Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring Trip 08, 1st entry

I am back from 3 weeks in the desert (Joshua Tree N.P., Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley N.P. with a side trip to Bishop thrown in for good measure). The few times I had internet service during the trip, I had technical troubles and couldn't upload my entries. Sooooooooo, now that I'm back home, it appears that I'll be able to re-cap for all who might be interested. I'm going to break the entries up into semi-logical bites so it isn't just one HUGE and tedious thing to read. It's good to be home. Now I have over 1000 new images to edit!

So, the big event has finally arrived. I left Boston on Thursday February 28th and was checked in to the Motel6 before midnight, Vegas time. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow and I didn’t wake up until after 7AM.

It was OK, though because I had shopping to do. There is a very nice Whole Foods in Henderson, NV and right across the street is the REI. I laid in supplies that would keep without cold, such as Annie’s mac and cheese and pasta with tomato sauce. And I also bought a BIG bag of coffee so that the ritual continues! Bottles of gas and a few other items and I was on the road west.

I drove through the Mojave National Preserve but didn’t see much in the way of wildflowers. I checked out the Kelso Dunes, and also the restored Kelso Depot, a very cool old time railroad station complete with a lunch counter. Unfortunately, the counter is not yet open, though the NPS is looking.

I decided to go to Joshua Tree instead. There were reports of lots of wildflowers throughout the park. They were right! My first exposure came on the drive from Mojave through the town (?) of Amboy on Rt.66. All along the way were fields of what appeared to be Desert Sunflowers and when I got out to take some photos I was amazed at the fragrance. The valley was just alive with the perfume of the flowers.

Anyway, I pulled into the Park after dark and found myself a campsite. I pitched the tent, got out the sleeping bag and made myself a nest. I was asleep in no time, again. Still on that east coast time, I guess. I slept pretty well and was up around 4Am and since I’d been in my bag for 8 hours already I got up and drove to the Ocotillo Patch and waited for sunrise. The dawn was pretty nice and I think I got some nice images.

Ocotillo Patch at Sunrise

Once the light was up a took more images around the patch before moving back north to the Cholla (pronounced Choya) Garden. I took more images there and ran into a guy from Gloucester. Imagine that! Anyway, the sun was up, it was getting warm and I NEEDED some coffee.

The Ritual, JTree Style!

After some oatmeal and some perked coffee I was back out and on my way to the south gate and Cottonwood Springs. I checked in at the ranger’s station and headed on up to Lost Palm Canyon. It’s about 4 miles in from the parking area and it is an oasis complete with a grove of California Fan Palms. I lounged around in the shade, took my shoes off and let the cool breeze dry my back.

Lost Palm Canyon

After about 45 minutes of this, I headed back down to my car. The light was improving as it was late afternoon and that nice low angle sunshine was making the shadows long. I stopped at a few places on my way back to camp and took more images of flowers. The Sand Verbina was blooming in a number of places and I had to stop.

Anyway, I arrived back at camp just as it was getting dark. I fired up the stove and made some dinner. It wasn’t too long after eating and cleaning up before I was ready to sleep again. I was out like a light only to be awakened by my tent shaking in the wind. It just came in gusts and shook the whole thing, even blowing up through the floor! I still slept OK, but I got up once to bring the pots into the tent and make sure that the tent fly hadn’t been torn.

That pretty much summed up today (Sunday). The wind was so strong that I couldn’t even set up my tripod or light the stove. I kept moving around trying to find a place to hike or something that wasn’t getting slammed by the wind. I visited a few of the nature walk loops and did the hikes around them. After yesterday, I needed something easy as my legs were a little bit sore.

So, since Sunday was a breeze, I think I may stay one more day and hope that the wind dies down some. It appears that it is letting up a bit as I type this. I’ll keep you posted!

Lizz March 2, 2008 Joshua Tree National Park