Sunday, April 22, 2012

Desert Road Trip: Joshua Tree/Mojave April 5-8 (Part 2)

White Tank 02
Friday was my day for sightseeing; the plan was to spend the day up in the northern part of the park (where all the Big Rocks are) doing a few short-ish hikes and checking out the popular attractions. The morning was cold and very windy--no incentive to linger over my coffee. I put away anything I thought might blow away, and hit the road at around 6:45. Cholla 03
More... First destination (after a quick stop at the Cholla Garden) was Keys View. Did I say it was windy at the campground? That wasn't windy. Keys View was windy. In the parking lot it was a steady 30-40 mph blast, and up at the viewpoint it was worse--so bad I could barely stand. I snapped a couple of shots and hurried back to the car to warm my numbing fingers. First tourist destination down. Keys View 02
Next up: a hike into Wonderland Wash. Start at Barker Dam trailhead; head toward Wall Street Mill, take a left to the pink ruins, then left again into the wash. Wonderland Wash 03
This is the quick & easy way into Wonderland of Rocks. It's not an official trail but the use path is easy to follow, and it's a big payoff for not an enormous amount of effort. I imagine it gets hot mid-day, but the morning was pleasantly cool. Wonderland Wash 08
Also in Wonderland Wash: lots of Mojave Kingcup cactus, and lots of it in bloom. Mojave Kingcup 02
Back via the Desert Queen Well (and a great old rusted-out truck), and on to more sightseeing. Queen Valley 02
An amble around the Hall of Horrors, and a stop at Skull Rock. Skull Rock 01
And then the 2-mile loop out of Split Rock picnic area. Rocks and more rocks; this one, a little southwest of the picnic area, I call Gorilla Rock. Gorilla Rock
Next, the Arch Rock nature trail. When I got to Arch Rock there was a couple taking pictures; they told me that several other people had walked right past it without even looking. Arch Rock 01
On the way back to Cottonwood, the Ocotillo Patch was in full flower. Ocotillo 03
Smoke Tree Wash, however, was a little past its prime; there was still lots in bloom, but it was starting to dry up.

Back at the campsite, I discovered that my chair had blown over and a couple cookpots had been blown into the road. (A friendly Canadian in the next campsite had been kind enough to collect them.) That was some serious wind.

I did a little more exploring around Cottonwood, enjoyed a bottle of Brother Thelonious, checked out a very interesting ranger talk on the human history of JTNP, and again retired early.