Saturday, December 29, 2007

Joshua Tree National Park

Like me, you're probably wondering what Joshua trees are exactly. Turns out they're a type of yucca that happens to grow tall. The Mormons who encountered them on their trek west gave the trees their name. They said the trees reminded them of Bible figure Joshua and his praying fingers pointing to heaven. Some people have way too much imagination.

The trees apparently are pretty picky when it comes to their surroundings. This recent article about the potential effects of global warming on California says scientists already are considering relocating Joshua tree seedlings to higher elevations that will be more welcoming to the trees in years to come.
We spent the day exploring the park's north side, which sits is part of the Mojave Desert. The big granite boulder mounds made me crazy. I wanted to climb on top of all of them.
Are these trees really big or is Rex really small?
The rock climbers were out in full force.
This is Mount San Gorgonio piercing through the shroud of smog that drifts into the Coachella Valley from Los Angeles to the west. At 11,499 feet, the peak is the highest point in Southern California. Hidden below the haze is Palm Springs.

Rex does his best impression of a desert lizard at mid-day.
We didn't see much of any wildlife (unless you include squawking ravens and the equally noisy children who roamed every trail), but we did stumble upon a couple of piles of what looked to be coyote poop.

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