Joshua Tree Flowering Frenzy

April 16-17, 2013
So I'd seen a few articles about the "Once-in-a-lifetime Joshua Tree Flowering
Frenzy" out in Mojave NP and, of course, I had to go check it out.  I headed out there
with my son, out I-15 to the Cima Road Junction then south towards Cima Dome.  This is
a very large dome of monzogranite, and also the site of one of the largest Joshua Tree
forests.  Also at the dome is one of only a few maintained trails this 1.3 million acre
park has, the Teutonia Peak Trail.  I hadn't hiked it before, so I loaded up the kid in his
backpack and hoisted him up and off we went.

Wow.  Almost immediately we were awed by everything in bloom!  In fact we didn't find
a single Joshua Tree not in bloom!  And every tree had not just one or two blooms, but
almost every branch was topped off with a beautiful creamy white inflorescence.  Wow.  
And just for some variety, the Indian Paintbrush was also profuse.  And desert
dandelion.  And oh my gosh then there was the scarlet hedgehog cacti!  I counted over
100 flowers on just one cactus!  Wow.

Also quite nice was the fact that we had the trail to ourselves, and indeed hardly saw a
soul out there in the entire park the two days we were there.  That's why I love having
days off to explore during the week  

After exploring that area for a while, we then headed south.  We passed an area where
all the Mojave yucca were also part of the blooming party.  Then we passed through a
little valley where the whole ground was periwinkle blue - I don't yet know the species
of this flower, it reminded me of sand verbena, but wrong color.  Then we passed some
cattle and I had a fun time teaching my 14-month-old how you must roll down your
window and yell "Moooo!" whenever you see cows.  He spent the next two hours
practicing.

Then we made it to our campsite for the evening, at scenic Hole-in-the-Wall.  I
purposely chose a big flat site so my son could practice walking, having just started a
couple of weeks ago - well, I underestimate him.  He, in no time at all, had breached the
railroad tie berm surrounding the site and was off wandering in the desert.  I trailed
closely behind, dissuading him from getting close to anything too prickly!    

I decided not to bring a tent, knowing I'd be on my toes watching him with no time to
set one up or take it down.  So we had a slumber party in the back of the Pilot.  It
worked out well, there's plenty of room for the two of us.

In the morning we had breakfast, explored the rhyolite cliffs and petroglyphs, admired
the prolifically blooming blue sage, then headed south to Old Route 66.  As he napped I
had fun checking out some old sites along the abandoned towns as this section of 66 is
quite a bit south of the modern Interstate.  I had hoped to hike around Amboy Crater,
but the wind there was intense.  So we saved it for another day...

Here are some pics...  more at the link at the bottom of the page!
More photos here!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarol/sets/72157633275788968/



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