Thursday, July 8, 2021

Lucky Boy Loop Trail (Part 1)

 The Lucky Boy Trail in Joshua Tree National Park is not one of the more popular trails. Most people know it as the "Lucky Boy Vista Trail". You park in a very small (2 car) turnout, head east/SE on a well marked trail to a modest lookout, and hike back after enjoying the view. There's also signs of mining activity near the lookout, which is worth checking out. But not the most exciting trail in Joshua Tree. Hikespeak gives it only 2.5 stars. Much more interesting is something called the Lucky Boy Loop Trail, which splits off from the vista trail before reaching the lookout, and heads north.

After checking out rock formations and the general terrain on Google Earth, I created my own "path" and imported it into my Garmin. It followed the loop trail for about half the time. The rest was just exploring the surrounding area based on what I was seeing on GE. So lets get started and see what we can find!

On the map, you can see the parking area. From there, most people follow the trail E/SE to the binoculars (lookout), and then head back. My route was the aqua line. It included a detour north that connected to the trail leading to the Eagle Cliff Boulder House (more about this section of the hike later). I then doubled back and completed the loop. The red balloons are just waypoint markers to help me navigate. On my Garmin, they show up as notes... things like "stay left" or "leave wash here" or "explore rocks here". 

My first photo of the hike. It started out a little windy, with blue skies and a few clouds. Temps were comfortable (this hike was about a month ago, before the current hot weather). I was hoping for more clouds to add some sky drama, but you never know what you're going to get!


From a geology point of view, this was interesting! It appears to be a large rocky extrusion or dike. I'm used to seeing rocky dikes as a line in the monzogranite, but this is more like a sheet.

Mystery gate. There's no fence on either side of the gate, so even if the gate were closed, it wouldn't keep anyone out! To follow the trail, proceed straight ahead. It would be interesting to know the history of this area, and why this land was fenced off at one time.

By now, I've left the trail and I'm just following my Garmin. Things are getting interesting, and there are some very pretty rock formations!

Desert gold!! (or what others might call rusty junk). But what is it? The little handle coming off one side is interesting, but I have no clue what it might be. Can you guess?

This might help solve the mystery. Just steps away, I find a second one. The little handle is actually a twist key. Perhaps a can of spam? A sardine can? Whatever it was, the miner or miners that worked claims in the area must have loved it!

Not far away, I find more desert gold. Looks like an old square container. Interestingly, it's just outside what might be a shelter. Let's take a closer look.

Not much of a shelter, but it does provide a cool, shady spot to rest. Note the rusty can on the right. Someone, probably many years ago, spent some time here. 

As I'm tromping around, trying to follow the path I've laid out on my Garmin, I see what might be an opening in the rocks. This is up on a hillside and difficult to access, so I'm hoping for some shade for a quick rest and drink of water.


Wow, I'm shocked! This is a hugh shelter!! I can stand up in it, and although hard to explain, it has a lived in feel to it.

A little further into this "mystery shelter", there is a small "room" branching off. I'll call it the bedroom. What's remarkable is at the far end of this bedroom, someone has gone to great pains to pile up rocks, wood, and even pieces of sheet metal, to keep out the wind and rain. Amazing!

Looking back out of "mystery shelter" (the way I had just come in). You can see the remains of what looks like a fire ring on the ground on the right. Whether it's recent or primitive is hard to say.

Close up of fire ring (or what's left of it).


It turns out our Mystery Shelter even has a back entrance! It's obvious to me this shelter has been used by humans. Rocks have been cleared away, and other rocks are strategically placed (as if used for chairs or to set things on).
 
View from outside the "bedroom" opening that someone has closed up using a mix of materials. My best guess is that this spot was used by miners. There was a lot of mining activity in the area, and the pieces of sheet metal used to seal off the opening provides a strong clue. Whether Native Americans used it before the miners is anyone's guess!
 
As I depart Mystery Shelter to continue my hike, I look back one last time. It occurs to me that what I've been calling the back door might actually be the front door. I see faint trails leading to it, and the access is a little easier from this direction.
 
Smiley rock!

A sign of the times? Hard to say if the wind picked it up and blew it here, or if someone just dropped it or discarded it. I'm not following any trail, so very few people come this way. I CAREFULLY remove the mask from the prickly pear cactus. I'll throw it away when I get home.
 
I've now connected with the trail leading to the Eagle Cliff mining cabin. On Google Earth, this area looks suspiciously devoid of vegetation. I wonder if it might have been used as a road, or for some other purpose, many years ago. Rumor has it that there is an old blacksmith work area somewhere below the Eagle Cliff mine, so I wanted to check out this "road" and see where it leads. Perhaps to the blacksmith area? Turns out it leads to some beautiful views, but not much else. 



There's still a lot to see and share from this hike, but I need to stop here. Please join me for my next post because there are more interesting discoveries to be made.
 
