Thursday, June 20, 2019

The "Real" Hidden Valley?

One piece of fascinating history in the Joshua Tree area has to do with the "McHaney Gang" and horse and cattle rustling in the late 1800's/early 1900's. The story goes something like this. The McHaney Gang would "obtain" horses in Arizona to exchange for cattle in California. Things might be reversed depending upon the relative "availability" of stock at either end of the trail. Either way, the stolen stock were rebranded and hidden in and around Hidden Valley. Interestingly, there is much debate as to where the real Hidden Valley was. Today's Hidden Valley can be accessed via a nature trail southwest of Intersection Rock, and is one of the more popular areas to visit in Joshua Tree National Park. But the following information is from Joshua Tree National Park: A Visitor's Guide by Robert B. Cates:

"The late Bill Keys, pioneer rancher who came to the area in 1910 and befriended Bill McHaney, insisted that the real Hidden Valley was the canyon now inundated behind a crude dam built by Keys behind the Desert Queen Ranch."

So this sets the stage for my recent hike (hike date: May 21, 2019). I was determined to find a way to hike into the canyon behind the Keys Ranch Dam. Keys Ranch (aka, Desert Queen Ranch) is only accessible via ranger led tours, but my guess was that the area behind the dam, if one could find a way in through all the rocks and without crossing ranch boundaries, would make for a fascinating hike.
The red arrow points to Keys Ranch. You can clearly see water behind the dam (actually two dams) with a wash or shallow canyon meandering off to the east. Could this area be the "real" Hidden Valley?

After studying Google Maps, I was convinced I found a route in to the area that would put me into the wash behind the dam. The route would require some moderate boulder scrambling, but it's the only way in that I could see. With a little bit of luck, it should get me into a really interesting area that few people have seen.

Well, as it turns out, luck wasn't with me on this hike. That happens from time to time!
Let me save anyone thinking about hiking into the area a lot of time. There are multiple "no trespassing" signs and fences: The area is CLOSED! Bummer. So I had to stop and head back the way I came, but still a fun hike even though I didn't get to explore the "real" Hidden Valley!



A couple of things I'll remember from this hike (besides the no access thing). First, there were a lot of plants in bloom. Lots of color (by desert standards). The hike kind of turned into a desert flower hike.

Desert Thistle, aka Lavender Thistle

Freemont's Pincushion




Paper Bag bush

I've commonly seen oak galls (caused by chemicals injected by the larvae of certain wasps) but always kind of a nondescript tan color. These actually looked like crab apples in the late afternoon light!


Silver cholla with weird lime-colored flowers.
The second thing I'll remember from this hike is that it got COLD. Not something I've often experienced hiking in the desert. I was hiking with long pants, cotton tee shirt and long sleeve over-shirt, and on the hot side at the beginning of the hike with temps in the mid-70's. By the end of the hike, the wind became strong and the temps dropped into the low 50's. Brrrr!



And along with all the blooms, it turned out to be a great hike for desert landscapes and skywatching!
Late afternoon golden light along the trail!




Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by, and Happy Summer Solstice!!

51 comments:

  1. Stunning phots of the plants and scenery in th epark. Out of interest what stops you trespassing, not as tghough there would be any one checking up on the places. In the UK Tresspass is not a criminal offence it's a civil one so if you are caught all they do is ask you to leave and if you get chopsy they call the police. It's hardly worth their while procicuteing as they have to prove you did damage to the poperty

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    1. Not sure what they would do if a Park Ranger caught me, and so remote I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be caught. However, I do generally respect no trespassing signs. This area is off limits because of it's proximity to Keys Ranch. Thanks for your comment!

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  2. Thanks for taking us on the hike. We have hike a little in the desert and truly enjoyed it. I am not much of a photographer, but I know one when I see the product. You are good my friend and YES id did enjoy the shots. Sorry the hike didn't go the way you hoped.
    Sherry and jack

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  3. PS: since I am a new reader, I wanted to say the Blog header pic, is AWESOME!

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  4. Bummer about the no access. But at least you got some good shots on the way in and out.

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  5. I regret that on several visits to southern California I never saw a Joshua tree. How sad is that!

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  6. Sorry you didn't get to see the really Hidden Valley. Didn't expect several "no trespassing" signs in the dessert. People own land there, or? But the plants and flowers there - awesome! Never seen these oak galls - not edible, I suppose? Thanks for your comment.

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  7. I'm disappointed for you that you couldn't complete your hike but the photos from the attempt are marvelous. Those sunset skies are wonderful!

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  8. Those sunset shots are stunning.

