I went down to Joshua Tree National Park last weekend to catch the desert bloom. I've been going to the desert in the spring for the past two years in search of flowers with little luck, but this time I think I managed to catch the beginning of a pretty good bloom. Saw tons of flowers and other things that I'm still sorting through.
I set off very early Friday morning, and enjoyed watching the ghostly white flowering fruit trees off I-5 brighten into glimmering orchards in the morning sun. Green rolling hills most of the way down to the transverse ranges, then snow-topped mountains. Skirted LA and headed to the dry lands, arriving at the southern end of the park around 3ish. Scouted around for wildflowers off the road there until the evening, and camped at Cottonwood Springs. Did a little night searching for spiders, which turned up some fun stuff, not all of which I could ID but whatever. Spiders are kind of tricky without a microscope.
Spent most of the next day hiking to Lost Palms Oasis. The trail isn't tough or anything (nor was it devoid of people), but there were way too many biological distractions. That part of the park is largely Sonoran, so ocotillo were everywhere (thought not blooming too much). Many cool flowers, ubiquitous side-spotted lizards, lots of Phainopepla, Anna's, etc.
When I got back to the trailhead, I drove north toward the Boy Scout trailhead. Found lots of cool flowers along the roadside until I got a bit higher and entered the Mojave, where Joshua trees rule. Lots and lots of beautiful Joshua trees. Hiked in about a mile along the Boy Scout trail and camped at the base of an outcrop, as advised by a friend. Great site, lots of good, flat camping spots, and nice vantages for sunrise and set. Saw some cool birds in the morning, including Cactus Wrens and shrikes.
Hiked back out Sunday morning, and drove on north, this time along the north side of the transverses with hopes of hitting Antelope Valley. Did so (eventually), but the poppies weren't even close to peaking. Oh well, still a pretty drive.
Thus ended a very cool (if solitary) trip. Kind of a ton of driving, but I did see tons of cool stuff.