Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Walk Around the Lake

We have a little man-made lake in our community that's just the right size to walk around. My granddaughter loves to go there, and at 3 years old, it's just the right size for her to run around (with grandpa trying to keep up!).
These were taken with my iPhone, and it reminds me that you don't have to lug around a "real" camera to get very decent photos!
Dipping her toe in the water!

A little pretend fishing.

And a little more pretend fishing.

And now it's time to chase after grandpa with my pretend fishing pole! A fun way to spend a Sunday morning, and now she's hoping Santa Clause will bring her a real fishing pole for Christmas!!

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Secret Desert Hideaway!!

Actually, this is Part III of my Pinto Wye Arrastra hike in Joshua Tree. Keep in mind this was only about a two mile hike (as the crow flies) but, wow, what an amazing array of stuff I stumbled across! For this part of my hike, I am heading back toward the main road (Park Blvd.) where my Jeep is parked. I'm taking my time, because it's nearly sunset and I'm enjoying a really beautiful sky and taking lots of photos. During this time of day the desert has kind of a magical feel to it. Not sure how else to describe it... totally quiet, beautiful, and the quality of the light is amazing.
I notice some stones up against a rock ledge off to the left that look funny (not natural), and sure enough...
Wow, I must have walked right by this place on the hike in and totally missed it! So cool, I wonder who built it and what it was used for??
Here's the view from the inside looking out... spacious, comfortable, heck it even has a little BBQ area for cooking. All I need is internet access and I could move in!! There are some old rusty cans that make me think this place has been here for quite a while.
Assuming I could find it again, it would be a perfect spot for overnight camping!

A short distance from my newly found "secret hideout", I notice this rock that looks eroded along the base. 
If you look really closely, you can see a hole or small cave on the bottom left of the rock. Let's go check it out...
Yes, definitely a small cave with some debris scattered about. Looking even closer...
Someone used this hole in the rock as a place to throw their trash! The hole goes deep into the rock, and appears to be filled with old trash. The cans are old and rusted, so this little trash dump has been here a long time. The miners of the Pinto Wye arrastra used this area as a camp site back in the '20s and '30s, so I wonder if this is old miners trash from that era?? Wish I had more time to look through it, but it's getting late!
After taking this photo, I put everything back just the way I found it. Hopefully some future hiker will enjoy their discovery as much as I did today!
The sun has set, and I'm hiking "cross-country" without a trail to follow, so feeling a sense of urgency to get moving.
Good, there's my Jeep! It's getting dark, so the timing is perfect. So ends one of the most amazing short desert hikes I've ever taken, and the end of my three-part blog post about the hike to the Pinto Wye Arrastra in Joshua Tree National Park! Hope you enjoyed it.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Arrastra Hike, Part II

So I'm continuing where I left off with my last post (Pinto-wye-arrastra-part-1-joshua-tree). After finding the arrastra out in the middle of nowhere, I had about an hour or so of daylight left to explore the area. A bit further up the hillside from the arrastra, I noticed a small mine opening.
Turns out to be a dead end, with the mine extending only about 30 feet into the hillside. Even so, it's still fun to explore!
Below is the view from inside looking out.
After checking out the mine, I did some exploring on my hike back in the general direction towards the Jeep. It was a perfect day for hiking and photography!
The above photo is one of my favorites from the day. Can you see the hawks head looking out??

Smoking rock.

Crossed swords.

About half way back to the Jeep, this interesting rock with the holes in it caught my eye. We'll call this one Three Hole Rock. Let's take a closer look...
Two of the three holes are big enough to climb in. As I explore them, the middle hole looks like it's been camped in. I wonder about that blackness above and the the right of the middle hole. Perhaps caused by campfire soot from an old miner's fire, or even Native Americans, from many years ago?? Or is that just my imagination getting the best of me?

Here's the view from the inside the cave, looking out. A very snug and comfortable little cave, and perfect to camp in if you needed to get out of the weather.

It's fun to name the rocks out here in Joshua Tree. I'll close this post with "Glove Rock", since it reminds me of a baseball glove!
I still have a couple more very cool surprises to share from my hike back, so will be posting "Arrastra Hike, Part III" in the near future. Thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pinto Wye Arrastra (Part 1), Joshua Tree National Park

Yes, I had never heard of an "arrastra" either! Arrastras were/are circular mills used to crush and grind up ore using large heavy stones. At the Pinto Wye arrastra, gold ore, water and mercury were placed on the smooth stone floor. Several stones were dragged around the circle, crushing the ore. The mercury formed an amalgam with the gold, which was then retrieved. The Pinto Wye arrastra was powered with a gasoline engine, using a belt around the central wheel. Earlier arrastras were most often powered with animals, steam or water. Wagon wheel arrastras are supposedly very rare. There are a number of arrastras in Joshua Tree National Park, but not sure if there are any other wagon wheel arrastras.

I had heard about this arrastra from a blog I follow ( Here's the challenge: there is no trail leading to the arrastra. It's literally out in the middle of the desert, and you need to hike cross-country to get to it. The blog helped me figure out the ballpark location, but how do you find a small speck in the middle of the desert??

Here's my technique. After an extensive search on Google Maps, I finally found something that looked suspiciously like the arrastra. Just above it appears to be mine tailings, and just below it a wash, so I knew it had to be the arrastra. Here's a screen capture.
On Google Maps, when you right-click, it gives you the exact latitude/longitude information. For the Pinto Wye arrista, it is 34.028742, -116.028038. Try it out... go to Google Maps and type in this latitude/longitude. It will take you exactly to the arristra. Pretty cool, don't you think? Here's where I had to get a bit creative. There is no cell service in the park, so I can't use Google Maps (or equivalent) on my phone to help me find the arrastra. I have an app called MotionX GPS. It lets you download maps ahead of time so you can find your way, even without cell service. Better yet, you can enter and save latitude/longitude information (called "WayPoints"), and the app will show you the way to the exact spot! As I made my way across the desert in search of the arristra, I frequently checked my phone to see if I was veering off in the wrong direction. It worked perfectly! In the "old days", a compass and topo map served the same purpose.

So off I went, fully-charged cellphone in hand and plenty of water with directions to 34.028742,-116.028038, trekking cross-country through the desert. I really don't think I would have found the arrastra without my phone app. The terrain looks totally different from the ground as compared to the Google Map satellite view!
It was a perfect day for a trek across the desert.
Mild temps and beautiful skies as I hiked around the boulders!

According to my phone app, the arrastra should be over and just a little beyond this peak!
If you look closely in the above photo, you can see a small placard on the right. The arrastra is just above it and to the left.
The Pinto Wye arrastra... I found it! Middle of nowhere, with no trails leading to it, but here it is!
The drag stone... used to crush the gold ore. I checked the area for gold nuggets but didn't find anything. Worth a try, though, right? You never know...
Double wagon-wheel construction.

An old can sitting on a drag stone next to the arrastra, with an old bucket behind it. Remnants of early mining days in Joshua Tree National Park!

I hope to post "Pinto Wye Arrastra Part II" next week with some photos of the mine near the arrastra. I might even post a "Part III" because I found some very cool surprises on my hike back to my Jeep, so stay tuned!!

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Have a great weekend!!