December 26, 2010

12/23/10 – Joshua Tree NP

It rained hard for two days.  Southern California has been hit hard by unusual weather this year, but mostly we’d avoided it.  I guess it was time to just hunker down in the storm.
After two days in a 27’ travel trailer, it was time to get OUT and about.  Joshua Tree NP is dedicated to the preservation of the Joshua Tree, a form of yucca. 
You could really tell where the flash floods had been, and there was still lots of sand over the roads.  We went in at the south entrance to the Cottonwood Visitor Center.  The ranger suggested a couple of must-do hikes and the drive. 
We took the hike to Cottonwood Spring—followed an Indian family and ended up almost lost.  (I should have known better; the Indian developers I know never get it right the first time!)  I have no idea where the trail was supposed to go, but we followed the family up a sandy wash, and then when they went one way we went the other direction.  By this time we’d figured out they really didn’t know where they were going…we didn’t either but our way was more interesting.  It lead through some big rocks and then onto another wash.  Eventually we decided we were on a really long trail that would go for miles, so we turned back.

We drove the main road to the West entrance.  Besides the Joshua Trees (which I grew up seeing in Las Vegas), there are some other pretty interesting cacti.  The ocotillo were dormant, so just looked like clusters of sticks.  We walked through the Cholla Cactus Garden and avoided getting attached by the spines of the "Teddy Bear Cholla" aka "Jumping Cholla".
My absolute favorite were the hikes we took through the huge stacks of rocks all piled randomly on top of each other!  There's one called "Skull Rock" that does really look like a skull.  We had lunch at the Jumbo Rocks Campground, then hiked up to Arch Rock and on to the Barker Dam.  It was getting dark, so we had to hustle back to the parking lot. 

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