Thursday, February 29, 2024

Staying "Local"

 By "local", I mean no big hikes or adventures to report. I did go hiking up in the local foothills last week. Of note, we've had quite a bit of rain, and our normally bone-dry hills now have water! I know, no big deal for those of you in wetter climes, but in my neck of the woods it's something to celebrate!
This is a water catchment basin. It is designed to replenish groundwater after a storm. After most storms, the water quickly soaks into the ground. Occasionally you can see a little mud puddle after a larger storm. This is the most water I've seen in the years I've been hiking in the area.
Turn up the volume on this video to hear the startled ducks as I approach the water!
It turned out to be a muddy hike! This water was draining into the catchment basin.
Beautiful skies!
A nice view toward Long Beach Harbor and the dock cranes.
Moon at rest.
I even found this interesting rock. See the fossilized shell fragments? Geologists say the ocean came right up to these hills (a very long time ago!). I guess I missed out on having a home on the beach. Way too expensive now!
Over the weekend, we made a quick trip out to the desert to spend some time with visiting relatives.
Even Lilly joined us for this short hike right out the back door of our desert house. Here she is trying to keep this huge boulder from rolling on top of the red barrel cactus!🤣
Here she is under a local arch.
And a final Lilly photo... blending in with the rocks!
Amazing contrails! The sky reminded me of Joni Mitchell lyrics in her song "Amelia": 
It was the hexagram of the heavens
It was the strings of my guitar
Bladderpod in bloom.
6:08AM Sunday
Photoshop now has AI capabilities. For the above photo (can I even call it a photo??) I typed in "Joshua Tree forest with boulders at sunset" and this is what it generated. Not sure what I think about all this, other than it seems way to easy to "generate" photos. They also make it easy to add or replace things to improve a mediocre photo. Want to add a more dramatic sky? How about a full moon? Not sure about the rest of the world, but I'm going to keep my camera and do it the old fashioned way!
Thanks for stopping by!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Lost Pencil

 It doesn't really look like a pencil to me. And who lost it?? Those are just a couple of the mysteries we hope to unravel as we hike to see if we can find this interesting and strange rock formation, and (hopefully) get a close-up look.
We've chosen a perfect day for a hike in Joshua Tree National Park. We are going somewhere in the general direction of those rocks, but there is no trail to follow. My hiking partner today is Mitch, and he seems to know where we're going, so that's good enough for me.

This boulder is helping us with our navigation!
This interesting bent-over boulder is called "Aperitif Rock", so named by the rock climbers that like to climb it. Funny name... perhaps this is a climb to stimulate the appetite for bigger climbs to come?
Grumpy rock? Or perhaps tortoise head rock?
We get our first view of Lost Pencil. Like I said, it doesn't look like a pencil to me!
Hi Mitch!
From this angle, it looks pretty unstable!
This rock caught my eye because it stood out from all the other rocks in the area (mostly it's shape, relatively sharp edges, and color). Possibly a stone tool used by Native Americans? Hard to say, but I put it back on the ground where I found it and continued on.
Malapai Hill in the center of the photo. Unlike most of the surrounding hills made of granite boulders, Malapai Hill is dark-colored and volcanic in nature. It almost looks like you can see ancient lava flows!
Lucky break to see the moonrise through the clouds!

No shortage of interesting rock formations on this hike!
We didn't solve the mystery of the rock formation that doesn't look like a pencil and that isn't lost, but you did get an opportunity to see it up close. Hope you enjoyed this short escape out to the desert!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Hidden Lake in Joshua Tree??

 My expectations were low, but I really couldn't think of anywhere else to hike. I had spotted a "hidden" dry lake on Google Earth quite a while ago. To my knowledge, there was nothing special there... no pictographs or petroglyphs, no old mining structures, nothing. However, it's in a secluded location that probably gets few to zero hikers. I couldn't even find a place to park. I had to pull off onto the "shoulder" of Pinto Basin Road and hope not to get stuck in deep sand. I love hiking to remote places like this because you never know what you might find!
Remote and "hidden" dry lake bed.
A desert wash full of Smoke Trees... always a treat to see!
It had rained a few days ago, and I love how these red barrel cactus turn a deeper shade of red after a rain. I really enjoy hiking when the sky is cloudy, so I was thinking this might turn out to be a fun hike after all.
Very early into my hike I came across this rock formation. Can you spot the petroglyph? That just elevated the hike from "mediocre" to "fun"! It's always thrilling to find rock art and this one, although modest, probably hasn't been seen by too many people. And you know what this means, right? It means I will have to check every single nook and cranny I come across for MORE rock art!!
In case you weren't able to find the petroglyph.
I don't recall ever seeing a symbol like this.
The problem with the boulders in this area is they are covered with veins and striations. From a distance, they all look like petroglyphs! After looking closely at this one and finding nothing, I proceeded to the top of the hill just to take a look around.
And I was in for a surprise. Someone, a long time ago, prospected this area! There was a rock pile that might have been a mining claim or boundary marker, and a small pit in the ground. It's certainly possible this pit might have been deep at one time, and the Park Service filled it in. Adjacent to this area was a smoothed-out area (rocks removed) with a few pieces of old wood. Perhaps the site of an old cabin?
Beautiful turquoise-covered rocks, and also lots of quartz.
The miner that worked this area evidently had a fondness sardines!
I've finally made it to the lake bed. This is pretty much what I was expecting, and I was curious to explore the area. It might be nice to make a return trip when the wildflowers are blooming. With this sandy soil, desert lilies, sand verbena, and other sand-loving desert plants might put on an impressive show! I'm going to explore the hills on the far left side of the lake bed. On Google Earth, it looked like there might have been an old road that went up there, which would likely mean mining activity.
Looks like I'm not the first person to explore this old lake bed! There are no footprints in the area, so no one has been here in a while, but this old hole-in-cap can goes waaaay back. It was made sometime between 1825 and 1904. I continue my hike up the hill.
I make it up to the top of the hill, huffing and puffing. It looks like there might have been an old road leading up here, but can't tell for sure. No signs of mining, and no rusty cans. I'm admiring this cottontop cactus when I pause to take in the horizon, and my jaw drops... Is that water?? It looks like a small lake from here. I can hardly believe it. I've never come across a lake bed in the desert full of water after a rain, so this is amazing! Oh, and by the way, what's the white zig-zag stuff on the ground in the center of the photo?? Let's go check it out.
The white stuff turns out to be a very large vein of white quartz. As if planted by a gardner, this red cottontop cactus beautifully stands out against the white quartz! This hike has gone from mediocre to fun to amazing!
That's a lot of water for a dry lake😉
It's a new experience seeing creosote branches reflected in water!
I hike up to the high point to get this beautiful view of the Pinto Basin.
I use my telephoto lens to get this view of the serpentine Pinto Basin Road.
Nice view of the "dry" lake from the high point. Amazing!

I have a little time to kill so I prop my iPhone on a rock and take a selfie. I'm waiting for the full moon to rise (the first of 2024!). Problem is, the longer I wait, the cloudier it gets!! I finally decide not to wait any longer. If I leave now, I should be able to avoid hiking back in the dark.
Desert Reflection
Amazing how this bunch grass stands out in low light!

Last photo of the hike: Smoke Tree under a pretty sky.
Thanks for coming along on this interesting adventure. It's not often you find a hidden lake in the desert!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.