Monday, March 13, 2017

Twin Tanks - Post #1 Joshua Tree National Park

A "tank" is a natural depression in the ground that collects water. Local Indians took advantage of these tanks, and many times, established seasonal villages or camp sites near them. 

After the land was stolen from the Indians, ranchers and miners decided that these tanks would hold more water if they enlarged them. To do this, they added concrete and/or stone dams. These two tanks fall into both categories. There are many more natural and enlarged tanks throughout the park. As you can imagine, the ancient history that took place around natural tanks, is much older, and in the eyes of some us, much more interesting. I'll show you what I mean in a minute. 

Technically, Twin Tanks is not a secret. The words "Twin Tanks" appear on the park map, has a shared parking area (fairly well hidden), and even a tiny road sign (that you will likely miss). 

I won't bore you with basic info on how to get to the tanks, because it is readily available elsewhere. In a nutshell, you want to get from where you park your car to the western (slightly southwestern) base of the hill with the large white quartz rocks on top. 


 This hill

You don't have to climb the hill to get to the tanks. I hiked in from a different direction, and had to climb part of it, to get around it anyway. Plus, I wanted to take some photos from up there. That is the only reason I went up all the way.


 Well that climb wasn't too bad!

Actually, it was really steep! DO NOT try this at home kids. If you came to see the tanks, you should do just that, and don't bother with this hill.

 Close up


A view of tank #1 from on top (I'm not showing you tank #2)

 From ground level


The tank itself doesn't interest me all that much. What does interest me is in the middle of the photo. 


Cupules! Lots of cupules! In case you don't remember, cupules are generally considered to be the oldest form of petroglyphs. One other note of interest: See that little metal bracket at the bottom left of the photo? That was one of several brackets that supported a wooden "deck." I'm not sure exactly what it was used for, but the first couple of times I saw this tank (as a young lad) there was still part of the "deck" in place.


Lots of "back in the day" ingenuity went into this structure.

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Unless you are a very competent hiker, and have good survival skills, I'd advise you not to seek out these tanks via any route other than the one you'll find on the internet. This place is a warren of washes and small canyons, many of which terminate in a dead end. What I'm saying, is that it is very easy to get lost and/or injured in this area. For most people, getting lost in the desert or wilderness, is a very bad thing. Sometimes, it is a fatal mistake. This is made all the worse, by the absence of cell phone signals here.  Yes, I did hike in from a different direction, but I'm very familiar with the area. If you do go, stick to the route suggested, and get out of there after you see the tanks. Umkay?



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48 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Rather not get lost.
Do the tanks still gather water as they did in the past?

Dennis Hodgson said...

As a one-time geologist, I'm intrigued as to how big lumps of quartz just happen to be lying about on top of a hill. Is there a vein of the mineral close by? Or is it not possible to tell?

Sharon Wagner said...

I'll heed your warning. luckily for us, you're a trailblazer with a good eye. Thanks for sharing!

Betsy Adams said...

Hi Pat, I think I'll just enjoy your HIKE --by enjoying your PHOTOS... Thanks!!!! Love the Cupules...

I'll bet it would be easy to get lost in the desert.... Yipes....

Thanks so much for sharing.

Hugs,
Betsy

Kaya said...

Today I have learned about tanks, Pat. I didn't know anything about them and read your post with great interest. In the first comment Alex asked your about tanks; do they still collect water. I am wandering about it also.

Great pictures; it's enjoyable to follow your journey and adventures, Pat.

Best wishes to you.

William Kendall said...

Wonderful views, Pat!

DEZMOND said...

I'd get lost in matters of seconds!

Pat Tillett said...

Alex J. Cavanaugh - Some of still gather water, but most of them have naturally filled up with sand and decomposed granite. A couple of them are pretty large.

Dennis Hodgson - There is a lot of quartz in the area. Also a lot of gold mines. Don't they sometimes run together?

Sharon Wagner - Trailblazer? Probably more like an old fool. You are welcome, and right back at you.

Betsy Adams - Thanks Betsy! Getting lost is never good, but it doesn't have to be a disaster.

