Thursday, February 23, 2023

Quartz Buttes Hike

 I was reading a post over at Starbucks Exploring that really intrigued me called "Quartz Butte Pictographs". I had never hiked this area of Joshua Tree, and Guy's photos and finds were captivating. We've hiked together before, and he was kind enough to give me some pretty good hints about were he started the hike and the direction of travel. I would be on my own as far as finding any pictographs or quartz buttes, but hey, that's half the fun! After spending literally hours on Google Earth, I was able to find what I thought looked like a quartz butte. There was supposed to be a second butte, but I couldn't located it and just had to hope I might spot it during the hike. As far as finding any rock art, well, that would require a lot of luck and a lot of exploring. I wasn't very hopeful but I was excited to get out and take a look. Put on your hiking boots and let's go see what we can find!
The hike was interesting right from the start, and I knew it was going to be a good day. We were able to follow this steep-sided wash for quite a distance. No human footprints... my kind of hike!
We would occasionally leave the wash for higher ground so we could scan our surroundings for buttes or interesting rock formations. No quartz buttes, but look at this big piece of quartz! Almost as if someone had placed it here.
A huge quartz boulder. There must be a quartz butte around here somewhere!

Interesting rock formation.
Roger, center, and Mitch to the right, looking over/under/around rocks and boulders for anything of interest. So far, nothing.
We were finding a lot of what looked like chipped stone or stone flakes, which is usually a good sign. And then, on a wall in a partial shelter...
... a pictograph, faded but still visible to the naked eye, and quite large. I asked Roger to stand next to it and took a picture using dStretch.
dStretch does funny things to humans (sorry, Roger!), but it really helps bring out the detail in pictographs. This one reminds me of a sun with rays radiating out, but only from the top and bottom. Or perhaps crab? Very unusual!
Another interesting rock formation. For some reason, all I could think of was hot dog buns! And then something came to mind that I hadn't thought of in many years. Does anyone remembrer the Oscar Mayer WienerMobile??

Finally, we spot quartz butte. It's unmistakable and unique looking. Surrounded by granite boulders that are much more common is a huge quartz formation. 
What's harder to see in the photo is the quartz littering the ground everywhere you step. It's amazing, and a rock lovers dream come true! Mostly white quartz, which at times looks like snow, but also pink, gold, and even clear quartz.
Mitch, directing an imaginary orchestra, on top of quartz butte.
I notice the rocky knoll in the above photo and wonder if that might be the second quartz "butte" that I heard about. Let's go take a look. 
Yes, definitely another quartz outcropping. 

Climbing up quartz butte #2. I love that ocotillo plant!

Classic desert beauty, with ocotillo, yucca, and quartz all over the ground!

See if you can spot Roger climbing up quartz butte #2.
Mitch & Roger on quartz butte #2. Look at that sky!!
After leaving quartz butte #2 and poking around in a few more rocks, I come across this really unusual rainbow petroglyph. I knew it was out here somewhere, but to actually find it was an incredible piece of luck. The blog article (Starbucks Exploring) thinks it's the only rainbow petroglyph in Joshua Tree National Park, and I agree. It's not going to win any awards for being big and splashy, but its unusual shap makes it special.
Roger spots something he calls "buttcrack boulder." I dutifully pose next to it.
Hello there! I see two eyes, and maybe a nose and mouth?
A favorite photo of mine because I can vividly remember the golden light and the feeling of having completed a very special hike. Finding both quartz buttes, along with the "crab" pictograph and the rainbow petroglyph totally surpassed my expectations! 
We had decided to stop following the wash (which was getting choked off with rocks and cats claw) and instead follow this ridge back toward the car. It was quickly getting dark, but at one point I looked down and spotted a nice pottery sherd! I think it was Roger who asked where I found it, and upon showing him I spotted a couple more! 
Up on this narrow ridge was a totally unexpected place to find Native American pottery sherds. It's much to narrow and exposed to be a habitation site. My theory is they used this ridge, much like Mitch, Roger and I were today, to travel through the area. In their travels they dropped a pot, and all these many years later, I found some of the remains. Who knows, it might have even been an olla carrying water from the wash below that dropped and broke. It was already getting dark so we didn't have time to continue looking for more sherds or other clues. I put the pottery sherds back exactly as I found them and we moved on.
Last photo of the day. An example of how great digital cameras are these days. This was taken well after sunset, and it was much darker than the photo shows. I cranked up the ISO to 1600 to get this shot, and it doesn't even look grainy or blurry. Pretty amazing! Seeing the steep rocks on either side of the wash told us we were nearly back to the car. What a great hike this has been!
 If you stuck with me all the way to the end, THANK YOU!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Water Tank Trail

 I've never hiked this "trail" before, but I was wanting to hike something with some steep sections and close to home (let's call it training for an upcoming desert hike... more on that later), and this trail fit my needs.
The clouds appear to be marching across the sky, single file.
In most spots the Water Tank Trail is about as wide as a road. Plenty of room for hikers, bikers, runners, or even the occassional horseback rider. I picked a great day. Recent rainfall made everything feel fresh and clean, it was a comfortable temperature, and I even had some pretty clouds overhead.

There are a couple spots along the trail where you can stop, relax, and take in the view. 

There's one area along the trail that's particularly pretty. The pines and pepper trees overhang the trail and provide some nice shade.
During this time of year, it's not unusual to be treated to great views of Mt. Baldy covered with snow.
Thanks for stopping by!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
PS: Just realizing I forgot to take a picture of the water tank that this trail leads up to. Don't worry, you're not missing much. It's not very photogenic!

Thursday, February 9, 2023

East Joshua Tree

 I took my friend Roger out to East Joshua Tree for a visit recently. He had never been to this specific area, and I hadn't been for a while, so we were both looking forward to it. Put your hiking boots on and join us!

Hey Roger!
Is he waving at me??

I come across far too many of these empty desert tortoise shells, but only rarely see a live tortose. From what I hear and see, their population is in decline.
Native American bedrock mortar. I've always been told there is very little evidence of Native Americans occupying this area, but the more I hike and explore here, the more I find! Keep reading.
I discovered these old glass jugs a few years back. Good to see they are still here and intact! My theory is that they were cached water. Probably placed here by some old crusty desert rats who were planning on coming back later for an overnight stay and didn't want their pack to be too heavy. I'm guessing they never came back, and over the years, the water evaporated.
An old fire ring and wood supply are in the general area of the water bottles. Both the fire ring and wood look like they have been here a very long time!
Roger underneath the old man with the big nose!
Desert belladona flower, rolled up and waiting to bloom another day.
Artsy version.
A large and unusual petroglyph made by a series of dots. I've always thought that if you connected the dots it would make the shape of a sword or dagger (sword facing up). Harder to see are circular petroglyphs on either side of the sword (above the guard). The top of the sword is about 6' high, so it's a large petroglyph, and one of the very few that I actually think I know what information they were trying to convey!
The rock formations in this section of Joshua Tree National Park never cease to amaze. The photo above looks to me like dinosaur teeth or some ancient jawbone.
Way high up on the rocks... see the raptor nest?
Carrot nose.
A very large rake motif pictograph (dStretch enhanced for clarity).
Hat-shaped pictograph (dStretch enhanced for clarity).
I can't resist stopping by this rock formation when I'm in the neighborhood!
View from inside the rock formation. Hi Roger!
Roger, in the eye of The Beast!

We had a nearly full moon keeping us company on our hike back to the car.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed this hike out in east Joshua Tree!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.