Saturday, May 4, 2013

Joshua Tree National Park --- Mid-day at the Oasis

Remember Maria Muldaur's hit from the '70s.... Midnight at the Oasis, put your camel to bed?  Well, I have been humming, and singing, that song all day today.  The song entered the edge of my mind during our three-mile hike to the 49 Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park.  

 Even though it was not midnight, and the lyrics of that sexy song do not necessarily match our activity during our walk, I can't seem to get the song out of my head.

Roger here... Let me explain how I got to this point.

A couple of days ago we moved from our cozy and classy RV park in Palm Springs (the land of gourmet breakfasts and expensive cars) to Twentynine Palms, CA (the land of cool murals on most buildings and Marine haircut barbershops on most corners).  We are staying in a "resort" outside of town that has seen better days.

The infrastructure of the park seems to be in constant repair.  (The repairs are needed and I am happy that they are being done, but the noise, vibrations, and ugliness are certainly good reason to stay away as much as possible.)  The above picture shows the latest assembly of repair equipment that has included a ditch witch and a backhoe.

Yesterday the large and noisy group of repair equipment from the first picture was only a couple of sites up the street.  This is the view we have today.  Right now I am listening to a backhoe rumble by.  

The large puddle in this pic is what remains of a virtual river that flowed in front of our site last night when a fire hydrant sprung a leak.  Twelve hours later, the only thing that remains is the puddle and the orange cones protecting the hydrant.

This is the view of various equipment parked across the empty spaces that we see from our driver's side windows.  Oh, how we miss those tall hedges from our spot in Palm Springs.

On our first afternoon here, before the repairs began, I sat outside for a few minutes to read, but quickly came in.  Ah! The fragrance of fresh asphalt patching.  (Again, glad they are repairing).  This morning when we took the dogs to the decent large enclosed and sandy dog run, we found that the gate could not be closed due to the piping that was laid above ground through the gate and the center of the park.  Doggies probably won't get to run in the park tomorrow.

This is the vehicle of the people in the spot across from us.  I have to tell you that people who have this many bumper stickers on their cars, no matter what their views, make me a little nervous.

OK.  I know you don't want to read about all this garbage.  I certainly don't!  Time to move on to the reason we came to Twentynine Palms.  HIKING, HIKING, HIKING.... and it has been great.

So far, we have been spending our mornings in the national park.  Yesterday, after a visit to the visitor center, we enjoyed some amazing scenery and two short hikes:

Barker Dam....   This 1.1 mile nature hike through the desert and the rocks took us to a stream that had been dammed up by cattlemen around 1900 as a source of water for their herds.  For us, the joy was in the hike, and not necessarily the destination.

 The temperature was perfect this day, in the upper 70s.  The hike was reasonably flat.  Very enjoyable.

The giant boulders could be viewed in every direction.  

If you know me at all, you know that I could not resist climbing to the top of one or two. What do you think of the dorky hat that keeps the sun off my face?  It's ok.  I don't know anybody here, except Dianne.

Careful now.  That is a snake.  It is actually kind of pretty,  for a snake.  We watched it move in and out of the shade of the rocks for several minutes.

This California King Snake was about four feet long.  I knew it was not poisonous.  According to the zookeeper at the Living Desert museum, all poisonous snakes in California have rattles.

From snakes to flowers... Dianne found lots of colorful ones along the trail.

The Barker Dam itself was interesting.  It was erected by cowboys to dam up a stream so their cattle could drink.  

It was a good idea back in the day.  Too bad that the current drought has robbed the former stream of all its water.  Dry as a bone on both sides of the dam right now.  

The Joshua Trees, for which the national park is named, are actually related to yucca plants.  They can grow to be as large as 40 feet.  Throughout many areas of the park, they constitute virtual forests in the desert.  They are prolific in the Mohave Desert area of the park.  

This one was Dianne's favorite.  I liked it, too.  However, I also liked the view looking up.

We discovered a short spur in the trail that took us to ancient petroglyphs.  The rock walls were interesting in formation.  

Very upsetting that vandals have painted over the original designs. 

Almost back to the car....  Dianne is doing her Grandma Robison (Clara) forced walk.  It is just like a horse heading back to the barn. 

Just look at that arm swing!  What form!  It was a shame that when she reached the parking lot, that she turned the wrong way to get to the car :-).

The one-mile loop to Hidden Valley was amazing, but it was more of the same in the same area.  It was beautiful, and fun, but there are not many pictures because we had already taken numerous pictures of the boulders.

The unique feature of this hike is that cattle rustlers used this valley, surrounded by rock, to hide cattle that they had stolen.  There was only one narrow entrance; a perfect place to break the law.

Dianne was infuriated by the gall of these law-breakers. :-)

(Just wait, Roger, I'll get even...D.)

On the way out of the park, we saw our first rock climber.  

Look! There he is!  If I were a younger man, I would love learning how to do this.  But, I am not :-).

Time to move on to the OASIS that we discovered on our second day of hiking.

Another day....  After taking the dogs to the dog park, which was open, we headed four miles west to a separate entrance of the national park.  The trail head for the 49 Palms Oasis hike was the only reason for this entrance.  Yesterday, the park ranger told us that this was his favorite hike --- high praise.  He was right.  This is the best hike we have taken since we left Texas in early April. 

The first part of the hike was up, up, up... 350 vertical feet to the top of the mountain/hill.  The view from behind was amazing.

Along the way, we noted a number of bright-red cactus that were scattered along the mountainside.

This one, a Spiny Red Barrel Cactus, was nestled in a rocky area near the top of the mountain.  

Below is a close-up shot of one along the trail.

Dianne could not resist a picture of this tiny cactus, in bloom.

Always the science teacher, the lichens on the rock below looked like bright green paint.  Lichens in the desert??  Evidently so!

Soon after reaching the highest point of the trail, the oasis came into view in the valley below (300 feet below).


The 75 degree temp. just dropped 10 degrees.  A natural stream is flowing through the white rocks in the bottom of this picture.

It is only 11:00 a.m., but we are famished.  Time to eat the delicious sandwiches that Dianne made earlier in the day.

Then, after a rest, it was time to climb back up the trail.

And then, back down the other side.

A view of our car in the parking area appears.

However, this is the view we will remember from our Mid-day at the Oasis.  (In case it is not imbedded in your brain, here is a You Tube link so you can hear it too):  Midnight at the Oasis - Maria Muldaur Performance  (1974)

The pet picture of the day shows how much our furry friends missed us during the few hours we were gone.  We wish we could take them with us, but we understand why they might disturb the natural habitat, and we certainly would not want them to be injured.  Here is 50-pound Tequila sitting on Dianne's lap while she (Dianne) attempts to look at the computer.  Tequila was watching a ditch witch rumble by.  Tequila's tail on the keyboard was a particular distraction that Dianne did not seem to mind.


klbexplores said...

When I was newly married my husband who who had just returned from Vietnam got orders to 29 Palms. We drove in from the North East where mile after mile of abandoned cement houses lined the roadway. I cried all the way. It was not exactly my idea of a first home. After 3 days there his orders were changed and we were sent on to Yuma Air Station. I did not even have time to grow to appreciate what was there. Had it not been for our brief stop at 29 palms I probably would have hated Yuma. Perspective is a finicky thing. I look forward to checking it out again one day. Thanks to your hikes I have some idea what to look for. Where next?

9 more days till I take off for Full-timing!! Yea!!

Bill and Nancy said...

Great hikes and wonderful views!! Roger, if you had not said anything, we would have thought the rock climber was you;o))

Keep having fun kids!!