I’ve been being mainly non-verbal today

Mainly because I’ve been writing like a fiend for the last two weeks when I haven’t been driving across the state. So I took a couple days away from the computer, mostly.

Went on a little seven-mile round trip hike in the National Park next door. No great feat compared to what I used to do routinely, especially since the total elevation gain was less than 500 feet. But it’s the first hike of that length I’ve done in some months, so it did me more or less in. Especially the part about the mile and a half furthest from the trailhead being on deep sand. Which meant three miles hiked on deep sand, as I had to come back. Ow my aching lower extremities.

Along the Boy Scout Trail in Joshua Tree National Park

The trail led to Willow Hole, a seasonal wetland with the aforementioned trees in the middle of the bouldery part of the park called the Wonderland of Rocks:


Just upstream from Willow Hole.

Got there, sat, drank water, heard my favorite desert birdsong, from the canyon wren (Catherpes mexicanus):


All in all, a good day. Ow.


  1. chigau (違う) says

    Prevailing winds.

    Chris, there is a typo “moe or less” up there.

  2. osmosis says

    Just upstream from Willow Hole is stunning, I hope you don’t mind if I keep it for a desktop background.

  3. A. R says

    Curse you Chris! I got all excited when I thought I saw and SDS-PAGE near the end of the post, when it was really a recording of a bird! :)

  4. says

    @ Chris

    Beautiful pictures. I am especially fascinated by the second one – I just keep seeing all manner of Earth Mother figures hidden in the rocks. I can only imagine what it would be like to actually be there.

  5. says

    Oh, I love the canyon wren! I’ve spent most of my life here in the middle north of the US (Minnesota and Wisconsin), but we go to the desert when we can, and spent a year in southwestern New Mexico. That song of the canyon wren takes me right back there. The cactus wren, too, though its song is not so pretty; or pretty at all, really.

  6. ilex says

    Hey, I’ve climbed on those (the rocks, not the trees)! I think I was eight. I don’t remember the bird song, but playing the recording just fascinated and confused my cat. Made my night.

  7. unclefrogy says

    I just spent an hour driving around the desert looking for the wonderland of rocks seeing some interesting things like lawns at pumping station housing and roads and a few buildings here and there I had forgotten how it was just wish I had the time to spend out there in real life (Google street view and satellite)
    just to walk around and look at the nothing in particular places out there. just remembering things saw the last time I was there
    uncle frogy

  8. janeymack says

    I’d love to go there; those rocks are glorious and amazing!

    My cat is not nearly so enthused. She looked desperately around for the bird, nosing the laptop thoroughly, checking out all sides. Now she is sitting here, staring at me in disgust! I should listen to bird songs more often. (I know, that’s mean.)

  9. eclipsse, very happy kitten says

    What a beautiful rockscape! We only have floodplain here – great farmland, but not so inspiring to walk.
    @janeymac – LOL – mine too! One is convinced that it came from outside, and is hiding under the curtains watching the window; the other is currently staring at the computer, occasionally poking the speakers with a paw.

    Sorry to say, I have copied Chris’s sample to my desktop, for future cat-tormentation!

  10. fantysq (a Radical Feminist and a Militant Atheist) says

    My artist senses are tingling. I like those rocks. I guess it’s time to spend a few hours on flickr, saving reference pictures.

  11. Nerdette says

    I could not hear the call of a cactus wren and not continuously crack up. I see wrens as disgruntled little creatures, hell bent on maintaining their little status quo (whatever it might be) that everyone else seems to disregard. Every wren species I’ve seen looks like it is saying, “Do you see this? Do you? This is completely unacceptable!” And now I know what it sounds like when a wren tries to articulate those very words aloud.

  12. rq says

    As always, I’m going to put originality aside and simply say, Amazing rocks! That’s the kind of geologic feature I’d love to see in real life, one day.
    And thank you for the birdsong. I’m going to try it on my cat, too, once he deigns to come near the likes of myself for the ritual ear-scratch before taking over the comfy chair.

  13. Larry says

    Love the canyon wren’s call. It always reminds me of the rafting trip I took down the Colorado through Grand Canyon. We heard that call from Marble Canyon down to Lake Mead. It is just so evocative of the desert southwest.

  14. movablebooklady says

    A few years, when I was still RVing the country, I stayed a couple of nights at Jumbo Rocks Camps in Joshua Tree. Loved the big boulders and have some great pictures. Also liked the Ocotillo Garden (I love ocotillo, esp. when it makes a living fence). Sounds like a nice hike.

  15. paulburnett says

    Randomfactor (#2) wrote “Oh, that Wonderland of Rocks is gorgeous!” (And others also liked the rocks.)

    Not to take anything away from Joshua Tree, but if you like those rocks, you will love the Chiricahua National Monument (http://www.nps.gov/chir/index.htm), 100 miles east of Tucson, AZ. Check out pictures at Google Images.

  16. moarscienceplz says

    I’m using my well-known psychic abilities to heal your muscles remotely. You’re all better now, right?

    I used to live in Willcox, AZ. I was going to mention the “Cherry Cows” to Chris, but you beat me to it!

  17. viajera says

    paulburnett and moarscienceplz:

    Yes, thirding the recommendation of the Chiricahuas. Beautiful place! I spent a summer hiking around there as an undergrad field researcher. Lots of pretty rocks, and Canyon Wrens, too. Great for thunderstorm-watching in the monsoon season. I remember nights driving through the desert watching lightning storms flashing over the Sky Islands all around us. Incredible!

  18. fastlane says

    And if you’re at all interested in birding in the southwest, you absolutely must make a trip to Madera canyon (my wife and I had our wedding ceremony there, at sunrise).

  19. randay says

    Did you know that if you are 62, probably not you but someone you know;), you can get a lifetime pass–Senior Pass–for free admission to National Parks, Forests, Monuments, etc. for 10 dollars. Lifetime, not a year. The Pass allows the entry of a car with up to four people over 16.

    So just take ma or pa, or grandma or grandpa, or some other old folk like an aging professor with you.

  20. crazycatlady says

    My cats did not react at all, I guess they only recognize pigeons and sparrow noises.