Thursday, January 25, 2018

Into The Great Wide Open

Into the great wide open
Under them skies of blue...
                         Tom Petty

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!!

50 comments:

  1. You have such the adventures! Who knows what that circle is about. My dad, who worked for the Forest Service, used to tell me about the ceremonies people did out in the desert and woods. They didn't hurt anything but some of them were performed by people in various states of not be fully dressed.

    I love the Solocator app. Thanks for using it and the shout out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! Talk about remote! Good thing you have the Solocator!
    Those B&W shots are really beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You were really out there on your adventure. Love the way the sky seems to go on forever.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love your skyscapes. I'm off to visit Yogi.

    I'm always amazed when I visit one of the many preserves in Florida, hiking for hours, never seeing a soul. Where are the outdoor folk? :]

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for sharing! Happy friday!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your images are remarkable. Really like that first one "No services for 100 miles" - the perspective disappearing into the horizon and the fascinating clouds. Thank you and Yogi for the tip about Solocator - what a handy thing to have!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love these--- But especially the monochromes. They remind me of the superb major studio B&W westerns of the 40's. I'm glad we're sharing on FB as well these days.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It certainly is both beautiful and remote.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The pictures are fascinating, but for me that place looks to remote.I'd be afraid I would get hopelessly lost.

    ReplyDelete
  10. So beautiful! We need to return for a visit. I was hoping to do so when there was some snow, but we missed the last snowfall...

    ReplyDelete
  11. What incredible skies, and incredible pictures too!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Beautiful in black and white and in colour! I love the open skies.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your Jeep is the perfect vehicle for these adventures. I always thought that if I could just focus on landscape photography, a Jeep would be my best friend. Great set of images.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I like these big desert areas and your series is really magnificent and varied, thank you for the beautiful sharing

    ReplyDelete
  15. Such gorgeous skies and lovely, rocky scenes.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Splendid photos of the desert, as usual. I've often found in our British National Parks, which are very different from yours, that the peripheral areas offer much more than most people (even those who write guide books) realise. The rule seems to apply worldwide. I once saw a sign in Scotland that read "Toilets 23 miles" - not very comforting as I was riding a bicycle at the time!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great shots and that solocator is really a great app. Now finding space in the netherlands.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hello, these are all beautiful scenes from JNP> I love the views of the mountains and sky and all the rock formations. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  19. vivid colours of desert are spectacular, but with so much texture B&W shots are a amazing as well.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I would have to start planning a trip here. Would Late January, early February be a good time to visit?

    Worth a Thousand Words

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. February is usually good, and crowds aren't too bad. Peak season is perhaps April or early May (desert flower blooms) but more crowded. Stay away in late June, July and August (unless you like scalding heat!!).

      Delete
  21. I'll add my voice to the chorus of kudos for your images and narratives!!! In your next posting, would you comment on your superb B&W shots; viz. were converted from color in LR or PS? Also, do you use some filter on your lens [polarization, infra red or other] that creates those beautiful skies?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Certainly a deserted and beautiful place to visit, would not want to get lost there

    ReplyDelete
  23. I wish I'd known about this park when I lived in California. If I ever make it out there again I'll make sure to visit there.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wow! What an adventure for you and us ~ fantastic photos of an incredible place!

    Happy Weekend,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

    ReplyDelete
  25. What wonderful scenery and landscape. A great place to visit and find solitude in photography.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wow super shots. I do like the texture look of the sky in B&W. Interesting rock formations
    MB

    ReplyDelete
  27. Gorgeous country! I like the combination of beautiful rock formations and open scenery!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Stunning photography. I'm glad you and your Jeep got to do your thing (and I'm glad it let you stop a few times for these wonderful pictures).

    ReplyDelete
  29. A truly grand tour. I would enjoy seeing it, but not hiking.

    ReplyDelete
  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Amazing photographs and loved the narration!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Cool photos! I've always wanted to see this park. Will this be the year?

    ReplyDelete
  33. Magnificent tour with beautiful pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Wow, wonderful landscapes with interesting cloud formations !

    ReplyDelete
  35. Love your forays into the park. The skies in B&W are great. The first solocator shot there is a big X made of cloud. Wondering if that is a message "don't go this way." Look forward to next week to see what you have discovered.

    ReplyDelete
  36. In Black and White great heaven and landscapes - these are my favourite shots this time!
    Greetings
    Kirsi

    ReplyDelete
  37. The skies are just so amazing and they look great in b&w. I'm glad you've got a good head on your shoulders trekking out there on the eastern half. It makes me breathe easier just knowing pristine places still exist. That's a pretty cool app and the circle looks ritualistic.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Captivating shots! I hope you had a full tank of gas before you started out! Thanks for the tip on the app - that will come in handy on mountain hikes!

    ReplyDelete
  39. great to see some black and white for a change. Loved them :)

    ReplyDelete
  40. Very cool. I might have to get the app too. I know we were surprised at one point in our Guatemala trips to discover we were at almost 8,000 foot elevation. I hope you never have to find out if the call boxes work!. Nice post. A great mix of b/w too.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I just love your desert skyscapes. that is one cool app too.

    ReplyDelete
  42. A scary place in the middle of nowhere for me

    ReplyDelete
  43. So that is what Tom Petty was singing about ...
    What an amazing area and what a great trip. I'll take a look at the locations in Google Maps, and I will try to visit your blog and your wonderful desert shot more often from now on.
    Greetings from the Netherlands.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Your photos are so rich and colorful! That desert sure does have an allure--I can see why you love exploring it. Thanks for the Solocater app info. That will be very helpful to use in a history society my husband and I belong to, as we are trying to record gps coordinates of historic sites for our society's archives.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Fantastic photos Pete! Including the ones taken with your phone. I sent you an email relating to the Solocator APP.

    ReplyDelete