Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Joshua Tree National Park, California

After leaving our Colorado River campsite, we head back to Yuma for a few days, mostly to attend the Main Street Market on Tuesday so I can buy my favourite Cilantro Lime White Balsamic Vinegar. We love this market and, although there are typically only 2 or 3 fruit and vegetable stands, they have plenty of fresh veggies at very reasonable prices. Most other vendors sell jewelry, rocks, handbags, shoes, etc. A trip to the Sunday market at the Quartermaster Depot is a huge disappointment with only one veggie vendor, and he isn't selling much of anything we want. So no other blog info or photos from our second stay at Mittry Lake near Yuma. Instead, on our way to visit family near Palm Springs, California, we take a few days to hike in Joshua Tree National Park. The weather is unusually warm (90F in L.A. and abut 75F up here in the "high desert"), so we take advantage and work on our "going home tan".
Joshua Tree National Park

Driving through the park, we spy snow-capped Mt. San Jacinto, which towers above Palm Springs. The joshua trees grow only at this elevation in the Mojave Desert.

Brad is the orange dot almost in the middle of the picture
Brad practicing his climbing along the Split Rock Loop trail. This is one of four trails we hike during our three days in the park.

An especially clear view (there are days when you can't see across the valley due to smog being funneled down the valley from Los Angeles). The line of hills right behind my head were formed by the San Andreas Fault which lies directly beneath. The city of Palm Springs is at the base of Mt. San Jacinto on the far right of the photo.

Along the Lost Horse Mine Loop trail is the remains of the mine itself. Views of the valleys are pretty along the trail as well.

Brad is the orange dot bottom centre
Cottonwood Springs, a grove of palms and cottonwoods near the south entrance of the park. This is also the beginning of the Lost Palms Oasis trail, but we don't hike the 7 miles round trip. It's too hot!

From Cottonwood Springs, the trail ascends to Mastodon Peak, from where the views surrounding are spectacular. It's not a long or steep hike, although the last few feet require scrambling up some rocks. This isn't the peak, but a stop along the way. The Salton Sea is in the background between the ridge on the left and the ridges on the back right.

Meet Chuck Walla. No, I mean - a chuckwalla, the largest lizard in this desert. He's about a foot long and several inches across - a big guy. When threatened, he'll run into a crack in the rocks and puff up his body so prey can't pull him out. Smart. Our first chuckwalla sighting.

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