Brittlebush lines the easy start to the Mission Creek Preserve trail near Morongo.
The trail wanders toward San Gorgonio Mountain en route to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail.
Mistletoe: 1; mesquite tree: 0. The Cahuilla Indians used the parasite's leaves to make dye for basket and pots. Beware the berries--many varieties are poisonous.
Voracious hornworms proliferate. Soon, they'll metamorphose into hawkmoths.
Why did the gopher snake cross the trail? ...
...to get to the other side.
A fork in the road. Any route you take is the right one.
In Joshua Tree, you're always between a rock and a beautiful place.
A Phainopepla perched atop a yucca is less inclined to sing than survey.
The whiptail lizard is quick, but we were quicker. Or maybe just lucky.
The heliotrope thrives in sandy washes, a splash of color tarting up the terrain.
Rock (quartz monzonite) against sky (blue. Unrelenting blue.)
The summit of Mastodon Peak, where you are queen of the realm. Because no one's there to argue otherwise.
Chuckwallas scurry into crevices when they feel threatened, but this one forgot to hide his tail.
Apparently, we're not that intimidating--soon, he emerged to say hello.
Photos: Ellen Alperstein