Joshua Tree National Park
November 11-16, 2009
I hosted this year's WWWW trip at Joshua Tree National Park. The WWWW's are a
group of ladies that met mostly through Backpacker.com and get together once/year
for a backpacking trip somewhere in the US. I've been on two other trips with them,
Zion in 2005 and Georgia in 2006.
Mtmnslady drove out from Ventura and helped me pick up the others who flew into
Ontario airport. JaneC is the only gal who's been on every WWWW trip and she's from
Texas. She brought her friend Mandy, and Dyan who used to live in Texas but now
resides in Maryland, flew out too. We went to REI to buy fuel for our stoves, and to a
couple of other stores to buy some fresh food and a few other things we'd forgotten,
then drove out to the park. We camped at Indian Cove Campground, ate dinner, and sat
around the campfire and had a pleasant evening.
In the morning we woke up and had breakfast. I then shuttled Dyan and Debra around
to the Boy Scout Trailhead while Jane and Mandy finished packing. I came back and
got them and then drove over to the trailhead so we could start our hike.
The Boy Scout Trail is about 8 miles long, and when you start at the south end and hike
north it's mostly downhill. We set up a car shuttle so we only had to hike one way. So
it wasn't a difficult hike per se, but we did have to carry all of our water. In the park
any natural water sources you may find in the backcountry are reserved for wildlife.
So, with each of us lugging between 1-2 gallons of water along with our gear, we set off
across the Joshua Tree-studded landscape.
We only saw three other hikers that first day, and no one the 2nd day. The weather
was sunny and temperatures mild, exactly as I hoped it would be. This is not a hike you
want to do in summer! As we hiked we admired lots of different types of cactus and
of course the huge Joshua Trees and interesting rock piles. We had lunch at the edge
of some rocks that were shaded by some juniper trees.
As the afternoon wore on the terrain became more rugged and it was a little difficult
finding a camping spot that would accomodate our 5 small tents. The rule is you have to
camp on the west side of the trail, as the east side and the heart of the Wonderland
of Rocks is for day-use only. Well, most of the flat spots are on the east side! But, I
scouted ahead and managed to find a spot just as the sun was starting to set. The
place where we camped we saw bighorn sheep scat, but unfortunately no big horn. We
ate dinner and watched the stars come out and had a quiet night.
In the morning we ate breakfast and packed up and then hiked up to the high spot of
the trail where we could see the desert floor far below. Then it was down down down
steep and rocky switchbacks to the canyon floor far below. I enjoyed this part of the
hike the most because of the challenging but beautiful terrain. One part of the trail
we hiked through a narrow canyon and then this finally opened out to a wide wash. We
then had about 2 miles left to go and once Debra and I were back we then took off in
her car to go get my car, and then we drove back to pick up the others.
We then headed into the town of Joshua Tree where we took showers at Coyote
Corner and ate an early dinner at the Crossroads Cafe. Then we drove to Blackrock
Campground for the night.
It was a cold night that night... I was glad when the sun started rising and I got out of
my tent and started making breakfast. My canister stove doesn't work that well in
the cold but we managed to cook and by then we were warmed up and ready to go. We
packed up and headed to the main part of the park. We hiked the Barker Dam trail and
the Cholla Garden trail and then headed down to Cottonwood Campground for the night.
That night wasn't as cold as the last, but the morning dawned windy and quite brisk.
So we quickly packed up and headed back to civilization - to Rancho Mirage to eat
breakfast at IHOP :) After breakfast we drove to the the Palm Springs Tram. Then
we rode the tram up out of the desert 6,000' higher to the pines where we hiked in
the refreshing mountain air.
That evening we drove back to my house, showered, did laundry, and ate lasagna for
dinner. In the morning Debra drove Jane and Mandy back to the airport. Dyan's flight
wasn't until later so she and I took the short drive up to Wrightwood and had some hot
tea at the Village Grind Coffee Shop. I then showed her the view of the San Gabriel
Mountains from Inspiration Point and then it was back down to the airport to drop her
I really enjoyed the trip and I hope the others did, too.
Backpacking Trip in the Eureka Peak area of Joshua Tree Jan 05
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|With heavy packs we begin hiking the Boyscout Trail
(Both of these photos courtesy Dyan)
|At the high point of the trail
|Hiking down steep rocky switchbacks
|Out through the canyon wash
|Jane loves hiking through sand!
|Notice Dyan and Debra ahead of me on the trail