Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree, California

April 15, 2017


I joined one of the monthly hiking trips by my high school alumni alpine club in L.A.

A lot of SNU alumni also join this group and go together. In Southern California,

the schools don't seem to matter very much in hiking and climbing activities.

Any school alumni can join any other school groups as guests.


Joshua Tree National Park : Located about 130 miles east from LA about 2 hours away by car.

It is located just north of Palm Springs in the northwestern section of Mojave and Colorado Desert.

The 800,000-acre park is on the lower elevation of about 3,000 feet at the west end of the Colorado Plateau.

For me, this is the first time to be here.


Monzogranite: The rocks in the park look very much like sandstone but they are not.

They are a kind of granite, monzogranite, different from the usual granite at kitchen countertops.

They are not from sedimentation but igneous in origin, solidified from molten granitic magma

starting about 250 million years ago in the depth of earth's crust.

The original liquid granite couldn't force itself up to the surface but slowly hardened into great blobs

within the ancient rock. As the ancient rock, called gneiss, overlying the granite blobs were gradually

eroded away, the underlying granite came to be exposed to the surface.

Once exposed to the earthen atmosphere, they also got eroded to the present shapes we see today.


The park had become famous with the album of "The Joshua Tree" by the four Irishmen band

of U2, in March of 1987. The Joshua Tree National Park claims it's major contribution to their

superstardom. Below, I borrowed the video of the "Original Song" from YouTube.

Together with lazy and peaceful melodies, the video shows the sceneries very well.



So much for the introductions. From here on, my photojournal of the day starts.



This is the northwestern entrance of the Joshua Tree National Park coming from the town of "Joshua Tree".

In the middle of Mojave Desert in California, it actually seems to be nowhere at all.

Without the existence of the National Park, no one would come here, way out in the boondocks.

However, nowhere in the world, the same strange beauty of the park's nature may be found.



The "Hidden Valley Day Use Parking Lot" off the Park Road. What I had seen today was a very small part

of the entire park. I surely would return here again for the rest of the park someday.



A group photo before we took off for today's hiking to "Barker Dam."

We were total 25, made up of my high school alumni, SNU alumni, and other guests.



We are about to take off into the desert.

What you see are "Joshua Trees" named by the Mormon people as they thought of "spread arms of Joshua."

The tree does not have "growth rings" like normal trees, so that it's impossible to guess their age.

Generally, they think that the trees live about 150 years. The new trees don't have any branches.

Having multiple branches means the tree is very old.





These appear to be dwarf leafless "Desert Sunflower" (?) blooming at the ground level.

I am not sure if the leaves are to appear later or not. I guess their top priority at this moment

is to get pollinated in a hurry before the onslaught of the hot and dry desert summer.



Now must be their flowering season. The small yellow flowers cover the desert floor.



Patches of some unknown white flowers. I could not find the name of them.



Walking through the desert ground. At times, there was no established trails.



Passing a giant rock boulder. It has a name but I forgot. We were to use this landmark as a guide.



This is near the "Hidden Valley Camping" site. Rockclimbers are busy at the top.



A group of "Desert Dandelions" in yellow color. At the left upper corner, you can see scattered small

bluish flowers of "Desert Forget-me-not". My picture doesn't show the full brilliance of the yellow color.

What the camera lens sees is not exactly what our eyes see.



By looking at the greenish ground cover, this particular area must have more moisture.

I guess this is a small patch of oasis in the middle of desert. There are a few oases in this park.



Walking on sandy trail is tougher even though we were going slow.



As if embraced by dead tree limbs, a group of "Crimson Hedgehog Cactus" bloomed beautifully.

In English, I can not express, "그 아름다움이 잠시나마 나그네의 발길을 멈추게한다."

As I see, "나의 나그네 발길은 5살때 강원도에서 시작해서 38선을 넘은후, 온세상을 다 돌고 돌아,

오늘 여기 선인장 꽃 앞에서 잠시 머물다 가는것이 아닌가?"

Free as a bird, "끝없는 방랑길에..."  I just wonder what is waiting for me tomorrow?



Under the fallen Joshua Trees, desert dandelions are prospering. I assume that the remains of trees must be

holding ground moisture and giving them protection from the desert wind and sunlight.



Except this camera man, most of us just passed the flowers and continued forward.





A lonely single Desert Dandelion in the middle of "desert wash" (dried river). Why are you there all alone?



A group of pink "Beavertail Cactus" arising from under and between rocks.



In a fleeting moment of time, I caught a scene of our group passing over rock boulders.

At the end of the day, this shot turned into "The Best Picture of The Day" for me.

In hiking or climbing, the opportunity for the good pictures can happen any time without any notice.

Actually, here, I lost the best moment as I only caught the last four hikers on the rock.

It could have been nicer if I caught more people in the scene. By the time I was ready, they were all gone.



We were moving on through and over rock boulders toward Barker Dam.



Another group of beautiful "Beavertail Cactus" growing between rocks stopped me for a picture.



From a different angle on the same subject. The flower arrangement by the nature is remarkable.



A few patches of yellow daisy-like flowers of "Brittlebush" along the trail.



A sole "Desert Lupin" in sandy ground. "Lupin in a desert ?"

I used to see them in foothills of Colorado and Europe where ground have a lot of moisture.



We are at Barker Dam and Lake. In old days, Cattle rustlers kept their stolen goods in "The Hidden Valley."

They build a concrete dam to feed them water. The water level was low but the lake was pretty big.

There is water in this picture but they appear very dark instead of being blue-greenish.



Return trip back to the parking lot via different trail.

Under hot sun, despite of cool air temperature, we walked slow and steady.

Not a cloud in the sky. But nothing unusual or being lucky, as we were in the middle of desert.



Endless odd shapes of rock boulders all around us.





As you can see, more flower-buds are there to be bloomed soon in this group.

Fortunately, a few early bloomers greeted us.



Carefully looking, the yellow tiny flowers (Desert Sunflowers?) cover the ground all over and evenly.



In order to show the yellow "Desert Sunflower" covering the ground, I lowered the camera exposure.

Now, they show up much better. There are millions of them on the desert floor.



Having returned to the parking lot, we had lunch. With so many visitors, finding a shady place was not easy.



After lunch, we went for rockclimbing at the "Turtle Rock" near the parking lot.





Just a slight elevation gave us a good panoramic view of the flat desert.



Local lizard, a plenty of them were very active but they were shy. Very difficult to get a close up.



Not as swift as lizards, we, human lizards, tried to climb up the huge rock.



At the top of "Turtle Rock".



The entire view of the "Turtle Rock" from the parking lot.



The nature's work of creating a beautiful sculptures out of the ancient granite rocks.



In the town of "Joshua Tree", at a restaurant of "Pies For People" and "New York Pizzeria",

we had giant pizzas for dinner and celebrated one of our senior member's 80th birthday.

There were two persons over 80 among our group today.

The way I feel today, maybe, I hope to be able to celebrate my 80th birthday in a similar fashion.


With my sincere thanks to 구시완, 김동근, 이상무, 박경수, 이해영 선배님, and all other members.


Some data from the National Park brochure. 4-19-2017 by SNUMA WM

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