Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park

This past weekend we were in Palm Springs (well, technically speaking, Palm Desert) for a wedding. The highlight for me was the morning I slipped away from the festivities and went for a hike by myself in the gorgeous Joshua Tree National Park.

The drive to the park was a pleasure in itself (and that’s saying something, because I hate driving). I passed through huge wind farms (here they are in Google Maps), and then left the highway to climb into the mountains. I drove through a series of tired small towns–a pleasant change from the middle-class no-place that is Palm Springs–and then into the picturesque badlands of the park.

In the park, I tried to pick a less popular hiking trail. I took the 7 km walk into Lost Horse Mine (again, here’s the shaft house on Google Maps). The terrain reminded me of sections of Morocco, as we drove out of the Atlas Mountains and into the desert. In terms of wildlife, I saw a few other humans, a red-tailed hawk, some ground squirrels and sundry lizards. And, of course, lots and lots of Joshua trees.

I learned sundry things about the Joshua tree, but this is my favourite: the loggerhead shrike uses the spines of the tree to skewer its prey (lizards, insects, small birds and so forth).

I snapped a few lousy photos with my iPhone, but here’s a better one:

And, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention U2:


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