Thursday, February 22, 2018

Coyote Hills (revisited)

Let me steal you away from my usual desert photography and take you on a favorite non-desert hike. I've posted a few times about Coyote Hills (Pave Paradise). I hiked the area last week on a day with puffy white clouds and blue skies. It had been a couple months since my last hike here. In case you're interested, here are the GPS coordinates.

Something I noticed right away: Someone has been clearing the roads! This could be the beginning of the end for Coyote Hills as it exists today. I fear it may soon be developed and blend in with the sea of homes surrounding it on all sides. In my view, really too bad we can't save the natural beauty of this area.
Last time I hiked this old oil field road (above), it was difficult to pass because of the weedy overgrowth.

The big draw for me when I hike Coyote Hills is the feeling of solitude and seeing what much of Orange County used to look like before all the homes were built.

Fresh tracks on the road and weeds removed.

The day offered great visibility. To the NW I could see some of the skyscrapers of downtown LA, and to the SW I could see Long Beach and even Catalina Island.

Unidentified piece of rusty metal. Old car or truck part, perhaps??

My favorite shot of the day. All photos taken on my iPhone 6.
Very thankful for being able to spend time hiking and exploring this beautiful spot.
Linking up with Skywatch Friday and Thankful Thursday.
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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wild Skies...

That's Wild with a "W"!
Can you see the "W"??
How about now?
And now??
Switching letters, how about "A" for arch??

I like this one. I can see both a "W" and a Valentine's heart!

See the X?

I don't see any letters in the photos below... just some pretty desert skies!

The ruggedly-beautiful Coxcomb Mountains (above). Changing to a telephoto lens gives a closer view of the Coxcombs (below).

What's that in the sky? A coyote, perhaps?? I'm just thankful to be healthy enough to hike and explore in the desert and enjoy the beautiful, unique scenery the desert offers. 

Linking with Skywatch Friday and with Michelle over at Thankful Thursday.

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Winter? What winter??

Got my toes in the water (not quite!), ass in the sand
Not a worry in the world...
Zac Brown Band

This has been the warmest S CA winter I can remember. Can you have too much of a good thing? Blue skies day after day after day, daytime highs in the 70's and 80's? Not sure I can take much more of this (😎). I am pretty sure this beautiful stretch of weather will come back to haunt us. Just checking with Mr. Google, and the area where I live in Orange County has received 1.12" of total rainfall since Oct. 1, 2017 (the start of the so-called "water year"). That's only 17% of average. Not good.

What to do?? Might as well enjoy it, so a break from my normal desert posts while I take my granddaughter down to the tidepools at Corona Del Mar. We went during a recent very nice low tide (-1.7) on (yet another) beautiful day. Not only was the air temperature warm (actually hot) at the beach, but the water temp. was really warm as well. My only complaint from my granddaughter was why didn't I pack her swimsuit!!

Dancing in the sunlight. Gotta love that youthful exuberance!

The tidepools themselves were underwhelming. I can remember coming to these same tidepools years ago and always finding something exciting, especially with a really good low tide like a -1.7. You might spot a moray eel in a rocky crevice, a lobster wedged between rocks, sea cucumbers, occasional abalone, large chitons, keyhole limpets, kelp crabs, and even octopus. Sea stars and purple urchins were extremely common. This time... nothing. Only the occasional anemone and hermit crab. Not even any urchins or starfish. Where did all the critters go?? Wonder if it has anything to do with the rising water temperatures?

I think these are the little burrows of  "sandcastle" worms

The algae didn't disappoint... red, green and brown algae added their color to the tidepools.

A young lady practicing... beach yoga??
Funky Chicken dance?? Oh, and that's my dream house hanging off the cliff with the incredible ocean views.

On the hike back up the hill from the beach, we had to stop and admire Arch Rock and the beautiful view!

Linking with Skywatch Friday.
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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Scorpius Arch

I mentioned last week that most of the roads, campgrounds and hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park are scrunched up into the NW corner. The map below (hopefully) clarifies what I'm talking about.
The circled red area is what people mostly see when they visit the Park. I didn't include Pinto Basin Road in the red circle because there are only a handful of campgrounds and tourist stops and most of the area lacks the iconic boulder formations and joshua trees. The blue-dashed area is more or less inaccessible (Little San Bernardino and Cottonwood Mountain Ranges). The yellow-dashed area, which represents almost half the park (by acreage), is what I think of as "the great wide open"... no roads, no maintained trails, no people. Just pristine desert. Old Dale Road and Black Eagle Mine Road skirt the western end of "the great wide open", but otherwise there are no roads or trails. It's amazing to me how much of the park is never or rarely seen. Photos from last week and this week were taken in the NE part of "the great wide open" (black arrow) which is an area that is rarely visited.

I went in search of something called Scorpius Arch in the NE section of the GWO. I've seen pics of it, but it's exact location is a closely guarded secret. People are very concerned that knuckleheads will do stupid things (trash, graffitti, bonfires...), and rightly so. After exploring the area, I eventually found Scorpius Arch, and I wasn't disappointed. Not only is the Arch amazing looking, but the entire area has beautiful, weird, unique rock formations that make it very photogenic.
An important note of caution. As mentioned, this area is remote and there are no trails to follow. Take extreme caution if you explore the area. Make sure you have a good GPS device, set waypoints in advance, tell people exactly where you are going, etc. I searched the photo sharing site Flickr for "Scorpius Arch" and was surprised that I didn't find more photos. One photo was accompanied by the following comment that I think illustrates my point (a direct quote):
"Do not ask me for the location of this arch. I will not tell you. This arch is in a remote part of the park that is not often visited. If you get lost or hurt in this area no one will find you for days or weeks. I will not have that on my conscience. If you message me asking the location of this arch, I will ignore you."
Scorpius Arch in B&W. It's hard for me to make up my mind if it looks better in color or B&W, so I guess I'll share some of both!

I plan to post once more (next week) on my first hike to this beautiful, remote area. I still have some great photos I would like to share with you. And of course, I'm already itching to go back for a second visit!

Linking with Skywatch Friday.
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