November 19, 2008

Joshua Tree, Part II

Day 3: Aborted Hike and Acceptable Substitutes

We left camp by 8:30 AM. Drove 40 minutes west. Our goal was to explore a bit in the Coxcomb Mountains. It’s an area with no trails, so we planned to build little cairns of rock at each turn so we could find our way back. The guide book instructions: “From the intersection of Utah Drive and Adobe Road, drive 41.9 miles east. You’ll see a dirt road on the right. Watch for it, it’s hard to spot.” We found it. But, the dirt road was closed.

After 12 miles in sand the day before, neither of us was really tempted by the thought of hiking in 4.5 miles (and hiking that back out), in order to hike another 4-7 miles in the mountains. We agreed it would be a fun weekend backpack trip, hike in, camp, explore, sleep, hike out. As a Day Trip though? Fuggedabadit.

Instead we drove back and did two smaller hikes. We scooted up Ryan Mountain in an hour to a great view. We could see the Wonderland of Rocks from above as well as see the descent of the Mojave toward the Colorado Basin.

After Ryan, we drove through Hidden Valley, the campground paradise for climbers. (yes, I was wistful and a little bitter since I’m married to a non-climber, but held myself together) We hiked a mile through rocks to get to Barker Dam. I love the ‘no swimming’ sign! Apparently for 9 months of the year, there’s high water and lots of birds and wildlife.

Beyond the dam area, there are rocks with petroglyphs. The colors were painted on relatively recently, so they look great for the photo, but are inauthentic.

Yet again, I took us on a wrong turn and we had to hike out through some sand, but not for too long...

The next day, we packed up everything. Jrex made us a final cup of tea and we clambered up the rock near our campsite to have a final farewell to the park. Can you see where our tent used to be?

We drove out the West entrance since we’d seen a place with a “Showers” sign. Backpacker and Climber haven, obviously! After getting cleaned up, we asked the guys in the store for a brunch place between here and LA (since we drove around the outskirts of the city to get to Joshua Tree). They stared at us in horror, “You can’t get to LA! The roads are closed.” We were both confused and they continued, “Didn’t you hear about the fires? The 210 and the 101 are both closed. You gotta go north...”

Fortunately, we had a good map and they told us how to get up to Bakersfield the back way.

Our trip confirmed again that in our guts, we like trees and green. We’re not desert rats and don’t seem to be getting converted, but it was still worth it to see Joshua Tree. Jrex has camped in Death Valley with some buddies and says that’s even better, but I think our goal is to get to Kings Canyon for our next camping trip next summer.

The funny thing to me is coming back to work and trying to tell coworkers about my trip. They all look at me like a freak for sleeping in a tent. I try to explain, “You don’t understand, we were car camping, this was luxury! I could walk down the hill to a toilet!”

I guess that didn’t help their perception that I am from another planet. All the gay guys at work say, “Well, Palm Springs is great...” Yeah, it’s close geographically, but NOT Jrex’s scene. Cute shops and a quaint downtown? I would love it, but Jrex barely felt relaxed by car camping. Civilization still felt too close for truly getting lost in the wilderness.

I guess that means I’ll just be further on the freak scale when we take our next trip and backpack it.


Inkling said...

That sounds like a fun adventure. I'd love to see the place. My hubby went with a friend whose was turning 40 and got the trip as a gift from his wife. They went for a two week climbing trip. If you ever get to do that, bring tape to wrap your hands. They had a blast, but some of the climbs humbled them.

Akira said...

It seems to be a nice spot for family camping trip.