Views from Valhalla

Trek Date: September 3, 2016 of the domes that surrounds the (seasonal) lake at Barker Dam, offering breathtaking views of the Wonderland of Rocks and the lake....A casual walk around the summit rim can bring you close to the remote Wonderland without having to endure the endless boulder hopping that is usually a prerequisite.
— Robert Miramontes, "Joshua Tree National Park: The Inisder's Guide"

I recently had the opportunity to meet Robert Miramontes -- rock-climber, author and photographer -- and he was kind enough to guide me to the top of Valhalla Dome. The approach we took was a bit out of my comfort zone, but the payoff at the top was well worth the adrenaline generated in getting there.

What an amazing spot. The top of the dome is long, flat and about the size of two football fields, but all around on each slope are areas to explore and photograph. Pinyon pines, bonsai cactus gardens, caves, unusual rock formations and amazing views into the Wonderland and beyond. I was totally unprepared for the beauty of the area. From below, a glance up makes you think, "there's nothing but rocks up there, I'm not going to waste my time climbing up that nearly vertical slope." But Valhalla proves a JTree truism: You never know what you're going to find until you get there. I wish I had had more time to wander, but I didn't want to chance scrambling down in the dark. I'll visit again someday, perhaps finding a bit easier (I'm old) route to the top. Here are a few of the photos I took, which I call "Views from Valhalla."

Hint: Left click on any of these images to enlarge them.

An interesting formation near the top of the dome.

There are quite a few lush, green areas up on the dome.

This box canyon was very interesting. At the left edge of this image, not fully visible in the frame, is an area that looks quite a bit like an amphitheater about halfway between the top and the bottom of the box end of the canyon. The large, flat area would make a great stage. Nearly center in this picture, Robert is checking out a cave while I wait on the other side of the canyon. 

A nice view into the heart of the Wonderland of Rocks. There are secrets out there.

Here's a vantage point for the Pink House, aka the Wonderland Ranch, aka the Ohlson House, that you don't see very often.

And a zoomed-in shot. See the photographer to the left of the ruins? It looks like he's using a light reflector to get some light on whatever he was taking a picture of.

Here's a shot looking down the way we climbed up. To the far right, about center along the border, you can see Barker Dam. The big rock formation in the upper right corner is Big Hunk, with the Rocking Chair visible to its left (the little rock silhouetted against the far mountain range). Piano Valley lies between the dam and Big Hunk. It's hard to believe, but each and every rock in this picture has a name......ok, maybe not every one.

And to finish off this post, a couple panoramas. Thanks for reading and viewing along.

Feel free to download any of my pictures for your own personal use. No muss, no fuss. Right click on one and choose "save image as...."