This month I have been able to spend more time exploring and monitoring the Coso Wilderness. It is quite a surprising land. The Coso Mountains are known for their abundance of prehistoric rock art and the wild horse and burros that roam the area. During my explorations, I did manage to see one small herd of wild horses and one pictograph site. Though, I have discovered the variety and depth of treasures that exist in these desert mountains. I have spent a couple of month visiting the area, recording the boundary conditions, and making recommendations for restoration.
This wilderness has shown me signs of the past, signs of life and of death, the power of natural forces, and the beauty of its natural landscape. There has been snow, sand dunes, active mines, abandoned mining site, lithic scatters, pictographs, dry lake beds, snakes, horses, pack rats, birds, bone and skulls, historic cabins, gorgeous views of the high sierra, the famous location of the U2 Joshua Tree, large stands of Joshua tree, cars now acting as permanent fixtures of washes, roads completely washed out and/or missing, rocks displaying brilliant red/orange/yellow colors, and many more small wonders. My time hiking and exploring the Coso Wilderness has really strengthened my appreciation for the unique value found here in the Mojave Desert and has gotten me to reflect in its beauty.
I have learned that there are many who may consider this desert a dead and barren land; a place that has no life and no use; one that can be ridden over and used without care or consideration. I will admit, I was ignorant to the desert before moving out here. I came from a land that is green year around and has rain a majority of the year. The initial visual impression of the desert was shocking to my eyes. I saw brown, various shades of brown, what looked like dead vegetation, lack of trees and limited water. I saw what wasn’t here. Now, after living here for almost 2 years, I have begun to see what is here. The unmatched sunrises and sunsets, the open expanses, summer thunderstorms and flash floods, the smell of creosote when it rains, the variety of colors (not just brown), the variety of vegetation and their amazing adaptations, the seasonal blooms, the unique wildlife (Mojave green rattlesnake, tarantulas, scorpions, desert tortoise, ground squirrels, burrowing owls, and others), the fascinating mining history, and that is just to name a few. It is a place that hides nothing and exposes all. I have really discovered the life, value, and beauty that exist here in the Mojave Desert over the past 2 years being immersed in its reality. Yes it is a harsh environment of extremes and a land where survival can be a struggle, but it is also so much more!