Thursday, January 9, 2020

Mystery Arch

I was going to call this post "wandering in the desert", because that's exactly what I was doing. Just wandering. Likely following waypoints I had marked on Google Maps, where the rock formations look interesting in satellite view, and where I had not hiked in the past. No sound, no distraction, no cars, no people, no nothing, just total solitude. You can let your mind wander, and it's incredibly relaxing.
A beautiful sky for a hike, wouldn't you agree? Almost immediately I came across this large... "geo-compass"? Somebody went to a lot of trouble to collect all these rocks and place them in a perfect circle, with a large rock expertly positioned at due north. Another desert mystery!

This part of Joshua Tree National Park is designated wilderness area. It's sparse desert with crazy and interesting rock formation. No Joshua trees because the elevation is a little too low, but a rugged beauty all it's own.

What an interesting arch. I'm not the first to find it. I've seen others post photos of it, and I think it's been called "crown of thorns" arch.



I have a hard time passing up these shallow caves or alcoves without looking inside. Some are too high to access, but often you can find creative ways to get into them. I've probably climbed into at least 50 alcoves on my many hikes in this area. Probably closer to 100. And with only one exception, I've never found any rock art or other signs of native habitation. I was going to link you to that one exception (an alcove someone told me about; I didn't discover it on my own) but it looks like yet another hike that I forgot to post! One of these days I'll find an alcove with something in it...




Sometimes in my desert solitude I get the feeling that I'm being watched. Pareidolia is when people assign human characteristics to objects. On today's hike I'm seeing eyes and faces on the rocks!

A typical view from inside an alcove looking out. I like the natural rock frame!

This one looks like a shark to me!

What a bizarre looking rock. It appears to be saying "go this way!"

I must admit, I'm having a hard time deciding which photos to share with you on this post. Did I mention I have 294 photos from this hike? Don't worry, I won't share them all 😉

 Now this is significant. I don't recall seeing anyone ever post a photo of this arch, and it's a nice one!

Here it is from the opposite side, in B&W. What a beautiful arch!

And here's what I created with a little imagination and Photoshop manipulation. I wouldn't want to come across this guy on a dark night out here in the middle of nowhere!

I was thinking I had hiked about as far as was comfortably possible and this would be a good time to head back. On impulse, I decided to climb up these rocks on the left and explore some of the alcoves. I was likely in an area that few people have explored. As I climbed up the ledge and proceeded on, here's what I found...
Wow! I wish there was a way I could give you some perspective on this arch. It's one of the biggest I've seen.

I immediately thought "this arch is a mystery!" I've never seen any photos of it, and yet it's large and distinctive. Am I the first to document it? Not really sure, but that's the story behind the "Mystery Arch" name. And it's the reason I will always remember this hike!

So let's climb up and take a look at the underside of Mystery Arch.


An impressive arch, and large enough that I can stand underneath it without bending over. Not to mention superb views out across the desert!

So there you have it: A large, beautiful and mysterious arch in a remote area of Joshua Tree National Park wilderness that I've never seen photographed. I may need to think of a better name than Mystery Arch. Let me know if you have any ideas!

Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!

43 comments:

  1. I could think of a rude name for that first arch but I don't think I could post on here. The face rock could be called Jabba rock at KJabba the Hut because that is what it reminds me of. Your photos are just stunning like always though it's a shame you did not have little hikeing mate along to take a phot of by the arches and rocks could give a better idea as to scale.

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  2. A lot of petrified animals.

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  3. Love this post! I see all kinds of things in those rocks.

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  4. I would love exploring this place...and I know a few years ago I would have wanted to enter every place I could find. I couldn't do that now,

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  5. Those do look like faces. Kinda spooky.

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  6. Such an unusual and interesting area to explore!

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  7. I really enjoyed your hike. It was spooky. It provided a mystery arch was it photographed before or not? Sorry, you didn't find any rock art. That alcove was awesome! Glad you enjoyed the solitude. Happy New Year!

