Joshua Tree NP Camping Trip

In mid-November I decided that an overnight camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park was in order.  It would give me a chance to do a sunset shoot, get a good night’s sleep, and be up early for a sunrise shoot.  At least that was the plan.

I had locations in mind for both sunset and sunrise shoots which would require camping in one of the campgrounds in the north end of the park.  Here is where my plan started to fall apart.  Due to attending a meeting in the morning, I didn’t get up to the park until early afternoon.  Alas, the campgrounds were already full.  I decided, rather than abandoning my plans completely, to drive down to the south end and check out the one campground there.  Fortunately there were a number of open spots so I took one and set about pitching my tent.  Unfortunately it was getting late in the afternoon, the sun was getting low on the horizon and I knew there was no way I had time to get back to the spot I had chosen for a sunset shoot.  Equally unfortunate was that I didn’t have a back-up location at this end of the park.

I set off in the car in the hopes that something would catch my eye.  By the time I found a reasonable location, as I was setting up my tripod and camera I was watching the sun disappear below the horizon.  I did manage to get a nice shot of a Smoke Tree against a sky with a bit color in it but didn’t get much else that excited me.

Smoke Tree

Smoke Tree

My luck was a little better the next morning.  I was up early and on the road well before sunrise.  Over night I had come up with the idea of heading to Ocotillo Wash and shooting sunrise using an Ocotillo as my foreground object.  I arrived at my chosen location in plenty of time and managed to get some nice sunrise shots.

Ocotillo Sunrise

Ocotillo Sunrise

Then it was back to the campground for breakfast and packing up.  Again my plan had been to do a hike in the middle area of the park but I decided that since I was virtually beside the trailhead for the Mastadon Mine hike I may as well do that one instead.

It turned out to be a very pleasant morning.  The hike is not overly difficult and the trail is fairly well marked.  Along the way are some ruins of old mines.  The Mastadon Mine itself is undergoing some reconstruction work to replace old, rotting timbers.

Old building foundation on hilltop

Old building foundation on hilltop

Old foundation

Old foundation

trail marker

Trail marker

From the upper elevations of the hike there were some great views, including views of the Salton Sea to the southwest.  And, of course, all along the trail were great views of desert plants.  All-in-all it was a great way to spend a morning.

Mastadon Mine

Mastadon Mine

Ocotillo

Ocotillo

old juniper

Old juniper

Certainly this excursion was an example of things not going according to plan but if you are flexible enough you can still have a great outcome.

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