Thursday, December 30, 2021

Some Favorites from 2021

 2021 was a prolific year! I have 38 photo folders for 2021 on my laptop. Each folder is a different hike or adventure. And on average, each folder contains about 150 photos. So in the ballpark of 5,000 photos total for 2021. Yikes!!

I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do these hikes. As long as my health holds out, and the health of my loved ones, I will continue. I am also thankful to all of you... for your support and your comments.

Prettiest arch in Joshua Tree National Park?  Maybe, and definitely one of my favorites!

Queen Mountain West  2021 was the year I really had a chance to hike a lot with my friend Mitch. An avid hike and professional photographer, I've learned so much from him, and I feel very fortunate. I took this photo up on a ridge on Queen Mountain on a very cold and extremely windy afternoon. On the other side of that ridge that Mitch is standing on is a precipitous drop off. I recall thinking Mitch is so tall and skinny, any moment now the wind is going to pick him up (the large brimmed hat might act like a wing) and propel him over the edge to certain death. Fortunately he survived, and it's one of my favorite photos of him.

White Orb Pictograph Site: This is one of the most unique pictograph sites in all of Joshua Tree. You have to crawl on all fours to slide under a large, hollow rock, and lay on your back looking up, but the payoff is amazing!

Crazy Lady Hill: Despite being yelled at by a crazy lady down below who claimed she owned this hill (she doesn't), the views and light were amazing!

Majestic Desert Skies: One of my favorite hikes in one of my favorite areas of Joshua Tree. On this day, the light and clouds were wonderful!
Bighorn Sheep: What a thrill to come across bighorn sheep! They are very elusive and seldom seen. It wasn't until looking closely at my photos that I noticed this ram was missing his right horn. It turns out that the horns of a ram can weigh up to 30 lbs, and weigh more than all their other bones combined. Talk about overcoming adversity!!

Mystery Oasis in the Desert: Not really an oasis, this site catches water runoff. It had been a hot, dry (for the most part) summer, and we didn't expect to find any water here. Boy, were we ever surprised!

For some reason I can't get the link for this post, but the post title is "A Desert Road with a View." A gorgeous afternoon on Keys Ranch Road, with everything bathed in golden light (my current header photo came from this outing). I like to think that this is what Bill Keys saw every afternoon as he returned home to his ranch house after a day of hard work!

White Tank Campground: Arch Rock (from this angle it reminds me of a goose or duck with it's head down!). 

White Tank (Part II): A beautiful sky over amazing rock formations. The campground was closed to camping, so I had the place all to myself!

Seal Beach: A fun getaway for a couple days, this photo was taken up on the pier. Something about these viewers always makes me want to take their picture. Smile!

Views from the Boy Scout Trail:  Hiking DOWN the BSC is easy. Hiking UP the BST is much harder. And hiking up to this overlook using a boulder-filled wash (which I call the Seven Challenge Wash) is perhaps hardest of all. I made my first attempt in 2021, and I hope to do it again in 2022!

Slide Rock (Part 1): We didn't go looking for this huge rock formation that looks like a water slide deep in the Queen Mountain wilderness. I'd never seen it, or even heard of it, so you can imagine our surprise. That's Roger and Travis making the descent down after climbing to the top. Mitch and I were content to observe from a distance... too steep for me!

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year,
and a safe and healthy 2022!
  Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Happy Holidays 2021!!

 Geez, that was a fast year! An uneven year. Parts went lightning fast, and other parts were slow and painful. But overall, it flew by. Just a quick post to wish you Happy Holidays, and to thank you for reading my adventures, and a special thanks to those who take the time to comment every week. Your comments are like gasoline in the engine that keep things humming along!

The photos this week are mostly from the archives, and I'm hoping they convey the Christmas spirit (along with some pretty skies).

Thanks for stopping by. Happy Holidays!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, December 16, 2021


 Finally! We're getting some significant rain this week. It's been a long time. I guess you need to live in a dry climate to get excited about rain. With the rain, I'm seeing stormy, dramatic skies.

Hidden road. This old oil property road is overgrown and all but disappeared. I was surprised to find it. Amazing that the white line is still visible!

