Playing Hooky at Little Hunk

If you're wondering what or where Little Hunk is in Joshua Tree National Park, and why I would want to play hooky there, read on. Little Hunk is a popular rock formation in the Echo Rock area of JTree, with at least ten main climbing spots and over 175 different routes to complete the climbs. It's accessible from a number of different spots: the Barker Dam parking area, the Echo Rock parking area, and even from several turnouts along Keys Ranch Road. The later two routes are the shortest, both traipsing in at less than 1/2-mile, one way.

So why visit the Little Hunk if you're not a rock climber? Well, there's always something interesting to see while hiking cross-desert in JTree. And there are some neat spots around the rock as well. Here's what I found.

Approaching Little Hunk from a turnout along Keys Ranch Road, it's relatively flat hiking, with a few rock outcroppings along the way. A fairly wide wash with lots of vegetation is also crossed on the way to Little Hunk.

The remnants of a barbed wire fence. I believe a fence may have once encircled a good portion of the area, as I've seen similar remains on the south end of the this area. I like the use of whatever was available for fenceposts. Maybe left over from the days when cattle roamed the land?

A view of the northwest end of Little Hunk.

Getting closer. From just about this vantage point, off camera to the right, is a very interesting rock. I had seen pictures of it, but prior to this visit, hadn't seen it in person.

Here's a look, dead center.

Feeling a bit three-dimensional.

A very cool cave rock, but couldn't really be used as a shelter, as there's a hole in the top of it.

A view from the top.

Desert Gold. There is a flat area to the south of this rock that I have a hunch may have been used as a camping spot or early homestead. 

Tucked up against a rock wall, a bit away from the suspected homesite, is what might be the ruins of an outhouse.

Time to head back to Little Hunk to see what I can find. A number of nice pine trees in this area, and lots of green.

Always on the lookout for any signs of Native Americans, this spot looks promising, so I climbed up to see if there was anything of interest in those boulders.

A neat little "Hole in the Rock."

And a great view of the area. But no signs of Indian life. At this spot.

Little Hunk is pretty big.

Thick vegetation grows pretty much all around Little Hunk, making it a bit difficult to get up close and personal.

Another Split Rock for my virtual collection.

I spotted this very faint pictograph in the area, below is my attempt to enhance the image in photoshop to make it a bit more discernible. 

A headless man with chicken feet?

A large Silver Cholla. Ouch.

And with this view in front of me, the circumnavigation of Little Hunk came to an end. I'm sure hardier souls that I could traverse that canyon, but those days are long past for me. It was time to head back to T Red and mosey on over to the next adventure. But this simple hour-long walk in the park certainly entertained and was definitely worth the time. Oh yes, "Playing Hooky" is one of the routes used to reach the top of the NE face of Little Hunk, via Shady Grove Wall.

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