It must have been at least 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius) and absolutely no shade when we arrived at Joshua Tree NP. We decided to first set up a tent, and then go hiking, as we hoped heat would lessen later in the afternoon.
At around 4:30 pm (~ 3.5h before sunset) we set out for a 7.2 miles (11.6 km) long hike to the Lost Palm Oasis. That was an excellent choice as it was one of the best hikes that I did in 2010. The views were not spectacular and it was unbearably hot (I was wearing a wet scarf and a wet cap on my head to prevent heat stroke), but the number of interesting animals and plants that we saw there was simply astounding. Every few meters we would encounter a new lizard, bird or plant. It was also the first time in my life that I saw a chuckwalla, several two-horn lizards, and even a rattlesnake!
The rattlesnake waited for us near the end of our hike, and gave us a lot of trouble passing next to it. It was a very frustrating situation: we could already see our car, we were maybe 10-15 minutes away from it, and we found ourselves unable to get to it...
Every time we tried to take a step forward, the rattlesnake was starting to rattle! There was no way that we could go around it either, as there were rock boulders both to the left and to the right of the snake. Scrambling through them did not look as much fun, and also, we decided that it was very likely that there would be other snakes there. And it would have been much more difficult to run away from a snake on the boulders. It was also not helping our situation that the sun was pretty low at that point in time and it was slowly starting to get dark...
Therefore, we (husband) decided that our best option was to try to pass in front of the snake. We tried to walk as far away from the snake as possible, which was maybe like 5 feet (1.5 meter) away... Trust me, it was definitely to close as for my comfort zone... Luckily, the snake decided to give us a break (probably it could smell our fear) and let us pass through.
During the hike we saw lots of lizards. Next to photos show a male and a female of the same species:
A two-horn lizard:
Jack Rabbit hiding in the shade:
Apparently this beetle stands on its head when it pretends that is dead...
Blooming Ocotillo and a bird:
Some plants that we saw during our hike:
The Lost Palm Oasis:
We were so excited about seeing the rattlesnake that my hands were trembling and I was unable to take a good picture of it. Also, my dearest husband forgot to take a movie of it, which would have been awesome as you could hear the rattling on it...