Springtime in 4 National Parks

Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

March 26-April 5, 2005

I had been planning this trip with PanamaRob (formerly known as Boogaman, who I met through Backpacker.com) for quite some time.  We’ve been writing and talking to each other for about a year and a half now and have become good friends.  He is from Florida and had only been in LA once, briefly, so I set out to show him the best of what California has to offer!

I picked him up from LAX on Saturday the 26th of March.  From there we drove up to his friend Rob’s house.  Rob hails from rrbbs.com, and he and PanamaRob originally met by playing fantasy baseball.  We went out to dinner with Rob and his wife Marie and I had my first taste of Sushi!  It was pretty good, I ate a few of the rolls that were stuffed with raw crab and shrimp meat.  We then went back to Rob and Marie’s beautiful home and watched “The Incredibles.”  Then we all crashed... 

The next morning we went to breakfast and then PanamaRob and I headed out east of LA on 210 towards the desert.  We stopped for groceries and to visit the new REI out in Rancho Cucamonga.  PanamaRob became an REI member and bought a bear canister and a few other goodies and I bought some gloves and fuel for my stove.

By the time we reached Joshua Tree National Park it was getting dark.  We pulled into the Cottonwood Campground and found a spot and set up PanamaRob’s tent.  Soon after a truck pulling a tent-trailer pulled up to an adjoining site.  We could hear them talking and one of the women sounded like Zsa-zsa Gabor, lol  It was not too cold that night and I slept well.

In the morning we packed up and backtracked to the southern entrance of the park.  Here the wildflowers were in their prime – we saw at least 30 different species!  It was like walking through a rock garden.

We ate lunch from the tailgate of my pickup and then we headed north through the park.  Between Cottonwood and the Cholla Cactus Garden the desert dandelions were putting on quite the show – millions, billions, trillions were blooming and lighting up the desert in a pretty pale yellow hue!

We stopped at the Cholla garden and walked around.  Here I saw 3 species of flowers that I’d never seen before – cholla (only saw one blooming), climbing milkweed, and thick-leaved ground cherry.

We drove into White Tank Campground and decided to stay the night.  We found a nice site with a huge boulder that would block (most of) the wind and we pitched our tent to the lee side.  We then set out to explore this rugged area, at times climbing and bouldering amongst the huge fantastically formed granite rocks.  We found one of the tanks and the arch rock and a few more species of flowers including desert pea.

That night it got rather cold with the wind.  We ate dinner and laughed at a strange farting noise coming from a nearby Mojave Yucca plant.  Never figured out what was making the noise, lol  Then we crawled in the tent and tried to sleep with it a flappin in the breeze.  I ended up getting my ear plugs and then finally was able to get some rest.

In the morning I discovered that my wool blanket, that I leave in my truck for whenever I need it and had used the night before to keep warm, had blown into the fire and was half-burned.  Ooooops!  PanamaRob also discovered his cell phone was missing (and never found it again).  We then packed up and headed west.  We drove the Queen Valley dirt road to the Barker Dam Trailhead.  This is one of my favorite little trails in Joshua Tree.  An early rancher increased the size of the natural water impoundment with a dam and the lake right now is the largest that I’ve ever seen it.   We saw a momma duck with her hands full with 10 little, really little fluffy ducklings.  We heard canyon wrens with their melodic call.  I took pictures of the lake and its reflections.

Also along this trail are some pictographs.  We found a few that I had not seen before along with the ones that are pointed out to you and the few that I found by exploring a little off the beaten path before.

After a side trip up to Keys View where you can see across the Salton Sea to Mexico as well as Mt. San Jacinto which has one of the greatest reliefs of any mountain in the United States, we headed home.  We stopped in Barstow for gas then around dinnertime pulled into Porterville.  We ate at the Black Bear Diner which has great food!  PanamaRob had a big burger, a really big burger, he was hungry, lol.  After dinner we drove to my house and got cleaned up and played with Sam and Hailey and then went to sleep.
Cholla flower
Opuntia echinocarpa
White wooly daisy
Eriophyllum lanosum
Barrel Cactus Flower
Ferocactus cylindraceus
Desert Dandelions
Malacothrix glabrata
Unidentified flower growing near Barker Dam
Barker Lake
The cheerleader tree (see her pom poms?)
Standing under Arch Rock (ooops, cut the arch out of the photo!)
Thick leaved ground cherry
Physalis crassifolia
Desert Mallow Sphaeralcea ambigua
Such a pretty flower!
Desert Rock Pea
Lotus rigidus
Fun with shadows, lol
Perhaps I liked it so much because I matched it!
Climbing Milkweed
Sarcostemma cynanchoides ssp. hartwegii
Prince's Plume
Stanleya pinnata
Purple chia in the foreground of nature's rock garden
Isomeris arborea
Scale Bud
Anisocoma acaulis
Angelita Daisy
Hymenoxys acaulis var. arizonica
Purple Mat
Nama demissum
Scarlet Four-O'Clock
Mirabilis coccinea
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