Pushawalla Pass and The Blue Cut

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Sunrise over the Hexie Mountains from the Geology Road Malapai Hill (4280'), the core of an extinct volcano The hike begins with walk across the Pleasant Valley to the mouth of Pushawalla Wash, 2.5 miles away Paloverde and acacia begin to fill in the Valley as we approach the mountains A view back towards Malipai Hill and the Hexie Mountains Plant skeletons A faint trail made by javalinas Cholla cactus appear and the bushwacking gets tricky Joshua Tree closeup Another view of a Joshua Tree View of Malapai Hill and the Hexie Mountains Looking back at Malipai Hill from the mouth of Pushawall Wash The outlet of Pushawalla Wash, elevation 3660 feet Starting up Pushawalla Wash Howie inspecting dry water tanks at the old settlement of Pinyon Well Small flowers blooming near the site of an old well Filaree in bloom Big rock on the climb towards Pushawalla Pass The wash continues up Howie and Tom trudge along through the sand View from Pushawalla Pass (4620'). Mt San Jacinto is about 30 miles away Mt San Jacinto (10,804') and Mt San Gorgonio (11,499') rise in the distance View of San Gorgonio from Pushawalla Plateau A peak into The Blue Cut Wash, our destination for today A boulder composed of columnar basalt Looking back towards Malapai Hill and Pleasant Valley, our starting point Joshua tree and rock stack Jacinto and Gorgonio from the Plateau. John and I decide to climb the stack for a better view John on top of the stack Howie and Tom wait below Another view of San Gorgonio from the stack Pinyon pine and Joshua tree on the Plateau Another rock stack Desert Bell A rare pool of standing water Another look back at where we've come from Joshua Tree flower bud As we descend we see more flowers getting ready to open Back in Pushawalla Wash, heading towards Pushawalla Canyon The very nasty Cat Claw bush We leave Pushawalla Canyon here to take a shortcut to Blue Cut Wash Plains Blackfoot in bloom Desert dandelions carpet a hillside John looks back across our "shortcut" route John, Tom and Howie begin setting up camp Relaxing in camp The sun sets behind Mt San Jacinto Streaming clouds over The Blue Cut Wash Looking south towards Pushawalla Canyon Sleeping on Mars The sun rises across Blue Cut Wash and Mt San Jacinto Looking south towards Pushawalla Canyon Looking towards The Blue Cut, our route for today A view of Pushawalla Pass, yesterday's hike A portend for today's hike? Beginning the climb up the mountains south of The Blue Cut Looking back at The Blue Cut Wash as the climb continues Looking up the "trail" San Gorgonio in the distance Joshua Tree and cholla cactus on the summit ridge The low brown hills mark the location of the active fault that created The Blue Cut Wonderful hiking along the summit ridge Can you spot the trail? The Blue Cut Pass Tracks of desert bighorn sheep Brittlebush makes the descent into The Blue Cut challanging Joshau Tree forest in The Blue Cut Pass View of the Joshau Tree forest looking east View of the Joshau Tree forest looking west Near the top of The Blue Cut Pass (4411') Somebody lives here More Joshua Tree flowers Heading down The Blue Cut wash Joshua Tree shadow Looking back at the forest A good sized juniper growing in the wash Pink quartz monzonite boulders line the wash John takes a reading. Doesn't everyone hike with a geiger counter? Lone Joshua Tree on a ridge The wash descends in broad meanders Sturt's Desert Pea The wash widens as we approach Pleasant Valley Panorama of Malapai Hill and Pleasant Valley Patterns of growth in the Pleasant Valley playa Last look across Pleasant Valley