Saturday, January 20, 2018

Barker Dam Nature Trail Loop, Joshua Tree National Park

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
1/5/2018 1.1 miles


Map: National Geographic Joshua Tree Map
Guide book: Hiking Joshua Tree National Park, a Falcon Guide
Directions: Hike #32 in guide book, Barker Dam Nature Trail Loop

This is one hike I still really wanted to do. It's an area where you might see Bighorn sheep, and there are also petroglyphs there. Other areas in the park have petroglyphs, but I don't believe they advertise them. This hike is very popular and crowded. It's hard to imagine sheep coming here, because of all of the people. We arrived at the dam, which was a pretty big pond. Just like at the Whitewater Preserve, there was some fall foliage here. Its so strange to see this much water in the desert. There were even ducks in the pond. It would have been nice to take a long break there, but there were just way too many people to make it relaxing. We continued on. I hadn't brought the guide book with me, and had no idea where the petroglyphs were. I kept my eyes peeled for sheep (we saw none) and the petroglyphs (there ended up being a sign for them, so no need to worry). We stopped and visited the petroglyphs, which were fabulous. This was an easy hike.





High View Nature Trail and North Entrance Visitor Center, Joshua Tree National Park

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
1/5/2018 1.5 miles + .5 miles


Map: National Geographic Joshua Tree Map
Guide book: Hiking Joshua Tree National Park, a Falcon Guide
Directions: Hike #38 in guide book, High View Nature Trail

Today, Glen woke up sick. So now we are both sick. My stomach felt a little better though, and he felt some nausea. We decided to try another take it easy day. This was our last day for hiking. We considered taking the tram up San Jacinto, but the tram goes to 8,000' I think, and with both of us not feeling great, I decided it might not be a good idea. We went to Crossroads Café for breakfast again. Then we went to the same area we were hiking in yesterday, because we figured we could do the short nature trail that starts from that parking area. We did a slow hike, taking it easy still.

After our short hike, we headed to the West Entrance Visitor Center. We figured we could spend some time there learning about the park. When we arrived, there was a roadrunner right outside the visitor center. This made our day! We took photos. The visitor center had a small garden area with plants identified, which was helpful for us to put names to some of the plants we've been seeing for the last few days. We then went on a .5 mile nature walk on the grounds of the visitor center. It passes by an oasis - which, well, used to be a real oasis, but now is artificially created (i.e. water is put there). The oasis attracted a bunch of wildlife though, which made it interesting. We saw more bunnies, and many, many quail. The walk itself was less interesting. We returned to the visitor center and went inside to read about the animals (my interest), the rocks (Glen's interest), and plants. It was definitely a worthwhile stop.

Next up....Barker Dam.













South Peak, just outside Joshua Tree National Park

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
1/4/2018 miles


Map: National Geographic Joshua Tree Map
Guide book: Hiking Joshua Tree National Park, a Falcon Guide (book didn't cover this hike)
Directions: Take the trail that heads uphill, across the parking lot from the nature trail.

After doing the West Side Loop, we decided to do this hike which is in the same parking lot. We had seen some other people doing this hike when we were parked in the same area to hike up Eureka Peak. This hike is not marked, but its very straightforward, and is shown on the National Geographic map. It's actually outside the park boundary. The hike climbs to South Peak, which as views of Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree. There is a trail register on the summit. We read some entries - it looks like its a popular place to go for sunsets. Its a really short hike, so yes, it would be easy to hike down after sunset. There were benches in a couple of spots, so we sat down, took out our map and worked on identifying things that we saw in the distance. We extended the loop a little by going on a side trail that we saw.

We returned to our car and sat down to rest. I felt worse, took Pepto, and sat in the car waiting for it to pass. After some time, it didn't, so I gave up and returned to spend the rest of the day at the hotel in bed watching movies.


Looking down at the parking area. We never had an issue finding parking here.





West Side Loop, Joshua Tree National Park

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
1/4/2018 miles


Map: National Geographic Joshua Tree Map
Guide book: Hiking Joshua Tree National Park, a Falcon Guide (book didn't cover this hike)
Directions: Start out at sign for the Nature Trail, then follow signs for West Side Loop.

