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. 

Linking with Skywatch Friday.
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Thanks for stopping by!!

45 comments:

  1. Heisann, spectacularly! This must have been an exciting tour! Wonderful photos.

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  2. Coming here every week is such a visual delight.

    Worth a Thousand Words

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  3. That sky shot is awesome ~ your whole post is fascinating and can see why you like to explore different place ~ great photos ~ like the 'accidental self!'

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  4. What a fascinating post. The desert is harsh, unforgiving - and beautiful. Very, very beautiful.

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  5. Super pictures! I also enjoy your descriptions-- I believe that rock WAS melting.

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  6. Very enjoyable post -- another great trek through the desert with you. I'm also curious about the rock formations. Your final shot of the sunset is superb!

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  7. What an interesting hike! Thanks for taking us along. The photos are great, too. Love the sunset, and the cleft in the rock, and of course, the tooth.

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  8. What a great hike - I love that cleft with the hanging rocks. And what an interesting thing at the end!

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  9. Very interesting shots. I like that sunset.

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  10. You are a true intrepid adventurer!! I'm told that in the desert around Sedona, Arizona people have made all sorts of designs out of rocks and made altars and all that. I guess there is no harm but it makes one wonder. In my geocaching, I've sometimes come across strange things also.

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  11. Thanks for checking out my blog, so now I've checked out yours! You have some great photography and narrative. And right away, I'm drawn to your photos as they are of desert and red rock country which is where I spend a great deal of time. Sounds like you 'jeep hike', and we 'side-by-side or Polaris RZR hike' out in the southern Utah/Nevada deserts. I shall be back to your blog, too, although I'm not as much of a blogger anymore. I have gone the way of facebook where those who like my photography have encouraged me to go. Easier I guess since so many are already there. Anyway, you can find me at: https://www.facebook.com/karen.l.larsen.3 or if that doesn't work, search under 'Karen Lund Larsen". And I'll look forward to seeing more of your adventures!

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  12. That is quite an adventure!

    I would not like to be in the middle of nowhere, but I admire people who do.

    Looking forward to the next set of pictures.

    Greetings.

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  13. Looks like your freestyle hiking is giving some good results. Nice skies too.

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  14. You always come up with an interesting and beautiful collection of images and good narrative to go along with it. Kudos!

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  15. sure hope you don't get lost out there. Love that sunset image.

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  16. Fascinating post! Beautiful country and I love the zen rocks.
    Your sunset is to die for.

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  17. Marvelous photos of this unusual rock shapes. Fabulous !
    Best, Synnöve

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  18. Wonderful landscape shots. I rather suspect that the rock spiral has a "New Age" provenance; I've seen photos of such things which supposedly are part of shamanistic ritual in Central Asia. I find nature's rock sculptures far more interesting and far more beautiful.

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  19. Nice trail with an interesting end.

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  20. Hello, this looks like an interesting trail. I love the rock formations and the colors. The zen rock is cool, neat find. Your last sunset shot is lovely. Happy Friday, have a great day and weekend!

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  21. Great hike though I'm not sure I'd be walking around in that heat,I tend to hide in the shade. Love that sunset

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  22. Lovely sunset and spiral rocks

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  23. I love hiking with you. Learned a long time ago, the trail less taken always the better one.

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  24. Beautiful series of photos. I like your editing too.

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  25. beautiful post and photos, ending with a spectacular sunset. I had to smile here and there. although 'your' desert always looks so pretty and not scary at all (sun, sand, lack of water, nothing/no one in sight, god forbid getting lost), I would be afraid to get off of the marked trail.

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  26. Thanks for the wonderful hike. I love your descriptions of the interesting rock formations and the brillant ending with the glorious sunset.

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  27. Great photos, especially the beautiful sunset.

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  28. Oh my gosh that stunning sunset at the end of the hike was an incredible end to this amazing hike. You are intrepid hiking off-trail by yourself -- it amazes me what you can do with Google maps and coordinates .... that circle is quite a mystery, especially with the offerings, I hope you find more about it. Love the tintype app -- and the blob rock. It does look like melting icecream (and I haven't been out in the hot sun for at least four hours ;>)!

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  29. Such an interesting hike. Great photos and interesting rock formation and many great finds along your hike.

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  30. what an interesting place and a spiral at the end. Rings no bells to me. :)

    Think the app made a pretty good job to create old style photos. :)

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  31. Thanks for taking us along on your hike. Your love of the desert and exploration of the terrain shines beautifully in your outstanding photos. The spiral rock formation reminds me of contemplative labyrinths that are so popular for reflection, spirituality and prayer altho I would thnk twice about using it for that purpose in desert heat.

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  32. The back roads are the best roads!
    Really nice photos Pete! I don't recognize any of these scenes.

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  33. It's a beautiful parc ! I have been there long time ago in the 90th ! Beautiful pictures !

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  34. The natural rock formations seem interesting enough in themselves :)

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  35. I like the spiral formation, that is seriously cool!

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  36. Thanks for dropping by my post i was directed to see this post. You are such a good narrator and photographer, i smiled many times, your sense of humor got me; e.g. "And I've learned that when you find the faint signs of car tracts, there is generally a reason they are there". I am so impressed with your sense of direction, getting lost in that desert is scary! If i were nearer i hope i can tag along. Did you see butterflies on your way? haha. That round maze stone formation is maybe a replica of the Stonehenge for the same rituals. I thought many things like this are done in the US especially in Arizona. And that ending shot really got me.

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  37. I enjoyed going on this adventure. You're braver than me! Thanks for sharing. =)

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  38. All youre Photos are great, but the sunset is more than wonderful.
    Greetings
    Kirsi

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  39. Such gorgeous shots! And I love your accidental selfie.

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