If Anza Borrego is having a Super Bloom then Joshua Tree is having a Super Duper Bloom.
It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise (since it has not been broadcasted by our local news, and there were no traffic jams along the route) to drive through the southern portion of Joshua Tree to see millions colorful flowers blanketing the desert sand.
Neither of us have ever hiked in this portion of the desert, near Cottonwood Visitor Center, which is much less popular than the northwest part of Joshua Tree, where the majority of jumbo rocks and Joshua Trees are located (what people imagine when the picture Joshua Tree National Park).
After some reading and planning, we decided to hike Lost Palms Oasis trail.
It was in the upper 70s with a glorious gentle breeze. It could not have been a more perfect day for a hike. The desert was incredibly alive.
Cahuilla Native Americans were dependent on over 120 plants here, near Cottonwood Spring, for over 2,000 years.
I have never seen such profound mortars, indicating there heavy reliance on the land for food.
Lizards are so photogenic.
The Salton Sea can be viewed several times throughout the hike.
Like an ocean of sand, the desert is so vast.
This is the first time either of us have ever seen a desert tortoise in its natural habitat!
We later learned that this is because they spend 95% of their time underground.
This little guy was not shy at all for someone that remains hidden most of the day. I tried to keep my distance but he kept charging towards me, chlorophyll from the Super Duper Bloom smeared all over his mouth.
The tortoise sighting was especially exciting for Eric since he has owned a desert tortoise for 33 years, ever since he found one on the corner of his boyhood Downey home.
There was another couple nearby which gave Eric an opportunity to regale them with Shelby stories...
3.5 miles from the trailhead is Lost Palms Oasis, where over 100 natural fan palms grow their roots directly into spring water.
Horned toad lizards are my favorite! As a child I used to catch them all of the time, unfortunately nowadays I will only see one ever few years... dang Argentine ants- displacing their food source!
I know this guy is as upset as I am!
What a amazing day in the Joshua Tree.