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Joshua Tree NP, CA
mini location map2017-10-31
22 by photographer avatarAZWanderingBear
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Joshua Tree NP, CA 
Joshua Tree NP, CA
 
Hiking avatar Oct 31 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking33.50 Miles 4,550 AEG
Hiking33.50 Miles
4,550 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Headed out to Joshua Tree for 4 days of camping and hiking. We didn't get a real early start, so we were very lucky to find an available spot in Ryan Campground, our second choice. Not a fan of campgrounds, but they can be a necessary evil. Ryan is centrally located and our little spot backed up to some nice granite. Apparently half our neighbors were there to mostly be loud. Of the other half, we were pleasantly surprised to meet a young couple from Switzerland who are doing a few years exploring North America in their iconic 2002 Land Rover Defender. I love Land Rover's unofficial motto - "making mechanics out of drivers since 1948."

We tackled Ryan Mountain first to get a nice view of the area. Drove part of Geology Road which isn't all that interesting when you don't have the accompanying guide for what's significant at each of the sign posts. The guides are not available at the large metal box at the start of the road marked "Guides", only at the visitor centers miles and miles away. Did have fun exploring Squaw Tank, a small dam with some good rocks to scramble on nearby. Desert Queen Mine, Wall Street Stamp Mill and the Barker Dam provided a look back into the history of the area. Stopped by Skull Rock for a belated Halloween celebration and some more rock scrambling fun.

Ryan Ranch was very close to our campground so we strolled out to explore our second morning. Interesting place. Willow Hole is hike not listed on HAZ. We saw it on a park brochure and thought the name was worth exploring. It is a 7 plus mile round trip through sand to several willow trees in some damp earth. Took the opportunity to drive north and hike to 49 Palms. Yes, we counted them and there were 3 palms too many. MJ corrected the error and they are back to 49. Coyote Corner offers gifts, souvenirs, and 7.5 minute showers for only $4 per token. Highly recommended!

Keys View is a nice drive and a small walk. Gives a great view of the San Andreas Fault below, which of course isn't mentioned on the informational signs at the view point. We took a side dirt road on a whim and found a trailhead for Lost Horse Mine. We opted for the entire loop. The mine had a 10 stamp mill and operated for a long time. Water was pumped the 3.5 miles from Ryan Ranch to support the mine and mill. The southern half of the loop offers nice views and some other mine ruins. White bursage was blooming and when you brush against it or crush some in your hands it smelled like lemons. We explored around the Hidden Valley area and watched some friendly climbers at work for a bit.

The drive out took us past Cottonwood Campground and the Mastadon Peak and Mine Loop. The scramble to the top of Mastadon was short but fun with a chuckwalla lamenting our intrusion into his morning sunning routine.

We stopped off at the General Patton and Desert Training Center Museum at Chiricao Summit. The US Army trained in southern CA and southwestern AZ before embarking to North Africa to confront Hitler and Rommel in the Sahara, our entry into WW-II. The training was vital in learning to cope with desert conditions. The outline of the road network from the many camp towns established as part of the Desert Training Center are still visible when you fly over the area. The museum has an impressive collection of artifacts from the period.
Fauna
Fauna
Chuckwalla
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184 Photosets

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