CA – Joshua Tree National Park, Boy Scout Trail

As I mentioned in my previous post, Joshua Tree NP handles backcountry camping a bit different than many other areas. I found it to be user friendly. Basically you park at one of four approved overnight parking areas and complete a walk-up permit. The rules are simple. You need to be at least a mile from the road and 500 feet from the trail. The Boy Scout Trail had one other rule which stated you could only camp to the west of the trail. Given the high use of this trail, I was surprised by the lack of obvious off-trail footprints or multiple social trails.

The trail begins as a super highway. 

I was once again treated to a turbulent sky and blooming Joshua trees.

There are lots and lots of rocks in the park.

The trail is basically meandering and flat for the first 4-5 miles. It was so relaxing and enjoyable.

The park has done a good job with signage at each wash or possible junction to keep hikers going in the right direction.The one thing this trail lacked was a one-mile marker which would be helpful for many since the camping rule states you must be beyond that point.

There were so many perfect campsites like this . . . but alas too near trail and on the east vs west side.

Many hike the 8ish miles to Indian Cove campground. It’s about 1,000 foot descent in last couple miles. It was late in the day when I started my hike and my goal was to avoid the descent and find a place to sleep under or near a Joshua tree and enjoy the sunset. Well . . . the trail started descending and I got to this overlook and I really wanted a view down into Indian Cove Basin so I was motivated to see what was at the next notch.

Of course when I got to the next ridge, what did I find? Yep another ridge.

Nope, not falling for that trick. I found this nice wildlife trough in the wash. The policy of Joshua Tree NP is that all available water is to be reserved for wildlife.

As I began my off-trail trek, I turned around to look at the clouds and light but what did I find instead? Yep, darn helium balloons. So back I went to do my part in keeping the park clean.

After hiking for a while I found a perfect home protected from the wind and with views in every direction. Lucky me I got to sleep under a Joshua tree!

The view from my tent at first light. Ahhhh, so amazing!

I found a perfect rock near camp to drink coffee and wait for the first kiss by my friend the sun.

On my hike out I saw one group camped 50 feet vs 500 feet from the trail. I met a group of four in the parking lot being quiet selfish and disrespectful by playing loud music while waiting for their friends to hike in from their night out. So yes it is a busy park and all is not perfect, but my hike and my night were the best I could ask for and I’d highly recommend.

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 6-7, 2019

Tips(s):

  • If you’re heading south and need a shower, I found the travel center truck stops at the junction of I-10 and Hwy 86 were a great option. It’s also a good place to grab grub if you’re heading to the desert where fewer options exist.

Resources:

Links:

CA – Joshua Tree National Park, California Riding and Hiking Trail

This would be my first visit to Joshua Tree. It’s been on my list for past few years but as it was perfectly aligned as I headed toward wildflower heaven further south, how could I resist?

I spent my first few hours driving the 50-mile loop to get a better idea of what the park had to offer. My first find was blooming Joshua trees. I was beyond excited!

I was really excited to find a few low hanging blooms so I could grab some cool photos.

The blooms are huge. Afterwards I wished I’d had something to compare size. Well later I found another low hanging bloom and used my size 10 shoes for comparison.

Camping can be challenging. There are four campsites available by reservation only and four more available on a first-come basis. Backcountry camping is a bit unusual. You are only allowed to overnight park at one of four areas.

One of the approved overnight parking areas is near the north entrance.

The early part of the trail is so tidy.

Given their requirement of camping after one mile on trail, I think it’s very helpful to have signage.

As I started hiking, I was pleased to find plenty of color.

The sun went behind the mountain shortly after 5pm.

I found a great place to set up my tent surround by flowers, by the way none harmed in the process.

It was a memorable sunset.

Is this a storm brewing? Do I dare forego the rain fly?

I rolled the dice and lost. Sure enough I feel the first drops at 7:30ish. Time to put on the fly and check radar. Yep I’m in the middle of a rain band.

The next morning brought first light colors.

As I returned to the trailhead, I enjoyed moody skies highlighted by a rainbow.

The light was great for photography.

As the skies continued to clear, I was gifted a second rainbow.

I found this water bottle on my way in and left it on the trail to carry out. As they say leave areas better than they were. I’m happy to do my part!

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 5-6, 2019

Tips(s):

  • If you’re heading south and need a shower, I found the travel center truck stops at the junction of I-10 and Hwy 86 were a great option. It’s also a good place to grab grub if you’re heading to the desert where fewer options exist.

Resources:

Links:

CA – Mojave National Preserve, Teutonia Peak

Continuing on my theme of hike more, drive less I continued into the northeast corner of the Preserve after hiking the Barker Peak and Rings Loops Trails in the Hole-In-The-Wall area, and the Kelso Sand Dunes in the southwest zone.

I camped among the Joshua trees with this sunset view of Kesler Peak. 

Although I’m not in favor of rock art in wilderness areas and parks, I have to say this gave me a chuckle. 

The next morning, I enjoyed a magical sunrise. 

Dispersed camping for the win. 

On my way to the trailhead, I stopped by this memorial. 

Soon enough it was time to go hiking. 

There it is, Teutonia Peak. 

The trail is well signed and easy to follow. 

Rocks, rocks, rocks . . . means plenty of opportunity for exploration and scrambling. 

This slot might be a little narrow for any human to squeeze through. 

Wonder who lives here? 

How do these trees survive with such little access to soil? 

With all these rock formations, you can see how easy it would be to easily extend the hike well beyond 3 miles. 

And of course with rocks comes interesting geology. 

I even found this cactus of perfect proportions. 

Joshua Tree magic, so whimsical. 

What nice feet you have! So many toes.

Adventure Dates:

  • March 6-7, 2018

Resources:

Links:

 

CA – PCT, a Walker Pass Jaunt

Leaving Sequoia and Kings National Parks (link to related post), I continued south. I’d always wanted to explore the Kern River Canyon, so I drove Highway 178. I’d selected a couple potential campsites with knowledge I was starting my drive around 4pm, much later than I’d like. I hadn’t gotten far when I came to stopped traffic. 

I don’t like to drive at night, and I would never choose to drive a road like this in the dark, but circumstances seemed to favor otherwise. This was not where I planned to watch sunset. 

Finally a couple hours later, the semi accident was cleared. 

I drove through the canyon . . . in the dark . . . missing all views while feeling extreme anxiety and stress. I found a place to camp, saw the full moon rising for a few minutes before it was obscured by clouds. Rain came during the night. I continued my drive toward Lake Isabella in the morning, hopeful that maybe this glimpse of sun would win. 

By the time I got to Walker Pass, the skies had cleared. I’d call that a WIN! 

Blue sky one direction, rainbow another. That’s a great way to start a hike! 

Who doesn’t like rainbows? Are these sycamore trees? They are a bit Dr. Seuss-ish.

When there are rainbows, you might as well expect rain. 

Look at how pretty. 

When it was time to turnaround, I was greeted with another rainbow. 

I was surprised and delighted by the variety of vegetation. 

These dried orange flowers really pop in the winter landscape. 

My first Joshua trees. 

I hiked south a few miles starting from the Walker Pass Campground (Mile #651 per Halfmile). 

Adventure Dates:

  • March 1-2, 2018

Links: