed to the top of more than one ridge.
Here's a panorama view of the terrain on the BLM land outside the park to the northeast. If you blow up the shot, you can see my Jeep waiting off in the distance in about the middle of the shot.
Yeah, I got some hiking in, too. Had to start breaking in my news shoes. (Hard to imaging that just a few hours ago, I was in a shoe store just off the Pacific Ocean buying myself some new shoes to replace the ones that the desert heat had literally melted the soles off of as I hiked around in Organ Pipe.
I did find a few old mine entrances out here, but NPS and BLM had sealed them all pretty thoroughly. Dammit.

Farther north into the park, I started running into odd-looking plants like these Cholla Cactus. I saw them in Organ Pipe too, but didn't know what they were.
What they are is very nasty, prickly cactus. Touch one just once and you'll be sorry.
I actually got stuck taking this picture because I wasn't careful enough. It drew blood. This things that I do for you people...
Then it was into the boulder region of the back. Farther north, it all looks like this.
Yep, that's a rabbit under that bush. They were plentiful and not really afraid of people.
Here's another one spotted a bit later.
My campsite was back in these rocks. There, I was sheltered from the wind and out of site to anyone else in the campground And yes, this was actually a campground campsite in the Hidden Valley camping area. Cost me $5.00 and it was remote enough that I saw or heard none of the other campers unless I went out looking for them.
And of course in the northern half of the park, we have the Joshua Trees that the park was named for.

It's remote and it's barren, but it's beautiful and full of plant and animal life. Just remember that if you come out to enjoy it, you'll need to bring all of your own food, water and firewood, because there none here to buy or scavenge. And water? Seriously a requirement. But I could like living around here.
Heading out. Destination...deeper into the Mohave Desert. Man, this place is so much cooler than the Washington DC metro area...and traffic's better, too.


  1. "Cooler"? as in neat, fun, interesting? Not temperature cooler surely?

    1. "Cooler" as in "I'd rather live there than near DC". It's hotter, but you trade the humidity for it and that's a win for me. Plus most DC yuppie types and second-handers could not thrive out here, so that's a win.

    2. Ahhh, the DRY heat argument. Yes, DC in the summertime is an even deeper piece of hell than the rest of the year.

  2. Beautiful country! I love the desert. The cholla forest pic makes me cringe. Cholla hurts especially when you get a couple clumps in you. I had a Weimareiner who pinned both ears to the top of her head with one piece of cholla. Combs and pliers are your friends.

  3. I liked Joshua Tree. I was there in November. Dry and maybe 85 max. It was where I learned how incredibly intelligent coyotes are.

  4. Cholla is often called "Jumping Cholla" because of the way it almost seems to leap off of the bush to attack when you brush against it.

  5. Cholla WILL bite you, as you found out... +1 on Bob... BTDT, AIN'T going back...

  6. You remind me of my brother Robert. He and his dogs go off into the desert and visit old ghost towns, mines, etc. I like that country out there. Went to college in New Mexico and always thought I would go back there to live in retirement but never did.

    Your pictures are excellent.

    1. Thanks on the pics. My dogs would have been here too if I could have gotten them on the plane.

  7. I spent 3 years at the Marine base there in the 70's. We spent a lot of time checking out the old mines. That was before they sealed them off. It's too bad it's in Kommiefornia.