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  • Sunset at Mojave Desert in Twentynine Palms, CA

The desert floor may look like dirt and sand but it is full of living small and microscopic organisms vital to the park’s ecosystem. Many of these organisms live in biological highly active soil crusts that cover the first inch of the desert soil surface. In this field class Nat Pombububpa, Julia Adam, and Tania Kurbessoian will introduce crypto-biotic soil crusts with an emphasis on fungi, soil algae, and lichens. Participants will study the secret life of these microscopic organisms as they demystify this thin layer of soil. This class will discuss the components of crusts such as cyanobacteria (one of the oldest known life forms on earth), green algae, diatoms, bacteria, fungi, and lichens. During the lab session, participants will see the biodiversity of the park’s crusts up close through two different types of microscopes. On the second day, the class will go into the field to identify and assess the condition of several types of algal and lichen soil crust communities found in Joshua Tree National Park.

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Have you ever noticed that when you are out in the wilderness, everything tastes better? Back in the days of the Wild West, Dutch ovens were like gold. They were that important. Nowadays, the mere thought of try ing to survive in the wild sends shivers down people’s spines. The thing is, pretty much anything you make at home in the tradition al oven and on the stovetop can be made in the wild in a Dutch oven. Bread? No problem. Pie? Absolutely. Stew? A no-brainer. The curriculum includes lessons on meal planning and culinary tech niques with an emphasis on cast iron, campfire and propane stove/oven cooking. You will also learn basic baking, grilling and survival food preparation skills. Meal ingredients for Saturday dinner, Sunday breakfast and Sunday lunch are included in the course fee. Learn how rewarding it is to cook in the refreshing air of Joshua Tree Park. After dinner, professional photographer Scott Klinger will cover the basics of night photography to enable you to document your campfire creations To create a good appetite, hikes are scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. This class will be conducted at the reserved Lost Horse Campground that we have reserved for the program.

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California is a state defined by plate tectonics, motion, continental drift, and subduction zones. Join geologist Ted Reeves as he explains the origin and effects of the San Andres Fault system. Reeves will unfold the geologic story of the Indio Hills, the Mecca Hills and SaltonTrough in this all-day field class. Participants will meet at the Coachella Valley Preserve and walk a short distance to see fault features. We will then travel to Box Canyon and Painted Canyon and observe spectacular faults and folds where the Pacific plate is forcing up the Mecca Hills. Reeves will illuminate fault-related features in the field with special emphasis on physical deformations of the landscape. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to explore the San Andreas fault zone and the palm oases!

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Investigate the natural architecture and origin of Joshua Tree National Park’s landscape with Tor Lacy, geology professor, Cerritos college. Starting in the classroom participants will be introduced to basic geologic principles including major rock groups, plate tectonics, mountain building, and the impact of weathering and erosion. Tor will discuss how these processes worked together to form the fantastic desert landscape of the park. The class will venture into the field on two excursions to observe and identify monzogranite, gneiss, veins, and basaltic rocks as well as inselbergs, alluvial fans, and pediments. For those new to geology or experienced geologists, Tor will make learning about the complex and unique landscape of Joshua Tree National Park comprehensible and fun.

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The opening of Southern Pacific Railroad service in the desert in the late 1800s brought with it a steady flow of artists from the East Coast who rode in exchange for their paintings and drawings of Western landscapes, which the railroad used to entice travelers to explore beyond the Mississippi River. By the 1920s, American and European impressionist painters were fixtures in Southern California’s deserts, mountains, canyons, forests, and coastlines — and especially in artist colonies like the one that emerged in the Coachella Valley. The workshop begins in this early California period, surveying the painters who came through the valley — and in some cases remained and became influential in the area. Next, the trajectory leads to modern art and artists who pioneered the movement in the desert — as well as key events, such as the opening of Palm Springs Desert Museum. The contemporary art segment introduces artists whose work is inspired by the conditions and culture of the Coachella Valley and has gained an international audience. This segment also covers the proliferation and contributions of commercial art galleries, fairs/festivals, and studio/gallery districts as well as public art and events such as Desert X and the Bombay Beach Biennale.

