18 October 2009

49 Palms Oasis

Joshua Tree National Park

Locate the trailhead.

For a morning hike, we went out to see an oasis full of actual desert oasis palm trees. I suppose someone counted them at one point, or at least the ones over a certain size, and found 49 to give the name. We started out maybe a little late, I think it was about 10AM already. It was hot! Hot, I tell you! So hot, the plants aren't green.

red cactus in the sun
Some cacti in the sun. I guess these little ones like to have neighbors, or maybe just lots of arms.

red cactus in the sun
The larger barrel cactus is a bit more solitary.

The trail wanders up and down along the side of a short ridge before turning to go over, giving the first glimpse of the oasis, with funny palm trees seeming to climb up the canyon wall.

oasis palms
The first look at the palm trees populating the oasis.

the crew making their way to the spot of water welling from the earth
And here we go following the trail down into the canyon with its spot of water welling up from the earth and supporting these trees.

three barrel cacti in a row
Yet even in sight of the water, the surrounding area is still cactus land.

It's really quite a mass of trees.

a section of trees
One stand of the trees taking advantage of the oasis waters.

the water's exit
On down the canyon that served as a route out for the water. Well, a little water, anyway.

more stands of palm trees
There were little groups of palms in spots away from the main water hole. These often seemed dry but were clearly supporting all kinds of palm trees.

palms with blackened trunks
Even with so little vegetation around to bring the fire to the palms, it still seems to be a problem they must survive.

more palms
Palm trees in among the rocks.

Then over the ridge came someone with more purpose in coming to this place. The animals were were expecting to miss completely for not coming in the early, still dark morning showed up in the form of big horn sheep.

ram coming over the ridge line
The first animal spotted was this ram with a some great horns.

palms just trying to make it to year one
Some little palm trees finding a moist spot and trying to make their way in this place of tall thin trees.

It took some climbing about, but eventually I found the reason for everything to be here. There was very little actual pool compared to the area covered by palms.

one of the larger pools
This would be one of the larger water holes available to the animals.

Two more sheep came after the first.

an ewe
This ewe is one of the other two sheep spotted up in the rocks on the steep side of the canyon, being the side away from the people.

ewe on rocks
There she is, up on the rocks.

not a palm
There weren't many, but there were some few trees that were not palm trees.

more watering hole
More water from which the sheep can drink.

sheep closer to the camera
The ewe continued to try to find her way down to the water in some place not too close to the humans.

We finally turned around to head back in the heat. Back to civilization for a little more driving.

29 Palms from 49 Palms
The cities below, generally themselves clustered around a spot where water wells up and the palm trees grow.

©2009,2010 Valerie Norton
Posted 9 February 2010

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