Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Desert hike

Yes, it's a Joshua tree! I've decided that Joshua Tree National Park is, just maybe, one of my favorite places in the world (along with the Lake Enchantments in the North Cascades, Point Reyes in Marin, Moab, Utah and Bryce Canyon... The list could go on, no doubt!). I "discovered" that I liked hiking and the outdoors at a rather late age - well into my twenties. I wish that I had grown up in an outdoorsy place or with an outdoorsy family. Mind you, we were outside enough, my mother often shooing us outside during the long, hot summer months, and my brothers and father taking hunting trips. Hiking and camping, however, are something that I can claim very much as my own.
I always forget how close the desert is to the Los Angeles area. We probably go once a year or so, and I remind myself "Must spend more time in the desert!". As for J-Tree, I've been there three times now, each trip at a different time of year and each one offering something new. The first time I went was years ago, when I signed up for a weekend rock climbing seminar. It was bitter cold in December, but being on the rock was pretty amazing, although my body ached for a week or so afterwards. Last year, Michael and I spent a weekend there in early April, just missing most of the desert blooms, but we were able to enjoy a few late flowers. And this time around, it was a quick trip up from Palm Springs to the park. We spent the morning just exploring different rock formations and climbing around (nothing technical, but still fun to scamper around). The rock there IS pretty great - I forget how sturdy it is, how forgiving, how much it lets you pull and push on it. Even non-technical bouldering is a treat.
We entered into the north entrance, and then headed south, stopping by the "Cholla Garden" before we arrived at our major destination. The Cholla cactus is pretty cool - a rather beautiful but unforgiving plant:
Anyhoo, we finally arrived at the Cottonwood campground around noon and started our hike to "Lost Palms Oasis". It was a GREAT little hike, with lots of ups and downs, rather than down the entire way there and then UP coming back, or vice versa. The first two miles were fairly easy - we made great time! The last mile was definitely a challenge, but so worth it as we ended up at an oasis (obviously) with lots of palms and shade. After a rest there and a scarfed-down lunch of typical hiking stuff (3 oranges, lots of trail mix and I can't remember anything else), we headed back. The weather was just gorgeous - cool if we stopped moving, but never too hot, and the blue sky was a lovely contrast against the green (yes, green! It had rained last week or the week before, so there was a subtle vibrancy to the landscape) and browns and red of the desert.
We booked it back to Palm Springs, which seemed like a foreign country after being in the stillness and relative solitude of the desert. Michael, my dad and I grabbed a beer and chips and salsa and waited for my mom to do some shopping. I must say that a cold beer after a long, tiring hike is pretty close to Nirvana.
It was a wonderful experience to share with my parents. They are not necessarily young (at 67 and 71, respectively), but they are still active, for which I am grateful. Also, this hike was a bit of a triumph for me too, being the first major outing since knee surgery in September. 7.2 miles isn't too shabby! And a bit of soreness afterwards was well worth the experience!

1 comment:

Kim said...

I love Joshua Tree! I haven't been in ages though. Past boyfriends and I have gone camping. My husband is not a camper, and I have a hard time getting motivated for camping unless someone else is responsible for tent and provisions ;) Glad you guys had a good time!