Hidden Way Loop - 1.17.2021

From the west pay entrance to Joshua Tree National Park... drive 7.8 miles on Park Boulevard and park at Hemingway.
From the Hemingway parking lot, start hiking toward Hemingway Buttress and the Banana Cracks.
Not sure where the Banana Cracks Rock is... but the Hemingway Buttress is in the left-center of the photo.
A climber near the top of the 5.7 rated 'White Lightning' route on Hemingway Buttress... the route six feet to the right of the climber is the much more difficult 10b rated 'Poodles Are People Too'.
Hiking south from the Hemingway Buttress... looking up at Dairy Queen Wall in the middle of the photo.
Continuing to hike south in search of a route into the less traveled north end of Hidden Valley.
Denali Girl starts the 80 foot descent from the south end of Hemingway down to the north end of Hidden Valley... definitely a Class 2 scramble.
Looking down at the north end of Hidden Valley as we descend from Hemingway.
Denali Girl doing some Class 2 scrambling.
About half way down the 80 foot descent.
Almost down to the desert floor at the north end of Hidden Valley.
On the desert floor in Hidden Valley... looking back up at the route we used to get down from Hemingway... one boulder at a time.
On the desert floor... hiking a wash as we continue SE deeper into Hidden Valley.
A climber in Hidden Valley... I believe he is on Cathouse Rock.
A pano shot from Hidden Valley... here looking north back toward the Hemingway area... Denali Girl and Star Dancer will stay here while I explore a bit more to the south where we hit a dead end 3 years ago as we were trying to get here from the main entrance to Hidden Valley.
Nearing the area where we were stopped 3 years ago... the next photo gives more detail.
I'm still not to the place where we were dead ended 3 years ago... but this looks challenging... as I went in I scrambled up the crack above the left hiking pole, but it was a bit awkward and I wasn't sure about dealing with it on the way back... so on the way back I was able to take my pack off and squeeze through the crack next to the hiking pole on the right.
After dealing with the crack in the previous photo I hiked a short distance and found the spot where we were dead ended 3 years ago... what can I do here... let's take a closer look at the slight opening in the center of the photo.
The slight opening from the previous photo... 3 years ago we didn't find this opening... time to take off the pack and do some crawling.
Voila... here looking into the heart of the popular Hidden Valley hiking area... I have dealt with the two challenging spots that prevented us from connecting Hidden Valley and Hemingway from this passage 3 years ago... of course 3 years ago we just backtracked a bit from where we were dead ended and continued another eighth of a mile to find a simple entrance that led us deeper into Hidden Valley.
Heading back to where I came from... is it any wonder that I gave up on the route 3 years ago?
Star Dancer and Denali Girl have been relaxing in the northern section of Hidden Valley... waiting for me to return from my exploration.
A half-mile in the distance we can see people slacklining back at Hemingway... let's head back there and get a closer look.
Heading north back toward Hemingway.
Looking back to the south into Hidden Valley as we hike north toward Hemingway.
Looking SW into Hidden Valley as we hike north toward Hemingway.
Hiking out of Hidden Valley... impressive rocks in every direction... on our way back to Hemingway.
Reentering the Hemingway area... heading for a closer look at the slackliners.
We found a nice perch on the north end of Playhouse Rock to relax and observe the slackliners... heart be still.
After watching the slackliners for a half-hour we decided it was time to head for the car... the hike was 2 miles, gaining 244 feet of elevation... I decided to call the hike the 'Hidden Way Loop'.