Joshua Tree National Park
International travel is probably a long way off and the family was in need of an uplifting diversion when John suggested a trip to the desert. What a great idea! We found a lovely airbnb in Johua Tree, allowing us to work remotely in the morning and hike in the afternoon. The perfect getaway.
The California high desert is a wondrous place, and Joshua trees are unique and only grow in very specific altitudes and environments.
Joshua Tree Park is a photographer's dream. It is comprised of two deserts and a wide variety of geological formations and plant life. The Mojave desert is the western portion of the park with elevations above 3000 feet. This is the terrain of Joshua trees and boulder stacks.
We didn't get to the Colorado desert this time, which is at lower altitudes on the eastern side of the park and more resembles what we typically think of as desert.
We took three hikes while we were there; the first was to Barker Dam. As hard as it is to imagine today, in the early 1900s, cattle ranching was a big industry in the area, and Barker dam is a remnant from that time. Climate change is made real real when standing in a desert area that was used as a cattle watering spot 100 years ago.
We spotted patches of juniper bushes, the original flavoring used to create gin. Now John is working on formulating his version of John's Juniper Jin.
What I love most in the desert is the variety of foliage that manages to live there, despite how inhospitable the land seems.
Our longer hike was to Forty-nine Palms Oasis. It's a fan-palm oasis formed by a crack in the earth's crust. When groundwater below hits a fault it rises to the surface, creating the condition for an oasis in the middle of the desert. The hike leading to the oasis is arid and rocky.
And then the oasis appears in the distance.
And it gets greener and more inviting the closer you get
When you're in the oasis in the shade of the trees looking out, the vista is of the desert is all around.
Our last hike to Hidden Valley was short and very picturesque. The valley is enclosed with towering walls of rocks and historically was a popular spot for rustlers to hide their cattle since it is mostly hidden. Today it is popular with rock climbers, but what I loved was all the wonderful rock formations.
The approach is rocky with some vegetation.
Once you enter the valley there are so many wonderful rocks to appreciate.
And stunning walls of rock.
With many shapes and colors.
And a nice assortment of cacti.
It is a popular spot for rock climbers (see small specks on left rock).
Much to John's chagrin while we hiked I was stopping every ten feet to take a photo. And of course we had to take a few family snapshots.
We had a great time and hope to take more short working vacations to other California destinations.