26-Jul-2007 -- We arrived in the vicinity of this confluence in Joshua Tree National Park by driving to the telecommunications site located approximately 500 feet northeast of the confluence. We work for an environmental consulting firm that is doing environmental assessments for radio tower sites in Riverside County. The system we are working on will ultimately consist of approximately 70 tower sites in and around Riverside County and will serve emergency service providers (fire, police, etc.) within the County. The existing telecommunications site on top of the nearby hill has been proposed for placement of a small tower, and members of our firm (Michael Brandman Associates) visited the area to assess the site for biological, cultural, and other environmental sensitivities. Seeing that the site was only about 500 feet from a confluence, it seemed that this was too good an opportunity to pass up, so after completing our work on the mountaintop we struck out for the magic point.
The “hike” was an easy scramble down the slope below the tower site and up the side of a gently sloping draw. The walk took about five minutes, and the confluence was easily found. A previous visitor had left a small pile of rocks at the exact point that our GPS unit zeroed out. The time of our visit (late July) is monsoon season in this part of California and much of the southwest, and there were large thunderheads nearby, though we did not receive any rain during our visit. The temperature was a rather mild 95 degrees (F), but the humidity was 55 percent and the dewpoint was 68 degrees (F), which is indicative of monsoon conditions in the upper limits of the Sonoran desert.
Vegetation at the confluence site is typical of this area and this elevation (about 4,400 feet), and is somewhat unique because this area is within the transition zone between the Sonoran desert and the Mojave desert. Dominant species include yucca and bursage, with an occasional red barrel cactus and pencil cholla. In wet years there can be a great many annual flowers and grasses, and the dried remains of last year’s (2006) super bloom were widely evident. This year (2007), however, has been exceptionally dry, so there has been little annual vegetation production and conditions were very dry. Maybe next year….
Pictures #1 through #4 are views from the confluence point looking north, east, south, and west, respectively. Picture #5 is of our zeroed out GPS, and #6 is of our team at the confluence. Left to right is Steve Norton, project ecologist, Jennifer Sanka, project archaeologist, and myself, project manager. Denise Parks, with the National Park Service, took the photo and was gracious enough to let us pursue our quest for this imaginary point. Thanks, Denise!