Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lost Palms Oasis

Are you tired of cold and snow?  Can't find any interesting structures?

Then come along on a hike to Lost Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park.  This area was once the homeland of the Cahuilla Indians.  They had no contact with whites until 1840, and by 1850 were on reservations.  Since this desert area has never been farmed, many structures remain.   These structures are still visible along trails leading to water.  The starting point is Cottonwood Springs, which was dry when I was there in May 2010.
Signs of long term human habitation remain here. I have heard that it takes 20 years of use to wear these mortars down an inch. These are about a foot deep.
Continuing along the trail, I enter a lovely landscape of rocks, yucca,  and thorny  ocotillo bushes.  The rock here is monzogranite, which erodes into large block and boulders.  This produces a fantasy landscape of jumbled boulders.
 Whether this is a deliberately perched boulder or a natural formation is nearly impossible to determine.  However, I see smaller stones placed on boulders along the trail.  Trail markers?
As I approach the oasis, after three miles of easy hiking, I start seeing more likely structures.
Finally, the oasis, and a fabulous view before I descend.
The trail is loose, so this is a slow descent.  When I reach the oasis, this carving surprises me.
It looks like the same fertility symbol that I find around ponds in Rhode Island.
This place is such a jumble of boulders, it is hard to tell what is propped and what is just a fallen rock.
The Cahuilla did not live in the oasis, because the California palms here are very flammable.  Instead, they lived  in small thatched huts in the area outside the oasis.
This is a ruggedly beautiful spot, but the sun is blazing and it is a long walk back to Cottonwood Springs.
Off in the distance, the Salton Sea. Although the sea is man-made, it rests in the bed of prehistoric Lake Cahuilla.

1 comment:

  1. So you are out there now - great photos. For stories about rocks, check out Tahquitz Canyon in Palm Springs. Besides being a beautiful spot, there are rocks with very specific stories behind them.