Kaya - Thanks so much Kaya! Water in the tanks is a seasonal thing. But a lot of them are full of sand.

William Kendall - Thanks William!

DEZMOND - HA! I've not known exactly where I was many times, but can't say that I've ever been seriously lost. For that I am happy!

VEG said...

I also had not heard of tanks, but of course it makes perfect sense! You're like my desert teacher. I also love the contrast of the white quartz rocks against the sandy red. Very striking.

Brian said...

I'm afraid it wouldn't take me long to get lost! Great photos Pat!!!

Al said...

Fascinating - I'm surprised there's enough water for these open-air storage tanks to be effective.

TS Hendrik said...

Me and the desert don't get along too well, so if I ever make it out to check out the tanks, it'll be shortest route possible. And I still might die.

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Great post, Pat. Wish I would have joined you on this one! Never been to Twin Tanks and it's been on my list of places to explore for a while. The cupules look amazing!

Pat Tillett said...

VEG - Snatch the pebble from my hand Grasshopper...
They even stand out more in person. It's an amazing contrast.

Brian - Thanks Brian!

Al - A lot of people feel that way about the desert. Except for summer, the weather is usually perfect there. Thanks Al!

TS Hendrik - You will not die! I get along fine with the desert, it's the sun that kills me. I'm usually dressed like a Bedouin there.

Spare Parts and Pics - Thanks Pete! It is one of my favorite places. I think the next couple of posts will be related to that area. I've spent a lot of time out there, and I've NEVER run into another person. Even footprints are rare. Once you get past the tanks, that is...

Tom said...

Well Pat, what interesting, drier than a bone, country. A part of the world that I have yet to see in person, so thanks for the tour. Since I have a serious addition to green surroundings, I may not make it there during this life. But I'll give it some thought the next time I drift back through. As always, keep up your good work...peace.

Pat Tillett said...

Tom - There is enough water for everything that lives there. Except for humans that is. They warn you upon entering, and in all their brochures, that there is NO drinking water available in the park. Also no gas or food. It is a huge place. This time of the year though, the desert is exploding with wild flowers. It makes me sneeze just thinking about it. Thanks for the comment Tom.

bettyl-NZ said...

How interesting. Nature is full of fun facts.

Dennis Hodgson said...

Pat, there are clearly igneous rocks (probably granite) underlying this area. Your comment about gold mines in the area reminds me that when these rocks cooled, all the heavy metals (lead, tin, gold, etc.), plus all the surplus silica, were squeezed out into veins in the surrounding rocks because they couldn't fit into any of the main igneous rock-forming minerals.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Pat! I will enjoy these views thru your photos. I have horrible with directions, I need marked trails. The capules and tanks are interesting. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your day!

PerthDailyPhoto said...

I'm going to be sensible and take your advice Pat ☺ I am always more than happy to enjoy these incroyable discoveries through your expert eyes.. and besides I have a non existent sense of direction 😀

Pat Tillett said...

bettyl-NZ - Lots of very interesting things. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

Dennis Hodgson - You are right! Miles of monzogranite formations. They are on, in, and under the ground. Thanks for the info, I didn't know how that worked. I don't know very much about geology.

eileeninmd - Hi Eileen! There are some marked trails here, but also many wilderness areas, like this one. My pleasure! Thanks for your comments.

PerthDailyPhoto - Sometimes, I should heed my own advice a bit more. I do have a good sense of direction, and that is half the battle.

George said...

Thanks for taking us along with you on your hike. I enjoyed your photos and the information you've given.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Wonderful Joshua Tree scenery. We have seen some of those sinks and they are always special -- thank you for the warning.... you know I wouldn't try that hard way to hike in (wouldn't and couldn't) ... although I'd love to someday be in the area to look for that tiny sign on the driveable road with a short hike after parking. That (unfortunately) is pretty much the most adventure we can do these days.

Lady Fi said...

Fascinating and beautiful!

Pat Tillett said...

George - My pleasure Sir! Glad that you enjoyed it. I hope you enjoyed your birthday...

Sallie (FullTime-Life) - Sallie, some days I feel the same way... Thanks for the nice words.

Lady Fi - Thanks so much Fiona!

