The California desert welcomes spring

Mission Creek Preserve, brittlebush 3 3-18-15 - Copy.JPG
Brittlebush lines the easy start to the Mission Creek Preserve trail near Morongo.

Mission Creek Preserve trail, blue phacelia, desert dandelion, Fremont pincushion 3-18-15 - Copy.JPG
The trail wanders toward San Gorgonio Mountain en route to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail.

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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.

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Voracious hornworms proliferate. Soon, they'll metamorphose into hawkmoths.

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Why did the gopher snake cross the trail? ...

Mission Creek Preserve gopher snake2 3-15 - Copy.JPG get to the other side.

junction Mission Creek Preserve and Pac Crest trails5 3-18-15 - Copy.JPG
A fork in the road. Any route you take is the right one.

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In Joshua Tree, you're always between a rock and a beautiful place.

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A Phainopepla perched atop a yucca is less inclined to sing than survey.

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The whiptail lizard is quick, but we were quicker. Or maybe just lucky.

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The heliotrope thrives in sandy washes, a splash of color tarting up the terrain.

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Rock (quartz monzonite) against sky (blue. Unrelenting blue.)

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The summit of Mastodon Peak, where you are queen of the realm. Because no one's there to argue otherwise.

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Chuckwallas scurry into crevices when they feel threatened, but this one forgot to hide his tail.

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Apparently, we're not that intimidating--soon, he emerged to say hello.

Photos: Ellen Alperstein

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