Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Photo Time: East Mojave National Preserve

I've written about the East Mojave before, but we were back there in March, and since I've shared photos from the Death Valley part of the trip, here goes the approximately 20 hours in the Preserve. If you pick the right 20 hours, you can have a nice time, though I recommend a longer visit! We were pin-pointing a couple of things we wanted to enjoy and photograph.

1. Joshua Trees. The Cima Dome in the EMNP hosts the most spectacular Joshua tree forest in the world. Or the universe, though I suppose we could argue that anything that can evolve here might occur somewhere else in a more or less infinite universe. Anyway, we targeted the Cima Dome for dinner and a walk among the trees, with photos at sunset.

We had to wait for the good light, so made ourselves a little pizza dinner.

The forest on the Cima Dome is as thick and forest-like as any dry-country forest. The underbrush--grasses, sages, cholla cactus, etc.--was substantial as well, and provided a home for many hares and rabbits.
One of the more impressively tree-like Joshua trees I've seen.
The cherry trees in DC bloom in the spring, and so do the Joshua trees. The yucca moth pollinates them.
A Joshua tree reaches an arm down to show off its blossoms.

Once the sun sets, the trees get together to gossip and wave their arms around.
The jet trail adds a certain something, if only a reminder that this wilderness is under the flight path east from LAX.
You can see why we like to be among the Joshua trees at sunset!

Once the show was over, we drove the 50ish miles on through the Preserve to the Kelso Dunes. We had it on good authority (my in-laws) that the desert primroses were in bloom there a week before, and were crossing our fingers that they would still be. Even arriving in the dark, we could see that we were in luck.
Flash photo of the primrose next to our tent.

In the morning, we got up early, meaning to be the first atop the main dune (in the background). But we got distracted within yards.

The main dune is about a mile off and is about 700' high.

As the blossoms fade, they turn a beautiful shade of pink/purple. You can also see the buds ready for the next night's bloom.
 When the flowers die, the stalks curl up and form a "bird cage." This was the only one we could find, a reminder that the last 2 or 3 years have seen almost no flower in bloom at all.

It takes some care to avoid crushing the flowers while shooting the pictures, but with an ever-increasing number of people coming to the dunes, it's all the more important.
Photographer in heaven.
The flowers grow only in a narrow area where a wash meets the edge of the sand field. But there are more grasses and things on the long approach to the dunes, and therefore more animals and more tracks.
Kangaroo rats were here. Note the drag marks made by their tails.
With others already atop the main dune, we walked west along the lower, but untouched, secondary ridge.
The Providence Mountains are silhouetted behind the main dune.
To the NE, you can see the very gentle curve of the Cima Dome rising in the distance.

On another day we might have wandered farther out into the secondary dune fields, but we had an 8-hour drive to get back home, so left it for another visit, and counted ourselves fortunate to have seen another major primrose bloom at the Kelso Dunes.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2016
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  1. Glorious photos! I'm so glad I can hike these places with you without any effort :)

    1. LOL! But I'm telling you, much nicer in person. And these didn't even involve all that much effort. Except maybe climbing the sand dunes. That's always a lot like work.


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