Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree national park rocks: quite literally. To kickoff my productivity week dedicated to wrapping up school, I drove mid-morning out towards Desert Springs to the land of Joshua Trees. Entering the west entrance of the park, I found a wily friend cross the street. In a hurry, I managed to (safely) pull over, whip out the camera, and catch him before he strapped on the rocket-powered roller-skates:

These are Joshua Trees, long furry trunks with short branches and palm-like frills at the tips. Although they were scattered about the desert plains throughout the park, they tended to multiply down in the mountain basins. While still near the entrance, most of the rocky formations were piled high with fine grain:

Not sure what lie ahead in the park, I had to take a chance that this might be as pretty as the desert may get:

Luckily, it did get better. Here is a good sampling of Joshua Tree folk, including one budding young lass in the foreground:

More Joshua Trees:

Finally, I found the real fun of the park. In valley between the mountains were giant rock piles now of the huge, boulder-grain variety. The thin rock slices wedged between the dominant blocks looked like good footholds from a distance:

With a side view, some plants were already trying to scale the face. The top leaned out a little too far for a closer look:

Over the shoulder is a good summary of the three types of terrain at the park. Boulders, Joshua trees, and sage-brush covering the desert mountains. All desert, but different flavors:

Joshua trees tried their best to fill in the gaps:

From now on, pictures will look much brighter. Determined to get more out of my camera, I played with the metering and pre-processing engine enough to make for more natural lighting. Perhaps a metaphor for days to come? I like to think so:

It didn't take long for the rocks to begin to take cloud shapes. The mound on the right looked like a set of gloves resting on a log, and the big rock leaning off the top on the left was the turtle head of a rock man in waiting. Hey, it was something to do:

There was a clear separatation between tree-land and boulder space:

With this boulder collection, I suddenly envisioned a Flintstone hotel. Look hard for dinosaurs: I did:

Instead, I found people. Near each rock island among the trees were campsites and picnic grounds. People would camp and strap themselves to the teeth before getting vertical:

Still-life rocks; well, at least they are still:

A single rock pile would have several campsites surrounding the base:

Another campsite, with birds:

There is no room for mistakes, or potty breaks:

This guy (in yellow) earned his view on top. The boulders closest on the left look like a Muppet head. Quite Bert-like to be specific:

This is my museum diorama, with the dominant rock formation a face facing left, puckered lips that blow a long stream of clouds:

A long way down:

It's difficult to convey though the scale of these giant boulders. Two people stand at the top of this boulder...

...which is the second peak on the left. Awesome:

I'd jump too if my girlfriend did that:

I noticed this guy waving to me from a crevice in the hill. With each picture, I could hear his boring friend mumble "stop, gosh":

No climbing today; not when I just got my camera working for real:

A few miles from the climbing rocks was the beginning of the Lost Horse Mine trail. Supposedly, at the end of this three-mile hike was an abandoned gold mine. Getting there was no walk in the park, however:

Few trees were able to infringe on the sage brush. This something had yellow seed-pods:

A long-way up...

...leads to a great view down:

A small pile of rocks try to unionize like their boulder brethren:

Towards the mine were several rusted metal bands, cans, and scraps strewn about. Although the men would've been fined otherwise for littering, they couldn't be prosecuted because they were miners:

Across from the mine entrance was a fort-like structure, probably used to defend the claim from black-clad baddies on black horses with henchmen that couldn't hit a barn:

A really old can:

The mine entrance had several fixtures on top that would've been connected to engineers via belts and chains:

The bird knew no history of the mine:

Wood planks were wedged into many of the mine mechanisms to ensure safety. I think rust now works just as well:

Old machinery:

Front side of the mine:

Those pistons were actually connected to the former machinery such that when the belts turned, the pistons would smash the mined ore into circles and stars. Around the holidays, the miners would use Christmas tree cut-outs to make holiday metal:

Oh chute:

Robots. No. These were heads to a giant engine that would've powered the machinery:

Hiking out the mine, I passed a few hikers, but otherwise the utter silence was only interrupted by my own footsteps. While shooting the mine parts, another hiker said that the top of the hill had an amazing view of the basin and Salton Sea. Although I appreciated the tip, I was obligated to see what I could see when he shouted from the summit that it was indeed worth the climb. Along with lots of water, I packed my camera stand:

Expansive:

I could see hundreds of miles in every direction:

Back down to the mine, I noticed that some of the fence was pulled up on the back side. Look left. Look right...

The chute and the pistons:

The mine and the engine on the left:

Before those desert pigeons could tell on me, I hopped back out and headed back to the truck. All that was left was this:

Actually, there was much more hike to be had. The Joshua Trees were typically sowed several yard apart, but this tike didn't fall far from the nest:

I then drove through the park away from the mountains and the boulders, into the vast desert plains filled with only Joshua Trees. The ground was perfectly flat, and the entire horizon was filled completely with trees. Still using my cloud vision, I saw a leaping figure in the clouds, and a dancer Arabesque in the closest Joshua Tree:

Driving on a dirt road to the Queen's mine, a small ridge over the plain:

Lately I've been thinking of combustication as a welcomed vacation from the burdens of the planet earth:

The tallest tree, with a cloud trying to be a tree too:

There were several ruins throughout the park. This was a three room abode with optional sunroof:

The entrance was only a few feet tall though. I guess desert folk don't grow well without water either:

Down the road again, I stopped at the Jumbo Rock campsite to watch the sunset. Those spots at the top of the rocks are campers already settled to watch the evening lights:

As the sun rested, the rocks started to glow in shades of orange:

Originally, I saw a grimacing old man to the right with his doghead boulder to the left. Then I realized there was in fact a dog and two people just on the old man's right shoulder:

Here I saw...rocks:

Unfortunately, it took me a while to find a good rock to climb as most were already taken with teenagers making out. Luckily, there were plenty of places to look:

The short one won:

Surprisingly course, I sat with 30 feet to fall, waiting for the sun to fall:

With every reason to smile, of course:

I rock:

The sunset:

As the desert shivered with the chill wind that followed, the eastern sky had a few clouds that blushed with the breeze:

I climbed in my truck and headed for the colors until darkness washed them out. Instead, I had a three hour drive back home. The desert was pretty cool after all:

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