The Henhouse - Joshua Tree National Park

Trek Date: March 29, 2018

Yes, there is a Henhouse in JTree. And i'm not referring to the one at Keys Ranch, made from that old car. The one Murbachi (intrepid 3-D photojournalist/explorer and discoverer of Surprise Tank) and I were heading to would dwarf the henhouse at Keys Ranch by multiples of enormous magnitude. Can you see it? That pile of dark giant boulders? (hint: arrow) A little over one mile out, over what appears to be fairly easy hiking. But nothing is fairly easy in the desert. What might look like level terrain on Google Earth, can often contain gullies, washes, cracks reaching deep into the earth and other hidden obstacles too numerous to mention. If you're reading this adventure report, you probably know what I'm talking about. 

GreyTac was parked at the east end of the Live Oak picnic area, and from thence we headed southeast-ish. Total redline was just under four miles on this trip. I was excited, looking forward to the hike, as we'd be passing through area I had not yet trodden. Maybe we'd see a desert chicken. Gearing up all the possibles, we set out to see what we could find.

The darker-looking boulders make up the north face of the Henhouse, in this GE view. They are BIG rocks. Stay tuned and we'll get some more personal looks as we get closer.

Henhouse - Joshua Tree NP 02.jpg

Our route to the Henhouse was plotted as direct as possible. So the first minor excitement would be crossing the wash that leads to Ivanpah Tank. There's the dam, on the left end of this photo. Some day I'll visit this spot when it's full of water.

Just before descending into Ivanpah wash, this view of the Henhouse squawked "take my picture" (objects in image are farther than they appear, due to magic).

Very often, a specific rock formation along a route will demand my attention, as happened here. This formation is part of the Live Oak picnic area group and that large, flat face near the center of this image has been dubbed, "The Whispering Wall" by the rock-climbing community. It's pretty dang impressive in person. To get to the top, Whispering Wind and Jeepers Leepers are two of the more popular routes. Did you spot the climber?

Still on the north side of Ivanpah Wash, this was the view on a perfect hiking day in the park. Ok, now to find an easy way down without traipsing too far off-course.

Another view, a bit more distant, of The Whispering Wall. The three rocks at the left end of this image remind me of Tiki faces. The nearest one is known as "Inquisition Rock." Under the "Pope's Hat," is a flat faced, slightly reddish-colored behemoth monikered "Perjury Rock."

Crossing canyons, traversing hills. The Henhouse gets closer and suddenly, Fugly Rock makes a bold appearance!

Sadly, Fugly Rock is not an appreciated boulder in the climbing world. Its name is a contraction of what someone must have once first called it. A grainy face with a few difficult moves, "for a climb that pretty much sucks, it still has some strange appeal." But rocks don't care what people think of them.

And while I'm shooting under Joshua Tree branches, here's the Henhouse, getting closer. Those sloping rises are pretty cool and will play a part in what's to come.

A little closer to the Henhouse, this is a couple looks back at Fugly Rock, upper with the Nikon, lower with the GoPro. And then I got distracted.

I veered east towards an interesting little pile of three rocks I saw in the distance. As I got closer, arch, Arch, ARCH! I'm thinking about naming it "Fugly Arch," since it's not really that pretty. It kinda looks like someone sitting on top of a rock.

Do you see what I saw? Just as I was heading back towards the Henhouse from Fugly Arch, I spotted a pottery shard.

I wonder how many of these I've hiked by over the years. Yes, I left it where I found it and recommenced trekking towards the clucking pile.

Approaching from the east, that lone boulder on the left captured my interest. I don't believe anyone had named it to this point, so I decided to call it Free Range Chicken.

This is an impressive pile of boulders.

Heading west along the north face of The Henhouse.

A bit farther west than the previous image. That flat, sunlit face on Hen Pecked Boulder is the face to climb.

Here's a closeup of Rooster Boulder. Looks like some birds have nested in that crack at some point in the past. To get to the top, a route on the left portion of the rock is called "Buttered Chicken," a 5.10 rated climb. A route on the right side of the face is known as "Ruffled Rooster," and is rated a 5.9. To learn more about how the ratings are broken down, click HERE

So after spending some time admiring the north side of the Henhouse, it was time to pull a u-turn around the eastern tip and check out the backside of the Henhouse. After rounding Free Range Chicken rock, I clicked this shot. Note the slightly upward rise of the big slab, there are several of those in this area and I'd be heading up one soon.

Howdo, Hoodoo!

Here's the GE view of the south side of the Henhouse are. Check out the darker colored path that seems to run from right to left pretty much in the middle of this image. It's almost like someone built a road for explorers to gain access to the area. At the far left, the road ends in a circular, boulder-strewn area atop a significantly elevated knoll. Note the gouge, or canyon nearly in the middle of this image, it's a lot deeper and steeper than it looks and was the only slightly technical area I had to navigate on my way to the top. One false step would have resulted in a call to JOSAR.

From the top of Chicken Run Canyon. The trail petered out right here, leaving enough space between the edge of the drop on my left and and the boulders on my right to squeeze by.

One of the views from atop Henhouse Hill. Some odd-looking rocks (even for JT) up here. This is looking northeast towards White Tank campground.

The view looking westerly. I believe that's the Crown Prince Lookout over on the right.

This was the view looking northerly. You can pick out the Whispering Wall and the Pope's Hat over at Live Oak, and the Diamond Shaped Rock is barely visible over at Spooky Hollow. Jumbo Rocks campground is out there somewhere as well.

Looking somewhat southeasterlyish, Pinto Basin in the distance, jealously guarding its secrets.

That rock leaning toward the left is Hen Pecked Boulder.

After making our way back down to desert-firma, the trek back to the parking area began. This Creature II reared up and nearly devoured Murbachi.

Nearing Live Oak, I couldn't resist taking some more shots of the Whispering Wall. It's always a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the big and well-known formations, as they make great landmarks to help you navigate to and fro in the outlands. In this case, the Pope's Hat is visible for a long ways and makes a great wayfaring beacon.

And thus ended the Henhouse Hike. It reaffirms my thoughts that a couple hours spent in JTree, walking away from the crowds, is always worth the effort. Something interesting always shows up when you get out to see what you can find. And this trip was taken during Spring Break, a notoriously crowded time in the park. Once we left the parking area at Live Oak, we didn't see anyone until we returned. That's a great hike.

If any of my shots yell at you "Download me!" Feel free to do so. No repercussions. #FreeThePixels

Scoot over to Murbachi's page to see the Henhouse in 3D, clicky HERE.