Thursday, July 20, 2017

Jeep Trail Hike (Part 2)

Most of the photos below are from the return leg of my "Jeep Trail" hike from last week's post. After reaching "zen rocks", I started the 1.5 mile hike back to my car, allowing for ample time for some side-trip exploring. I took a ton of photos, so sit back, imagine being in the middle of the open desert with the only sound being the occasional bird chirp, and enjoy!

One side trip I took was following this saddle (above), which was flanked by boulders on either side, up and around to check out the view and take stock of my location.

 It was a little slow-going, trying to get around boulders without any clear paths...

But with some great rock formations to check out along the way.

The side trip paid off by offering some nice, open-desert views, an opportunity to sit and rest, drink some water, and enjoy the total solitude.
This big table rock formation was to my east...
View to the north-east. Gotta love those shadow selfies 😉
View to the north. Part of the Jumbo Rocks campground is in the middle left of this photo (need to enlarge to see).

Heading back to the Jeep Trail now, and just enjoying some of the interesting rocks along the way. What do you think about "bowling ball" rocks for the above rock formations?

Smiley rock?

Emoji rock 😊

Why??

CrissCross rock

Muffin rock

As the sun started to drop to the horizon, as often happens at this time of day in the desert, the photography got even better. The horizontal light seemed to selectively light up certain parts of the landscape.


The two photos below are a couple of my favorites. For only about 5 minutes, just as the sun was setting, the landscape seemed to come alive with interesting color and light, and then it was gone. Not sure what it is... may be a lot of purple in the end of day light? Reminds me of a desert landscape painting. 


A final sunset shot, helped along with a little photo-editing to make the sky more dramatic. Hope you like it!
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Thursday, July 13, 2017

"Jeep Trail" Hike

I'm going through... let's call it a phase... where I like to find places to hike within Joshua Tree National Park that are not marked by trails or identified on NPS maps. I spend hours spying down on Joshua Tree using Google Maps satellite view and looking for something interesting, then planning my hike accordingly. I don't dislike the standard hikes or following a trail, but there's something about "freestyle" hiking across open desert with no idea exactly what you might find that appeals to my wacky sense of adventure.

My so called "Jeep Trail" hike is a good example. I noticed a fairly well defined "jeep trail" (parallel tire tracks) a little west of the turnoff to Jumbo Rocks Campground. Driving off road (except on marked/approved roads) is strictly forbidden within the Park, and has been for many years, but that wasn't the case back in the pre-monument days. And, unfortunately, the desert heals slowly and car tracks can be visible for many years. Miners, homesteaders and others drove all over this area back in the day. And I've learned that when you find the faint signs of car tracts, there is generally a reason they are there. They lead to something, although it may no longer be around (such as a homestead cabin that long ago disappeared).

Enough blabbering. Let me share a few pics from my "Jeep Trail" hike of a few weeks ago.
See the car tracks heading off into the open desert in the above photo? That's the start of the "Jeep Trail" hike. The NPS has done a nice job of putting big boulders in front of jeep trails like this. It keeps everyone honest and off of the unapproved roads.

I have a new app on my phone called TinType. It reproduces the old tin plate photos of yesteryear, and does a pretty good job in my opinion. A bargain for $.99. So I was wandering around in the open desert on a very hot day alternating between cell phone and DSLR photos and looking like a crazy man. Nothing new there. I'll sprinkle a few of these tintype photos into my post.

I'll call this one "melting rock". It looks like a giant glob of ice cream melting in the sun. Or maybe that's me... mid 90's, no shade, a little heat stroke setting in and your mind starts playing tricks on you!



Oops... accidental selfie. Walking along, stepping over a rock, juggling DSLR, phone, and hiking stick and pressed the wrong button!

Nearing the end of the jeep trail, I came across this huge jumble of rocks. I could also see a large cleft in the rocks that looked interesting. Let's go check it out.

There's the cleft or opening. Getting to it proved much harder than I thought. Somewhere in this area I ended up dropping my one and only water bottle under a huge slanted boulder and spent quite a bit of time and energy retrieving it. If I hadn't been able to get it back, things would have gotten dicey!