NatureFootstep said...

natures work of art for us to discover :) Thanks for sharing.

James said...

A fascinating post! I rarely get off of the beaten path so it's nice to see amazing places like this.

Liz said...

An interesting and informative post, Pat!

Pat Tillett said...

NatureFootstep - My pleasure! I agree.

James - Thanks James! I'm glad you enjoy this stuff.

Liz - Thanks Liz!

Sylvia Plathypus said...

As always, a real beauty to behold! I love how smooth and fluid the sandy rocks look from a distance, almost the same as a bolt of silk. Utterly beautiful! It takes a keen eye to properly capture the brilliance of a barren desert landscape, and you manage it every time. Thank you for this view into your neck of the woods! I always enjoy it. :)

Vid Digger said...

With my limited income, this is one of the many places I would never get to visit. Thanks for making the trip to Twin Tanks, Pat!

Pat Tillett said...

Sylvia Plathypus - You are very welcome, and right back at you! I know what you mean about how it all looks so smooth. Not so much when you actually touch it though. A lot of it is actually pretty rough.

Vid Digger - Thank you! I also have a long list of things I'll never see.

indah nuria Savitri said...

It's a super useful tank. I bet I will enjoy the hike as well..cheers..

Pat Tillett said...

indah nuria Savitri - I'm sure you would enjoy the hike. Thank you for taking the time to read my post and also commenting.

Stewart M said...

Good looking area - and sound advice for all explorers I think!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Ron said...

As always, AWESOME photographs, Pat! Love the ones of the tanks, they're beautiful. Like a natural work of art!

"cupules are generally considered to be the oldest form of petroglyphs."

That is sooooo cool!

"What I'm saying, is that it is very easy to get lost and/or injured in this area. For most people, getting lost in the desert or wilderness, is a very bad thing. Sometimes, it is a fatal mistake.

Wow...you know, I didn't even think of that!?

Pat Tillett said...

Stewart M - It is a great area. I just have heed my own advice sometimes.

Ron - Thanks so much Ron! I should have thought about it today. My wife isn't with me on this trip. If I go into the back country or wilderness areas, I always call her when I get back to wherever our RV is parked. I forgot to today and she was a bit miffed. I understand though. There is not even a hint of a cell signal in this place.

Anthony J. Langford said...

The whole thing is fascinating Pat. Tanks to the artwork.
Good travel advice too.
Probably a good thing that its not so easy to navigate. Might keep it more protected.

And great photographic coverage as always!

sage said...

In hiking to "the Wave" which is on the AZ/UT border, some rancher in the past dammed up a number of wadis to save water--today, the impounded area is completed filled with silt. That doesn't appear to be the case here.

Pat Tillett said...

Anthony J. Langford - Thanks Anthony! I pretty much agree with you.

sage - Actually, many of them are completely silted up. There is one large one called barker Dam, that when full has a couple of acres of water, about 15' deep near the dam. Right now it is about 3/4 full. Here is a link to some photos of it (if you are so inclined).
http://patricktillett.blogspot.com/2013/12/barker-dam-and-disney-petroglyphs.html

Sharon Wagner said...

Thanks so much for dropping by my writing blog and wishing me luck! I'm sure i'll need it.

Pat Tillett said...

Sharon Wagner - My pleasure Sharon! Thank you for supporting me also.

Ida said...

That looked like quite the hike. Great scenery. Loving the closeup of the rocks.

Pat Tillett said...

Ida - Thanks Ida! I love this area.

visualnorway said...

Large quartz boulders on top of a hill tickled my fancy. Left by a retreating ice sheet perhaps? The scenery was amazing!

Pat Tillett said...

visualnorway - Yes, they were pretty cool looking up there. Either an ancient ice sheet, or maybe the surrounding granite (which is softer) eroded away. I wish I knew more about geology.

Baby Sister said...

That quartz is beautiful!! Thank you for risking your life so we could see it. ;)
Seriously though, it's such a neat little area.

Pat Tillett said...

Baby Sister - It sure is beautiful! Risk life and limb to get a few photos. Kinda crazy! Thanks Amanda!