Saturday, January 5, 2008

December 2007--Joshua Tree National Park--Part III

In an upcoming series of posts, I'll be featuring an interview with Donna Charpied. She and her husband Laurence are organic jojoba farmers in Desert Center, 75 miles east of Palm Springs. The Charpieds have worked for many years to thwart the construction of a planned landfill at Eagle Mountain in close proximity to Joshua Tree National Park, and are involved in other desert conservation projects.

(photos: Barker Dam, Hidden Valley and vicinity, December 2007)

(photo: JTNP, Split Rock area December 2007)

(photos: JTNP, wildflower bloom April, 2005)

And more words that describe the desert:

“What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.”
--Antoine de Saint-Exupery, from The Little Prince

serene: In the 1800s and early 1900s, grasslands abounded in the local deserts. Cowboys drove cattle through the area that is now Joshua Tree National Park, stopping to water their herds at tanks--small reservoirs of water. Barker Dam, a dammed pond, or tank, built at the turn of the 20th Century by cattleman C.O. Barker and rancher Bill Keys, is located in Hidden Valley at the south edge of the Wonderland of Rocks. A storm passed through the park before we arrived in 29 Palms on Christmas Eve 2007, and rainfall filled Barker Dam. The sight of water was serene, as are many sights and outlooks in the park.

beautiful: Cactus flowers bloom months after a heavy rainfall, when seeds lying dormant for sometimes many years are released. Besides the flowers, there is the vivid desert sky and cloud formations, the vistas, and the night sky. Hidden by city lights, it's easy to forget how many stars are visible at night. In the park, especially at higher elevations, stars can be seen in the thousands. (more on desert astronomy later...)

desert trivia: a desert is an environment where the annual rainfall is measured at 10 inches or less

more desert trivia: Circled by rock formations, Hidden Valley was named when it became the place where the notorious McHaney gang stashed stolen cattle

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