Joshua Tree/SoCal Trip – Part IX – Big Morongo Canyon, AKA Birding Paradise

Wednesday, 29 April, 2009 (continued from here):

We woke up and finished packing our stuff, then after a quick breakfast, hit the road, destination Big Morongo Canyon.  This preserve, located in Morongo Valley, was listed in “California Hiking” as an excellent birdwatching destination, and it was right on our way to Palm Springs, so we were eager to see what it was all about.

Entrance sign by you.

A multi-lingual welcome

Joshua Tree/SoCal Trip – Part VIII – Mastodon Peak, Cholla Cactus Garden revisited

Tuesday, 28 April, 2009 (continued from here):

We briefly visited the Cottonwood Visitor’s Center, which unsurprisingly had much the same information as the other two park entrance stations, then drove a few more miles to the Cottonwood Oasis, the trailhead for the Mastodon Loop we were going to hike.  After talking for a few with a couple from Los Angeles, we hit the trail at 12:25.

Cottonwood Oasis by you.

Cottonwood Oasis

Joshua Tree/SoCal Trip – Part VI – Split Rock, Hidden Valley

Monday, 27 April 2009 (Continued from here):

We were a bit peckish after our pretty drive on Geology Tour Road, and Split Rock looked to have a picnic/day-use area, so we headed there.  At road’s end is the namesake rock, true to its name with a big split down its center.  We settled into some yummy sandwiches and chips and beer, then decided to walk the short trail indicated on our map.

Split Rock by you.

Split Rock

Joshua Tree/SoCal Trip – Part IV – Lost Horse Mine

Sunday, 26 April 2009 (continued from here):

After a light breakfast we drove into Joshua Tree National Park and headed to the trailhead for the Lost Horse Mine.  We hit the trail at 8:45 with only one other car in the parking area – sweet!

The trail angled through some Joshua Tree woodland before becoming more chaparral’y.  A pair of hikers, presumably from the other car in the lot, passed us the other way, and as far as we could tell we had the trail to ourselves.

Trail by you.

Lost Horse Mine Trail

Joshua Tree/Socal Trip – Part III – Oasis of Mara, Noah Purifoy, Key’s View, Cap Rock

Saturday, 25 April 2009 (continued from here):

After our hike to Twentynine Palms Oasis, we drove to the town of the same name to check out the main Joshua Tree National Park visitor’s center, and the adjacent Oasis of Mara.

Oasis of Mara by you.

Oasis of Mara

The visitor’s center was surprisingly devoid of interpretive displays, and after picking up a book on cacti & a book on desert wildflowers, we walked around the paved trail to the Oasis of Mara.

Joshua Tree/SoCal Trip – Part II – Twentynine Palms Oasis

Saturday, 25 April 2009 (continued from here)

We drove ~20 minutes from our house to Twentynine Palms, then up a road for a few miles until it ended at the trailhead for the Twentynine Palms Oasis trail.  We hit the trail at 8:05, just behind a large’ish group of hikers, so we started slow to let them get well ahead of us.  I was slightly annoyed that I had failed to check that I had this region loaded into my GPS, so although it provided hike stats, I had no map to look at, oops!

Trailhead by you.

Hikers on the Twentynine Palms Oasis Trail

Joshua Tree/SoCal Trip – Part I – Getting there, settling in

Friday, April 24 2009:

We left home early, encountering no traffic at all getting out of the bay area, and drove the long’ish slog down I-5 to Bakersfield.  Fortunately the drive to this part of California is “only” a couple hundred miles on mind-numbing I-5, rather than the full many-hours-long epic to get to LA, and after a quick lunch at Foster’s Freeze in Bakersfield, the drive was interesting enough as we drove through Tehachapi, and through the desert on Hwy 58 past Mojave and through Boron.  We stopped to browse a funky antique shop at Kramer Junction, then continued to Barstow and from there headed south on 2-lane Hwy 247.

Hwy 247 went through some pretty high desert, and some very depressed-looking communities, especially Lucerne Valley, and ended at Twentynine Palms Hwy AKA Hwy 62, in Yucca Valley, a charmless and endless strip mall.   We noted a couple of grocery stores for future reference, and continued east to the town of Joshua Tree, which was considerably more enticing than Yucca Valley (a good thing, as we were staying there!).  A few miles up the road to Joshua Tree National Park brought us to our rental house, a short 500 miles and 9 hours drive from home.

Beavertail Cactus by you.

Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris)