Joshua Tree National Park

It has been a while since I have developed a fascination with Nature & one of my goal is to visit every single National Park in USA.  I probably have been to 7~8 National Parks in my life & took some Selfies, but I don't feel as if I have really been there.  

So when I & my family went to a vacation to Palm Springs over the weekend & Joshua Tree National Park only an hour away, I just couldn't resist. 

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It was a Hot day.  I entered the Park around 8am & it was already hitting somewhere in mid 90s.  My immediate thought was that it is probably the best to avoid the park during Summer, yet at the same time, a thought or claim to have visited the park in what could be the hottest day was somewhat appealing as well. It is probably a good 45 mins drive from entering the park to some of its main attractions.... & the landscapes around suggest that it is Barren, Deserted, and Lifeless. 

 Cholla Cactus Garden

Cholla Cactus Garden

Cholla Cactus Garden was my 1st stop.  It simply was hard not to stop.  Out of nowhere, this vast Cactus garden appeared & my immediate question was why?   Were they planted by Human?  if not, why are these concentrated in this particular section?  Terrain nor Climate is not any different than past 25 miles that I'd driven. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful sight. 

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I saw countless Cactus that were dried to its death & that is a very common sight one sees in this scorching Hot summer... yet still there were signs of Life everywhere.  This particular Cactus tree was no different.  A part of it was turning black..... or dying, yet a new life was beginning on the other side.  The Will or Mystery of Life was very fascinating. 

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About 10 mins more from the Cactus tree, I started to see some formations of big Boulders. It was my next stop.  On Exhibit, its title read... "Made Contact" & looking at this Alien looking Rock, I assumed it must refer to this Rock or some UFO Sightings.  I was completely wrong.  "Contact" was referred to 2 big Mountains or movement of Mountain range colliding.  

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Around this area, I found these yellow wild flowers all around.  Perhaps, this area received some random precipitation over the weekend. It was so beautiful & I initially wanted to explore more, but thought better of it.  I didn't want to step on these. I just felt lucky to have witness & capture these in photos. 

 Max Backpack - Camera Backpack

Max Backpack - Camera Backpack

It was still early in the morning & the flowers made me feel great.  So I did my meditation.  It was still in the morning & I felt great! 

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I don't recall the name of this particular spot, but I personally found this place lovely.  The Rock formation was very unique & although it took a lot of time & energy to hike to the top of these Giant Boulders, the access to the top was relatively easy.  It had a lot of interesting Giant Rocks. 

And it provided some great views!! 

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 Yes, you can hike really high up & it is not that difficult to hike up there. 

Yes, you can hike really high up & it is not that difficult to hike up there. 

 A View from the top to the other side... where my car is parked. 

A View from the top to the other side... where my car is parked. 

On my way down... I was fascinated by this tree growing side way from the boulder.  It never fails to amaze me whenever I see this type of "Will for Life" case.  How this tree planted its seed on a rock is a mystery itself, but it grew side way instead of upright..... and as you can see, it did flourish its life & perhaps even managed to get some off springs.  

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 I get inspired every time I see a life overcoming an insane obstacle such as this tree. Maybe what we consider as a mighty harsh would be a "Walk in the park" to what this Tree had to overcome. 

I get inspired every time I see a life overcoming an insane obstacle such as this tree. Maybe what we consider as a mighty harsh would be a "Walk in the park" to what this Tree had to overcome. 

It was almost noon when I arrived at Ryan Mountain Hike trail.  I was very lucky in the morning as there were some clouds forming near the Sun & I was never exposed directly under the Sun... but that started to change as the day went on.   I was also running into another major problem.  I was down to my last water when I arrived at this trail.   This trail was something I had been looking forward to... so with one full bottle, I thought I was up for it.  

I am used to hiking & always thought I had a good stamina......  but this one proved to be really tough.  This trail leads to the top of the barren rock mountain & it is pretty steep.  As I was hiking up, I found myself gasping for breath & I was starting to get a bit dizzy.  At first, I thought it was all the Drinking from the previous night wearing off, then realized I was pretty high up in the Altitude.  I pushed on for another 20 minutes and had to take another break.  By this time, I was down to the half bottle of water left & I started debating if I should turn back or continue as I assumed I was at least 3/4 way from the top.  As I was resting & debating, a Gentleman was descending the trail from the top.  His name was Eric or Erich from Germany & told me I was about good 30 mins hike to the top.  I was exhausted, but the water situation started to worry me.  I told myself repeatedly to watch my water consumption, but I found myself taking a small sip in every few minutes.....down to 1/3 of a bottle.   So I've decided to turn back.... I am so glad to have met Eric... Otherwise, I could have been in a big trouble with no one around.  We talked for a several minutes and I had congratulated him for earning the bragging Right to tell others for being able to hike to the top in its Hottest day.  His face was suddenly forming a big smile.  

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When I got to the bottom, I was completely out of water.  I asked one of the construction workers if there was any place or vending machine for water.... and there is no such thing in Joshua Tree National Park.  Luckily, one of the Gentlemen graciously offered me the water from his Giant Cooler.  I drank some & filled up the bottle afterward. 

It was just Hot all day long & not only I was fatigued, but the water situation started to worry me a lot.  If you are planning a trip to Joshua Tree,  MAKE SURE YOU PACK LOTS OF WATER!. 
So I've decided just to skim through & told myself...no more hiking at all as I was at least 90 minutes away from the closest store to buy water.   I knew I wasn't far from the Key's View, so I decided to drive up there and head back. 

 On my way to Key's view, I drove through this section where these tall cactus trees somewhat reminded me of a road I drove through in Southern India.  It was Banana trees in a jungle climate in India, but for some reason... I felt some similarities. 

On my way to Key's view, I drove through this section where these tall cactus trees somewhat reminded me of a road I drove through in Southern India.  It was Banana trees in a jungle climate in India, but for some reason... I felt some similarities. 

I finally arrived to Key's view & its views were beautiful although it was somewhat too hazy to my liking.  Here, you have the entire view of Coachella Valley & Palm Deserts, and I told myself to bring a binocular on my next visit on a hopefully clear day.  Again, the water situation started to really worry me & Combining that anxiety with my fatigue.....  I've decided to leave immediately & vowed to come back in early spring sometime soon. 

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Not far from Key's View, there were some interesting Rock Formations & its Terrain appears to be ideal for some hiking & venturing into.  I decided to save this for my next trip. 

 A big Boulder dangerously hanging by thread... it seems. 

A big Boulder dangerously hanging by thread... it seems. 

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To beFrom Key's View, it was good 80~90 minute drive to the nearest town.  I was out of water & when a gas station came to a view, I felt relived.  Got myself a bottle of water & diet coke.  Probably the best diet coke I've ever had.  

I drove back to my friend's home & immediately hit the shower & Pool. Felt like a heaven. 
I am already thinking of a camping trip in early spring 2019...  next time, I will be better prepared & hope to catch its famous night sky.   

To be Continued...