I was driving in to the Park the other morning, and as I approached Lost Horse Road, I was struck by the light on the line of rocks in the distance. These rocks always remind me of Asian Scroll Paintings, so fluid and emotive. I always imagine them in misty weather and fog swirling around. As I was walking toward the rocks, I noticed there were still so many flowers blooming in this area: Dogweed, Pincushions, Brittlebush, Phacelia, Larkspur and plenty I can't name. I decided just to walk along the base of the rock formations and see what I could find. It was such a beautiful morning, nice and cool with the scent of flowers in the air. I walked up as far as Hemingway, moving in and out of the rocks and little canyons, just enjoying looking at everything before me. Before I knew it, it was time to head back for breakfast, so I slowly made my way back through the valley, enjoying every moment.
One of our guests at Spin and Margie's tipped us off to this hike, so we gave it a shot. It's a great hike with lots of interesting vegetation, views and rock formations to see. It's also a good alternative to the Pine City hike, because that parking lot gets full on the weekends. Lucky Boy pullout is about a mile before you get to the Pine City parking lot. There's only room for four cars, so go early. Check it out on line so you know what the hike entails. It's a nice, moderate hike of about 3 miles round trip.
Everyone had been telling us to go and see the flowers at Whitewater Preserve recently. So, we jumped in the car with some lunch fixins and headed out to spend the afternoon exploring. We stopped first at the Ranger Station/Visitor Center and then headed out on a trail where you could see one of the Desert X Sculptures set dramatically against the cliffs. After exploring around in the valley by the river, we decided to get back in the car and head down to where the road crosses the river and hike up into the flowers from there. On the way up to the top, we saw a nice little depression in the grass that was perfect for our repast. If you've never been out to Whitewater Preserve, make it a point to go. It's the sight of a former Trout Farm with the pools still intact, a beautiful sight, even saw some Trout! There are picnic areas with tables, grassy lawns and easy river access and some very nice hikes, so there's plenty to do there. It's also a wonderful place to go and hike in the fall when all the Cottonwoods show their golden colors. www.wildlandsconservancy.org/preserve_whitewater.html
Last week Margie and I went down to see the blooms at Cottonwood, what a sight for the eyes! At that point, the flowering was up as far as Twin Tanks, so this week I decided to explore the area around the Window Rock Trail to see if there were any flower displays. I spent a couple of hours hiking around in the rocks on the Northern side and only touched the tip of the Iceberg as it were. There are still plenty of burgeoning plants just waiting for the warm weather to show their colors. We should have a nice bloom all through April and May, so get out and do some hiking!
We took a drive down to Cottonwood the other day to see how the flowers were coming along. We stopped at Porcupine Wash on the way, explored around the rocks there and saw some nice displays with the potential of more to come. Then we headed to the area down by the 10 and the fields on either side were chock full of blooms. The Lupines were the biggest I've seen in years, some up to two feet high, and Poppies everywhere, also Chia on the eastern side of the road. When we got back to the car, our shoes were covered with pollen after wading amongst the Poppies, and we were trying to be careful not to step on anything. We stopped in a side canyon on the way back to have lunch in the shade of some rocks and saw Chuparosa and Canterbury Bells along with Brown-eyed Primrose. The flowering at this point is all the way up to Twin Tanks, so there is plenty to see, with more to come in the next couple of weeks. We saw all these flowers in one afternoon: Lupines, Poppies, Brown-eyed Primrose, Chia, Chuparosa, Chicory, Mallow, Canterbury Bells, Phacelia, Brittlebush, Bladderpod, Desert Dandelion and a bunch I don't know the name of. So get goin'!
I got up Saturday morning and headed over to Big Morongo Canyon Preserve to see if there were any early flowers along the Mesquite and Canyon Trails. After a wet winter it was nice to see the Cottonwoods leafing out in all their glory, but no major flowering yet. I guess we have to wait for another week or so for things to start popping. I ended up walking the Mesquite Trail, down the Canyon Trail and even up on top of the Yucca Trail, where you get a nice overview of the Preserve. I never get tired of going to the Preserve at any time of year, there's always something new to see. It's such a peaceful and serene place to take a stroll, listen to the birds in the trees and feel the breeze on your face. We're so lucky to have this special place here in the desert. I tell people, when Joshua Tree National Park is busy, head over to the Preserve, you won't regret it.
The other morning, I thought it would be fun to go over to Jumbo Rocks and try some double exposures there. The rocks in that area are ice cream-like, melting shapes, so I thought they would lend themselves to this kind of imagery. I bouldered around for a couple of hours and came up with some nice ones. It's always fun to see the 'familiar' in a different way. (Click on to make larger)
This is one of our favorite hikes in Joshua Tree National Park, a good six miler. You start out in the parking lot and walk up 2 miles to the Mine Site through rolling hills with wonderful views along the way. Once you get to the top of hill above the mine, you begin to descend down through these craggy rocks with amazing views of the Pinto Basin. This is my favorite part of the Loop Trail, I couldn't stop taking pictures, the light was fantastic. From here, it's about 2 miles down to the valley floor on the other side and another 2 miles back to the parking lot through a lush forest of Joshua Trees. All in all, a good workout. I have to say, this time we were really pooped when we got back, as we hadn't been doing any long hikes during the winter. It was hot showers all around and a nice nap for me of course!