Thursday, July 23, 2020

Cleghorn Lakes Arches

I posted last week about a recent hike into the Cleghorn Lakes Wilderness Area, but I ran out of time and didn't get a chance to share photos I took of the arches and rock formations (which, in my opinion, are the best part!).
This was my second visit to the area. My first visit was over two years ago, when my wife took this shot of me trying to get up close to an arch. Not an easy angle, and the whole time I felt like I was going to slide off the rocks at any moment!

Fast forward to a couple months ago (thanks for the photo, Mitch!). I'm still trying to find a way to get closer to that same arch. With a fair amount of effort and a few nicks and scratches to my person and my camera, I'm able to climb all the way up to the arch.

The hard work climbing up to the arch payed off, as it allowed me to get shots from multiple angles in relative comfort. I even managed a couple shot underneath the arch. 

Not far from this arch are more "arches".
Arches in quotes because I'm not sure this qualifies as an arch. More like an opening or window in the rocks. Either way, it's a beautiful formation and you can see my hiking partner Mitch taking a photo.
There are actually two arches or openings. In the photo above, we are looking through the first opening into the second opening. I would bet that this area was likely full of Native American rock art. Unfortunately, it's been used a lot in more recent times by campers and hikes. Whatever rock art was here appears to be gone forever. Notice the large fire ring up against the rocks in the lower right portion of the photo above.

It's an amazingly photogenic area.

One of my favorite shots of the day: The "double-arch". You need a wide angle lens (16mm for this shot), sit on your butt, push your body back as far as it will go against the rock wall, and "click"... a double arch! I've never seen a photo with this same perspective before.

Shortly after taking this photo I heard my friend Mitch calling me. Let's go check out what he's found...

Wow, what a find! In the wash just west of the arches, Mitch has found a small section of flowing water. Something I have rarely seen in the desert. I think the area received rain about a week ago, and perhaps the water table bubbles up to the surface at this spot.

Imagine what this area must have looked like hundreds of years ago when rainfall was more plentiful. Perhaps a beautiful little stream that flowed for most of the year, and used by Native Americans as a seasonal location for food and shelter.

We were losing daylight quickly, but I couldn't resist climbing up into this alcove for the last shot of the day. What a beautiful view north into the Cleghorn Lakes Wilderness area!

We covered 4.4 miles, so not a super-long hike, but open desert/no trail over very challenging terrain. Add to that the hot temperatures and an ascent of 733' and descent of 789', and you have a challenging workout! And perhaps more importantly, a total and complete escape from the craziness going on in the world around us.

Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!!
Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Cleghorn Lakes Revisited

If you are thinking lakes, fishing, and water play, you are way off. Waaaay off! I think the people that named this area Cleghorn Lakes Wilderness Area were perhaps playing a cruel joke. No lakes here! Not even a pond. But lots of wide open desert.

Turn the clock back to April of this year. The pandemic is in full bloom. Joshua Tree National Park is closed, and I'm desperate for a place to hike. It had been over 2 years since my last visit to Cleghorn Lakes (see here for part 1 and here for part 2). My Facebook friend Mitch and I (who I had never hiked with before... actually, never even met before) decided to meet at the Palms Restaurant in Wonder Valley, then head out to Cleghorn Lakes for a hike. I was excited to hike with him because he's an excellent photographer and I figured I could learn a few things plus enjoy a great desert hike.

The day turns out to be a warm one (well into the 80's) and we're getting started in the heat of the day, so not ideal. I've got two hike options planed out: the sensible hike that's about 4 miles round trip that passes though interesting rock formations, and the crazy hike that's about 4.5 miles with lots of elevation change that goes through a wash than might not even be passable. That hike takes us to a couple dry lakes that I think might have been filled with water thousands or millions of years ago (the infamous Cleghorn Lakes!). Without batting an eye, Mitch says "let's go check out the dry lakes!"
Wait for me, Mitch!
Turns out Mitch is not only a professional-level photographer but a very serious and experienced hiker who's in training for a 7-day marathon across the Eastern Sierras. It soon becomes obvious to me that Mitch won't have any problems with this hike, and I'm the weak link in the chain!

See that V up ahead? We're following this wash, and it will narrow and get filled with boulders and pass between the two sides of the V. Somewhere on the other side should be the Cleghorn Lakes (dry). One of the highlights on this hike are the little splashes of color from wildflowers in bloom, and I know we are both hoping the the dry lake area might be full of blooms. Then again, may be not. Let's go see...

