Tuesday, January 3, 2017

December 9, 2016 Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park

I woke up before sunrise only because I had to pee. But since I was up, I walked around our campsite and took some pictures.

The sunrise was amazing...

...with all kinds of colors as the sun rose over the mountains to the east.

Here's my brother George trying to warm up after leaving his sleeping bag and multiple blankets.

Breakfast is served.

As soon as the food was out, so were the birds. This one settled on my sleeping bag while I took my tent down.

After stops at the highly recommended (by the three people with me who drink coffee) Joshua Tree Coffee Company and the JTNP Visitor Center, we took pictures at the west entrance to the park.
My sister-in-law Marcy and my cousin Patty.

Once again, a sign you don't see often.

A quick stop along the road to Keys View.

At Keys View, you are 5000 feet above the Coachella Valley...

...which was obscured from our view due to fog.

Even with the fog, it was pretty cool to look out from this perch.

My sure footed cousin walking along the wall.

We decided to hike out to the Lost Horse Mine. The plan was to hike the 2.2 miles to the mine and back. We didn't know at the time that we took the wrong trailhead...

...so we ended up hiking the 6.2 mile loop. Almost everyone we met was hiking the loop in the opposite direction that we chose. Further down the trail, we would find out why.

The Joshua Trees were the highlights of the first couple of miles.

The trail led us down into a long stretch of low desert brush...

...then we gradually started hiking uphill on switchbacks. George leading the way...

...then Marcy and Patty. Guess who was trailing the group.

We came across this unexplained chimney which was surround by old miner relics. 

The views started getting better as we climbed higher.
George took this picture of me looking across the valley pictured above.

Then we hiked down only to hike straight up about 1000 feet. This must have been why everyone else was hiking this loop trail clockwise. There are no pictures because I couldn't breathe during the climb upward.

Once we reached the top of the ridge, we could see the Lost Horse Mine. But first we hiked down into the valley, then up to the mine. Even though I am exhausted at this point, I love hiking trails like this even if it kills me.

George resting at the base of the mine.

I hiked above the fenced off mine shaft...

...to an incredible view of the area we just hiked through.

There were remnants of the mine all over the mountain side.

My brother took these pictures through the fence with his phone. 

As a history geek, I love seeing things like this. 

As you can see it was a beautiful day for a hike.

AAAHHH, a level section of the trail. When we got back, we ended up on the opposite side of the parking lot. This is where we should have started our hike. Oh well, it was an incredible hike that all of us enjoyed.

Our next stop was Cap Rock. The sun was low in the sky and the collection of rock formations here were amazing. We just walked around for about an hour enjoying the views.

Patty checking on me.

George goofing around.

This might be my favorite picture of the day because the lighting was perfect and it has a Joshua Tree leaning on rocks.

G & M at Cap Rock.

We drove south through the park. I believe this stop is Jumbo Rocks...

...appropriately named. If you look closely there is a person about one third of the way up the rock in the background.

After leaving the car, we all took off in different directions. I saw Patty up here so I walked over to join her...

...after climbing up. We sat down to relax and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounded us.
Georgie took this picture of us with the sun behind us. I love this picture. It is like the heavens are opening up and lighting up the rocks for us. These moments in the middle of nowhere are why I spend so much time in our National Parks. Thanks for snapping this picture George because I had breathtaking views of the sunlight on the rocks I was looking at...but I did not have this view. 

George hiking on the rocks.

This park is like being on another planet at times. I thought I read somewhere that they filmed Lost in Space out here. Not sure if that is true, but it seems possible to me.

The strange just keeps becoming reality here. Now there are no rock formations to be seen but suddenly there are cacti that aren't seen anywhere else in the park. 

The Cholla Cactus Garden is our next stop on the road to the south entrance, The park has two desert ecosystems that meet here, the Mojave and the Colorado. Below 3000ft is the Colorado desert which is part on the Sonoran desert and this is where we are now.

The setting sun is painting colors on the mountains to the east.

Once again, a sign not commonly seen.

We were all hungry and decided to drive to Palm Springs for dinner. We stopped at the Cottonwood Visitor Center to use the flush toilets. The sky was beginning to get some color. But I was hungry too. So off we drove.

But I couldn't take it. The sky was exploding with color. I finally stopped to take some pictures.
This was one of the most incredible sunsets I have ever seen. 

 A perfect way to end our day in Joshua Tree National Park. If you've read this blog to here, I hope you are inspired to visit this magical place. If not, I hope you find the time to enjoy the outdoors wherever and whenever you can. Bring along some friends or family too. The pictures are nice but the memories are even better. Thanks Patty, George & Marcy.

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