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  8. Total solitude sound like fun. It´s very rare to experience that.
    The Rock Circle looks like some earthling calling E.T.´s to land there.
    I like your skies and photography!

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  9. My brain is always seeing faces and creatures in formations--- Lots of them here. Dinosaur skeletons too! Wonderful post!!

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  10. Hello, your day looked beautiful for a walk. The sky is beautiful! I love the arches and alcoves. The eyes and faces look spooky. The arches are favorites. Great collection of photos. Enjoy your day, wishing you a great weekend!

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  11. What a thrilling post today... ;)
    Happy New blogging Year, Peter!

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  12. You always capture the rugged beauty of the desert - blue skies, interesting formations, arches and alcoves.

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  13. YES AWESOME! What an enjoyable collection of shots. Also love your creation in B/W. sorta scary. LOL
    Good stuff, thanks...
    Sherry & jack

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  14. Nice perspectives today. I love the views from the alcoves and the melted face photo. The desert is full of intrigue. I'll look forward to more from you in 2020!

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  15. I love all the arches you featured in this post. The skies are lovely too. The area reminds me of the sandstone rock formations in Al Ula, in northern Saudi Arabia, a place I visited a year ago. There is a HUUUUGE natural rock arch there that we call Rainbow Rock, and another really unusual and interesting shaped formation called Mammoth Rock or Elephant Rock. Like you, I literally took thousands of photos during my three days there. Happy New Year!

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  16. Beautiful captures of a beautiful landscape.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

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  17. Amazing impression of an inspiring location!!

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  18. what a beautiful place
    looks so peaceful and calm there
    a wonderful landscape

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  19. what a beautiful place
    looks so peaceful and calm there
    a wonderful landscape

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  20. Wonderful rock formations and beautiful January skies. I would like to rename the crown of thorns arch — Ram Devouring Prairie Dog. It’s kind of like naming cloud formations in the sky. :-)

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  21. Wow! If I lived near this park, I would only go home to sleep! What magnificent scene and textures. You have photographed the arches and other 'designs' so well! As for the number of photos, that sounds a lot like me :)



    My Corner of the World

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  22. Beautiful. I think Mystery Arch looks like an animal bending down with its head lower than its arms. I would call it Bending arch.

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  23. ...fabulous, roughed, barren, beauty!!!

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  24. SO appreciate the privilege of seeing these places! Thank you

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  25. Interesting to find a ring of rocks in the dessert. Those are beautiful rock formations and yes, those eyes look scary to me if I am alone wandering in the desert.

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  26. Fantastic formations !
    Your pics are simply great !

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  27. What awesome rock formations! Amazing, marvellous photos. I like your edited picture. :-)
    Have a great weekend!

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  28. I never tire of seeing posts on your adventures in the desert. I also take lots and lots of photos on my little outings.

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  29. Beautiful images! I'm always in awe of your rock formations. Great candidates for black and white, too.

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  30. Who could've thought rocks be so interesting? Keep shooting!

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  31. Wow, interesting formations! Great photos.

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  32. Joshua Tree has so many interesting arches and rock formations! Thanks for sharing these beauties!

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  33. Wow! Very interesting pictures here! Great!

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  34. Fascinating that man-made “compass”, but really the natural mysteries of the desert are way better. I like the jagged peaks as well as the mysterious arches. And love the thought of your meditative and relaxing hikes through thiese amazing landscapes and your discoveries. (And marveling at how such hikes can be relaxing and peaceful to someone like you who is at peace with his surroundings ...and knowledgeable about them). Thanks for sharing the magic with the rest of us!

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  35. Just so long as you're also not being followed. :-)

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  36. I can relate to your dilemma about which pictures to share - I often feel the same after a hike when I have scores of gorgeous shots. I figure sharing more is better than less - who I am to select what people might enjoy? And they can always skim over them if they think there are too many! I rejoice in the stark differences of your landscapes compared to ours, and I am pleased for you that you can find solitude to enjoy.

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