Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009 from Joshua Tree National Park

Beside my glove is a tiny foxtail cactus that will grow from a two-inch ball to look like a fluffy (but prickly) foxtail.

(Joshua Tree National Park, December 2008)

The week before Christmas, Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree National Park were blanketed in white by one of the biggest snowstorms ever. Not much snow was left when we visited the park a few days after Christmas, just drifts at the side of the road. The park also wasn't as full of visitors as usual because of the cold weather, about 45 degrees that day.

William and I drove to the end of Stirrup Tank Road near Wilson Canyon and hiked a few hundred feet up to the top of a huge rock formation with a clear view of the park. By the time we reached the top I took off my gloves and unzipped my jacket. The silence, huge blue sky, and the view were amazing. Pure heaven!

Hiking down a steep, rocky path can be more dangerous than going up. William and I reminded ourselves to put the toes of our boots down first and to avoid patches of loose gravel. I came across fresh scat from an animal that looked to be a large one, and I started thinking about mountain lions. For all the serenity the park provides, it's still a wilderness! We were out of cell phone range, and the only people for miles around.

We kept a lookout and made it safely down the trail to the car. In 20 years of visiting the park I've never seen a mountain lion but it's a good idea to be aware.

Take a trip out to our beautiful deserts and enjoy the clean air and beautiful views. The wild animals you'll likely encounter will be jackrabbits or roadrunners.

Happy New Year and have a fantastic 2009!

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