Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Forty-nine Palms

Leon and I are on our annual autumn trip to Palm Springs. We are having beautiful weather, and decided to venture up to Joshua Tree National Park yesterday. This year, we wanted to see a part of the park that we had not previously visited. The guide book listed a hike to an oasis called 49 Palms. It sounded intriguing, so off we went.

View along the ridge line

The trail runs up to a ridge line, then down into a valley where the palms are found. The book mentioned abundant barrel cactus at the ridge, and they were quite impressive. What I really liked about the barrel cactus here is how vivid red the spines are. We saw some orange and yellow examples, too, but the red really dominated.

Barrel cactus with rock

Red spines!

The oasis at 49 Palms is particularly lush, probably because there is surface water here year round. The pools of water and tiny stream that trickled just enough to be barely audible lent a serenity to the late morning- something I always love about the desert.

A pool at the oasis

The guide book mentions a second grove of palms upstream from the first, and cautions that the hike involves some rock scrambling. The hike actually involves quite a bit of rock scrambling, and progress was quite slow in places. There were very few insects about, and not many blooming plants. There were a few chuparosa in bloom and some pretty yellow sedums.



We kept encountering pine cones in the watercourse, and saw one large pine log that had washed downstream during a flash flood. We never did encounter the second grove of palm trees, but eventually got high enough up that we started seeing scattered, scrubby pines. The huge log must have washed down from considerably higher up- none of the trees that we were seeing were anywhere near that big.

Large pine log

Pine tree

Even though we did not get up to the second grove of palms, we enjoyed the scenery, the botany, and the company. I'm not sure that we will hike upstream from the palm grove again, however I hope to visit 49 Palms again.

Cool cactus tree about 6 feet tall

Leon at the point where we turned back

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At 01:10, Blogger wcs said...

I love the desert. You photos make me want to go. I haven't been to Joshua Tree in a lot of years!

At 00:44, Blogger Ur-spo said...

were there 49 as promised?

At 11:43, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great photos! It has been years since I was in the desert- really enjoyed visiting vicariously :)

At 11:11, Blogger Jim said...

Really beautiful images. I love the desert. Well, maybe that's one of the resons that I live in a desert myself, lol. Most people always underestimate the real beauty of deserts. George and I will be back to Palm Springs again ourselves in February. Can't wait.

At 20:05, Blogger Will said...

Deserts are highly underappreciated, full of austere beauty.


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