Monday, November 25, 2013

25% Off Our Blurb Books Through December 2--Plus Free Shipping!

Blurb has come up with a holiday offer that we can't beat. Buy any two books and get 25% off, plus free shipping! All you do is enter the code BETTER25 at checkout. The offer is good through December 2 at midnight.

You can go directly to our order page by clicking the "Check Out My Books" widget at the bottom right of this blog--or just click here for the Blurb website.

Thanks to all our friends for your enthusiasm and support. We love you!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Covington Crest: Big Trees, Big Views

 Our latest hike was Covington Crest Trail, a short and sweet loop trail that travels through a Joshua tree forest and ends at an overlook with sweeping views. It's 11 miles on a dirt road to reach the trailhead, which probably explains why it's a less visited area of the park. So much the better!

The trail parallels a wash for most of its length. At one point, there's a natural rock garden that looks for all the world like someone planted it, out in the middle of nowhere.

Here's Upper Deception Canyon at the overlook. In the background, both Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio would be visible in the high distance, if it weren't for the clouds and haze. We plan to go back on a clear day to really take in the view.

A view of the Joshua tree forest--quiet, unspoiled, and peaceful. The trees here are some of the largest in the park.

We learned about this hike from the book On Foot in Joshua Tree National Park, recommended to us by a park ranger as "the book the rangers use." Excellent maps and directions. Highly useful!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Views and Flowers at Chaparrosa Peak

The weather is unusually warm for November--just right for hiking. A friend and I tried our luck at climbing Chaparrosa Peak in the Pioneertown Mountains Preserve. We didn't make it all the way to the top, but got plenty high enough to take in the fabulous views. Above: looking east towards the buttes. 

Looking south.

Looking west in the general direction of Mt. San Gorgonio. This is as high as we got.

The big surprise was the wildflowers--lots of them! Shown here: above, desert bells (wild canterbury bells) and desert poppy. There were many more varieties, and the flowers increased in number as we climbed higher.

As it turned out, we petered out and turned around simultaneously with losing the trail near the top. The Preserve offers free guided hikes up the peak occasionally, which seem like a good idea. For more information about the Pioneertown Preserve, click here. The trails are open seven days a week now, after only being open weekends for some time, and the plants have made a great comeback after the devastating fire of 2006.