L to R Pokin, Sky, Rainbow, Nickcki, Cindy & Gene
In the very first meeting Cindy and I had regarding the National Park Run, she expressed that she had always wanted to go to Joshua Tree NP. So when she first approached me about coming to the National NET Summit in San Diego and doing Joshua Tree then; I insisted she do it with me.
On the coldest day in Southern California this year, Cindy Lovelace, Gene Lovelace & I set out on a 3 hour ride from San Diego to Joshua Tree National Park.
As we drove closer to JT we were greeted by miles and miles of wind turbines. There were hundreds of them in this valley and surrounding ridges! It was as if we were driving through a whimsical forest. We need a whole lot more of these "forests" in our country!
Nickcki, (a childhood friend of my husband) in addition to Pokin, Rainbow & Sky (a NET patient) met us at the Park. It was such a joy having them join us! They are all the most delightful people! Sky is a highly intelligent, mature & great ballerina, but mostly she is sweet and beautiful inside and out. I was very impressed with this young person.
The line into the park was so long! Rock climbers
We stopped at Quail Springs to enjoy the wonderful vistas and watch the rock climbers and then it was on to Boy Scout Trail for a 3+ mile hike through the mesmerizing Joshua Trees.
Joshua Tree - I laid down on the ground to get this shot up the trunk of the tree. But later realized there were several stickers in my backside.
When we started down the trail it was so interesting walking among these trees that most certainly came from the imagination of Dr. Suess. The more we walked the more enveloped I felt by them, and not in a bad way. It seemed that I was immersing into their whimsical environment and regular trees were not welcome in this fantasyland. It's a mysterious. I'm not a desert person, and said as much on the trail to my companions, but the more we walked, the more I loved it.
A Joshua Tree isn't a tree at all, even though they can grow to be 40 feet tall, they are a yucca plant. Who knew?!?
And now for how this enchanting environment came to be. I will give you my 'Reader's Digest Condensed' version of what happened. About 750 million years ago the Farallon plate ran into the Continental Drift. Well Mr. Farallon was heavier than Mr. Continental, lifting him up, causing the uplift in the area. (Just to the west in the park you will find the San Andreas Fault Line) This released magma up into the Continental Plate. Some of the rock in the Continental plate was basically injected with magma. They rolled around, cooled, and were brought to the surface and then erosion took over with the final shaping of these unusual rocks.
The environmental story goes something like this: There are almost 800,000 acres in the Park. There are 3 ecosystems within this unique setting. The southern and eastern sections of the park are the Colorado Desert. This area contains the spiky plants like the ocotillo and cholla cactus. The northern section of the park is the Mohave Desert. It is this area that holds the park's Joshua Trees. The western section of the park is the Little San Bernandino Mountain Range. This is home to lots of California Juniper & Pinyon Pine trees. This is also the highest section of the park rising to around 4,000'.
I wasn't expecting to learn that there are rather large herds of bighorn sheep in the park. We didn't see any but I would imagine they would be in the SB Mts. The park is also home to many birds, mammals and reptiles. We saw the cutest rabbit (Desert Black-Tailed Jackrabbit) while we were hiking. He had very long legs and ears and of course his tail was black and so were the spots on the back of his ears. So adorable! I wish I could have gotten a picture of him, but he was shy. And of course, my personal favorite, 6 different species of rattlesnakes live within the Park. Ewww!
I was mindful of the hardship these plants, rocks, and animals go through to live here. They are so unique and beautiful and yet their lives are extremely difficult. It reminds me of NET patients. You go through so much and yet all of you that I have met and talked to are kind, loving, generous, and beautiful. NET has put you in a harsh environment like Joshua Tree and yet you bloom.
Could I be more proud?