Sponsored by the Living Desert.

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Have you ever spoken unkindly to yourself? Do you even realize when you do? Are you ready to make changes but find yourself completely paralyzed by the choices in front of you? We live in a hyper-connected, “always-on” world, and frankly? It’s exhausting. Let’s make time to disconnect from the distractions and reconnect with yourself.

Join Sydney Williams, author and founder of Hiking My Feelings, as she unpacks her “trauma pack”, sharing the story of how hiking helped her reconnect to, and heal, her mind and body – kicking her limiting beliefs and Type 2 Diabetes to the curb in the process. Hiking My Feelings: Stepping into the Healing Power of Nature is more than a collection of trail tales – it’s a guide to aid (or begin!) your healing journey, helping you do the work to step up into the best version of yourself. Learn how to connect the dots between trauma, how it manifests in our minds + bodies, and how the outdoors can help us heal.

This camping class will take place at the reserved Lost Horse Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Did you know that insects can survive in temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade with little or no water? Kurt Leuschner will explore the lives of the largest group of animals in the world through a study of insect anatomy, survival traits, habitats, and behaviors. Participants will learn to identify and distinguish insects from other arthropods and then practice their skills in the field. Field observations will include desert, dune, and riparian habitats, as well as a special night session with black lights at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Leuschner will share amazing stories of insects like the yucca moth, the ant lion, and the world they inhabit.

This class is sponsored by the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve.

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Participants will be introduced to the major groups of respectively macroscopic and microscopic invertebrates found in Southern California’s deserts, where and when to find them, and how to observe and identify them with the aid of online tools after taking digital macro photographs in the field (in the case of insects and other animals visible to the naked eye), or with the aid of a compound microscope in the lab (for smaller animals). The first part will include an outline of basic techniques for approaching and photographing different macro subjects with a compact camera or an interchangeable lens/SLR camera. In the second part we will demonstrate simple techniques for isolating microscopic invertebrates from different materials, how to transfer them to microscope slides and how to operate a compound microscope to observe them. Class size is limited, please sign up early!

Volcanoes of Southern California? We are famous for faults, and earthquakes, and maybe for other geologic phenomena, but not volcanoes. Still, when we look to our landscape we find evidence of volcanic activity, some of it quite recent. In this class we will learn basic concepts of geology and explore Amboy Volcano and the surrounding lava fields to understand why they formed, and if they could become active again! Designated a National Natural Landmark in 1973, Amboy Crater was recognized for its visual and geological significance. There are a number of dormant volcanoes in the Mojave desert, and Amboy crater is a perfect example of a cinder volcanic cone very similar to the volcanoes throughout the region. Join Professor Alessandro Grippo on this all-day field trip.

Join Joshua Tree based artist Monica L. Mahoney in an immersive field sketching walk-about in the heart of Joshua Tree National Park. Known for her expressive drawing style and knowledge of the native flora of the region, Monica will lead participants on a journey to capture the shapes, forms, and vistas of the natural world using graphite, charcoal, and neutral tone soft pastel. Sharing her wealth of knowledge, Monica will guide an easy and informative natural-history walk in a spectacular private location in search of the objects and vistas that students will choose to draw. Students will explore the power of line quality, shading techniques, and using foreground, middle ground, and background shapes for creating strong, believable compositions. The class is designed for all levels and students will be given one to one attention as needed. The goal of the workshop is to sharpen our natural observation skills while having fun and exploring how drawing brings us closer to Nature and ourselves. The skills learned in this class are complimentary to the upcoming watercolor painting workshop on November 9.

This class will be conducted at the reserved Lost Horse Campground.

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Know Before You Go

Your health and safety is the top priority for our hospitality businesses. In accordance with State/County guidelines we kindly remind you to wear your face mask/covering, practice healthy hand-washing, maintain a safe social distance, and postpone travel if you are sick.

Together, our everyday actions can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.