Thursday, October 21, 2010

Joshua Tree Adventures


For a number of years I've visited Palm Springs and always wanted to check out Joshua Tree National Park. And now that I have my "Golden Eagle" pass, a Joshua Tree visit became more compelling. So finally this week, as part of an October vacation, we finally traveled up, and through, the park. With some trepidation on the part of my LA city girl friend, we did a short hike, a tour of the Lee's ranch, and a long drive to the remote entrance/exit of the park. All in all, pretty cool, and literally, thankfully, since the weather was stormy but temperatures pleasant. A good time to visit the park, avoiding the temp extremes of summer and possible snow storms of winter. (Click on the pics for a larger presentation).

After the initial stop at the visitor's center, then presentation of the virgin senior pass to the ranger, we were off. First stop was the Hidden Valley loop hike. This valley was used at the turn of the 20th Century by cattle rustlers, who hid their herd in the box canyon. Our intrepid hiker at the start, then some shots of the valley:



Here's a nice mini Joshua tree, and some shots of interesting plants:


Above, I thought these were yucca plants, with an unusual bloom I called featherdusters. However, while possibly part of the yucca family, the plant is more accurately called Parry's nolina. Here's another example, framing our intrepid hiker...


Joshua Tree is a popular destination for rock climbers. They've named this formation the "great burrito"...

And, finally for this portion of the trip, a neat shot of a rock window... By the way, this is not some form of sandstone, these rocks are granite!


We then drove over to Keys Point, an overlook high above the valley containing Palm Springs. Views are supposed to extend all the way to Mexico, but with overcast skies, we didn't see much. Unfortunate...


Lacey wanted to check out the Keys ranch... this is a tour conducted by a ranger and held once a day. Since it was stormy, we were the only ones prepared for the tour (we brought umbrellas, more for the blazing sun, but, as it turned out, proper protection for the intense cloudbursts we experienced). The ranger gave us a "private" tour, including the tin roof machine shed were we sought shelter during the most intense rain.


Bill Keys was an early homesteader in the area. First as a gold miner, then a cattleman, then as a "home depot" (he collected lots of junk for spare parts), somehow his family made a living and were able to survive until 1960 or so...


My favorite part of the ranch were the old trucks. A minor passion is to take pictures of these trucks, some day to collect them all into some sort of portfolio. The Mack truck has actually run in recent history (last 5-10 years).




And a shot from the ranch back over the entrance to the area.


Then we were off on the long drive to the southwestern entrance of the park. This took us across the division of high desert (Mohave) down to the low (and more desolate) desert (Colorado/Sonoran). We caught a great lightning storm and drove through pounding rain (thankfully brief). We did get a dry stop at the cholla cactus garden. Pretty neat...


Look but you better not touch...



From this exit, a short drive took us to I-10 and back to Palm Springs. Quite the loop, and a fun day. I want to visit Joshua Tree again, more great hikes to do, and other routes to take through the park.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds pretty accurate! Way to go baby.