by Michael Arnold
Hey there LoSoCal readers! This past weekend, I had the privilege of going to Joshua Tree National Park. For natives of Southern California, the prickly and twisted looking Joshua Trees may be a common destination. For visitors, it may be reason enough to make a visit to Southern California. Regardless of where you are originally from, it is ubiquitously agreed that the wavy and odd looking Joshua Trees transport people to a strange world that seems straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.
We began out back country trek on a Friday afternoon, intending to do the forty mile Pacific Coast Trail during our weekend stay. For avid movie goers, you may have seen it done by Reese Witherspoon in the 2014 film “Wild”. The trail starts at the west entrance of the national park and goes through the back country and finishes at the north gate. With a few hours of daylight left, we readied our backpacks and said goodbye to our phones and modern comforts for the weekend. Although we got a late start to the trek, we managed to knock out seven miles before setting up camp at sun down.
We found a dried out spring a few hundred feet from the trail. The soft, flat dirt made a perfect foundation for our tents. With the temperature dropping into the forties, wind picking up to twenty miles an hour, and park policy against camp fires, we relied on our bottle of whiskey to keep us warm. Miles away from any major light source, the night sky came to life. Silhouettes of rock formations and the mountain ridge line were painted across a backdrop of endless stars. The outline of Joshua Trees in all of their unique splendor dotted the landscape in front of us. I live for those moments - to be surrounded by the quiet of nature and sit in awe before all its vastness. With a reluctance, we turned in for the night. We still had thirty miles to go.
With a quick breakfast and morning coffee, we were on the trail again. The trail took us out of our temporary river-bed home and back into the sprawling wasteland of the national park. A few hours into our stride, we hit the major incline of the journey. Switchbacks took us to 5,000 feet above sea level and into a beautiful view of the park. We took a moment to catch our breath and hydrate while soaking in the beautiful landscape of mountains, Joshua Trees, and rock formations. We found a shady spot beside a large boulder and ate lunch with occasional rabbit visitors curious about our business.
The remainder of the day’s trek was downhill or flat and we made excellent time. We reached the twenty mile mark and were confident that we would complete the trail in the following day. Unfortunately, Robert Burns spoke the truth when he wrote “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. One of my friends twisted his ankle on a rock. It was not an emergency, but there was no way he could finish the rest of the trail. We all stuck together and decided to make camp for the night and go home first thing in the morning. We found a spot walking distance from the main road and set up for our last night in Joshua Tree.
Though we did not finish the trail, the last night was a perfect end to a fantastic yet shortened weekend. We finished our bottle of whiskey and laid out on the rocks to watch the sunset. As the mountain range obscured the last vestiges of light, the moonlight and stars dominated the night sky. We talked for hours and shared our favorite moments from the weekend amidst an alien landscape with a forest of the oddly shaped Joshua Tree.
We did not accomplish what we set out to do, but I am fine with that. Plans can only take you so far, and the most exciting part of it is adapting to whatever happens. My time in Joshua Tree was a surreal experience and I will definitely be returning soon to finish the Pacific Coast Trail. Although I attempt to capture my time through writing, it falls short of true experience. If anything, I hope that this piece is simply an introduction for your own adventures and experiences at Joshua Tree National Park and the beautiful world we inhabit.
Hey LoSoCal readers! My name is Michael Arnold and I have been a proud Southern Californian for twenty two years. I am a UC Santa Barbara alumni (Go Gauchos!) who enjoys the outdoors, nature, and generally living healthy and happy. The goal of my writing is to not only publicize some of the great things SoCal has to offer, but to also inspire my readers to go out and have great experiences! Some of my topics of interest include hiking, mindfulness, health and wellness, scuba diving, and poetry.
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Hello, my name is Karen Vazquez. I have lived in Southern California for over thirty years. I realized about four years ago that it was time for me to give back to this wonderful community by supporting local SoCal businesses, performers, restaurants, spas, boutiques, fitness studios, farmers markets and more. My support shines through here by highlighting these fabulous local SoCal spots. You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, PInterest and LinkedIn. I will be featuring many local destinations in the area that have been my personal favorites for years and am currently recruiting guest bloggers to expand the voice of LoSoCal. I have had guest bloggers in the past, but aim to incorporate local SoCal bloggers on a regular basis as a fun, creative and collaborative way to connect with the community here. Essentially, LoSoCal is a community blog, and it is meant to be resource to locals in this area and visitors from around the world. Please like or follow LoSoCal on the social media business pages and tell your contacts about the blog. Thanks for stopping by...
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