Joshua Tree National Park
We were left with most of the afternoon to get to camp and set up before the party would start around dark. That is more than enough and there was an offer to pop up Malapai Hill, so I jumped on it. This is a little bump in the middle of a plain the Geology Tour Road goes through and is strikingly different from the other little bumps in the area. It was pointed out to me when I did Bernard and Little Berdoo during a previous Holiday Hooplah and looked like a reasonable and easy thing to climb. We are warned that the footing can be iffy before heading off and told that there is supposed to be a benchmark on the lower peak as we arrive.
|Malapai Hill is a lump of small, dark rocks in the middle of a desert flat where most the lumps are large light rocks.|
|The lower hillside is a fabulous cactus garden.|
|Some pencil cholla shows purples in among the greens.|
We start up the slopes heading generally for the saddle between the two peaks. Much of the slopes show vegetation growing, but there is one spot that seems to be unsteady enough to prevent it. I try to go around that spot, but it is questionable as to how necessary this is.
|On the dark brown slopes looking over a band of even darker rocks to the lighter jumbles of rocks that are typical of the area.|
Since we have so much time, we can jog over to the lower peak and look for the benchmark. The area is wide and flat so searching might take a while. There are only a few places that look promising for a mark, but even those look less likely once I am looking at them closely. They just do not look solid enough to bother. Whatever, we do not find it. We do not have a map that hints where we should look, but it does indicate we looked in the right area. We head on to the higher peak.
|More of the surrounding desert interrupted by piles of rocks.|
|Still looking around the desert while climbing the slopes.|
The real peak is also wide and flat, although not quite so wide as the lower one. It has a little more view. There is a bit of wind blowing that makes us not want to stay too long.
|The perspective has changed a little.|
|At the top. I have spotted the register.|
|Back toward the lower peak and high peaks beyond it in the afternoon light.|
|The Geology Tour from the top.|
The other two are already getting a good lead on me going down the mountain, so I get going too. Quickly, but not so quickly that I feel like I am likely to make a misstep on the uneven ground.
|Looking back up the slope while making my way down Malapai Hill.|
We can move faster back to the car once on the flat again. I am almost grabbed by a lone specimen of cats claw. It looks a little different from the ones I have been harassed by recently, but a relative. It is close enough for common names. We manage to make it out without any stickers. There is still plenty of time to set up before the party.
|A lone raven sits atop a Joshua tree.|
|One last look at Malapai Hill before leaving.|
©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 18 December 2016