Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Late Night Shower


Right now we have the Pleiades meteor shower going on if you're up late at night in some place with dark skies. I figured Joshua Tree National Park would be the perfect location.

My son, Nikolas, and I raced the sun to get out to Cottonwood Spring before dark. We wanted the darkness to fall in order to see the meteor shower but we had to do a short hike first.

We hit the Cottonwood Spring trailhead and not a soul was there. This is the third time I've been there this year and the first time it's been deserted. I can't imagine why people wouldn't be hiking here in the middle of August.

Nik made his way down the trail and stopped short. "Dad! Come here!"

On the trail is something that looks like a snake.

It's just a stick that looks like a snake but I wouldn't want to take any chances, either. Of course, with the Mojave Green inhabiting the area I want to be extra careful.

This collared lizard is no cause for alarm. Nik tries to catch him but he's FAST.

We check out the bedrock mortars at the oasis and head up the trail.

The light is this amazing amber color since the sun is behind the hills and the weather is surprisingly perfect. I thought it would be much warmer here than it is.

We head up toward the Mastodon Mine but don't quite make it there before it starts getting dark. Nikolas wants to go back. He's not worried about rattlers--at least they warn you--but he doesn't want to get eaten by a mountain lion. I guess I can't blame him.

The sun is fading quickly and it's probably a good idea to head back.

As we head back up the trail we see not the normal lizards or snakes that one expects to see in the desert but frogs. They have emerged from the palm trees and the water to enjoy the cooler evening air and to find some bugs for dinner.

We still have a little light when we get back to the Jeep but not much. We head over to the Cottonwood campground and find it surprisingly full. I bet more than half of the campsite are occupied and people are in their full camping mode with fires going, getting ready for smores. I wouldn't have expected so many people here on a summer weekend and to see so many during the week is crazy. I guess the light show in the sky is a bigger attraction than I thought.

It is amazing and does not disappoint. We sit outside in perfect weather for over an hour and watch meteors cross the sky. It makes me sorry I did not bring camping gear. I never thought the weather could be as nice as it is. You wouldn't need a warm sleeping bag but with a light blanket it'd be perfect to sleep under a sky streaked with celestial fireworks. But home we go, filled with excitement and memories. It's probably good that we're heading home because with meteors streaking across the sky all night who'd be able to sleep anyway?

No comments: