Date: April 19, 2017
Place: Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms, California
Coordinates: 34.025096, -116.141996
Length: 1.6 miles
On our first visit to Joshua Tree National Park 14 years ago Pappa Quail and I also hiked the short and sweet Barker Dam Nature Trail. I don't remember much of that are except that it was hot and dry, and the sign posted by a dry lake prohibiting swimming. We found that sign amusing, therefore we documented it.
There was water there now, we heard people talking at the Barker Dam trailhead. It would've been disappointing if there wasn't, considering the copious amounts of rain that the area receives over the winter. So there was that to hope for.
I could tell already at the trailhead that this would be a rewarding hike. The bloom, just like at the Hidden Valley, was in abundance, and all over the place. even species that I haven't yet seen.
|Gray Amsonia, Amsonia tomentosa|
|Our hike as captured by Pappa Quail's GPS|
We didn't do any climbing, but plenty of lizards did. we saw many lizards on that hike, energized by the warm sun.
|Granite Spiny Lizard|
|Desert Globemallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua|
|Mojave Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum|
|Beavertail Cactus, Opuntia basilaris|
|Rattlesnake Sandmat, Euphorbia albomarginata|
|Costa's Hummingbird on his Joshua Tree perch|
|Mojave Yucca, Yucca schidigera|
|Bighorn (Barker) Lake|
|Lazuli Bunting, male|
|Mule Mat, Baccharis salicifolia|
As we circled the water and went over the dam I saw two who would. They stripped down to their undergarments and went off for a swim. Perhaps it would be good to reinstate that sign. To protect the giardia microbs, naturally.
I averted my gaze from the swimmers and looked down below the dam's spillway. Down below was an old double, round water through that on out first visit was parched dry and now was full with water. Behind it the creek continued with a thin flow, then disappeared between the shrubs. Beyond that - the endless Mojave Desert.
|The view southwest of Barker Dam|
Down at the valley my family continued along the trail while I took a little detour to inspect the creek a bit closer. On the way there I saw these bushes that looked like they were flowering but on a closer look I saw these were fruit. The bushes were laden with them, and looked very pretty.
|Burrowbush, Ambrosia salsola|
|Peach Thorn, Lycium cooperi|
|Yellow Monkeyflower, Mimulus guttatus|
|Desert Mistletoe, Phoradendron californicum|
|Hopsage, Grayia spinosa standing out on the desert backdrop|
This one appeared to be dead, but for the little tuft of green nestled between the dried up shriveled branches.
From the petroglyphs site we continued east along the granite ridge. This part of the trail reminded me a bit of the Hidden Valley.
There too, Pappa Quail was ahead with the chikas while me and Grandma Quail lingered behind, giving attention to all the wildflowers.
|Chia Sage, Salvia columbariae|
It was genuinely hot by then. Little lizards darted here and there along the path. And some of the lizards weren't so little.
And some that I simply got better pictures of the second time around.
|Fremont's Phacelia, Phacelia fremontii|
|Freckled Milkvetch, Astragalus lentiginosus|
A glimpse of color beaconed me and I left the trail and walked a few steps into the wash to inspect it closely. I saw several of these on the next day, but I recognized them by the foliage. This individual was the only one I've seen in bloom. It bears the most fitting cumbersome, and unimaginative name of, Hole in the Sand Plant.
|Hole in the Sand Plant, Nicolletia occidentalis|
Pappa Quail was very happy: he had photographed a bird of species he had never seen before on that trail. I look at his photo and I understand his passion, for there is no chance in the world I'd be able to recognize this sparrow as different from any other sparrow near my home .