Thursday, January 14, 2021

Broken Nose Alcove (Revisited)

My last hike to Broken Nose alcove was over 2 years ago (May 2018). My friend Mitch and I were talking about possible hiking locations, and we decided upon this spot. He was interested in seeing the arrastra that's in the area. When I mentioned the large alcove, that sealed the deal!

One of the first things we came across was what I like to call "hot dog rock". It looks like a giant hot dog bun to me! Look closely left of center and you will find something interesting. Lets take a closer look...

There's a deep hole in the rock with rusty cans and other trash inside. There used to be more. Back in the day, there was definitely a mining presence in this area, and my guess is that a miner or miners made camp nearby and decided to use this large hole in the rock as a convenient place to stash their trash!
 
Not far from Hot Dog Rock is this very interesting old shelter. It's most commonly referred to as the "Pinto Wye Hideout".


Someone has fortified this natural shelter with rock walls and a small cooking area. But who? And how long ago, and for what purpose? A logical guess would be miners, but it could have been someone more recently. Regardless, it's really interesting and fun to "discover" it!
 
Next up is the Pinto Wye arrastra. Somewhere I read that this is one of only two wagon wheel arrastras in the Western US, and this one is the best preserved. I took a picture of the information post next to the arrastra, which does a nice job explaining what it was used for.



Close up of the drag stone (used to crush the ore).

Not to far up the hill above the arrastra is a shallow mine. We simply MUST take a closer look!
 
Hello, Mitch! I ended up with lots of sand in my boots and pockets, and some cactus thorns in my pants, after climbing in and out of this steep mine. Anything for a photo, right??

As we follow a wash west, trying to make our way to the alcove, we come across this columnar rock. Not something I commonly see in Joshua Tree.
 
Ah, there it is. Do you see the broken nose? The alcove is on the opposite side and is a real challenge to access.
 
Getting ready to attempt my climb into the alcove.

Squeezing through the rocks on my way to the alcove.

Finally, you drop down this crack between these boulders to get into the alcove. It's pretty easy to drop down into the alcove. It's much more difficult to climb out again! I wasn't worried on this hike, since I had a partner. But on my first discovery of the alcove a couple years ago, I was hiking solo, and it was a little unnerving wondering if I would be able to climb back out. (Photo credit to M. Miller for the above three photos)
 



It's a large, spacious alcove. Perhaps one of the largest in the park. Like the Pinto Wye Hideout, it also has a small area for a fire, perhaps used to stay warm and to heat up a can of beans or a pot of coffee. Definitely not something miners built, as it's too much of a hassle to get in and out of on a regular basis. I was so intrigued with this alcove that I left a small "register" (coffee can with paper and pencil) to see if anyone ever visits this site. To my surprise, there was one person who signed my register! Just one person in the last 2 1/2 years. My only regret is, in my excitement, I forgot to take a picture of the sign in paper.

Mitch in his element

Not far from Broken Nose alcove is this nice shelter. As I approached it to to take some photos, I was surprised to find...
 
Two sticks propped up against the rock wall, just outside the shelter. Nature definitely didn't do this. These were placed here by a person. I remember reading about Native Americans placing "spirit sticks" outside their shelters, and many spirit sticks have been found during the early days exploring Joshua Tree for artifacts. It's much more likely that some hiker left these here as a joke or prank, but hey, you never know!
 
Looking back at Broken Nose alcove. There's nothing to give you size perspective in the photo, so you'll just have to trust me that it's very large!
 
Smile rock!
Like any great hike, you often see things that make you want to come back again. Somewhere past "smile rock", I noticed what looked like a cave opening. Impossible to tell if it's truly a cave, or just a shallow alcove, without making a challenging hike to check it out. And unfortunately, we are just about out of daylight. So you will have to wait for "Part II" of this post to check out the cave (or whatever it is!) after I make a return hike.
 
As we start our hike back, we are given a huge bonus: A full moon, which was just starting to rise as we got within about 1/2 mile from the car!
A helicopter heading north over the full moon. It's likely heading to the Marine Base just north of 29 Palms.
 




Thanks for stopping by.
Stay safe and stay healthy!!
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Thursday, January 7, 2021

Prettiest Arch in JTNP??

Well, I'll get a lot of argument about this one! Scorpius Arch would get a lot of votes (see my header photo) and might be the popular winner, although because of its east JT location, it's not seen by many tourists. Garretts Arch would get some votes. It's the largest arch in Joshua Tree National Park, but in my opinion, it doesn't photograph well. Majestic Arch will absolutely take your breath away, but it's very difficult to get to and very few have seen it up close. Shadow ArchMystery Arch, and Lost Arch are all good candidates. And there are so many others! But my vote goes to Ojo Oro Arch. It's got classic good looks, nice proportions, and photographs beautifully. It's remote and hard enough to find that it keeps the riff raff away. So why haven't I posted about Ojo Oro? I have no idea. I've hiked to it a few times, but as I search my blog for Ojo Oro, nothing comes up. Really?? That's a big oversite!

It's an absolutely gorgeous day for a hike, with clouds overhead and the Coxcomb Mountains off to the left. It doesn't get much better than this!

I'm pretty far along on my hike to Ojo Oro Arch when I come across this fire ring. It looks old, but not historically significant old.

In an area of Joshua Tree known for it's weirdly eroded rock formations, this area doesn't disappoint. I think there may be more arches per mile hiked in this area than just about anywhere!








But my apologies for the digression. We're looking for Ojo Oro Arch, right!!? So easy (and fun) to get side tracked out in this area.

Ah ha, there it is. Do you see it?? Almost dead center in the photo. Let's get closer...

Can't miss it now. Isn't it a beauty? A relatively large, open arch. Close to the ground but easy to get blue sky through the opening for dramatic photos.




Some arches only look good from one side, but Ojo Oro looks good from the opposite ("backside") direction as well.
 
The camera was clicking furiously on the hike back to the car. I'll just share a couple of my favorites, so as not to wear out my welcome!
Yet another arch.

Wizard cap?


This post has got me thinking about all the arch photos I've taken over the years, and the opportunity to perhaps publish a calendar or photo book of some kind. Sound like a good new years resolution for 2021?
 
Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe and stay healthy!
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