Sunday, May 1, 2016

Off the Grid: Joshua Tree National Park

Ever since we stepped foot in Yosemite, we've had a slight obsession with National Parks. We simply wanted to visit more to marvel at God's creation of natural beauty. Asha had seen a few Instagram posts of Joshua Tree which piqued an interest in going. When discovering it was only a 2 hour drive from San Diego, it was a go. We packed up our rental car and headed to the place where two deserts (the Mojave and the Colorado) meet.

The drive to the desert alone was a different experience. We spotted windmills, snow-topped mountains and drove through dry desert valleys surrounding us left and right. It wasn't anything close to driving I-485, that's for sure.

As we neared the entrance of the park, we couldn't help but notice huge rocks. They were everywhere! It was like the home of The Thing, from Fantastic Four. Little did we know, those rocks were just the beginning. They would only get larger from there.

Joshua Tree was the very opposite of Yosemite but it was beautiful in it's own way. Neither of us had ever experienced being in the desert before and we could definitely tell with the feeling of dirt on our skin and the constant need for water. Before we started our first hike, we found a convenient rock formation and ate a picnic lunch of sandwiches and chips.

With bellies full, we continued our 1-mile loop hike through Hidden Valley climbing massive boulders and marveling at what used to be a cattle rustlers' hideout. It felt like an adult jungle gym, free to climb wherever you please. Leave it to nature to make you feel so small.

Can you spot the rock climbers?

We call this one "Pride Rock"
We learned that those stacked boulders that looked like Thing from Fantastic Four began underground many years ago as a result of volcanic activity. Magma rose from deep within the Earth. As it rose, it intruded the overlying rock. As the granite cooled and crystalized underground, cracks formed horizontally and vertically. The granite continued to uplift, where it came in contact with ground water. Chemical weathering caused by groundwater worked on the angular granite blocks widening cracks and rounding edges. Eventually the surface soil eroded, leaving heaps of monzogranite scattered across the land like careless piles of toy blocks which is what we see today. Hope you took notes, there will be a quiz at the end of the blog.

Can you spot Jeremy?

Next, we drove to an elevation of 5,185 feet overlooking a stunning view of valley, mountains and desert. With that view, we were able to see the San Andreas Fault Line, the shining surface of the Salton Sea, Palm Springs and Coachella Valley. Stunning. Stunning, we tell ya!

On the drive to and from the Keys View overlook, Joshua Trees were everywhere. Their branches twisted in mysterious ways making it feel like we were in some type of Tim Burton film of fantasy.

We weren't quite ready to leave so we did one more one-mile hike at Barker Dam. There were a few small climbs before we reached the Barker Reservoir which is built upon a natural water tank. Whenever it rains, a picturesque lake forms in the middle of the desert rocks. For us, the water was pretty low but it was still a beautiful area to view.

You can see the water levels on the large boulder.

Sad to leave, we headed back to San Diego. We showered off the dirt and fancied up for a Mexican dinner in Old Town. ¡Estaba delicioso! We discussed going back to visit Joshua Tree and camping overnight. The night views looked amazing with clear skies and stars abound. Next time, Joshua Tree. Next time.

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