Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Drive Home

No adventure this week... unless you consider driving S CA highways an adventure, which it certainly can be! I was driving home from the desert last week and the sky was so dramatic that my car just kept wanting to pull over for photos. It was that classic tug of war between being in a hurry to get back home and not wanting to miss a photo opportunity.

Totally off topic comment, but I read in the paper a couple days ago that kids born during these times will likely never have a drivers license. They won't NEED a drivers license. Traditional drivers licenses will go the way of 8-track tapes, land lines and typewriters. Cars will be totally self-driving, so no need for a license. The article went on to say people won't even need to own cars. You will just request one from the car pool, it will show up at your home, and you will tell it where to go. Imagine that!

Highway 62 (looking west)

A little further along on Highway 62, there was this weird dense cloud running east/west. It struck me as odd because it was at ground level, much like smoke from a fire, but perfectly white and with beautiful blue skies above. That's Mt. San Jacinto ahead, but you really can't see it through the clouds. This is just a few miles before the 10 freeway, and I could see cars ahead of me hitting their brake lights as they entered the clouds! The remaining photos are taken from within the dense cloud cover. Very eerie and very strange! New sci fi movie idea: "Attack of the Killer Clouds!" Or how about "Attack of the Wind Generators!!"

Wind generators are taking over the world!!

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

Friday, January 22, 2021

Sign In, Please!

 Well, where do I begin? I left off last week sharing photos from the "Broken Nose" alcove hike in Joshua Tree National Park, and mentioning I saw something that might be a cave. I didn't have enough daylight to visit it, so I hiked back on a later date (which is the topic of todays post). I also mentioned that my one regret from the hike was not taking a picture of the register I had left in the alcove. I placed the sign-in register in the alcove about 2 1/2 years ago, very curious to see if anyone ever found (and managed to climb into) the alcove. To my immense surprise, one person had indeed signed in!

Here's the amazing part. I got an email the other day with the below photo attached.
This just blew me away! Someone named Terry had read my post and forwarded a photo of the register sign in. It's exactly what I wanted! Looks like he visited late in 2018. No one has visited in the last two years (since Terry's visit). But who is this mysterious Terry person? Turns out, this is the same person who just happened upon me on a hike to some pictographs here. At that time, he recognized me and connected me to my blog. And at the time, I remember thinking "what are the chances of someone running across me in the middle of nowhere, and being someone who regularly reads my blog? One in a million?? And now Terry has amazed me again by being the only other person who has visited Broken Nose alcove, and took a photo of the register. I'll say it again, what are the chances? One in a million?? Anyway, thank you Terry. You continue to amaze me. One of these days, we absolutely need to hike together!
So, lets move on to my follow-up hike to the Broken Nose alcove area to see if we can find what looked like a cave. 
Looks like a fish head, looking up at the sky!

Looking into the alcove. Hard to get a sense of scale, but it's quite large.
I may have to visit again just to check out this part of the alcove. See that area of daylight? It's possible the alcove opens up just beyond the rocks in the foreground. You would have to literally crawl in (hands and knees) but there might be something back there. I have my telephoto lens, so lets take an even closer look.
Yes, it's certainly possible there is a secondary alcove or cave just past these rocks. If so, who knows what might be back there? May be nothing, but may be something significant. Definitely worth a look!

Reminds me of a crab claw!

A nice look-back at the alcove.
California Buckwheat eking out an existence in the desert rocks.
A beautiful little cave, but not the one I'm looking for.

Another desert plant trying to survive, growing on bare rock.
There it is! Well, it looks a little less cave-like from this angle and this light. On my last hike, this opening in the rocks really captivated me. Lets go take a closer look.
From up close, you can easily see a large boulder blocking a section of what looked like (from a distance and in the shadows) a much larger opening. Oh well, that's part of the fun of exploring. You never know what you might find!

This "cave" turns out to be rather shallow and small. Nothing interesting inside that I can spot. I've never hiked in this immediate area, so let's do a little more exploring before finishing up todays hike.
I always like the way the bold green California Juniper stands out against the tan colors of the desert boulders. Its light blue berries add a nice dash of color!
Tenaja: "A shallow water retention area, usually in a rock or boulder". From a distance, I would have sworn that this was a large puddle of water. As I got closer, I could see the area was a discolored indentation, likely from retaining water for extended periods over the years. These areas can be an important source of water for wildlife.

