남가주 야생화 투어(III) 죠슈아 트리 국립공원
 

1994년 국립공원으로 지정된 죠슈아 트리 국립공원은 커다란 바위와 죠슈아 트리로 상징되는 모하비 사막(Mojave Desert)과  낮은 고도에 각종 선인장이 자라는 콜로라도 사막(Colorado Desert)으로 나뉩니다. 올해 일찍 야생화가 피어오른 지역은 콜로라도 사막에 속한 코튼우드(Cottonwood) 인근입니다.

10 Fwy에서 남쪽 입구로 들어서면서 만나는 바하다 트레일(Bajada Trail)의 지반은 침전모래와 자갈로 구성되어 식물들이 잘 자랄수 있는 조건이라고 합니다.

0.25마일의 짧은 바하다 트레일에 들어서면 산을 배경으로 보라색 루핀(Lupine) 밭이 펼쳐집니다. 그 가운데서 데저트 포피(Desert Poppy)를 비롯해 치아(Chia) 블루 딕스(Blue Dicks) 등 수십종의 야생화들도 함께 자라고 있습니다.
미국 원주민들이 뿌리와 꽃을  약용으로 사용했다는 사막의 약초 오코티요(Ocotillo)는 공원의 또다른 상징입니다. 꽃은 말려서 허브로 사용하거나 차를 우려내기도 합니다. 
올해와 같은 수퍼 블룸이 발생하기까지는 기상 조건 잘 맞아야 하는데 먼저 9, 10월부터 한달에 한번 이상 비가 와서 씨가 완전히 자리잡고 싹을 틔울수 있어야하며 일조량도 충분해야 합니다. 고도가 낮은 지역은 겨울이 지나면서 2, 3월부터 꽃이 피기 시작하고 5,000피트가 넘는 고지대는 6, 7월에 꽃이 만개 하기도 합니다.
바하다 트레일을 지나서도 도로변으로 울긋불긋한 야생화 필드는 계속됩니다. 하지만 죠슈아 트리 공원 북쪽은 아직 야생화 소식이 없습니다. 
낮은 지역은 옐로 프림로즈(Yellow Primrose) 옐로 컵스(Yellow Cups) 데저트 해바라기(Desert Sunflower)등 골드 컬러로 알려진 노란색이 주를 이루지만 이곳 죠슈아 트리 남쪽에는 푸른색의 캔터베리 벨스(Canterbury Bells) 치아(Chia) 흰색의 크림 컵(Cream Cup) 등이 같이 자라면서 더욱 컬러풀한 모습입니다.
 
죠슈아 트리 국립공원은 바위산과 사막 자생 나무들 그리고 각종 선인장이 어울려 남가주 사막의 아름다움을 대표적으로 보여주는 곳입니다. 특히 올해는 수많은 야생화들이 함께 어우러지면서 방문객이 찍은 사진은 한폭의 풍경화와 같습니다. 하루가 달리 다이나믹하게 변화하는 죠슈아 트리 국립공원의 야생화는 3월말에서 4월초가 피크를 이룰 것 같습니다.
참고사항: 2019년 3월 현재 야생화 군락지는 공원 남쪽에 있으며 10번 Fwy선상의 코튼우드 입구를 이용하시기 바랍니다. 62Hwy를 따라 공원 북쪽으로 들어갈 경우 남쪽으로 관통하는데 2시간 이상 더 소요됩니다.

글, 사진 / 김인호 (하이킹 전문가)

김인호씨는 미주에서 활동하는 등반, 캠핑, 테마 여행 전문가로 미주 중앙일보를 비롯한 다수의 미디어에 등산 칼럼을 연재하면서 초보에서 전문가까지 미주 한인들에게 유용한 실전 하이킹 정보를 꾸준히 소개해오고 있다.

저서로 ‘남가주 하이킹 105선’ ‘하이킹 캘리포니아’가 있다.

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