I woke up feeling sick. I had a sore throat and felt nauseous. I considered my options. I could spend the day in bed at our hotel room. Or we could try taking an easy hiking day. I decided I wanted to hike. Spending a vacation day in a hotel room just seemed too wrong. Since we were taking it easy, we decided to go out for breakfast, rather than having the hotel breakfast. We headed over to Crossroad Café, which turned out to be my favorite place to eat (vegan and vegetarian friendly).

We saw a coyote on the drive to this hike. We were planning on doing the High View Nature Trail, but then decided to do the longer West Side Loop (both from the same trailhead). Our book didn't have this hike listed, but it did show up on our map. Navigation was pretty straight forward. The hike starts out easy, and then later on has some steep ups and downs. Overall it was a moderate hike. It does have nice views. We went slowly, trying to take it easy because I wasn't feeling well. It was a quiet hike, and had views of both San Gorgonio and San Jacinto. After our hike, we sat in our car and had a lunch break.

Up next.....South Peak Loop.

Sign at the parking lot. This also leads to the West Side Loop.








Sunday, January 14, 2018

Miles 207.8 to 213.8, California, Pacific Crest Trail

Date
Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
1/3/2018 12 miles


Map: Halfmile maps
Guide book: none
Directions: Cottonwood Road parking. PCT northbound to dirt road at mile 213.8 (our previous end point). Turn around and take PCT southbound to dirt road/power lines at mile 207.8. Turn around and head northbound back to car at Cottonwood Road.

Glen was feeling more energetic today. We decided to do another section of the PCT, connecting to the section we did before. How exciting! I did the math - at the end of this hike, we have done 0.4% of the PCT. LOL. This could take a while :) I studied and found out there was a PCT parking lot on Cottonwood Road. The road degraded before the parking area though. It went from a paved road to a dirt road with deep ruts and some bigger rocks in it. We decided to just park on the side of the road and not drive all the way to the parking area. There was another car parked where we parked, so we assumed it was okay to park there.

The trail actually crosses Cottonwood Road, just past where we parked our car. We turned right on the trail and headed towards Mesa Wind Farm, which we had seen from the distance last time. Glen was fascinated by the wind farm. We noticed different types of wind turbines. We saw some where the tops look like they had broken off! Some had solid bases, some did not. Some had 3 blades, some had 2. I think Glen would have loved a tour of the wind farm. The hiking was easy, even though we were heading up hill. We were hiking at a decent speed. I guess because it wasn't a sandy wash! There were more wind turbines in motion today than we saw last time, and their sound is somewhat eerie. We have read the wind farm office is very hiker friendly. We saw a sign saying they had water and snacks for hikers at their office. We continued to our turnaround point at the other end of the wind far. We returned back to our car and sat down for a lunch break. Having our car in the middle of the hike has its advantages - it meant we could carry less water. Yeah!

After lunch, we headed towards San Jacinto Mountain. This portion of the hike is less scenic, except for the view of the mountain. We passed under Route 10 - a place that we know sometimes has water / trail magic during thru hiker season. After that, the hike was on soft sand. It became slow. We hiked to a power line. I had wanted to hike further, to reach a real road, which would have been a good end point, in case we come back and do some more hiking here. Glen was ready to turn around though. I still had tons of energy. We did turn around, and it was for the best. It was a gradual uphill to return to our car, and I did get pretty tired by the time we were done. I was ready to get off my feet and eat!

Seeing San Jacinto up close was exciting. I wanted to go hike it. San Jacinto is tall at 10,800'. We didn't see any snow on it, but we've read it is supposed to be snow covered in winter. I spent the evening doing research to see what it had in terms of parking. I found out there is actually a tram that goes partway up it, though the top of the tram isn't on the PCT. I really, really wished I had a map of the area - trying to research on my phone was challenging. It really looks like camping would be necessary to do the mountain, and we had no camping gear, plus its winter. I'm sure its very cold at the top of the mountain. I've read that in the summer it can be 100 degrees in Palm Springs, and 40 degrees on the top of San Jacinto.

Glen says he really enjoys desert hiking in the winter. He likes the warmth and the lack of rain. He already is thinking about another desert hike for next winter. I'm going to have to start researching to see if its possible to do more day hikes on the PCT down here.


Photo of where we parked on Cottonwood Road, before the road started getting rough.

PCT crossing of Cottonwood Road


The parking area is large & in really good shape - just the road approach to it isn't great.






Under Route 10

After crossing Route 10, heading towards San Jacinto

I want to hike that!



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