Monday, April 22, 2013

Hike 2013.023 -- 49 Palms Oasis, Joshua Tree National Park

Hiked Saturday, April 20. Man, my hike posts are getting way out of order! Just realized I haven't blogged my Henniger Flats hike from two weeks ago. I'll have to try to get that one done, too.

This was my second time on the 49 Palms Oasis trail. My last visit was almost exactly two years previous. But the difference was quite dramatic: This hike was on a busy weekend, after a dry spring. Unlike last time, I saw essentially no lizards along the way, and very few flowers.

The trailhead is south, off of US 62, in the western part of the town of 29 Palms. If you're coming from the west, you'd turn on Canyon Road, right in front of the big blue sign of a VCA Animal Hospital.

Follow this road on up until it deadends, and 1 1/2 miles later, in a fairly large parking area. There's a pit toilet there, but no running water, so if you're hiking, make sure you filled your canteen or water bottle before you left 29 Palms.

The trail heads off to the southwest, climbing rather swiftly and giving a view back down on the parking lot, with 29 Palms in the distance. After about 1/2 mile, you've reached the first crest, and may be able to see the tops of palm trees in the distance. They're in a "V" where two drainages meet. The picture above is a crop of the one above that one, and shows the tree tops.

From that view, your path takes you a bit to the west of your target, then back east as it descends into a wash. I guess nearly every trail in Joshua Tree eventually descends into a wash.

I passed some dried remnants of flowers, so it's possible there was a modest bloom a few weeks before I got there. Almost everything was dry by mid-April, though.

Once at the oasis, I boulder-hopped to where I could see some scummy pond water. The grasses were thick, there. I heard no toads this time, unlike my last visit.

From the oasis, I looked up the ravine at a very large drainage. Then I returned the way I came. Three miles roundtrip. Easy, provided it's not too hot and you've got something to drink. Undoubtedly tougher in the heat of summer.

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