Lost Palms Overnight

We have errands in Coachella, south of Joshua Tree National Park. We’ve never been to the south part of the park, so we leave the evening before and spend the night on the Lost Palms Oasis trail. I’ve somehow developed low expectations of the south end of the park, maybe because I perceived that all the climbing is up north. This hike proves to be a nice surprise, with lots of rocks and impressive vistas over the strange, below-sea-level Salton Sea.

The hike starts at Cottonwood Palms Oasis.

Cottonwood Oasis Trailhead

Goldy Rocks

When the sun goes down, everything is washed in a rosy glow.

Dusk on the trail

Lost Palms Valley Dusk

The night is starry and warm, punctuated by the hoots of an owl hunting among the rocks. In the morning we descend to the Lost Palms oasis. From there our map shows a trail continuing down the canyon, but this proves to be tougher going through Cat’s Claw thickets and boulders, so we don’t go too far before turning around.

Lost Palms Oasis

We carry all of our water on these hikes. The Lost Palms oasis has some surface water, but most of the places we go have none. I become more aware how dependent we are on tap water. Here’s an interesting quote from the Joshua Basin Water District that supplies our water:

Since formation, we have remained dedicated to providing our customers with the highest quality drinking water. Situated above the Copper Mountain and Joshua Tree groundwater basins, the District’s sole water source is groundwater that has accumulated over the past 32,000 years.

The District manages two groundwater basins. The water level in these basins has been lowered by 35 feet in the past 45 years due to pumping.

That makes it more interesting to me that before the age of aqueducts and groundwater pumping, natives managed to live here. Signs at the trailhead illustrate their life a little.

Sign: Bedrock Mortars

Mortar Hole

More signs at flickr.

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