Multi-colored lichen

Mojave Yucca seems to have lost its head!

I'm hiking in deep shadows, yet the hills N of 29 Palms are bathed in purple sunlight!

The hike is nearly completed. Can you see my car (center of photo)?
Thanks for stopping by and joining me on this adventure.
Stay safe and stay healthy!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Broken Nose Alcove (Revisited)

My last hike to Broken Nose alcove was over 2 years ago (May 2018). My friend Mitch and I were talking about possible hiking locations, and we decided upon this spot. He was interested in seeing the arrastra that's in the area. When I mentioned the large alcove, that sealed the deal!

One of the first things we came across was what I like to call "hot dog rock". It looks like a giant hot dog bun to me! Look closely left of center and you will find something interesting. Lets take a closer look...

There's a deep hole in the rock with rusty cans and other trash inside. There used to be more. Back in the day, there was definitely a mining presence in this area, and my guess is that a miner or miners made camp nearby and decided to use this large hole in the rock as a convenient place to stash their trash!
Not far from Hot Dog Rock is this very interesting old shelter. It's most commonly referred to as the "Pinto Wye Hideout".

Someone has fortified this natural shelter with rock walls and a small cooking area. But who? And how long ago, and for what purpose? A logical guess would be miners, but it could have been someone more recently. Regardless, it's really interesting and fun to "discover" it!
Next up is the Pinto Wye arrastra. Somewhere I read that this is one of only two wagon wheel arrastras in the Western US, and this one is the best preserved. I took a picture of the information post next to the arrastra, which does a nice job explaining what it was used for.

Close up of the drag stone (used to crush the ore).

Not to far up the hill above the arrastra is a shallow mine. We simply MUST take a closer look!
Hello, Mitch! I ended up with lots of sand in my boots and pockets, and some cactus thorns in my pants, after climbing in and out of this steep mine. Anything for a photo, right??

As we follow a wash west, trying to make our way to the alcove, we come across this columnar rock. Not something I commonly see in Joshua Tree.
Ah, there it is. Do you see the broken nose? The alcove is on the opposite side and is a real challenge to access.
Getting ready to attempt my climb into the alcove.

Squeezing through the rocks on my way to the alcove.

Finally, you drop down this crack between these boulders to get into the alcove. It's pretty easy to drop down into the alcove. It's much more difficult to climb out again! I wasn't worried on this hike, since I had a partner. But on my first discovery of the alcove a couple years ago, I was hiking solo, and it was a little unnerving wondering if I would be able to climb back out. (Photo credit to M. Miller for the above three photos)

It's a large, spacious alcove. Perhaps one of the largest in the park. Like the Pinto Wye Hideout, it also has a small area for a fire, perhaps used to stay warm and to heat up a can of beans or a pot of coffee. Definitely not something miners built, as it's too much of a hassle to get in and out of on a regular basis. I was so intrigued with this alcove that I left a small "register" (coffee can with paper and pencil) to see if anyone ever visits this site. To my surprise, there was one person who signed my register! Just one person in the last 2 1/2 years. My only regret is, in my excitement, I forgot to take a picture of the sign in paper.

Mitch in his element

Not far from Broken Nose alcove is this nice shelter. As I approached it to to take some photos, I was surprised to find...
Two sticks propped up against the rock wall, just outside the shelter. Nature definitely didn't do this. These were placed here by a person. I remember reading about Native Americans placing "spirit sticks" outside their shelters, and many spirit sticks have been found during the early days exploring Joshua Tree for artifacts. It's much more likely that some hiker left these here as a joke or prank, but hey, you never know!
Looking back at Broken Nose alcove. There's nothing to give you size perspective in the photo, so you'll just have to trust me that it's very large!
Smile rock!
Like any great hike, you often see things that make you want to come back again. Somewhere past "smile rock", I noticed what looked like a cave opening. Impossible to tell if it's truly a cave, or just a shallow alcove, without making a challenging hike to check it out. And unfortunately, we are just about out of daylight. So you will have to wait for "Part II" of this post to check out the cave (or whatever it is!) after I make a return hike.
As we start our hike back, we are given a huge bonus: A full moon, which was just starting to rise as we got within about 1/2 mile from the car!
A helicopter heading north over the full moon. It's likely heading to the Marine Base just north of 29 Palms.

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