Thursday, November 17, 2022

Pine City Trailhead

 I was looking forward to this hike for a number of reasons. The Pine City trail in Joshua Tree National Park is a trail I had never hiked, and on this day back in September of this year, my trusty weather app was predicting clouds with a slight chance of rain. So new territory to see and likely some pretty skies.
There were five of us on this hike... a large group by my standards! Travis (far left) is a professional guide and really fun to hike with because of his background and experience. Roger (in shorts) and Mitch (second from right) are my usual hiking partners. Mitch's neighbor Larry, who turned out to be a great guy, joined us on this hike.
I took this photo at about 12noon before even leaving the house. Look at that sky!!
As I recall, we didn't stick to the trail for very long. We kind of wandered toward anything that caught our eye. Here, Roger and I are checking out some red barrel cactus that seem to be growing out of solid rock. Photo credit: Mitch.
The sun was going in and out for most of the hike. In one direction, dark cloudy skies, and in the other, mostly blue skies. 
See that balancing rock in the center of the photo? Let's take a closer look...
Looks like you could push it over (we didn't try).
Amazing how the various rocks erode in JTNP. This looks like a well-built block wall!
Evidence of recent rain.
A narrow arch
Shark rocks!
Chuckwalla lizard skeleton.

Mitch forgot his hat, so he was alternating between umbrella for shade and umbrella for rain. Made for a good photo!
Umbrella for rain.
Here Mitch demonstrates proper technique to keep a camera (or phone) dry while taking a photo in the rain,
Roger models the latest fashion in hiking rainwear.
By late afternoon, the threat of rain seemed to be over.
Small, medium and large.
A prickly situation!
A rolling stone, come to rest here.

Travis has the ability to climb anywhere!

A portal between two rocky ledges.

Boo (again)!!
Hey, Travis!

Late afternoon golden light. Thinking of those people living in colder climes that don't get to enjoy the sun as much this time of year... this one's for you!
I thought I was done taking photos for this hike, but as the sun set behind the hills, I could see a rain cell off in the distance with a nicely balanced rock in the foreground... So back out with the camera and hustle to a vantage point to get a couple shots!

Thanks for dropping by and joining me on this hiking adventure!!

Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Samuelson's Rocks on a Cloudy Day

 My first visit to Samuelson's Rocks was June of 2017 (Samuelsons Rocks Part 1 and Samuelson's Rocks Part 2). Looking back on these posts, it's funny how it seemed like such a remote hike back then. Joshua Tree National Park has gotten busier and Samuelson's Rocks gets more visitors these days. It's no longer a remote hike where it's very unlikely to see another hiker. However, it's still a lovely hike and you might get lucky (like I did on this particular day) and hike all day without seeing another hiker!
It had been about 3 years since my last visit to the area. I had just finished my hike to the Quail Springs Pump House and still had an hour or two of daylight left. It was a beautiful cloudy day, perfect for landscape photography, so what the heck, lets go check out Samuleson's Rocks!
Before starting my hike over to Samuelson's Rocks, I noticed a hill with a dead Joshua tree trunk at the very top and wondered if it was a marker for something (it looked like it was carried to the top of the hill and was propped up by boulders). Hiking to the top of the hill (huffing and puffing), I didn't find anything significant other than an awesome view!
And even a hint of a rainbow!
Desert skies don't get much prettier than this!
Johann Samuelson was a Swedish prospector who was one of the most colorful and/or crazy (I suspect a bit of both) characters in the early days of what is now Joshua Tree National Park. His tall tales include being shipwrecked in Africa, taken as captive deep into the jungles by natives, surviving man-eating ants, winning the affections of a beautiful tribal princess, and discovering a huge stash of gold. After a random meeting between Samuelson and Erle Stanley Gardner (who was himself an intrepid desert exporer), Gardner was so impressed with his story that he bought the publishing rights and dedicated a chapter in his book Neighborhood Frontiers to Samuelson.

J.S. slept here!

Remains of an old corral below Samuelson's Rocks
The sky was getting darker and cloudier on the hike back to the car, but some patches of blue were still visible. I was expecting a cloudburst but only got a few sprinkles.

Thanks for joining me on this hike to one of the more unusual places in Joshua Tree National Park! 

Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Quail Springs Pump House

 Today we're heading out to a location called the Quail Springs Pump House in Joshua Tree National Park. It's been quite a while since I've visited, and I'm hoping it's as interesting and well preserved as I remember.
I was lucky I chose today for a hike. A little light rain as I drove into the park, and dramatic skies for the entire day.
A nice benefit to hiking to the Pump House is that there are some cool things to see along the way. This old rusty car is a favorite. I'll bet it has some stories to tell!

I've even photographed it back in 2019 at night under the Milky Way:
"Historic" trash.
Not far from the rustmobile is a collapsed homestead cabin. It's likely whoever lived here owned the car. I've never been able to learn who this cabin belonged to. It's quite a mystery.
All that's left is a bunch of wood on the ground and some nice stonework that must have been the front porch. The coolest thing about this old cabin is that it has a cellar!
Part of the floor has collapsed down into the cellar, but at one time, it would have been quite large. Nice craftmanship on the stonework!
The front porch, and more beautiful stonework. Spectacular desert views. Sure makes you wonder who lived here and what he/she/they did!
Time to continue my hike to the primary objective (the old pump house), but first let me show you what the skies look like:

Ta daaa!! The Quail Springs Pump House in all its glory! I'm pleased to see it's still standing and actually looks to be in very good shape. It's about 1/2 mile from the old (collapsed) homestead cabin. Seems like you would want to put your well closer to your house, so not sure if the cabin owners had anything to do with this pump house. Then a friend of mine sent me an old Park Service map:
Unfortunately, it's not dated, but it shows "Horse Camp" near where the pump house is located. It appears that back in the day, you could come to Joshua Tree National Monument and rent horses and go horseback riding! It's also possible the Park Service built this well and pump to keep the horses watered.

The pump house has an old fashioned pump connected to a pipe that leads to a trough. And here's the best part: IT STILL WORKS!!
Let's take a closer look inside the pump house:

Found just outside the pump house (and left it where I found it).
I love this old pump house, but it's time to continue on. I think I have enough daylight left to hike over to Samuelson's Rocks (I'll save that post for next time). Before doing that, I hiked to the top of a hill next to the pump house for some nice desert views.

Thanks for joining me on this hike to the old pump house!
 Linking with Skywatch Friday.