Thursday, April 4, 2019

Scott's Arch

"East of 29 Palms, CA, Highway 62 passes into the wide-open spaces of the Mojave Desert and becomes one of the loneliest and quietest highways in southern California. In fact, you will see scant evidence along much of the route that anyone has ever made a mark on the land"
 Roadside Geology of Southern California 
by Arthur Gibbs Sylvester and Elizabeth O'Black Gans

So off we go, Cousin Scott and I exploring one of the most remote areas of Joshua Tree National Park, looking for alcoves, arches, and whatever else we might find. The few people who hike this area usually begin their hike from one of two pull-out areas where parking is safe. Since we're driving the Jeep and not worried about soft sand on the shoulder of the road, we start our hike further east where no one (but crazy people) hike, so we can access seldom seen areas. I've previously posted about some of the alcoves we found on this hike.
The area is a huge jumble of rocks, with the rugged Coxcomb mountains to the east. It makes hiking a challenge. If you can follow a wash, that makes things easier. But washes often dead end or get choked off by boulders. It's critical to map out your hike in advance using GPS because it's very easy to get turned around. On this day the sky couldn't make up it's mind about what it wanted to do, but it looks like it would mostly be a dull and drab gray sky. I remember being disappointed because the sunset would probably be less than impressive. As it turns out, I was wrong!
The rock formations are always interesting in this area.

And it's nearly impossible for me to pass up an alcove without crawling inside to explore and take a photo. I remember telling Scott that if we could find an arch at some point, it would be the icing on the cake for a perfect hike. Most of the arches in this area are unnamed and uncatalogued by the NPS.

Smoke Tree in a desert wash, without another human footprint to be seen anywhere. The sense of quiet, solitude and open space is wonderful!

Exploring the Joshua Tree outback. Photo credit: S. Wessel
As the day moved into late afternoon, the sky was getting more interesting.

On the rocks up ahead, I hear Scott calling me: "I found an arch!!"

Sure enough, as Scott leads me up a ravine, I get my first partial glimpse of "Scott's Arch"!!

There it is... in all it's glory: Scott's Arch!!

Climbing up and over to view Scott's Arch from the opposite direction, it looks very different. The rocks are flat instead of rounded. You wouldn't know it was the same arch!

Viewed from a distance, and looking NE, Scott's Arch is impressive! It's also well hidden because it wasn't visible to us as we were hiking south (the direction hikers would be coming from).

As we continue beyond Scott's Arch, we come across this trio of alcoves. At least that's what they appear to be. Let's hike a little closer to check them out.

Wow... another significant discovery! The left-most "alcove" turns out to be a double-arch. How cool is that!!

A wider-angle view of "double arch" alcove. Very impressive! My first thought was how can I climb up into it to check things out?

Unfortunately, there is no way up the sheer rock walls to explore the double arches. But I managed to get up high enough on the rocks to capture this photo of the surrounding area. A beautiful desert scene!

As I was taking the overview photo, Cousin Scott was taking this photo of me. The double arches were directly above me, but the vertical rock wall made it impossible to climb up.

I'll leave you with a couple of desert sky shots. These were taken in the late afternoon, but the best skies were yet to come, and I'll leave those for a future post!

Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world.

Thanks for stopping by!!

52 comments:

  1. Again, you simply amaze me with your courage and desert savvy. As I was reading your post I was thinking about the high desert of central Utah when I was a kid where sometimes you realized that you couldn’t hear a thing besides the wind going through the rocks and trees. I loved that feeling.
    I salute you and cousin!

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  2. amazing wild landscapes and sky !

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  3. Wow, those shots are amazing.

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  4. Wow! You find some of the best scenes.

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  5. You can tell Scott that your blog friends rave about the arch he found:):) Maybe a dumb question, but what exactly do you mean with "a wash? Wow, you were right - the colors of the sunset are spectacular! Thanks for your kind comments about my story:)

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    1. Hi Jesh. A wash is usually a low-lying, sandy area created by the occasional desert rainstorm over many years. Basically a dry river bed. They are often the easiest way to navigate an area that would otherwise be difficult to navigate.

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  6. Amazing photos.
    Always loved your post.
    Greetings.

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  7. That was a hike well worth the effort with some amazing views at the end. Shame about the last arches looks like you would have needed climbing gear for that.

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  8. Very beautiful set of photos. As usual.

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  9. A wonderful area to explore, especially with such unexpected rock formations. It's a pity that you couldn't climb up, though maybe it's better to have a few unreachable places in this increasingly overrun world.

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  10. Love the pictures--- I'm always seeing faces in things, and your 7th from the last pictures looks like Jabba the Hut's face. Maybe I just need some sleep. Your images are always wondrous.