Every time I walk this trail, I look for this hat. Sometimes it's on the ground, and I hang it back up in the tree, but usually it's in the tree. It's been here a long time, and I'm sure it has some stories to tell!
Stay warm, stay dry, and thanks for stopping by!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Circle Sun Pictograph Site

 I don't think I took any photos on the first half of this hike. I was too busy trying to catch my breath and wipe the sweat out of my eyes. The rocky wash we were following was steep and challenging, and it was an uncomfortably hot day for a hike. Which means carry a lot more water than usual, which means a heavy pack. 

On a more positive note, the site we were looking for was one that is relatively unknown. It's been visited only rarely, so that's always a plus in my book! A friend of mine, who discovered the site (a few years ago), contacted the Park Service, who told him the site is unknown and uncatalogued. Pretty cool!

Just taking it one rock at a time!

Sometimes it's easier to stay down in the wash or ravine. We had had our fill of that, and the boulders were getting large, so we were trying the side approach. Not sure that was any better. All I can remember thinking is "this hike is really kicking my butt!"
I'm following Roger as we explore. I'm not going to show a photo of the area where we eventually found the site, but let me just say it's highly unlikely you would ever stumble across it (even if you could manage the climb up the wash). The butt-kicking hike notwithstanding, the shelter itself is in an unlikely location with difficult, challenging access.

What an amazing shelter! It's actually made up of three alcoves: Two large and one small. Let's take a closer look... 
You can definitely see pictographs in this view. The circle sun picto, which this site is named after, can be seen in approximately the center of the photo. It follows a natural indentation in the boulder. Very unique!
Plentiful pictographs at this site, but I saw no signs of habitation. No lithic scatter, grinding sites or bedrock mortars, pottery sherds, or other items one might expect to find at a habitation site. 
Many of the pictos at this site are well preserved and are in deep shade. I'll share some of the more prominent pictos with you. On some of these images I used dStretch color enhancement so you can see more detail.

Circle Sun pictograph

This hole in the wall of the shelter intrigued me. It seems too perfectly formed to be natural erosion, and there were no similar holes anywhere in the area. If made by Native Americans, one can only ponder as to what utility it had.
This indented area in the shelter was an interesting find. To the naked eye, you could make out some very faint pictographs.
Same photo with the color enhanced. There's a really interesting circular picto on the left side. To the right of the circular picto is one that looks almost anthropomorphic. I can make out legs and faint arms. The "head" is unusual, with cross hatching and a circle in the middle.

This last one is unusual. To the naked eye, it just looked like a sheen on the rock. Enhanced, you can see tally marks using a whitish pigment. It's the only pictograph at this site using white pigment that I found, and it makes me wonder what significance that might have had?
After leaving this fascinating site, we followed the wash a little further up the mountain. We all agreed we didn't want to go back down the hellish wash we had come up, and Mitch thought he found a alternate way back to the cars using the topo map on his phone. 

We begin our "alternate" route back to our cars. Our guess is that if we can get over these boulders, we can go down the opposite side of the mountain to get back to where we started the hike. Easy peasy, right?
In the above photo it looks like Roger is getting ready to spear Mitch with hiking poles! The reality is that Mitch is handing his poles up to Roger so he will have both hands free for the climb up the boulders.
What's that new movie out on Netflix called? Power of the Dog??
After getting over the ridge, we are surprised to see a large flat area. You really appreciate flat hiking when you've been hiking steep all day, but it wasn't to last.
Uh oh... things look steep once you get past this Nolina. You sure about this, Mitch? And why is this Nolina flowering? Seems like the wrong time of year. Moving on...

Steep descent. Do you see Roger in the center of the photo?

Looking back up at Mitch... what have you gotten me into??

I'm just doing my best not to tumble down the mountain!

We're all thinking the same thing... Seriously? We just hiked down that mountain?? Actually, it doesn't look all that bad from here, but there's no way I would ever do it again!
By the time we got back to the cars, it was dark. A very memorable hike to an incredible pictograph site!
A 62% grade is steep!

A 7-mile hike that felt like at least 14 miles!

Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!