Today, the plan was to do a three-mile hike among the Joshua Trees here in the Mojave National Preserve.
As I've mentioned before, though there is over 1.6 million acres in the park, there are very few designated trails. This one happens to be one of the more popular ones, and it is said to have the highest concentration of Joshua Trees in the world, more than even Joshua Tree National Park.
This morning we headed out for a different section of the Mojave National Preserve from the Hole-In-The-Wall Campground. On our way, we stopped to take pictures on Cedar Canyon Road.
The Teutonia Peak hike we are doing is supposed to have the highest concentration of Joshua Trees in the world, but I'll be quite surprised if there is more Joshua Tree density there than here on this side road.
For what it's worth, Joshua Trees aren't really trees, although the big ones have what looks like bark. They are, in fact, part of the Agave family and are actually the largest species of yucca. They grow only in the Mojave Desert.
The Mojave is mostly in California but it stretches into Arizona, across southern Nevada, and into the southwest corner of Utah.
From this spot on our drive we could see the curvature of the Cima Dome, the rounded remains of what was once a high, craggy mountain.
In the photo above on the far right, you can see Teutonia Peak as a bump on the dome. That's our destination for today, and where we will be hiking later.
We continued to the Kelso Cima Road where we turned right (north) and went five miles and then turned left on Cima Road and went another six miles looking at different mountain ranges.
Just before the Teutonia Peak Parking area is the Mojave Cross, a memorial cross honoring the military dead of all wars.
Just beyond the cross on the opposite side of the paved Cima Road is the parking area for the Teutonia Peak Trail. The temps were in the low 50s and it was quite windy as we got out of the Jeep. I took this shot across the road toward Striped Mountain.
Then we headed out on the Teutonia Peak Trail.
It was an easy walk through the Joshua Tree forest although, as I suspected, it wasn't as densely populated as on Cedar Canyon Road.
Looking back at Kessler Peak.
And in front of us was Teutonia Peak.
After the nice, leisurely walk, we eventually came to the foot of the little mountain.
From there it was about a 700-foot climb to the top starting with a few short switchbacks.
Views were great all along the way.
Once we reached the top of a ridge with another look at the Cima Dome on the other side, the wind was howling.
We were about two thirds of the way up, and Linda decided to stop there. I continued on among the junipers, cacti, and Joshua Trees.
The views continued to improve the higher I went.
The trail ended in a sheltered section where it would require some rock climbing to go higher.
There was a small cave with a natural bench that is a great place to get out of the wind, rest, and have a snack or lunch.
Unfortunately, these large, stacked rocks block the view from there.
I didn't stay up there long. It was really cold, and I wasn't dressed for it. Heading back down, Linda was sitting on a rock waiting for me.
We made our way down quickly and were soon on flat ground heading toward the parking area, stopping only briefly to get a photo of the "foot" of one of the big Joshua Trees.
That's a photo almost everyone that hikes this trail takes, so we were almost obligated.
So, it was a nice 3-mile hike. We skipped a side trip to an old mine which would have made it about 4 miles, but we've seen enough dilapidated mines over the years.
The hike is easy at the beginning, and then gets a bit more difficult at the end as you climb, but the views are worth the challenge. But I'd recommend it on a warmer, less windy day.
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