24 April 2016

Vasquez Rocks

Natural Area Park, Los Angeles County




I decided to join a bunch of geocachers in a celebration of life by going on some interrupted plans made 5 years before. The destination is one we all know although we probably do not realize it. No one pays quite as much attention to the landscape stars, but this particular landscape has been seen on screens of all sizes and continues to be. They can even be found in animated form. Today, there are quite a lot of folks enjoying them in park form. We stop by the interpretive loop for a brief geology refresher (and the earthcache) before heading off on a spur filled loop around the place.

those rocks
The most climbed rocks of the day are right next to the parking lot.

the line returns to the flat
We only climb a little way up and then return.


weathered rocks
Some wonderful weathered rocks. The freeway is not so far away marking the south end.

The place certainly does give the impression of a rough and rugged area, but pull back and it is quite civilized. Houses on large lots can be found around the edges and the freeway climbs out of Los Angeles to the south. At the moment, clouds seem to be moving in to take away some of that stark quality that the hot sunlight can give the area.

rocks on a hillside
The rocks go on up the hill. In the distance, there is a house. We will just have to fix that in post production.

bright yellow mariposa lily
It may be desert, but life hangs on and can even be a little showy like this mariposa lily.

small cave
A cave just big enough to lay down in. Perhaps it has been the hiding place for some fugitive in some movie?

Weaving high into the rocks on the hill, we get a good overview of the area. We have to wander about them a bit because they contain the cave. Of course we imagine that this is where Vasquez kept his stolen horses.

now among those rocks
Out on the hill and taking in a bit more view and admiring a bit more of the weathering.

houses at the edge
Houses and movie ranches surround the area.

smooth wall
A towering and smooth wall impresses for a moment, but we are still coming to the cave.

cave among the rocks
The cave is vast, at least for southern California. A small hole for more determined hiding can be found at the side of it.

We continue around toward the freeway and downward. Suddenly things seem just a bit more green than the rest of the area. The canyon below is an oasis of water.

desert varnish
Desert varnish adorns the more static rocks of the area.

hole in the ground
The canyon through the rocks is lovely, especially with the contrasting greens.

water in canyon
Look carefully and there is even a bit of water flowing in the canyon.

A little further around and suddenly we are on the Pacific Crest Trail. There are no hoards of through hikers coming along it just yet, at least now while we are there. I actually expected to see at least one early hiker beating the desert heat. Horses are directed along a secondary path rather than the hiker path. That route looks downright unsafe for horses to me and one who has been around the park many times confirms that it gets pretty sketchy in a couple spots.

cave and other overhangs
The cave from below and afar. There are other interesting overhangs out of different hard layers, too.

jumble rock sale
The canyon really is just a slot of green among a jumble of rocks from one angle.

more of the canyon
The canyon at another angle is a smoothed piece of art.

We continue around the edge back to the lot along the PCT, poking our way here and there as we do.

more flowers
While most are just starting, but this cactus has opened a wonderful flower.

desert flat
The main section of rocks are now across a flat. Yucca are starting to flowers now and can be seen here and there on the flat.

parking lot
Almost back to the parking lot.

The sun comes out again as we are heading back. It does not take long to warm up and we are glad we had the shade while we were out.

cemented rocks
A floor and other cement and rock structures mark the site of some ruins.




©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 29 Apr 2016

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