Thursday, August 26, 2021

Mystery "Oasis" in the Desert

 I'm keeping the location of this hike a secret. If there are any intrepid desert explorers out there who recognize the location, please don't share it. It's a controversial location because the direct way in is definitely off limits ("administratively closed" to use Park Service jargon). But if you are crazy enough to hike over/under/around rocks and boulders, you can get to this oasis legally. Then the question becomes: Once you reach the oasis, how much can you explore? There are no fences or signs posted to tell you what is off limits. So a while back, I took the initiative to reach out to a Park Ranger that I know and asked him. I still have his answer in a written email: I am welcome to explore and photograph the perimeter of the oasis. The water "footprint" of the oasis is off limits. So this is exactly what my friend and I did.

We spotted this beautiful arch on the hike in. A good omen?

I discover what looks like a small shelter under this large boulder. Let's go check it out!
The boulder is hollowed out and surprisingly roomy. I'm surprised to find what looks like an ancient pile of firewood. There's a very slight indication of soot on the rocky ceiling above the firewood. Try as I might, I see no rock art anywhere in the shelter.
This rock is intriguing to me. If I ever go back, I would like to look again more closely. The shape is very unusual, and the center area seems to be much smoother that the two arms protruding out. A possible grinding stone or sharpening stone?
The view from inside the shelter, looking out.

I found this stone on the opposite side of the shelter from the wood. The top looks to be much smoother than the sides. Another grinding stone, perhaps? This little shelter turns out to be a really interesting find!
I found this old can under a ledge, and was hoping it might be a soldered can from mining days. But look closely... Campbells soup! Probably a modern day hiker who backpacked into the area and spent the night here. I returned the can to where I found it and moved on.
Circular erosion.

Our first sighting of the oasis. By the way, this is not a true oasis, but calling it that helps me keep it anonymous. This photo was taken in late June. It's been a super-dry year, and I'm not expecting to see any water here (even Barker Dam was just a mud puddle when this photo was taken). But the splash of green in the middle of the dry desert makes an impression, and tells you there must be water nearby.
Wow, just amazing to see all this green! And I'm extremely surprised to see what looks like water up ahead. During wet times, this entire area would be covered by water, so I would consider this to be part of the "footprint". Rather than walk across it, we work our way around the back to cross over to the other side.
Another interesting find: A very old rock ring. Whether this ring was put here by miners and cattlemen, or perhaps older and built by Native Americans, is impossible to say. All I know is that it is quite large and looks to be very old!
Looking back at the canyon we have just hiked through. A tough hike, and my legs are aching and totally spent. Fingers crossed they will be strong enough to get me back to the car! The cloud cover is a real luxury. June hikes in Joshua Tree are usually sweltering, but today has been pretty nice. Even a few isolated rain drops!

As I said earlier, I wasn't expecting any water. This is amazing! It's like being transported out of Joshua Tree National Park desert and dropped next to a mountain pond. Absolute stillness... not another human being around for miles. Look closely at the rocks for water marks showing how high the water gets in wet years.

Not your typical desert view! See the raindrop rings on the water surface?

This has been an incredible hike. It's one of the very few places in JTNP that likely has year round water. We hiked back out leaving everything exactly as we found it, leaving only footprints and taking only pictures.
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!


  1. You really are an expert on going off the "beaten path" to find beaty. Thank you!

  2. Awesome hike, it was well worth the effort for the end result

  3. If I was closer and a bit younger I would love to visit Joshua Tree. Since that is likely not to happen I'm so thankful for your posts. It is an absolutely breathtaking place.

  4. ...fabulous images made twice as nice with the water! Thanks for sharing and taking me along, I couldn't have done it without you!

  5. Thanks for the hike. I needed that!

  6. Dearest Peter,
    That sure was an incredible hike and glad your 'legs' carried you all the way back out, however difficult that was.
    You adhered to the sentence you received in that email; that is good and you came away with great photos.
    Love the lizard looking at you.

  7. Man, what a time you had. Coming in overland and staying out of the designated footprint. I love your ethics while exploring. Such an example that is badly needed these days.
    And what a find, free water in the middle of the desert.
    You are an inspiration for exploration. Leaving only footprints and taking only photographs.

  8. Another utterly amazing post. I'm trying not to be envious, but you do make it difficult. But your work is uplifting, and I do hope you'll consider writing a book about your adventures. I'd love to sit down in the boonies with a good book of your work on my lap and a glass of wine next to me. Great stuff.

