Into the great wide open
Under them skies of blue...
Joshua Tree National Park (at least the part most of us see) is scrunched up into the NW corner of the Park. Most people enter the Park via the west entrance (Park Blvd. in Joshua Tree). If you drive east and exit on Utah Trail (into the town of 29 Palms) you will have passed by most of the campgrounds and scenic areas that make the Park famous. However, that's a really small piece of the overall 790,656 acres that is JTNP. The Park's eastern half is wild, open, pristine desert. It is rarely visited, and with just a couple exceptions, there are no roads going into the area and not even any trails (the exception being an old mining road or two that were closed long ago). I made my first visit to this area a week ago. It's the kind of place you can hike all day without seeing another human being or even footprints from another human being!
Leaving 29 Palms. I always smile when I see this sign... it's a marker that you are leaving civilization and heading into the middle of nowhere!
As I headed west on Highway 62, my first challenge was to stay focused on my goal of reaching the NE end of the Park. First I had to pass by all the little abandoned and decaying homestead cabins in Wonder Valley. They totally call to me, and it's always hard to ignore them and not stop for photos. I only lost my resolve for just this one photo (above), and then drove on.
Somewhere past the Sheephole Mountains I couldn't resist another stop to admire the wide open spaces under a beautiful desert sky. That's my old Jeep, smiling because it gets to do what it loves best (explore old out-of-the-way desert locations).
Looking back (west) in the direction I had just come on Highway 62. I believe those are the Sheephole Mountains on the right. Joshua Tree National Park comes right up to the highway (on the left) in this area. As you can see, not a busy highway!
Finally, I reach my destination. Just a small paved turnout in the middle of nowhere. Hmm, I wonder if that call box actually works?? Looking straight ahead (east), I think those are the Coxcomb Mountains. Famous to a small group of die-hard explorers for their remoteness and ruggedness and inaccessibility. I'm not heading to the Coxcombs. My plan is to head due south to explore the rock formations, and hopefully find one particular rock formation (more on that in a future post).
I love these desert shots in B&W. As I begin my hike, I'm crossing a broad desert wash that slopes gently to the east. That little bush/tree in the photo above (on left) is a Smoke Tree, and they are usually confined to desert washes. You see them in paintings of the southwest deserts and they have a certain beauty about them. It may be an acquired taste... I've definitely acquired it!
It's only about 1/2 mile to the start of the rocky area I want to explore, so not a long hike. But in the course of just a few hours and 2-3 miles I end up taking nearly 200 photos, so I'm going to have to share some of them on multiple posts. More to come!
Before I forget, a shout-out to Alan over at Yogi's Den for this cool app alert. It's called Solocator, and it adds location data to the top of your photo. Here's an example:
It shows the compass heading (about 87 degrees east), elevation (1992'), date/time, and the best part: GPS coordinates. Cool, don't you think?! Go ahead and try it... type 34 6'9"N, 115 27'2"W (I don't know how to make the little degrees symbol, but it doesn't seem to matter) into Google Maps (or similar). It should take you right to where I was standing (+/- 16.4 ft) when I took this photo! I use it when I find something interesting that I want to come back to. Just take a pic and you have the coordinates documented. Also handy when you want to share a location with someone else. Here are a couple more from the hike.
|I have no idea what this is or why it is here!|
As you can see, beautiful and interesting rock formations in this remote section of JTNP. I'll be sharing many more photos from this area in future posts.
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!!