Stay safe and stay healthy!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

37 comments:

  1. ...this barren beauty is amazing! That looks like a sardine can to me,,but what's with the hole? Thanks for taking me along.

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  2. my first thought when I saw the little key was sardines!

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  3. A great variety in these landscapes.

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  4. I bet someone was living in that shelter for a time. If only there was a way to find out who and why.

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  5. Just plum amazing this hike of yours. The big shelter with the work done to keep the wind and water out. Plus mining. Mining is hard but ore is heavy. It must have been a pain to get it to market. Your explorations are in a land of wonders.

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  6. Wonderful place, great photos.

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  7. Great pictures! Your posts are always so interesting!

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  8. Yet another eventful hike sir. Magnificent pics. Hope you did not spot rattlesnakes under the mystery shelter

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  9. Another fine post--- thanks.

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  10. Loved these pictures! So many beautiful views.

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  11. Favorite is the Smiley rock ~ photography of rock formations and sky is excellent ~ Xo


    Dancing while I can,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

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  12. Dearest Peter,
    You certainly discover some hidden or at least long forgotten places.
    Incredible rock formations at times, like that smile...
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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  13. Your posts are always inspirational to an exiled desert rat. It looks like we'll finally be making it to Joshua Tree on our way back from a trip north (greater Seattle area) to see family and friends in late September/early October. So I'm looking forward to sifting through your back posts for good ideas about where to camp, etc. We'll be limited in terms of adventuring because of our animal companions, but want to be able to get around the park and environs before we have to head back to no-fun humid heat in north Texas. Your hike sounds wonderful--as usual, and the photos are marvelous. Thanks for the treat.

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  14. There's something to be said for a short, easy trail that might lack interest but can be navigated by folks like my husband whose ability to travel uneven ground ain't what it used to be ;) He's always happy to wait for me in the car or leave and come back to pick me up later while I take a longer less well-surfaced path, but I'm not adventurous enough to mark out my own. I'm impressed you don't get lost. I enjoyed the signs of miners from times past, and it's interesting to wonder who else might've used this area.

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  15. What a fantastic hike. You found all kinds of interesting things. Those dike rocks are kind of fascinating.

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  16. What a fun adventure with many amazing discoveries. I wonder how long ago that shelter was shored up and used. Interesting. I just cannot get over the many formations of rock. Excellent. thanks for letting us adventure with you. Waiting for the next installment.
    MB

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  17. The smiley rock made me smile. The sardine can (I'm assuming) with the hole in the middle - that stumps me. Lots of stories in that scenery you explore. Eager for next installment.

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  18. Amazing trail and an interesting read embellished with beautiful photos.

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  19. Dramatic landscapes! Have a good weekend.

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  20. The places you find around the park always leave me in awe, you take me places I will never get a chance to see myself.

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  21. Beautiful photos. Thank you for showing us the shelter. Very interesting. I like the smiley rock.

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  22. You have one helluva camera and nice set of skills for post processing. Kudos!

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  23. buenos paisajes, sigues mostrando en tus buenas fotos. Es lo que se consigue, en un largo caminar.

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  24. I bet there's alot of interesting rusty things yet to be found.

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  25. Greetings and Salutations! I liked the smile on the boulder. Must have been a nice place to escape the heat and wind in that bedroom. Nice place to build a fire. I used to eat sardines out of can like that; but not interested today. My taste buds have changed. LOL!

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  26. I once again enjoyed your description of this hike. The pictures of the landscapes and rock formations are beautiful as always. The interesting finds make it complete.

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  27. What a great trail ! Thanks for the wonderful shots you made.

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  28. A fascinating hike as always SPP, lots of interesting discoveries this trip. I think Joshua Tree national Park is full of unexplained mysteries ✨

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  29. It certainly looks like a sardine can but I can't help but wonder why the hole?

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  30. You're probably bored with so many of us saying your photos are AMAZING . . . thing is, it can't be helped. You're really good/great/terrific at sharing a world lots of us don't get to see. Two parking spots? unlike places i walk - you might not come across many other people on your adventures. I'm glad you know to take care of yourself. That "smiley rock" - is fun.

    Actually - YOU are lots of fun.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful world with us/me.

    I'm off to find out what a 'gamin' actually is . . . I imagine it's some sort of direction finder . . . we'll see.
    Thank you again . . . (oh, and thank you for taking the mask away.)

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  31. Photo #3 Is Brilliant - But Then All Of These Captures Are Amazing - What An Adventure - Hope The Family Time On The 4th Was Special - Be Well Brother

    Cheers

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  32. What fantastic photos. It's amazing finding those rusty items that probably been there for decades. Many mysteries out there some never to be figured out. Thank you!

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  33. Great finds! Thanks for sharing (such a hike in real is not made for me)
    At photo #3 I see a dancer...
    Greetings from Germany

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