Thursday, September 29, 2022

South of Quail Springs (Part 1)

 If you are driving through Joshua Tree National Park and looking for a nice spot to stop to stretch your legs or have a picnic, it's hard to beat Quail Springs Picnic Area. Its rock formations make it one of the prettiest spots in the Park. I've stopped here many times over the years, but never hiked the area. On this hot summer day, I was looking for a short(ish) hike that I could do solo, at a higher elevation in the Park (cooler temps), and that wouldn't be too demanding. Hiking south out of Quail Springs Picnic Area seemed perfect.
A beautiful blue sky day in Joshua Tree!
Hiking south, it wasn't long before I reached these interesting boulders. A nice spot to explore and see what I could find.
Sleeping tortoise?
I came across these interesting petroglyphs. If you look really closely, you can see a couple bolts in the rocks. I suspect this area was used for livestock back in the day, and the bolts anchored some kind of fencing. The petroglyphs look like initials (from the old-timers who ranched in the area?) rather than Native American symbols.
The area with the bolts is surrounded on either side by boulder formations, which might have formed two sides of a natural corral.
Historical trash. Some of these cans likely date back to the 1920's and '30s.

More bolts
The ranchers used these little out-of-the-way spots to dispose of trash. The trash includes an old mostly disintegrated tire innertube. Been a long time since car tires used innertubes!

Another historic artifact...
... but more recent (internet photo). This one dates to the 1960's and 70's.

Hiking further south along the rocks, I come to what the climbers call the "White Cliffs of Dover". No passport required!
I think this is an old Pinion Pine burl. I love the texture and yellowing seen with aging. Likely there was a big beautiful pine tree here at one time. Perhaps the ancients sat on these very rocks, under the shade of this tree, surveying the desert around them.
Reminds me of a bottle opener.
I see a smiley face!
From a distance, I thought for sure I had discovered a cool new pictograph site. The lichen fooled me!
At this point on the trail, limber hikers can duck under this Joshua tree and continue on. I chose to go around.

Continuing on with my hike, the sun was getting lower on the horizon and the light on the rocks more golden. Very pretty!

Monochrome version

I love this late afternoon desert light and long shadows. Not sure if I prefer the monochrome or color version of this one, so sharing both.
With the sun getting lower on the horizon, it's time to hightail it back to the car. This is my favorite time of day to take pictures, and I'll share some sunset photos from this hike on my next post.
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!!


  1. You always share the coolest photos!

  2. ...a beautiful spot. I guess people in the past didn't believe in, "you carry in, you carry it out!"

  3. These are marvelous! Yes, I am a fan of lichen art

  4. Amazing photos and wow! That is a some find on the cans front for sure!

  5. The historical trash looks fantastic to me. It really shows how remote and isolated you must be! I also see a camel rock and a dolphin head rock. Such a wonderful exploration you have done. Love the photos as usual.

  6. Definitely see the tortoise there.

  7. Good idea to do a short easy hike right around now. And you still found great things to photograph.

  8. That's great, Wonderful photos, stones formation amazing

  9. Very interesting and beautifully captures.

  10. You deal with the sun so well--- I often have blow-out! That rock is definitely a tortoise, I think.

  11. Great discoveries again. I must say that I prefer the color photo's in the golden hour then the black and whites and the old tin is also unbeatable. Very good .

  12. I totally saw a turtle head even before I read your remark. Beautiful photos Peter as usual.

  13. Dearest Peter,
    That was another interesting hike with lots of remnants (trashy) found from previous people actually residing there. One wonders how they managed to live there and also the livestock.
    For me the color photographs speak more...

  14. It looks like you went out alone this time? You are so good in finding all these details!! Like the sleeping tortoise head. Can't imagine actually living in this area, but the old-timers were not as persnickety as we are now:)

  15. Hello, :=)
    Wandering in the dessert you came upon some interesting rock formations. I can definitely see the tortoise head and smiley face, and you discovered some old relics that tell a story of another age. I like both shots of the tree, but the sun kissed one is warmer which is more in keeping with the dessert. I enjoyed my visit very much.
    All the best.

  16. You have a talent for finding the interesting things. Pictograph lichen, sleeping rock tortoises, and historical trash. I loved that Pictsweet can with the young boy. The rusted can has a 50's (?) look. Also the color and B&W sunset pictures were both interesting. Another great hike!

  17. Beautiful photography. I liked the turtle, amazing find with the cans.

  18. Wonder what would be said a hundred years from now about the trash we're leaving behind today. That definitely is a very large tortoise you don't want to see wake up, haha!

  19. Wow! ~ Fantastic photography and you find the most intriguing rock formation even on a short hike ~ and the trash is even interesting ~ lol

    Wishing you good health, laughter and love in your days,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  20. How interesting. I love the rock formations (especially the turtle) and the joshua trees in color or in black and white.

  21. Beautiful photos. I love the tortoise formation. What a great colour on the pine burl.
    The last photo is stunning!

  22. The old Vermont farmers buried trash in foundations and what-not in the woods. We found one spot accidentally and discovered another in an old barn foundation that was excavated. Fascinating stuff. I love the burl. It looks woven. And the "pictograph" lichen? I wonder if it is possible the lichen grew over pictographs.

  23. Love your last photo with the hills fading away in the background :)

  24. Yet another beautiful set of pics from your hike. I like the sleeping tortoise rock. Historic trash made me chuckle.

  25. It's wonderful to see that such fascinating sights are available in accessible locations and not just on more challenging treks.

  26. That sleep tortoise rock is picture perfect. You found some interesting "trash" on this hike. People have been exploring that area for a very long time.

  27. Fantastic photos from a fantastic area!

  28. Big fan of yours and your photos, you know that! Someday I will definitely come here.

    Worth a Thousand Words

  29. This is the kind of post you just absorb. I love the desert so much. And my late husband and I spent a lot of time in Joshua Tree. He was a rock climber and I learned to love rocks from being with him. Not to climb though, but just to enjoy.

  30. Es sorprendente la belleza de ese lugar. Son maravillosas tus fotografías.

  31. Monochrome, surprisingly, my fav of the last two. Agree with you on the tortoise rock formation -- perfect. The he 'smiley face' you see *definitely* belongs to a manatee (terribly out of place in the desert, but there it is nonetheless!)... Enjoyed this hike, even the trash is interesting out there. Beautiful scenery, skies. I'm curious how far you hiked on this "shortish" walk. Shortish is all we do any more but I strongly suspect that my definition of that word varies from yours!

    1. Thanks, Sallie. Manatee never crossed my mind! I don't recall distance exactly, but likely in the 3-4 mile range. No elevation gain. Slow "photography" pace, so a pretty comfortable hike overall.

  32. I used to love foraging old dump sites for antique glass bottles. Cool retro can. Even better photos of those Joshua trees! Sublime.

  33. I guess people were littler bugs even back then! Love the sleeping turtle rock!

  34. Is it really "clever" to walk out there by yourself?
    Well, reckon you are able to contact someone in case of emergency?
    Crazy when I think of back then.
    No one knew where we are. I sent letter to my family once a month, route includede, the letter took at least three weeks...
    And yet, we live ;-)

    The tortoise is very cute. We once found "Hippo´s yawn", fun how wind creates art.

    And great the cans are not touched! Oh, the one with the boy´s face! Glad you all take but pictures.
    Bottle opener! Ours look like totally different and imagine me not knowing in Australia (and America?) you twist bottles open with your hand.
    I tried a lighter, thinking you need a took to open and had no opener! LOL.

    Wonderful parting pics!!!

  35. The tortoise head is impressive and very funny.
    Happy weekend!