Last week in the searing heat, I tried to hike to Contact Mine in Joshua Tree National Park.
I had directions from two different sources - a trusted hiking blog and my guide book - and although I could find the trailhead when I arrived despite it not being marked, I couldn't really find the trail.
It didn't help that my two sources disagreed with each other in terms of which side of the boulder pile to hike around.
And it was HOT, even with an early start (though clearly not as early as necessary).
So after 30-45 minutes of wandering around, not really having any idea where I was going, and seeing only random cairns marking the trail, I had to turn back.
And in turning back, I got all turned around. I lost the trail. I lost my own footprints. In Joshua Tree, with the lack of vegetation, it's very hard to tell the difference between an official trail, a day use trail, and a shortcut someone took once.
Fortunately, I wasn't very far in, the sun was low enough in the sky to indicate which direction was east, and I had a sense of where the main road was. I just walked to the road, knowing I'd find my car as soon as I got to paved land.
When I got back to my car, I was inclined to ditch the rest of the day, on account of the heat and the sun and my lack of navigational skills. But since I was already IN the park (a drive that always takes longer than you think it's going to), I didn't want to leave without seeing something.
So I drove to the Lucky Boy Vista trailhead, to see a couple of covered, vertical mine shafts of Elton Mine, and a moderate scenic overlook.
At least this trailhead was marked, sort of.
And the trail was lined with one of the few summer-blooming flowers of the high desert.
There is nothing like walking under that Joshua Tree sky...
...a walk which somehow felt cooler at Elton Mine than at Contact Mine.
Barbed wire marks the danger of the mine shafts, though I kept thinking, "I have no intention on falling down a mine shaft today." I hope I never have that intention.
A couple of cairns mark the end of the overlook, which appears as though you could just keep walking over it because it's not that high, and is a more gradual drop-off.
But it's something different. Honestly, every vista point in Joshua Tree is different.
You can never see that park from too many vantage points.
A Stone Unturned: Lost Horse Mine
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