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  9. important oral history and fabulous images

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  10. The sunset scenes are stunner! Love the flowers too

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  11. I love how you are willing to roll with things and change your objective based on the situation. I am a rule follower and I wouldn't have proceeded past a no trespassing sign. Your photos of the desert flowers are superb. You always have such great adventures.

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  12. Beautiful pics. Sunset pics stunning.

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  13. wonderful pictures
    likes the monocrome picture best

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  14. A good outing. Like you, I do not go where I am not wanted. I find photographers who ignore signs to be a real negative. I love your pictures, as always.

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  15. Lucky for the McHaney Gang that there was no satellite mapping in their day, though I suspect that if you'd attempted the hike back then you'd have been greeted with a rather more robust response than a few signs! You got some wonderful photos anyway, especially of the desert flowers.

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  16. Hello, sorry about the no trespassing signs. That is a bummer. On the bright side the flowers are gorgeous and I love the sky and tree photos. Lovely sunset. Wishing you a happy day and weekend!

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  17. Trespassing or not . Interesting and beautiful as always.

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  18. Another wonderful series of desert photos !

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  19. Well, for all the frustration of not being able to realise your ambition of accessing the hidden valley this is a fabulous post with some outstanding photos. I always enjoy the stories that you take us on. What a pity that someone has littered this special landscape with negative signs and fences.
    (Oh oh, the pesky McHaneys - surely not Irish? Here speaks a Murphy!)

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  20. I love that you always take the opportunity to take amazing images SPP, even if the hike wasn't a big success the photos are đŸ’›

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  21. Beautiful images. I love the flowers, but those sunset scenes are amazing as well.

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  22. Faszinierende Fotos mit einer beeindruckenden Landschaft!

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  23. Your blog is really my favorite! I know I've said this before but aside from me dreaming of visiting a beautiful desert someday, I would really love to visit Joshua Tree NP in particular. Of those beautiful flowers! And that colorful sunset, thank you so much.

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  24. Gorgeous sky shots and magnificent macro floral shots!

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

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  25. Those flowers are beautiful. Too bad about the no trespassing. I wonder why?

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  26. All of these flowers are beautiful, but my favorite is the Lavender Thistle!

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  27. The scenery is gorgeous. The no trepassing signs didn't stop you from taking beautiful photos so you made out pretty good. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend.

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  28. I'm glad you didn't make it to the dam. I know, self-centered of me ... but otherwise we might not have benefited from as many gorgeous shots you shared here. So I'm not feeling guilty.

    (big grin)

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  29. Far from a wasted hike, I loved the sunset, the flowers, the flowers, the flowers. Funny how life works, you start out wanting to do one thing, and then get forced into a different direction - here, it was literal, and I enjoyed your sights.

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  30. Beautiful photos - I visited JT last March and enjoyed it so much.

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  31. Wow....your photos are spectacular.

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  32. What a beautiful post! Those flowers and those sunset shots are marvellous.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  33. Otra vez serĂ¡. Y podrĂ¡s hacer la ruta del Valle Oculo.
    Las imagenes de ese paraje nos dejas son espectaculares. Me a encantado verlas.
    Buen fin de semana.
    Un abrazo.

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  34. Beautiful photos from your hike. The flowers are so pretty and the sunset shots are gorgeous.

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  35. Great post with wonderful sky shots. But the real surprise are all those beautiful flowers.
    Thanks for sharing and enjoy your weekend, Peter.

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  36. Gorgeous series of photographs! Beautiful flowers, and fabulous sunset...
    Have a nice weekend!

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  37. wow the desert is blooming with flowers and I love those last few photos also. I never liked the desert till I started reading your blog and now I see the beauty in it, I sometimes read your blog a lot and don't comment but I will always read it. :)

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  38. Too bad you live at the other end of the desert or I would stop by to get some photography lessons from you. The pictures of the flowers are just so gorgeous, I'm kind of speechless.

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  39. Aw to bad you
    didn't
    get to finish your hike but you sure took some wonderful pics. Love the colorful flowers and excellent sky shots
    MB

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  40. Pretty flowers and skies, great images!

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  41. Amazing Depth In Your Photographs. Looking Forward To Your Future Postings.

    Cheers

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  42. It's a shame you couldn't get there, but you had some wonderful scenery on the way!

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  43. I love the desert scenes and all the magnificent desert flowers. So much beautfy.

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  44. Fabulous as always, especially for a flower lover - ME! Sorry your hike got thwarted, but you never know until you try. And you still came out with a lovely post. My favorite of the flowers is the Paper Bag Bush. How cool is that?

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