Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pushawalla Plateau Joshua Tree National Park


Joshua Tree National Park has a number of mining districts within its boundaries. There were several gold mines and some of those mines produced a significant amount of the precious metal, especially the Lost Horse Mine. None of the mines within the park are in operation but several can be visited for their historic value. The Pushawalla Plateau Mining District is one of the park's mining districts and that's where I went today.

The mining area is in the Pinyon Well area of the park, just off the Geology Tour Road. A road reached into the area from the Coachella Valley but our access point was from within the Park. I previously hiked into the area on August 8 but did not hike all the way up to the mining area. Now with the much cooler weather and my friend, Charlie, along in case I fell into a mine I decided to go all the way.

The last time into the Pinyon Well area I saw the recently deceased carcass of a Bighorn. There is nothing in the original site of the body but parts of the skeleton are now strewn around. The only thing close to the original site is this skull.

Cement tanks at the site of Pinyon Well.

We stopped by the Water Guzzler and fixed the pipe that was still broken.

Looking down from near the water guzzler I see this chair-like rock.

Further up the wash are the horns from a Bighorn. It is doubtful that they were carried up here from the original location by coyotes so either these are the horns of another Sheep or someone brought them to this location.

We make our way up an old road that is not on the map to a mine and some ruins. We look all around but cannot find the mine. I tromp around, frustrated, unable to find the tunnel I'm looking for. Charlie wonders what I've gotten him into. He figures I've taken him on yet another Hal hell hike to nowhere.

"I found it! It's down here! See I'm not crazy." OK, that last part is debatable but the tunnel is down here.

A small mine, very well disguised, in the middle of nowhere.

The tunnel is not very deep. It goes back only about 70 feet or so, if that.

Above the mine tunnel, we come upon some remains of an old cabin.

Exploring further up the hill I discover the kitchen with its well constructed chimney.

Since we don't have anything to make for lunch I utilize it as a lookout point.

There is a nice view from the kitchen but it's nothing compared what we'll be treated to later.

As we make our way across the hill to another road on the way to more mines, we see Mount San Gorgonio.

We make our way up another old road--this one is shown on the map--to an area with several mines. These rocks are the only remnant of any dwelling that we are able to find.

The first mine we come to is a shallow tunnel that only goes back about twenty feet. We don't even bother to go in.

Then we come to a mine that goes into the hill at about a 45ยบ angle. Charlie wants to check it out but I demur. Not knowing what lies beyond the first few feet we decide not to explore this one without a rope.

The next mine is not an option. It is a deep vertical shaft and extremely dangerous. I do not want to get too close to the edge of this one.

This is as close as I can get without fearing falling in. Even then I hold the camera out to try to get a picture of this abyss.

Charlie loves these mines and wants to return with a rope to go and explore them. I, however, am more interested in the outdoors and, if I came up here with a rope, would be more interested in climbing this wonderful thirty foot spire.

Beyond the mines is a view unequaled in Joshua Tree National Park. To the south it looks out at the Coachella Valley and the Salton Sea. To the north is the Queen Valley and Malapai Hill. West lies the San Jacintos, Banning Pass and San Gorgonio and in the east lies the outer reaches of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. The view itself is worth the effort to get here.

There is so much interesting landscape here that I wish I could stay longer.

Even the old cans up here are interesting.

Click on this photo and you can see how far the views stretch. From the road down I catch a picture of the Geology Tour Road and you can even see my Jeep miles away and over a thousand feet below.

I love hiking in Joshua Tree and am planning on coming up to another part of the park on Saturday, October 3, to enjoy a hike in the full moon. If you'd like to come along, send me an email.

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