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My favorite trail isn't particularly long, maybe a mile and a half. It does have some dramatic topographic changes, enough to get my heart racing. It runs along the border of Joshua Tree National Park just south of the town of Yucca Valley in San Bernardino County. It begins at the end of a bumpy dirt road. The trail head starts out in a quiet desert valley and climbs in zigs and zags up the side of a steepish ridge that is part of the chain of mountains called the Little San Bernardinos.
Close to the top there is a podium with a hinged lid. Marked on the top of the lid is a crude drawing showing the major peaks including two of the "three saints" - San Jacinto (tallest peak in Riverside County) and San Gorgonio (tallest peak in San Bernardino County). The third saint is San Antonio (the tallest peak in Los Angeles County). Raise the lid of the podium and you find a notebook and pens or pencils. In this notebook people have left messages or notes about their hike, what they observed in the way of wildlife (ground squirrels, snakes, bobcats, bighorn sheep, coyotes) or weather conditions..."It's HOT!" Some leave drawings. Some talk about their comrades "I LOVE Joey!" I always enjoyed thumbing through the notebook and leaving entries of my own, incredibly bad poetry or wild claims "Saw a sasquatch eating a bighorn sheep today!"
In this place on the earth it is possible to smell pine drifting on the ever present desert wind. It's possible to see these same winds blowing clouds of snow from the top of San Gorgonio. It's possible to see leathery lizards doing push ups in the warm sands of a desert wash. It's possible to see a lazily soaring hawk flying in wide circles among the craggy peaks of these desert mountains. It's possible to catch a furtive cottontail resting in the shade of the juniper. It's possible to feel your beating heart and feed your hungry soul with the quiet and solitude of this mysterious wilderness.
This is where I found these glorious blooms of the parry nolina.