18 October 2009

Cottonwood Spring

Joshua Tree National Park

Locate the trailhead.

Finally, we stopped for another hike of not too great length. This loop started at Cottonwood Spring and wound around to Mastodon Mine by way of Mastodon Peak. We didn't quite see the mastodon in the peak, but we saw many other shapes in the rocks. This hike wasn't quite so hot as the one in the morning but is at a higher elevation.

Cottonwood spring
We headed out into the desert by way of Cottonwood spring. This is a spring with quite prominent, non-palm trees.

branches lacing thrgouh the palm fronds
The cottonwoods had their branches laced through the palms in their battle for the light.

dried flowers
We found some more fairly old and dried out flowers.

tall, thin, and very spiny plant
The flowers were so far up on the top of this tall, thin, and very very pointy plant that I wouldn't be able to reach them if I braved the spines.

At first, the landscape was quite ordinary. That is, ordinary for Joshua Tree.

sandy landscape with small boulders littering the ground
The gentle hills that rolled away under our feet during the first part of the hike.

But then the rocks began to grow and become wind carved and there seemed to be people in them. Whole crowds of people.

a crowd of people carved into the rocks by the wind
A crowd of people that has been carved into the rock face by the wind.

sitting silently
A calm presence by the side of the trail in the form of a rock carved into the shape of a person.

This was the scenery as we traveled up to the Mastodon. Actually getting up the last few feet of the peak required some rock scrambling. From the top of the Mastodon, we could see out over the landscape.

oasis with a single palm and a few other trees
An oasis with a single, tall palm apparent, and perhaps a second behind the other trees, off in the distance.

back the way we came
Back the way we came, a glimpse of Cottonwood oasis hiding behind some rocks.

Salton Sea, far away
Even another sighting of the Salton Sea in the far distance.

more rocks
Some more of nature's carvings.

Then we climbed back down and proceeded to the mine not much further down the trail.

discarded scrap
First we see a bit of run down scrap in the bushes to mark this old mine.

mine workings
Then we see some of the structures that supported work in the mine, also a bit run down.

We continued down the loop to see where it would go.

beaver tail cactus
This is one of the healthier looking beaver tail cacti we saw. None of them had spines although most of them looked bad enough off to have simply lost them.

The trail continued down the slope by an old road, presumably the one that serviced the mine while it was worked. Eventually it dropped down into a little wash with square walls that made me very wary of the sky, which was silly since the sky showed no thought of darkening up.

looking back
Looking back down the trail to the Mastodon while standing in the old wash just past the entrance into a natural walled section. Posts on either side of the entrance mark an old gate that kept cattle in here, once with disastrous consequences.

shallow caves in the walls
The walls open up a little bit and have these great little caves along the sides.

From the wash, the trail climbed down to another little oasis with a few structures about it.

fairly dry oasis
A small oasis without as much water as some of the others but still supporting massive life compared to the surroundings.

mysterious walled thing
Near the oasis were these falling concrete walls. We couldn't quite figure out what they were. There were also things like concrete bathtubs where water would flow if there was more water coming from the oasis.

From this second oasis, it is a short walk back to the road and a little longer up the road back to the parking lot. And then since we're not going to be hiking any more, we don't need our water any more and things got quite wild among a select few for a few minutes before heading for home.

chipmunk on a bush stump
A note on wildlife: they have funny chipmunks here.

lizard with tail two or three times as long as its body
Also lizards with far too much tail.

©2009,2010 Valerie Norton
Posted 10 February 2010

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