Sunday, January 31, 2016

In The Wide Open Spaces at Pleasant Valley

We drove down the Geo Trail the other day, parked at the Pleasant Valley Back Country Board and took a leisurely walk out in to the valley which is an ancient lake bed. You can just imagine what it was like when there was more rainfall in the past. In fact, Bill Keys used to drive down there to harvest grasses for his cattle at the Keys Ranch. That was then, now it's pretty dry with some native grasses here and there with a forest of Joshua Trees on the plateau. There was quite a bit of mining here as well, the old Hexahedron and El Dorado mines are in the hills above the basin. On our walk we passed and old dig site which has a nice view of the valley from above. Later, we wandered out to the Joshua Trees to find some shade for our lunch and then headed back to the car. This is a really nice winter hike with some wonderful open spaces, try it some time.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Real Surprise at Surprise Tank!

We went our here with our friends Judy and Bob the other day. It was a bit windy to start, but eventually cleared up and turned out to be a beautiful day. This is a great hike, right off the Geo Road on the California Riding and Hiking Trail heading west from the parking area. I first found out about this hike from Elliot Koeppel's blog This is a great blog if you're looking for new and different hikes in Joshua Tree National Park and beyond. Anyway... we hiked out to the tank and guess what? Water and lots of it. What a treat. We had been there a couple of years ago and it was dry at that point, so I guess the recent rains did their job. You can just imagine what it must have been like when the cattleman were around. More rain, more snow, a totally different scene from today. We had a great time hiking around in the rocks, so many different shapes and textures and found a nice little meadow for lunch. After our repast, we headed back to the car, totally satisfied with a great afternoon.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Windy Hike Down the Wash Across From Pine City

Sometimes, you drive all the way out there and the Pine City parking lot is jammed with cars. When that happens, we park in a little pull-out closer to the Queen Valley Road and head over to the wash on the other side of the road. You just follow the wash in to the east as far as you you feel like you want to go. There's plenty of interesting vegetation and unusual rock forms all along the way to keep your eyes busy. The day we went, it was starting to get windy but we pressed on. About a mile in, we noticed a roof-line up in the rocks, so I went up to investigate. It was a metal cover over an old dig site, to keep people from falling in. You get a nice view of the neighborhood from up there. Those miners, they were everywhere! Moving along, we found a nice little spot in the rocks, out of the wind, for our lunch. After lunch, it started to get cold and the wind got even more ferocious, so we headed back. Our friends, the Howie's would definitely like this hike. Give it a shot sometime.

Rock of Ages 
Grinding holes?

Skeletal Pines along the wash

Chess set

Ancient one atop the rock trailings

Nice view from the mine 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Little Discovery Hike at Live Oak

Margie and I took a fun hike down the wash at Live Oak Picnic Area the other day. We started at the famous and rare Live Oak at the head of the wash and headed South. The first thing we ran in to was one of the stone walls built by the early cattleman to capture water in the wash. A little further on we found another cement 'tank' wall. When we turned around to look, we realized that would have captured a large body of water at one time. We went around to the front and saw where the original rock wall had several feet of cement added to improve water capture. Nearby, looking down from the rocks, we saw the rock tailings of an old mine shaft. You can just imagine the weather in those days was quite different, more rain and snow than at present. In this series, I tried to visualize the area as an early photographer working with 'wet glass' plates (complete with streaks, and dust spots) might have seen it. This is an easy and informative hike not to be missed.