A mid-day drive along an empty Pinto Basin Road, heat waves shimmering in the distance, the unforgiving desert seeming to grasp at both sides of the two-lane blacktop. It was like driving through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of sand. I was on a journey, a journey into a wondrous land. Then I saw the signpost up ahead and knew my next stop was Porcupine Wash. It was time to see the porcupine. This is what happened:Read More
Joshua Tree National Park
A drive through Joshua Tree National Park might take a couple hours, viewing the park from the road. An exploration of the park would take a lifetime. Joshua Tree National Park has over 550,000 acres of wilderness filled with a variety of plants and animals that make their home in this land shaped by strong winds, unpredictable torrents of rain, and climatic extremes. Every now and then, man intrudes in this wilderness and leaves his brief, passing mark among the surreal geologic features that cover the landscape. Let’s go see what we can find.
The skies were cloudy and rain was falling in some parts of the park, so I wasn't feeling like doing much hiking. I decided to drive from the west entrance to Cottonwood Springs to see what I could find along the way. It was a couple weeks past the peak wildflower bloom, but I thought I might be able to spot some color out in the gloom. And you never know what else you might find just a bit off the road.Read More
The day was perfect, mid-70s with clear skies, the slightest breeze and no one in the area. Once you've been in the desert long enough, you get a feeling of how "visited" an area is. The Golden Bell Mine is a seldom visited place. Hidden behind a low hill, there's no evidence from the road that there's something interesting behind it. Like many of the awesome places in JTree, you gotta get out of the car and do some exploring (and of course, pre-trek research always pays off, and helps keep you from getting lost, breaking a leg, dying of thirst and being eaten my coyotes and turkey vultures, but that's another story).Read More
Ok, raise your hand if you've ever been to the Stirrup Tank area in JT. I see a few of you have. Those of you who didn't raise your hand, shame on you. If you enjoy desert hiking amidst and amongst enormous, oddly disquieting-shaped granite boulders (and who doesn't), then set aside a half day the next time you're in the park to visit the Stirrup Tank area. Odds are you'll have several squares miles to yourself, to explore and enjoy some amazing sights.Read More
Half a mile west of the Cholla Cactus Garden, there are two small hills on the south side of Pinto Basin Road. That fact, in and of itself, is not really a big deal as there are small hills all over J Tree. These two hills deserve mention however, because they serve as a great landmark for the trail/mine road that leads up into the Hexie Mountains and the Golden Bee Mine.Read More