Last April I went out to Joshua Tree National Park for my birthday. My plan was to do some freehiking during the middle of the week when it was least busy. (Not illegal here but I always try not to surprise anyone.) Of particular interest were the wildflowers. Due to the drought, they were few and far between but the ones I found were nice. NSFW ahead! 😁

I started by doing a few miles on the California Riding and Hiking Trail. I do have a pack with water and necessities but I like to get it off as often as I can. It is, after all, just like a piece of clothing. Only had a few hours out as it was later in the afternoon.

Nobody in the parking area. I have it all to myself.
About as exposed as it gets. Like me.
Then the trail winds through hills and Joshua trees.
Rattlesnake weed.
Apricot mallow
An aging Joshua tree that refuses to give up. Much like me.
Desert poppy
Sand verbena
Joshua tree in fruit
Wallace Eriophyllum
Pencil cholla
Mojave desert aster
Heading back by a different route.

On the next day, I thought I’d check a less used rock climbing area known as White Tank. I have gone freehiking out here before. A tank is a natural catchment of water in the rocks and there were two located here, White Tank and Hidden Tank. I didn’t see any water but suppose they could be empty because of the drought. This is a bit lower in elevation and is transitioning between the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert.

White Tank parking area all to myself!
That’s a lot of naked.
Your intrepid explorer. I started by doing a few miles on the California Riding and Hiking Trail.
A maze of rocks.
Hidden Tank is in here somewhere. I couldn’t find it.
Rocks and rocks and more rocks.
A fist or a face?
A tortoise climbing the rock? A giant hand reaching up over the formation?
After I get beyond the rocks, a broad dry wash.
“Jumping cholla” cactus. You’ll swear you didn’t touch it but it will be stuck to you. Adhesive tape will remove most of the tiny spines along with some hair.
Cottontop cactus
The best shade for a mile. It has a little friend.
Palo Verde
Beavertail cactus
Not going to climb these rocks.
A broad side canyon to explore
This is the way back. Time to go. That’s a long slow slog.
Ocotillo in bloom.
A late-blooming Joshua tree
Made it back to the rocks. That triangular rock is called Stirrup Tower.
I’m just about back. There’s now a young couple out here climbing rocks. They probably wouldn’t care but I’ll err on the side of caution and wander through another area until they leave.

But wait… there’s more! Driving east on Amboy Road I encountered this:

Which is a large-scale replica of this:

If you are curious, go to Artnet and check it out!