|This weekend was originally slated for heading towards Figueroa Mountain on the Los Padres NF, a place known for its spring wildflowers. But with another storm moving through that area, Nick, Todd, and I instead headed towards the low desert near Palm Springs instead where there wasn't any chance of rain. We explored the Mecca Hills on Saturday where we hiked up Painted and Ladder Canyons. This is a spectacular BLM area - the badlands and canyons are narrow and colorful and it's a bit of a challenge to hike far up them. Their sandy lower reaches turn rocky and steep but there are ladders to help you up. The ladders themselves, though, are kind of hard to trust as they wobble a bit and some are a little short of where you wish they'd reach to :p And so you still have to scramble a bit. But I found the challenge to be quite fun
We saw a lot of spring wildflowers in the canyons - including the Mecca Aster (grows only here), heliotrope, globe mallow, Arizona lupine, beavertail cactus, desert tobacco, sand blazing star, desert poppies, brittlebush, and many others. We also saw a ton of lizards and an area where there must've been 1,000 cairns - it was very cool.
That night we drove to Cottonwood Campground in southern Joshua Tree where a jackrabbit decided for us which spot we'd camp in. We roasted turkey hotdogs and enjoyed a calm night that was cool but not cold and the stars were bright.
In the morning we ate breakfast, packed up, then explored the cholla cactus garden, the area around Arch Rock, and did some more scrambling around Skull Rock. I never get tired of exploring the endless nooks and crannies in the fantastically shaped rocks of Joshua Tree. I was also thrilled to see the desert carpeted in bright yellow desert dandelions and we found a bunch of cactus blooming out that way as well.
Anyway, hope you enjoy the pics :)