There is something about the starkness of the desert that clears my mind and senses. I love being in the desert in the cooler months and after years away, it was good to reconnect with Joshua Tree National Park. Although I often camp during my outdoor excursions, this time around I had the luxury of staying with friends who live adjacent to the park.
It was easy to traverse the landscape through the washes scoured clear of boulders by periodic flash floods.
Flowers in the desert seem heroic, even more so during this season that is the driest in California recorded history. Wandering through the wash, it was a treat to encounter these canterbury bells (Phacelia minor for you botanical name types).
Plant geek that I am, reacquainting myself with different types of cacti felt like a reunion with old friends.
One afternoon, I hiked to that most precious of desert environments, a source of year-round water. Like many comparable locations, 49 Palms Oasis is open for day use only so that wildlife can access it at night.
The oases are full of birds, mostly heard since they are hard to spot in the thick mat of the fan palms. My local friend told me that the rough bark on these trees evolved to resist being fed on by mastodons.
My trip was a wonderful return to a place I love. I feel recharged.