Thursday, March 25, 2021

Majestic Desert Skies

 Last week, I took you on an adventure to an area I call Majestic Wash. It turned out to be one of my favorite recent hikes. My photo count was up to 27 with that post, which is a lot (even for me!). But I still had my hike-back-to-the-Jeep photos, and there are some good ones, so I'll share those with you here. Kind of a "Majestic Wash Part II" post, with the focus being desert landscape and sky.

Here's one I didn't share last week. While hiking along Majestic Wash, I came across this unusual rock formation. Dinosaur teeth? Picket fence?? I'll let you decide. I think geologists would really enjoy hiking in this part of Joshua Tree National Park. OK, let's move on to landscapes and skies!

It took me a long time to hike back to the car. Blame it on these beautiful skies!

Done, and still just a bit of light in the sky for this last photo looking east from Highway 62.
Happy Trails, and thanks for stopping by!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Majestic Wash

Majestic Wash... kind of a hokey name, but it works for me. When I first came upon my favorite arch in Joshua Tree National Park (Majestic Arch), I was following this wash. Ever since then, I think of this wash as "Majestic Wash". I was looking for a new place to hike, and after closely checking out Google Earth, I could see this same wash headed W/SW and climbed some rocky foothills into what looked like a valley, surrounded on all sides by rocky peaks. Perfect!! I love exploring new areas. Lets go check it out.

Desert Smoke Tree under a cloudy sky. Just prior to this hike, I had upgraded my old iPhone 6 to an iPhone 12, so many of these photos were taken using my new phone.

It turned out to be a perfect day to be out exploring, and the wash I was following was a nice one. As usual for this part of Joshua Tree, I wouldn't see another human being all day. Not even any footprints in the wash I was following (sharp-eyed observers might notice footprints in the photo above, which are mine). 

*** Disturbing Photo Alert ***
You may want to skip past this one...
Not sure I should have posted this photo of a rabbit I came across in the wash. It seemed like a recent kill, and I couldn't imagine what kind of predator would eat just the head and leave the rest. Certainly not a coyote, fox or bobcat, which would eat the entire rabbit. I Googled it and found out it was likely an owl. They are known to swoop in and eat the head right off small animals like rabbits. That was news to me. One theory is that it can be difficult for the owl to fly away with such a large catch. I also learned that indigestible parts (bone, fur) are later regurgitated as a round "pellet" (vs. being pooped out). I've seen their pellets many times, but was never sure what they were. OK, enough about the gross biology of owls, and sorry if I offended anyone. Moving on...
Big rock being held up by little rock.

As I followed the wash, I noticed what I assumed to be two shallow alcoves up in the rocks. The one on the left looks steep and difficult to access, but I decided to check out the one on the right. The opening had a deep shadow so no way of knowing how far it penetrated into the rocks. Likely a dead end, but let's go see...
This entry wasn't exactly spacious!
Imagine my surprise when I ducked inside and found this! Wow, not a shallow alcove at all, but a cave. The other "alcove opening" was actually a second opening into this large, spacious cave. What a cool find!
Heck, with a little tidying up, you could live in this place!
Let's continue on our hike and check out a little more desert scenery...

Just me and my shadow out enjoying this hike!

A very large alcove (taken with my 400mm lens)

Yet another large alcove and, on the right, an arch. These will have to wait for another time to explore, although I have my doubts about being able to get to them. Who knows, perhaps that alcove has never been explored. 

My favorite arch find of the hike.

I wonder if there's any way to climb up to this unusual rock formation??

I came to an area where the ground was littered with thousands of beautiful rose quarts. A rock-lovers paradise!
Was it just my imagination, or was this dude with a hat watching me??

Definitely being watched!

When the rock formations start watching me, that's usually a signal that I should start heading back! This had been a recent favorite hike. I love exploring new areas and finding new arches, alcoves, etc. 
On the hike back to my car, I said hello and goodbye to my old friend, Majestic Arch. I've climbed up there three times now. I haven't posted photos from my most recent visit, but I will be in the weeks ahead.

Thanks for joining me on this adventure!
Stay safe & stay healthy.
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Crazy Lady Hill

This is a photo-location my friend Mitch took me to. Beautiful views and afternoon light, and not too difficult to climb.

Well, I might take exception with the 'not too difficult to climb' description. It's actually steeper than it looks, and my legs were burning and chest heaving as I labored up to the summit with all my gear.

Almost there. This is a view of Mitch I often see when we hike together. He loves climbing stuff!!
But yes, the views are awesome, and totally worth the climb!

Photographers heaven! The late afternoon light was just beautiful, and we were busy clicking away. It was about this time were heard some kind of a commotion (sound travels long distances in the desert). We figured it to be some tourists having a good time. As the commotion continued, we eventually spotted where it was coming from: There was a lady at the base of the hill yelling and waving her arms and appearing to be highly agitated and upset about something. Imaging our surprise when it turned out to be Mitch and I that she was yelling at!! Something about "private property" and "get off my land". Also something about we know darn well the land is private because we would have crossed fences and private property signs to get where we were (we didn't).

Yes, we eventually left. The lady continued yelling and she was clearly a little off kilter. We didn't want to make things worse, but it had taken time and planning (not to mention hard work hiking up to the top of the hill) to be at this location, and the conditions were outstanding. We lingered for another 10 minutes, enjoying the sunset and beautiful views, clicking away, and then made a hasty retreat.
Fast forward a few days later. Mitch requests boundary information from the National Park Service, which he shares with me. Turns out there definitely is private property (inholding) in the area, and based on the map we were provided, the property extends to the base of the hill. The top of the hill (where we were) is not private property, and is part of Joshua Tree National Park. Also, we crossed no private property to get to the hilltop. Would I go back? Yes, knowing it's public property and part of the Park, I would. I have every right to be there. But I would be very quiet and do my best not to attract attention and stir up the hornet's nest!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe & stay healthy!