Lost Palms Oasis

March 6-7, 2010
Nick, Greg, and I did an overnight backpacking trip to Lost Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree
National Park.  You can dayhike this trail, as it's only 8 miles round-trip, but I'd seen
photos of this area and thought it would be nice to be there at sunset and sunrise and
spend some time exploring it.  So we began our hike on Saturday about 10:00 am or so.  
No permits are needed for the hike, you just register at the backcountry board.  The
hike is relatively easy, the trail undulating up and down ridges and washes.  About 1/2
mile before you get to the oasis there are some nice spots to camp to the northside of
the trail.  You cannot camp at the oasis itself, nor use the water there for yourself, as
it's reserved for the area's wildlife.  So we each packed about a gallon with us.

We ate lunch and set up camp and then explored the big boulder pile north of the
campsite.  Then we hiked to the oasis overlook then the final bit of trail to the oasis
itself, which is the tough as it descends several hundred feet, but it's well-worth the
effort.  It's a very inviting spot!

The main attraction at the oasis are the native California fan palms.  There are about
100 of these majestic trees here which are the only native palms in western North
America.  They grow here because there is a seasonal spring and there's also
protection from the wind in the canyon.  Many different animal species also live nearby
and rely on the spring for water.  We saw several species of birds and lizards and were
hoping to see bighorn sheep.  But they remained elusive.  We did spot some coyote
prints near the water and I loved the late afternoon lighting on the trees and canyon
walls.

We had great weather on Saturday and Saturday night.  After dinner we played a
couple of games of Pass the Pigs which was as always silly and enjoyable.  Then we went
on a night hike, sans headlamps, which was a challenge considering all the rocks and
cholla you can run into.  But thanks to the stars and lightning in the distance, as well as
the glow from Palm Springs, we stuck to the trail fairly easily.

Early the next morning I was awoken by the birds and we ate breakfast and packed up
and then headed back to the oasis overlook.  We went off trail for a little while
because I wanted to explore this neat rock wall, but in order to get back to the trail
we had to descend a very steep crumbling slope.  Greg ended up slip sliding down on his
bottom and he ripped his pants.  I ended up scraping my palm and kicking a rock towards
Nick while poking him with my trekking pole when he was trying to help me down.  I told
him I don't normally injure my hiking partners!  lol, sorry Nick :p

When we reached the overlook it began to rain, and although not a heavy rain it was cold
and so we bundled up and headed back.  We made record timing back to the trailhead
and we stopped at IHOP on the way home and had some hearty food to warm us back up
:)
The Salton Sea is in the distance
Eagle Mountain
A few things to admire from a safe distance
Greg and Nick on the rock pile north of our camp
Looking back towards camp
A pretty little flower, one of the only ones we saw -
they've gotten plenty of rain in the park, but it's been
cold so the bloom may not be very good this year
Getting close to Lost Palms Canyon
Oh, there they are, I found the lost palms :)
Notice Nick on the rock
There were many small pools of water
Coyote prints
A creative cairn
An elephant?
A heart?
A bad photo of an interesting bird, Phainopepla