Orange desert mallow blooms as we head up the wash. A good sign!

Follow the yellow brick road... of flowers in the wash!

California desert tortoise shell #1
We've made it over the top of the "pass" and now heading down the other side. Lots of flowers. That green area that looks like a valley beyond the white rocks is actually one of the two Cleghorn (dry) Lakes.

Just a short distance before reaching the dry lake, the flowers really put on a show (photo of me by Mitch).

Tortoise shell #2
Chia Pet? Anyone remember those old commercials?? Ch Ch Ch Chia!
When we finally reached Cleghorn (dry) Lake, it was green but almost no flowers. Even so, it felt a little surreal to be exploring this area, knowing that very few people are crazy enough to make this trek. It is visited by humans only very rarely.

I did manage to find a flower or two, but my imagination was going into overdrive thinking about what this place would look (and smell) like full of wildflowers. Or even better, after a large thunderstorm when it is full of water!

On the hike back we passed this weird rock formation. Can't decide if it's scary or comical looking, with that little tuft on it's head!

Oh, and did I mention there are some arches in this area? You know I love arches. I've already exceeded my self-imposed photo limit for this post, so come back and check out my next post if you like arches too!

Thanks for stopping by!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Stay safe and stay healthy.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

A Subdued Independence Day

Normally we would have lots of options for viewing fireworks for our 4th of July celebration. We live near Disneyland. They put on a huge display every year, as does Knott's Berry Farm and also our city. Not this year. As with everything during these dog days of COVID, Independence Day 2020 seemed weird and subdued. Kids lurking in the shadows setting off illegal fireworks (can you call something that sounds like a bomb exploding a firework?). But no large gatherings. We grilled burgers and hot dogs in the backyard and let my granddaughter set off some sparklers.
July 3 moon rise through my neighbor's palm trees.

I saw an article in yesterday's paper calling it "Interdependence Day", which seems very appropriate. If we're ever going to get through this mess, we are all going to have to pull together. Quit thinking about first person, and focus on "us" and the greater good. Why does that seem to be so hard for people?

Someone in our neighborhood organized a bike parade. Lilly got to participate. She had fun decorating her bike. I don't own a bike, so I tried to follow on foot. She quickly left me in the dust!

And for those of you who have forgotten what it's like to be 7 years old and run through sprinklers, I thought you might enjoy this. Lilly and I were at the local school last night when the sprinklers went off. It was very hot and, well, one thing led to another...

Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by! 
Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Lost Horse Valley Hike

A few months back, Cousin Scott and I wandered around the Lost Horse Valley area of Joshua Tree National Park. We had never hiked the area so we were both looking forward to seeing something new. One goal was to find and photograph a rocky spire called Aiguille de Joshua Tree (click here to see that post). So join us as we continue to explore this beautiful part of JTNP!
Cousin Scott capturing some of the areas natural beauty!
Perhaps a little shelter or cave under those rocks? Hard to tell, so let's go check it out.

Come on in, Scott. Make yourself at home! Turns out this rocky shelter is much larger than it appears from the outside.

Birdbath rock? Looks like this spot might hold water for a week or two after a rain, which I'm sure the local critters appreciate. I think there's a name for these water-holding depressions: Tinaja. If you google it, you will find out more information.

Scott captures this shot of me taking a pic of this... weird rock formation. Kind of reminds me of a giant sock puppet!

Another view.
This Joshua tree appears to be propping himself up!
Can you spot the hole in the rocks?

This might be a good time for me to mention that there are "in-holdings" in this area, meaning property within the national park boundary that is privately owned. Who knew such a thing existed, right??Randolph Ranch is one such in-holding. This property is clearly marked, but some of the others are not. I've made the mistake of assuming these properties are part of the national park. I've explored some of them, even taking photos and posting them on this blog. One of the in-holding property owners somehow managed to come across my post. As you can imagine, he wasn't too happy so see pictures of me tromping around on his private property! Long story short, please stay away from these locations. They are in fact privately owned and the property is private, so please respect that. OK, back to our hike!

A nicely balanced rock!

The sun is low on the horizon and the shadows are long... my favorite time of day for photography!

Scott should be fine as long as that huge boulder doesn't shift positions!
UFO Cloud!
Thanks for joining me on this beautiful desert hike!
Stay safe and stay healthy.
Linking with Skywatch Friday