Monday, February 20, 2006

14 Miles of Hiking

On Friday night, I decided to cancel my weekend-long hikin'/campin' extravaganza to the Anza-Borrego Desert Park on account of rain. Figures. Rain in the southern California deserts. What are the chances?

But, as a precaution against driving four hours for cloudy vistas and muddy trails, and also as a precaution against flash floods, I called the trip off. Still determined to get out of Los Angeles, I instead opted for a return to Joshua Tree - this time accompanied by one of my roommates Rachel.

The park was relatively uncrowded and definitely had better weather than the last time I went - when I got caught in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm. We hiked out to an abandoned gold mine, scrambled across some giant boulders, and saw a jackrabbit on another hike through Hidden Valley.



I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed Joshua Tree the last time I was there, and how much I'd love to camp there - both to do some of the longer hikes and to enjoy the desert skies at night.

I'm thinkin' late March. Anyone?

So back in L.A., I devoted Saturday to boring (but necessary) errands, finished "Watchmen" (holy crap, amazing) and took out a big chunk of "Assassination Vacation." This morning, I got up early again (3 consecutive days on a 3-day weekend. WTF?) to drive out to the Santa Monica Mountains for a killer hike.

6 miles through dense, starting-to-awaken scrub forests, fragrant juniper, and fascinating geological features to the top of Sandstone Peak - the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. And the geological features aren't just fascinating to me. Check this out:



Balanced Rock. Straight out of a Road Runner cartoon. Side note - I saw my very first wild coyote on this hike. Coincidence?

I hiked at a pretty steady, semi-exhausting pace, stopping only a few times for water and once to let my legs dangle over a cliff while I ate an apple. The views were unbelievable. I could see from Malibu to the Channel Islands and Santa Barbara, and inland across most of the Santa Monica range and north to the coastal range that blocks the central valley.

In conclusion, hiking kicks ass.



And so, in celebration of this, I decided to finally suck it up and join the Sierra Club. You may have noticed the new link on the sidebar, right next to LocalHikes - another excellent resource for us nature lovers trapped in urban environments. I figured it was about time I got involved with a non-insane environmentalist group. And I like the Natural Resources Defense Council, but the Sierra Club has hiking outings, so they won. Sorry, NRDC.

Toward the end of "Assassination Vacation," Sarah Vowell describes one of her friends in Brooklyn who didn't start enjoying the outdoors until after he moved to the city. She said it took him six months of NYC before he mounted a canoe to the top of his car, and another few years before buying a cabin in Maine.

I wonder how the market is up there right now.

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that one guy you know, 8:05 PM | | | | | | | | |

5 Comments:

I think I mentioned this already (?) but I will be camping in Death Valley and Joshua Tree for a week in May. Should be fantastic. Wish it was sooner, but I want to hike Telescope Peak in DV, and it's snowbound through April...

Not sure if I'll camp in Joshua Tree, or just make a day trip, but I want to see the boulder formations, and take some cheesey U2 look alike pictures. If Joshua Tree warrants it, I can always make another trip out in the fall to fully explore the park. But I understand it's pretty small? So, who knows.
Anonymous Pete, at 10:43 AM  
Pete,

Joshua Tree is well worth a side trip, if you can swing it. The boulder formations are truly unlike anything I've ever seen, and there's a few good hikes you could squeeze in. Just stick to the Western / Northern side of the park. That's where most of the good stuff is.

I also know a great place to eat in the town of Joshua Tree, if you're interested.
Blogger that one guy you know, at 9:56 PM  
Maybe I'll hit up Joshua Tree with a day to spare, so if I really enjoy it, I can camp a night. Otherwise, yeah, I was just planning on spending a day there. Joshua Tree is at a much lower altitude than the majority of DV, so in May I imagine it might be quite hot. I like the heat, but I'll play it by ear.

As for the place to eat, sure, let me know. I assume it's a homey type place? Those are the kinds of places I prefer when camping.
Anonymous Pete, at 10:39 AM  
You never told me what that great restaurant in Joshua Tree was?
Anonymous Pete, at 9:14 PM  
Pete,

It's called the Crossroads Cafe, near the Northwestern entrance of the Park on Rt. 62. It's in kind of a small strip between Park Blvd. and La Contenta Road, on the south side of the street.

Lots of vegetarian stuff, but also some meats. It fills ya up, the coffee's good, and they have some nice microbrew organic beers, too.

Enjoy, man, and let me know how your big May trip is.
Blogger that one guy you know, at 11:53 PM  

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