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  11. What a colors and wow effects. Great work.

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  12. Hello, congrats to you and cousin Scott for finding the arches. The double arch is impressive. Beautiful captures of the rock formations, desert and the sky! Happy Friday, I hope your day and weekend is great!

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  13. Wonderful post with great discoveries and a pair of very nice sky shots.

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  14. Wow! fantastic series. You are making very good use of retirement life.

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  15. I'm always amazed when I see your photos! Nature is amazing!

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  16. Fabulous landscapes, great skies!

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  17. You always have the best desert photography ~ beautiful! ~ great you have a jeep too!

    Happy Days to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

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  18. So impressive. No planes overhead? I would be imagining myself in the days of the Native American, and I am in awe of you and cousin.

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  19. swooning

    so many great shots

    sky

    arches

    horizon

    awwwwww

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  20. Truthfully, I would love to visit this soon. I cannot wait to see these with my own eyes.

    Worth a Thousand Words

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  21. Wow! What a country you have to explore.

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  22. I always wonder how to rocks you photograph get to be their shapes to begin with.

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  23. Hi SP&P, I love your photos and this territory is fascinating. I have recently been reading about "The Day the Dinosaurs Died" in The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/04/08/the-day-the-dinosaurs-died In the article they talk about how formations on earth, even like the Grand Canyon, may have been formed in much shorter time than has been previously thought. When I looked at your pictures here I couldn't help but wonder how the area was formed and over what period of time. This kind of stuff just fascinates me. Thanks, as always, for sharing. By the way, that last photo is just amazing! John

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  24. Wow - amazing scenery and gorgeous skies!

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  25. For all the courage both your cousin and you are reward with such great sightings and stunning sunset. Both of you are so brave to venture to areas not visited by many.

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  26. Fabulous sky shots. Thank you for dropping by my blog

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  27. Awesome arch and trip! Reminds me of our travels in Outback Australia in 1999. Now I´m homesick again! I´d like to pack and go... Beautiful trip.

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  28. Amazing scenery. It must have been exciting to discover those arches.

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  29. Fantastic scenery and beautiful photos. I'm always glad to read when your cousin accompanies you to these inaccessible or seldom accessed places.

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  30. Fantastic photos, I'm excited!
    Have a nice weekend!

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  31. What a great adventure! It must be thrilling to explore such a challenging place with all these amazing rock formations. I would love to hike there too.

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  32. Wow, a very fascinating area, with unique rock formations !
    Amazing pics, as always...!!!

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  33. Your desert photos are incroyably beautiful SPP. How thrilling to find unknown arches, quite rightly named after their discoverers 😊 Was interesting to see the impossibly steep rock face that meant Cousin Scott arch couldn't be explored, I can imagine your frustration. Still it looks like it was another wonderful day out in your favourite desert area ✨

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  34. WOW!! That's a breathtaking series! Such an impressive location and your skies - gorgeous. I'm thrilled!!

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  35. You and your cousin out and about searching for arches and Cousin found it, YEA! So proud of the images you posted this week. I enjoy the quiet and solitude of the desert too. Thanks for the cyber tour. Have a great week-end.

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  36. Wow...I wish everyone who ever wondered how I, coming from a land of thousands of lakes, can love the desert so much would come here to read this post. And see the wonderful photography.

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  37. So many beautiful pictures in this post! How cool that you & Scott found not only one arch, but several. And that sunset is simply exquisite.

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  38. Double arches,wow! And what spectacular sky pictures to end your day with.

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  39. Gorgeous photos, especially that double arch!

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  40. I’m absolutely fascinated and totally amazed the way you explore in this amazing country (and needless to say, with what you find). Those arches are beautiful, hidden treasures ...thank you for sharing all... and the skies too.

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  41. These are such incredible photos. I looked at them the other day and came back to look again! That's a lot of hard climbing to hike there! I'm spoiled hiking on sandy trails here in Florida. Would love to see some of those arches though! AMAZING!

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  42. How fortunate you and Scott are to be able to explore Joshua Tree National Park off the beaten path! The arches were a nice find

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  43. Love your discoveries, and the last photo is brilliant. I thought of you last week when my husband and I went to see a showing of nine films about rivers and lakes. One of them featured a quote that went something like this: "A desert has the perfect amount of rainfall … for a desert. The problem comes when we put a city where it doesn't belong." I hope these areas that you hike will be preserved for future generations!

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    1. Thanks, Angie, that's a great quote by Edward Abbey:
      “Water, water, water....There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount , a perfect ratio of water to rock, water to sand, insuring that wide free open, generous spacing among plants and animals, homes and towns and cities, which makes the arid West so different from any other part of the nation. There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.”

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