Inside the cleft. In my younger days, I would have climbed this and pushed through that opening under the large hanging rock. These days I'm content to just look and take a photo!

I'm calling this one "molar rock". Reminds me of an upside down tooth. All the rocks in this area had really interesting erosion markings, and I'm guessing it would be a rock climber's paradise!

A primary objective for this hike was to find some spiral "zen rocks" at the end of the jeep trail that I had spotted using Google Maps. It's a big mystery to me why someone made this rock design on national park property out in virtually the middle of nowhere!
It wasn't too hard to find. I had put the coordinates in my phone, and, as they say, piece of cake. But what is this spiral rock formation? Who made it and why?

Even more interesting, the middle of the spiral rock formation contains "offering rocks" where people had left coins, keys, and even fabric. Is there something spiritual about this rock, or simply a good luck offering, like tossing a coin in a fountain? I've Googled "zen rock formation" and "spiral rock formation" but have found nothing so far.

I didn't find any old mines or cabins that you sometimes find at the end of an old road. I did find some old rusty cans in one area, which makes me think there must have been an old mine or homestead cabin in the area at one time. But it was a great hike and I took a ton of photos. Stay tuned, I'll definitely be sharing more in the future. I'll leave you with a shot of my favorite sunset photo from the "Jeep Trail" hike. 

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Yard Varmint

The white tailed antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus leucurus) is commonly seen in our local desert around Joshua Tree. He looks more like a chipmunk than a squirrel to me, but the experts say he's a squirrel. Even daytime summer temperatures don't seem to slow him down too much. We found this little guy lounging on our back patio last weekend. I refer to him as "varmint" because he's very fond of our patio plants (eating them, not admiring them). Along with the local rabbit population, these guys can eat up most everything you plant, including cactus. This one's especially fond of the large cactus my wife has in a big pot on the patio.

They like to stretch out really flat on the cool patio concrete. I suspect that exposing more surface area helps them cool down. I just have to laugh sometimes at the way they look. I ran to get my camera when I saw this guy standing on his skinny little hind legs like a prairie dog. It was so funny looking, but unfortunately I wasn't quick enough to capture it.


Varmint yoga?? I think this one's called the "up dog"!
But the big problem is, how do you stay mad at such a cute little varmint??

I'll leave you with a shot of our local town fireworks display. This is a lawn chair point-of-view shot. My camera was on a tripod, but the legs weren't extended, so it gives a nice low perspective and captures all the onlookers. For those who celebrate the 4th, hope you had a great one!!


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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Aliso Beach Park

Taking a little break from the heat, we took the granddaughter to the beach last week. Temps have been sizzling-hot in Southern CA, especially as you go inland. On this particular day, Palm Springs was forecast to reach a high of 120 degrees. Totally caught off guard, when we reached Aliso Beach in Laguna, it was much cooler than we anticipated (67 degrees and foggy)!
Lots of what photographers call "negative space" in this photo.
The distance from Palm Springs to the Pacific Ocean is only about 60 miles (as the crow flies). With a temperature difference of about 50 degrees (120 - 70), that means for every mile traveled inland (away from the ocean), you gain almost one degree! It's quite amazing the impact the ocean has on our local weather.

Aliso Creek Bridge
Is there a lesson to be learned here? Yes, on a hot Southern CA day, stay close to the ocean!

Footsteps
Unfortunately, living next to the ocean is economically impossible for the vast majority of people. I was going to say only the 1%ers can live in beachfront homes, but actually it's more likely only the 0.1%ers. Or the 0.01%ers!

See that house up on the bluff overlooking the ocean? I would like to tell you that's my house, but I would be lying!! But you don't have to live in a beachfront home to enjoy nature's air conditioning. All of the beach communities are cooler than the more inland communities. And the good news... real estate prices drop as you move inland!

Same shot of my granddaughter, but with a lot of help from PhotoShop to add the dramatic sky.

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