Recently during my 2011/2012 holiday vacation I went to Joshua Tree for a couple days of camping and hiking in the wilderness. The drive took nearly two and a half hours to reach my destination at the Black Rock camp grounds. Only stopping at a restaurant in Temecula for a bite to eat and of course caffeine a break along the way. The drive was rather uneventful and the traffic was mellow.
When I arrived in Joshua Tree the air was cool and brisk with that piney smell of nature in the air. I had never seen Joshua Trees in person so I immediately went to touch one before unpacking my camping gear. Needless to say, that was a big mistake. Joshua Trees are extremely abrasive including the trunk. Within five minutes of arriving I had already drawn blood.
I proceeded to unpack my gear, tent and of course the large amount of firewood recently purchased for the trip. After erecting the tent, I decided to go on a short hike and take some photos before sundown. I visited the park rangers office to ask for advice on a trail. The park ranger suggested I take the High View Nature trail which is a 1.3 mile hike round trip. What the ranger omitted was the start of the trail has two paths, one path which is known as the West Side Loop and is a 5.1 mile loop. I unknowingly took the West Side Loop with my big camera, single bottle of water and completely unprepared for what was ahead. I was lucky to make it back before sundown.
When I arrived back at my campsite, I organized my makeshift kitchen, prepared the campfire with cardboard and oak logs. I was extremely happy with my judgment to start the fire because the sun took no time at all to hide behind the nearby mountains and the temperature drastically dropped.
For a first day, I would say this was one heck of a start. For the remainder of the trip I was determined to relax and be more cautious to not make the same trip. The rest is a story for another time.
The next morning I proceeded with scrambling up some eggs for breakfast and cleaning up any messes I had made the night before. I then hopped in my truck and went towards 49 Palms; another destination recommended by the park ranger and thankfully this time it was the only trail available.
The 49 Palms trail is actually a fun one. It is approximately 3 miles round trip and is well traveled. Well traveled enough that someone kindly place stone steps on the steeper portions. The hills give you awesome views of the surrounding mountains when looking to the east and the town of 29 Palms when looking west. At the end of the trail you come to a nice little oasis of palm trees in the middle of nowhere and plenty of rocks to lounge around on. After has already taken the hike serious this time, I decided it was time for some more photo ops and proceeded back to my campsite as the day was running short on light.
Back at camp I started the campfire and immediately wrapped some potatoes in foil and through them on. I had an awesome feast of baked potatoes and steak lined up for dinner. A well deserved one I might add. Everything tasted exceptional good after a long day in the sun and the relaxation in the fire and bedtime was very much welcomed
The next morning I packed up, cooked up some pancakes and headed back to San Diego completely rejuvenated from not looking at a single computer screen the entire duration of the trip.