Thursday, February 24, 2022

Jabba Rock

This section of Joshua Tree National Park is full of crazy, eroded rock formations. Sometimes it looks like the rocks have just melted under the incredibly hot desert sun.

My friend Mark Robben came across a rock formation he named "Jabba Rock", and I think it's a fitting name. It's in the center of the photo (above), and a close-up shot (below). 

What do you think? Does Jabba Rock resemble Jabba the Hutt?
Mark had mentioned he hadn't been able to find a way to climb up to explore the alcove at the top of Jabba Rock, but it looks fascinating! Big, spacious, with an arch and a great view.
A close up of the upper alcove. Doesn't that look amazing!?? Hard to see from this angle, but there is another large recess or alcove directly beneath the upper alcove. It's like a two-story condominium! 
So therein lies the challenge... how in the heck do you get up there?? Too much vertical rock surface to climb up from this angle.
At the base of Jabba Rock. From this approach, it looks sketchy, but not impossible.
Ta Da... success!!! See that round opening in the rock (center right)? That leads directly into the upper alcove. I'm really happy to have found a way in, and I'm still in one piece.

Jabba Rock alcove is pretty amazing. It has large window-like openings with incredible views. The wind blows through on a regular basis. It looks as if the floor of the alcove has been recently swept, it's so clean! Two or three people could comfortably camp up here (just don't try to climb down in the dark!).
After enjoying the views and soaking up the ambiance of the upper alcove (and wondering if Native Americans might have sat where I'm sitting and enjoyed the same views), I decide it's time to climb down. The sun is getting low on the horizon, and I still want to see if there is a way to climb up to the lower alcove.
This gives you a nice view of the lower alcove. Overhang is probably the more accurate term. Directly above it is the upper alcove, which we just came from. I find a crease in the rocks and make my way up.

The lower overhang is almost as impressive as the upper alcove, but not quite. Still, I was really pleased to be able to find a way to climb up and check it out and get some photos. Jabba Rock is on my short list for a return visit!
By the time I was done crawling all over Jabba Rock, the sun was long gone and the moon was up. Looks like it's going to be a dark hike back to the car using GPS and a headlamp!

Cotton candy skies kept me company for a while on the hike back to the car!

Goodbye sun and hello moon!

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

Thursday, February 17, 2022

More from the "Lost" Files!

 My last post was about a favorite hike I had completed way back in December of 2019, but had forgotten about the files and never shared them. Here are a few more from that memorable hike. The terrain is rocky and remote, but the photo opportunities are numerous. Thanks for joining me, and let's go see what we can find!

Fortune Cookie arch. A friend of mine told me about this one!

View from inside one of the many, many shallow caves in the area. I like the way the sun was visible through the side "window"!
View from under one of the many arches I came across on this hike.

Navigating through this rocky terrain can be both challenging and rewarding. You never know what you might find, and there are arches and shallow caves waiting to be discovered!

Well after sunset, navigating by GPS and headlamp.

Thanks for stopping by!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

East Joshua Tree Lost Files

 Well, not so much lost as forgotten. Have you ever misplaced or forgotten photos, only to discover them years later? Let me turn the clock back to December 10, 2019. I had just finished up a solo hike that was one of the most memorable hikes I've ever completed in Joshua Tree National Park. It was a gorgeous afternoon and the sky was beautiful. I "discovered" more arches and interesting rock formations than perhaps any other hike I've ever done, and I remember feeling elated. I also remember feeling like I really captured some great photos and I was anxious to get home to check them out. I transferred them from my camera's memory card to a folder on my laptop, and there they sat. Not sure why or how I forgot about them, but I did. There are 175 photos in the folder, so I'll share a few with you now, and more in the future. Thanks for joining me!

Lots of climbing and then crawling around on all fours to get up and into these arches and alcoves. I'm always intrigued by the way the openings provide unique photo frames. No two are alike!

Somewhere beyond all the rocks, but before the distant mountain, is where my car is parked!

And yet another arch. This one was particularly difficult to climb up into.

When you hike with skies like these, you KNOW you are going to get a few good photos! I got to enjoy the late afternoon golden light skipping across the boulder tops just before sunset. What a treat!
Thanks for stopping by, and I promise to share more photos from this hike.
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Have a Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Unnamed Peak

 My friend Mitch asked if I would be interested in hiking to a peak in Joshua Tree National Park. He also invited Mark (who I've hiked with before) and Elliot (who's been a virtual friend for a long time, but not hiked with). Heck yes, sign me up!
The peak isn't anything special. Not prominent or tall enough to have a name, but it does provide outstanding views, including the Wonderland of Rocks to the north. We were all hoping for some nice late afternoon golden light on the rocky surroundings, assuming we could find our way to the top of the peak. There is no trail to follow, so let's go see what we can find!
Beginning our ascent up unnamed peak. That's Elliot in the foreground, and Mark behind him, with Ryan Mountain in the background. No trail and very rocky, so we had to select our path carefully!
Further along, Ryan Mountain recedes in the distance.
Near the top of unnamed peak, the view west is excellent.
After finally reaching the summit, I take this photo of Elliot using the old boulder-as-tripod trick, which most photographers have used at one time or another!
Nice view of the Echo T parking area and beyond.
And looking north, that's the Barker Dam parking area and Wonderland of Rocks beyond.
Backlighting on a cholla

Elliot and Mark trying to capture that perfect photo!

Golden hour light on the Wonderland of Rocks. The area that looks like a desert village in the upper left? That's part of the Marine Base, and it's used for live combat training.
Mitch and the Wonderland beyond.

Get a group of photographers on a mountaintop with great light, and nobody wants to be the one to say "time to go!" But with the long shadows and setting sun, we might have stayed too long. We could be in for a challenging hike back down the steep, rocky mountainside in the dark.
Uh oh! A basic rule of hiking: NEVER hike steep, challenging areas in the dark. It's OK to finish a hike in the dark if you're prepared with headlamps, GPS, and the terrain isn't too challenging. We didn't plan on being near the top of unnamed peak in the dark, but here we were!

What's that old parental expression? Do as I say, not as I do!? We took it very slow and steady and made it down in one piece, but there were quite a few stumbles on the way down. It could have been worse. Lesson learned.
Thanks for joining me on this adventure.
Stay safe and stay healthy!
Linking with Skywatch Friday