Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hike 48--Joshua Tree National Park

Hike 47 was Echo Mountain. I should do a regular post about that hike, but still haven't written one up!

Hiked 48 was on Monday, Apr 19. 3 miles.

On the downside, the hiking aspect of this trip turned out to be kind of a bust. However, I did get to spend some time on a roadtrip with my wife, and that definitely counts for something!

We approached Joshua Tree from the south. Even before we reached Cottonwood Road, yellow flowers (Mostly brittlebush, I think) lined both sides of I-10. Turning up Cottonwood, the flowers grew thicker. Unfortunately, we were unable to stop for pictures or even walk the little Bajada nature trail, at the south end of the park.

No walking or pictures until Cottonwood Springs.

It was not exactly a spring on this day. I think I could see a slight stain from a seep behind the palm trees. No standing or running water. But looking and walking a bit "downstream," there were plenty of palms and cottonwoods, indicating the water table was not far below the surface.

There is a fairly large parking lot at Cottonwood Springs, and it was full of cars. So I was a little surprised to encounter so few people on the trail. I guess most either just walked down the wash that heads south from Cottonwood Springs, or went on the longer hike to Lost Palms Oasis. (Lost Palms was where I was originally planning to go--If I am able squeeze in another day in Joshua Tree during National Parks Week, I'll definitely do that hike!).

Starting from this parking area (as opposed to starting from the campground), it's only a two mile roundtrip to Masadon Peak. Plenty of brittlebush and Mojave Aster, plus several other species (some of which I could identify and some I could not). Saw a few squirrel-like creatures. Lots of lizards, too. Several desert iguana, just like the ones I saw in Amboy Crater. Many darker lizards of unknown variety. A few sightings of what I have to believe (based upon its striking appearance) is a leopard lizard. And the tail end of a colorful lizard that dived under a rock and had more patience than me. No picture of that one.

Pleasantly clear skies when I reached Mastadon Peak. Although the sky was defintely hazy, Salton Sea was blue in the distance.

Other places I took short walks at were the Cholla Forest and the Oasis of Mara. A number of quail were calling to/at each other there.

Yellow flowers are brittlebrush. The red ones are desert mallow.

Cracked rock, nearing the top of Mastadon Peak

Huge boulder that obviously split some time in the past

Salton Sea from Mastadon Peak. Not exactly obvious at this scale, but it's there, and it's blue.

Whole bunch of Mojave aster. From the side, they look almost translucent, and appeared like primrose. From the top, they were obviously aster.

Leopard lizard

Desert daisies. Again, just like Amboy.

Canterbury bells, taken between the split rock and the rock crack. They're also very common in the Puente Hills and the San Gabriel mountains, where I've been hiking a lot, recently.


Not sure. Could be Bigelow Mimulus, though the color was off.

Desert Stars, with a dime for perspective. They look like tiny daisies.

Quail at Oasis of Mara

Cholla garden. All of the cholla were blackened in their lower portions, so I suspect this whole area must have burned during the year of big brush fires, two or three years ago.


  1. Nice pictures. I wish I could have made it out to Joshua Tree over the weekend but wasn't able to. Looks like a very nice day.

  2. Perfect day to be in the desert!

    Only drawback was the honeybees were very active. A swarm passed over when I was in the Cholla garden. Fortunately, they were heading somewhere else. Otherwise, it would have been like a horror movie. Those bees make a really spooky buzzing noise when they are swarming like that. It's like the earth itself is vibrating.

    There's two more days of free national parks. I am thinking I may head out again on Sunday, for a strictly hiking excursion. The Bajada nature trail, Lost Palms Oasis and Mount Ryan would be on my list. If I'm running low on energy, I'll skp Mount Ryan and maybe just do another one of the nature trails.