After lunch and our stop at Keys View we headed back to the Barker Dam Trail.
This was another easy hike/walk at 2km (1.3mi) and provided another variation of desert life from what we had seen in our other stops.
Back in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s, this area was home to cattle ranching and would receive an average annual rainfall of 25cm (10in).
Today the area receives 5cm (2in) to 13cm (2in) 😦
Barkers Dam was built around 1900 to hold water for cattle and mining use. Today the dam forms a small rain fed reservoir used by park wildlife.
Below the dam there is more moisture and you can see plants, such as willows, that do not normally grow in the desert. These willows were probably planted by the ranchers to shade their cattle.
There was also a water trough still remaining below the dam.
We saw lots of plant life at the beginning of our walk but it sure became lush as we left the dam area and walked down to the valley floor.
This damper area was also home to Cats Claw, which often forms thickets along streams and desert washes. It can grow as high as 6m (20ft) and blooms with yellow flowers as you can see in the picture below.
It was around this point in our walk that we inadvertently veered off the main path. At one point I thought to myself “we are heading away from the parking lot” but I marched on. Fortunately our smart trail guide, hubby’s cousin, stopped us and we headed back in the right direction … but not before I got some more pretty pictures 🙂
It wasn’t long before we were back on track, but not before I reminded the other two that I was the only one that brought my backpack with water, food, and other supplies, so if we were lost they were on there own!
As we were approaching the end of the trail we came across some mountain sheep.
We knew that mountain sheep hung around this area since it was their main water source so we were very happy to spot some.
And that is it for Joshua Tree National Park, until next time … and there will be a next time
… hopefully in the spring when the flowers and trees are in bloom
Until next time …