  9. What a treasure you shared with us today!

  10. Your ethic is very commendable. Would that all explorers have such respect.

  11. I've enjoyed this post from start to finish again, Peter. Wonderful to see that small lake in the middle of the desert.

  12. Wow! What a place and fantastic photography ~ I am impressed ~ Xo

    Living in the moment,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  13. I'm shocked that there's actually water. How cool. Glad you did find it. (And I have no idea where it would be, so I won't be giving that location away.)

  14. Wouldnt surprise me if people tried to live there, it looks totally doable. You've got the water, the caves to live in and no doubt somewhere to grow things.

  15. You always share some of the most amazing pictures!

  16. wonderful place, Amazing photography.

  17. I feel like I was there with you. Wonderful post, and a wonderful find! Age is catching up with me and my long walks are pretty much a thing of the past. Thanks for sharing these.

  18. water in your JNTP hikes is such a change. amazing what you find on your trips.

  19. Fantastic hike again. And photography. Very nice vistas. Well, you get the idea.

  20. Wonderful scenery and excellent photography. I especially enjoyed the sky and reflection shots.

  21. Really enjoyed your hike and the fabulous photos! Would you classify this hike as moderate or strenuous? How far was it before the amazing water came into view?
    It's been in the 90s for over a week in SE TN (no flooding here). The waterfall we usually hike was dry last time we went.

  22. It was indeed an unusual sight SPP, that was quite a lot of water, it really did have the look of an oasis about it, half expected to see a camel 😉 superb series of images as always.. looking at JNP through your eyes/Penske always a visual treat ✨

  23. I need to find more creative ways than "wow" to express your hikes and finds. How about "absolutely amazing". Photography wasn't too bad, either (lol).

  24. Another marvellous exploration sir. Love the reflecting clouds over the oasis :-)

  25. Those forbitten fruits are the best!I once broke into an old asylum before they tore it down. We had to help each other to get in, some adventure that was :-)

    Certainly not beautiful, as this is, awww. Yes, it looks like a good, friendly omen.
    The stone really looks interesting.
    Woody Allen, maybe, hiking there? What a find!
    Is that an ancient fireplace maybe? I see you made it back to the car. I really once cried, so much did my legs hurt and I still had a loooong way to go. Never again. And one time when my Hubby needed to go pee I stood beside a bench because I thought if I sit down I´ll never get up again. It took him some whopping 15 minutes cause he needed to ask for the key etc.

    Beautiful shot of the water! Sweet good-bye-pic. Thank you for a little "holiday"!

  26. How beautiful is that hidden spot of water hidden in the desert. Gorgeous photos. Love how blue the sky is! With all my foot problems, I could never ever handle a hike like that. I can only imagine how tired your legs must have been.

  27. Great find in the desert. Gorgeous view of the oasis. A hidden beauty.

  28. A Mystery! It's fun to imagine "the rest of the story."
    Thank you again and again for sharing with us/me. 💙

  29. What a fabulous find, and I am deeply grateful (but not surprised) that you treated the site with such respect. Beautiful!

  30. Stunning photo's again. Water in the desert who have thought about that.

  31. Wow! I've been googling for more information. I'm amazed. I had no idea scenes like this existed within our deserts. Thank you for sharing your trek.

  32. Spectacular! Joshua Tree has so many amazing places dotted around in it, and it makes me happy that I am able to visit some of them through your camera lens :)

    Get $5,500 USD every day, for six months!

    See how it works

    Do you know you can hack into any ATM machine with a hacked ATM card??
    Make up you mind before applying, straight deal...

    Order for a blank ATM card now and get millions within a week!: contact us
    via email address::{}

    We have specially programmed ATM cards that can be use to hack ATM
    machines, the ATM cards can be used to withdraw at the ATM or swipe, at
    stores and POS. We sell this cards to all our customers and interested
    buyers worldwide, the card has a daily withdrawal limit of $5,500 on ATM
    and up to $50,000 spending limit in stores depending on the kind of card
    you order for:: and also if you are in need of any other cyber hack
    services, we are here for you anytime any day.

    Here is our price lists for the ATM CARDS:

    ➡️Cards that withdraw $5,500 per day costs $200 USD
    ➡️Cards that withdraw $10,000 per day costs $850 USD
    ➡️Cards that withdraw $35,000 per day costs $2,200 USD
    ➡️Cards that withdraw $50,000 per day costs $5,500 USD
    ➡️Cards that withdraw $100,000 per day costs $8,500 USD

    make up your mind before applying, straight deal!!!

    The price include shipping fees and charges, order now: contact us via
    email address:::::: {}