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.
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.
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.
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.
Also in Wonderland Wash: lots of Mojave Kingcup cactus, and lots of it in bloom.
Back via the Desert Queen Well (and a great old rusted-out truck), and on to more sightseeing.
An amble around the Hall of Horrors, and a stop at Skull Rock.
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.
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.
On the way back to Cottonwood, the Ocotillo Patch was in full flower.
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.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Posted by Tom Hilton at 11:38 AM