Thursday, November 15, 2018

Fifteen Minutes of Fame?

Cousin Scott and I were recently hiking in a somewhat remote area of Joshua Tree. We had gone past the "crowds" at Barker Dam (I'll share my Barker Dam photos in the near future) and went off-trail in search of some pictographs that Scott had never seen (although you've seen them in a previous post here).
Look closely and you can see Scott exploring the area.

Photographing the pictographs!
As we were sitting, enjoying the shady alcove, pictographs and a granola bar, we see a hiker coming our way. His name is Terry, and he is clearly an experienced hiker and has seen more of Joshua Tree backcountry than I have! As we talk about some of our favorite hikes, he stops me and says "I have to ask you what your name is?" I tell him, and he says "what's the name of your blog?" I tell him and it turns out he is a regular reader! What are the odds of running into a regular Spare Parts reader out here in the middle of nowhere?? He even knows Cousin Scott from some of my previous posts. How cool is that? For the next 15 minutes we talk and it seems so odd to meet a stranger out here in the middle of nowhere who knows my blog and appreciates what I do. Terry, I know you will be reading this. Just want to say thanks, you made my day, and I hope we meet again!!

A little later in our hike, Scott checks out Alister's Cave. Lots of rock art at this site, and some beautiful rock formations.

File this one under "things you see in the desert". Old trailers and RVs are a common sight out here, in various states of disrepair. Seen while we were driving around 29 Palms before our hike.

Another common sight... an abandoned homestead cabin. Someone's dream. Back in the day, the government gave out 5 acre parcels for free. All you had to do was "improve" the land by building a cabin on the site. Young families from LA snapped up these parcels as a weekend getaway, built little cabins, brought the kids out, and have many wonderful memories. As the years went by, many were abandoned, but a surprising number are still owned and the property taxes are being paid (which would be very low). They still represent someone's dream of "someday"... I'll go out and rebuild my little desert cabin and use it the way my parents (or grandparents) used it back in the day!

Back at Barker Dam, we came across two rock climbers. Can you spot the one climbing up the seam in the rock face?

Nice swirly clouds over Joshua Tree boulders.
Shooting into the sun from Barker Dam, just opposite the rock climbers.
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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve doesn't get its fair share of recognition. It's just south of Highway 62 in the tiny village of Morongo Valley. It's not particularly well marked, and the vast majority of people zip by it on their way to Joshua Tree National Park with out even knowing what they've passed. But it's a very cool spot, and very much worth a visit.
The Preserve has year-round water. As you walk along the trails and boardwalks that crisscross the area, you frequently feel like you are a long way from the desert. It's easy to find shade and a bench to relax on, and it's rarely crowded.

These plants with small yellow flowers were in bloom all over the Preserve. I decided to carry only my 100-400 telephoto zoom lens for this outing, which turned out to be a good choice. I love being able to zoom in on things and get a nice blurry background.

Cottonwood trees are commonly seen throughout the Preserve. This one appears to be covered with a parasite, perhaps desert mistletoe? Blue skies with light cloud cover, so a perfect day to hike and explore!

Cousin Scott, the intrepid nature photographer, just spent a couple days with me. This was one of three great hikes we took. More to follow!

There are a number of trail choices at the preserve. This one took us into an area surrounded by mesquite brush. It looked like it would eventually take us up into the foothills, but we didn't follow it that far.

The Preserve shares its borders with the new Sand to Snow National Monument, which is very cool!

Here kitty kitty!!
I'll leave you with this shot of a woman cleaning the roof of the education center at the Preserve. Not a real mountain lion, but it made me do a double take!!

The Preserve is free, with plenty of parking, bathrooms, and trails to explore. Be sure to pack water and come prepared to spend a couple hours hiking the area. Because of year round water, the Preserve is a critical habitat for bighorn sheep, birds, coyote, and even mountain lion. Dogs are not allowed at the preserve, even on a leash.

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Spooky Desert Things...

Desert headstone?
Giant moon over Ryan Ranch
Truly one of the stranger rocks I've seen in Joshua Tree. The only editing was to darken the left "eye" a bit to make it look more like an eye. I think the "teeth" are very interesting!

Have you ever been hiking alone in the middle of nowhere and you can't shake that feeling that someone (or something) is watching you??

If you celebrate Halloween, I hope it was fun, scary, happy and safe!!!

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Quail Springs Pump House

I think this location qualifies as one of Joshua Tree National Park's "secret spots". I won't give away the location other than to say it's a mile or less from Samuelson's Rocks (which is itself somewhat of a secret location). No signs, no trails, no mention in any NPS brochures. Just a water pump out in the middle of nowhere! I had seen pics and a blog post or two, and knew the approximate location, but it was still like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. After scouring Google Maps, I noticed a very small square object and thought that might be the pump house. Then again, it might just be a square rock!
We had some dramatic skies for the hike to the pump house. The hike also included a visit to Samuelson's Rocks and an old homestead location, but those have been covered on previous posts.

I think it's somewhere over there!!
 In our search for the pump house, we crossed this wash which contained all kinds of interesting old pipe and other debris. I knew something had to be "upstream" from here!

Eureka! We found it!! 

Cousin Scott checking out the pump and mechanism. It appears it might have been belt-driven, with a belt turning the wheel on the pump (left side) to pump the water.

The really cool thing about this pump is that it still works!! Move the pump handle up and down and it pumps water out the black pipe to the metal water holder you see here. There was water in the container and I'll bet critters come by after dark to get a drink here on a regular basis. I was tempted to taste the water but decided it might not be too clean once it passes through the rusty pipe. Had it been a typical hot desert day, I could have soaked my head with genuine Joshua Tree well water!

I'm sharing a video from my friend Elliot Koeppel's blog post, which you can check out here

I took my fisheye lens on this hike, so I'm required to share a couple shots. One is barbed wire in the Samuelson corral area, and the second is the signed rock. Such an interesting and bizarre area!

Time to start the hike back. Look at these beautiful desert skies!!

During part of the hike, you can follow the old double-track trail. But it disappears after a while.

A final parting shot.

"Leave only footprints, take only photos"
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