Thursday, December 8, 2022

Stirrup Tank

 I've hiked Stirrup Tank in Joshua Tree National Park a few times over the years, but I've always felt like there is so much more to see. So when friend and professional guide Travis said he had a couple spots he would like to show us, I jumped at the chance. By the way, if you're going to be in the Joshua Tree area and you would like a guide, here's how you can get in touch with Travis: I highly recommend him!
Stirrup Tank is known for its interesting rock formations.
Stirrup Tank also has evidence of an ancient Native American presence. These mortars or grinding holes appear to be looking back at me!
We came across these very faint pictographs in a difficult to get to location. I used dStretch to enhance the photo, but it still looks like most of what was here has faded away with time.
These colorful caterpillars were everywhere, to the point where we had to be careful not to step on them. They are part of the life cycle of the sphinx moth, sometimes called the hummingbird moth because of their bird-like size and flight patterns. This guy was about 2" long.
One of the more interesting finds of the day. This huge arching boulder reminds me of one of those kites that the kite surfers use. With a little effort (OK, a LOT of effort) you can climb up to the underside of the boulder.
Here's Roger, off to one side of the boulder, to give you size perspective. It's massive! I was directly underneath the boulder when I took this photo.
And while underneath, fingers crossed that the boulder is wedged solidly in place and that we don't experience an earthquake!
For this photo, I've climbed just beyond the boulder (which is overhead) and am shooting back in the direction we started from.
Not a lot in bloom for this hike, but I do like this one.
... and this one (pencil cholla flower).
Travis standing next to what we think might be the Parks talled Mohave Yucca. They are usually 3 -6' tall. This one looks to be close to 14' tall. Crazy!
Another hike highlight: This absolutely HUGE rock shelter. I'm calling is "skylight cavern" because of the opening in the rocks overhead that lets in plenty of light.
Roger taking a snack break.
You could throw a little party in this cavern & have room for everyone!
This is harder than it looks. I tried to get behind the arch but was afraid I'd never get out again and had to give up. Travis volunteered to pose.
Back side of the arch. The best I could do was stick my camera out in front of me and take this photo. Any further and I would have wedged myself in place!
Hello, Chuck! This big fat chuckwalla lizard kept scurrying away from me just as I was ready to take a close up. It's hard to see from this angle, but he was definitely scoffing at me!
Sun's getting low so time to start our return hike.
Pretty desert skies!
After getting back to the car and picnic area, Travis spotted this scorpion. I'm guessing they are quite common, but you rarely see them because they are nocturnal, and difficult to spot without a UV flashlight.
Thanks for stopping by and joining me on another desert adventure!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.


  1. Wow, another great hike. More great rattlesnake dens that you guys like to get into. You and your friends are intrepid explorers.

  2. What a great cavern. Those look like some fun spots.

  3. This was just a treasure chest of images! Thank you so much for sharing these with us

  4. The various stones on display are so artistic. The caterpillar is so colourful that is so beautiful to photograph! The arches as natural window frames would trigger my clicking frenzy in the area

  5. You never disappoint when you go to these places in the desert. You take some amazing photos

  6. Dearest Travis,
    Love the perspective photo—otherwise nobody could tell how HUGE it is in reality.
    Lovely flowers and that caterpillar is interesting, we've had the hummingbird moth here in our garden.
    Glad you seldom encounter those nasty scorpions.

  7. The caterpillar is colorful. Lovely photos as usual - another great trip.

  8. ...your part of the world has some amazing beauty. Thanks for taking me along on this trip.

  9. Fantastic rock formations as per usual. Fine photography too as per usual. My zodiac sign is scorpio btw.

  10. I have had hummingbird moths in my yard, now I'll know what to watch for as far as caterpillars go! Mostly I let things eat my plants. Unless they're squash bugs... Beautiful pink flower and spines. I'm not sure which is prettier.

  11. Your posts are highly inspiring sir! The sun burst is awesome

  12. Amazing pics, Rock formations, sky views great. Loved the post. Happy Weekend

  13. Wow, a stare from the past!
    Cute caterpillar but such huge moths then? Scary. I think such a moth we shared a night with! Ingo said, "don´t look to the left!" Certainly I did saw that "thing" without my glasses on, jumped over poor Ingo and then stood outside the car, no glasses, barefoot and not much on.
    All doors open yet Ingo had a hard time to get it out.
    The boulder is impressive. The second pic looks like a huge animal trying to find out what the tiny human wants - great shot!
    As the scene back. Great colors and perspective.
    Chuck made me grin. Scary last pic...
    Thank you for another great tour!

  14. I doubt I shall ever have need of the services of Travis - but why should I want to when I can see the area and know what I'm looking at from your photos and explanations. I'll sit here in my armchair and let others squeeze through rocky apertures!

  15. Once again your desert adventure was amazing. What I liked most were the snowman, the lizard and the caterpillar. The Hummingbird moth lives both in Italy and in Finland. (Or some sister types, at least). Happy weekend!

  16. Yet another excellent hike. The grinding hole stare is creepy. I like the pencil cholla flower.

  17. I envy you these cooler temperature adventures. Great pictures, as always.

  18. What a nice blogpost again and so good that there are people in some shots to give the things scale. Otherwise we don't have an idea about the scale in the desert especially by that arch stone.

  19. That arching boulder reminds me of "the bean" in Chicago. That sculpture's real name is Cloud Gate but everyone calls it the bean. You found lots of tight spaces to crawl around in and some nice big ones too.

  20. Wow! What a tour and awesome photography ~ Xo

    Wishing you good health, laughter and love in your days,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  21. What amazing rock formations. I could see how you would feel nervous standing under some of those. Looked like everyone was having a great time. I’d always heard scorpions would do that under UV. So cool to see it!


  22. Another amazing hike and top notched photos, Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend.

  23. So many unusual rocks and interesting artifacts. I enjoy your photos so much. Your world is so interesting, such a completely different environment than here in the Eastern US.

  24. The second picture (the "eyes") made me think of an owl, for some reason. You always find some interesting scenery and I'm enjoying the recent posts where you have company. I checked out Travis' link. One can dream of seeing some of these sights (the ones that are easy to get to, alas) in person one day.

  25. Amazing nature captured beautifully!

  26. Your photos are so beautiful! The huge boulder is amazing. The pink pencil cholla flower is very cute too.

  27. WOW!! Another great trip! Enjoy your rock and desert impression is always a gorgeous trip into another world. Thanks a lot for sharing and arranging it so beautifully.

  28. Thank you so much for the wonderful photos. I love to see them. Also the flower

  29. I missed visiting last week and today really wondered about your fascinating new header shot! So glad I took time to scroll back. I'm glad you looked down as well as out and up! Must admit that some of the pictures in this post nearly caused heart palpitations though -- those ones under the huge boulders and squeezed into cracks. Beautiful formations and it really IS good to have people in the pictures for perspective, but whew some of those places are frightening (and I thought that even before you mentioned the remote possibility of an earthquake!)

  30. What a great adventure and stunning/funny photos!
    Greetings from Germany