Trek Date: May 28, 2016
The name of the horse that gave Lost Horse Valley its name is one of the many missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzle known as Joshua Tree National Park. Back in 1890, Johnny Lang and his father drove a herd of cattle into this area and set up camp. The next morning, they woke to find their horses gone. Johnny tracked them to the McHaney brothers camp (local cattle rustlers), and was promptly told "yer horses ain't here, ya better git lost." Johnny heeded their advice and returned to his camp. It's more than likely the McHaney brothers had stolen their horses during the night. At some point, the valley became known as Lost Horse Valley.
It seems like there are a lot of big things in JTree, and Lost Horse Valley is no exception.
This topo map shows most of Lost Horse Valley. If you've ever driven the stretch of Park Blvd. from Hidden Valley Campground to the trailhead for Ryan Mountain, or taken Keys View Road, you've traveled through Lost Horse Valley. You probably noticed there are a lot of Joshua Trees in this section of the park, it's quite a dense forest that includes some very large trees.
One of my favorite things to do in JTree is park T-Red, gear up and head out into less-traveled areas of the park to see what I can find. This day still had a few hours of daylight, so Murbachi and I parked in the Hidden Valley Nature Trail parking area and headed south, into Lost Horse Valley. Here are a few of the things I saw.
Dead Joshua Trees provide nourishment to the soil for other forms of plant life, and hiding places for small animals. Don't gather this wood for campfires, as that's a park no-no.
Tell me you don't see an ancient dinosaur head in this rock.
"Goldfish" rock. This area of LHV is very interesting, in that there are many clumps of boulders scattered throughout the area, and they almost all have photogenic specimens waiting to be captured.
There are some very large Joshua Trees in this region, some nearing the size of those found in Upper Covington Flat.
One day I'll hike this road out into the valley and see what I can find.
Odds are good that if you look into enough rock shelters, or rock overhangs, or narrow crevices, or under huge boulders, that you'll find some sign of Native American habitation. Like these petroglyphs.
A nice piece of Desert Gold. This was the only such artifact I spotted during this hike.
A blooming Beavertail Cactus.
For some reason, these rocks bring to mind the three hitch hiking ghosts at Disney's Haunted Mansion ride.
The famous "Zombie Woof."
One of the coolest finds of the day, the "Hole in the Rock" rock. I'll need to revisit this one for some more photos, because unfortunately a group of ground sloths were sheltering on the other side and to the right of this view, preventing me from getting unobstructed photos. But that's ok, as it gives me a reason to return to this great spot.
Name that rock.
Here's a less obstructed view. Turtle Rock, near the parking area at the Hidden Valley picnic spot.
This was a quick hike through a small portion of LHV, but even a quick hike can be very rewarding. My thanks to Robert Miramontes for some tips on what to look for. Sometimes the best places to visit are those places where you don't see any people. If you get a chance, wander out into the Lost Horse Valley and see what you can find.
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