What we remembered was that it was a good hike: challenging, varied, fun, surrounded by rocks with fantastic shapes, and encircled by lush ocotillo and yuccas ready to burst into flower. We were right. A bit of geology and botany here: you know those are my strong subjects. Remember the San Andreas Fault? The fault lines go right through the mountains on the SW of Palm Springs the mountains of Joshua Tree. These fault lines not only encourage water to seep to the surface but also cause water to pool in certain locations. The Lost Palms Hike takes you right into one of these locations where a lush fan palm forest thrives.
But it’s not just the fan palms, it’s also the boulders which are piled in huge heaps all through the NP. These formed 100 million years ago when magma in the earth cooled, groundwater filtered through the joints to round the edges and then flash floods eroded the soil around them to create the piles that we see now. That’s Geology For Idiots - even I could understand it.
Lush fan palms, cool looking boulder piles but then, to top it all off, we were walking through gardens of ocotillos. Reminded me of the Beatles’ song ‘An ocotillo garden near the sea.’ Well, maybe those weren’t the original words.
But, here is the piece de resistance: the desert tortoise. We’re hiking along through a narrow wash when Gary told me to hurry and get my camera ready. I rushed over readying the camera as I went. WOW, a desert tortoise (maybe I didn’t have to rush so much.) In all our desert hiking, we’ve never seen one of these in the wild. A real treat. We both took pictures and movies. Poor thing, he needs a good agent to get him a better fee for all the tourist pictures.
’Naw, then I’d have to jump off a cliff.’
Then we reached the Lost Palms hidden down in the canyon crevice. The trail down is a steep scramble but, if I can do it, almost anyone can. To walk among these tall stately beauties is amazing, long grasses, big boulders and these trees. The last time we were here, we took time to eat our lunch. This time, we were a bit earlier and not ready for lunch. So, we sat in the shade and just soaked in the solitude. Not many get down this far.
Finally near the top, we saw some people at the top watching our progress. Is that the trail, they asked? Yes, but don’t use it. Use the other one. It’s more obvious.
At the top, we headed back down the trail to the cut-off which led to the Mastodon Peak, more a huge rock pile than a ‘peak.’ Getting up to the small peak trail is all uphill. I especially liked these steps - carved into the rock. Someone carved them so that I could hike up to Mastodon Peak and it wasn’t easy. Thanks.
Oh, oh, now you’ve got to get down - more of that fingernail breaking, kneecap banging and leg scratching. What fun.
Here Gary is looking at the original pit which has been covered over by heavy metal ties to keep explorers safe.
Here’s where they put the ores down a chute to separate them.