This past weekend I had the opportunity to go back to Joshua Tree and camp overnight with some friends. It was so much fun!
We left for Loma Linda Friday afternoon at around 1. We got to a supermarket and planned out our meals. Friday night we’d have grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, Saturday morning pancakes and hash browns, and at noon homemade chimichangas. We planned food for seven of us. Although it was just three meal’s worth, the bill came out to over $70 (and that’s buying the “budget” priced items). Food adds up.
We arrived at Joshua Tree after sundown. Our campsite was a group site that could hold up to 30 people. We had two fire pits. One was on the lower ground by where the car was parked, and the other was a couple hundred yards up a hill, surrounded by rock formations. We decided to eat at the lower pit because it had concrete picnic tables, and to sleep and build a fire at the upper one. The first thing we did after unpacking was build a fire.
A lot of the people on the trip had been in Pathfinders, a Christian group similar to Boy Scouts. Everyone was familiar with making a fire. As soon as the fire started up, we unpacked the rest of our gear. It was a nice, starry night and we decided to ditch the tents and sleep outside. After everything was set up, we made dinner.
It’s my observation from backpacking and camping trips that everything tastes good when you’re out and busy in nature. The grilled cheese and soup it the spot.
We talked and sang around the campfire for a while, and then decided to go to bed. I wanted to wake up early and catch the sunrise the next morning. We laid our tents out on the flattest ground we could find. Even with our sleeping bags and blankets, it was freezing. This trip solidified my hate for my sleeping bag. I had thought that it was a good bag, but the last few times I’ve taken it out it has failed me miserably. That night, in the desert chill, was not a night I wanted it to perform poorly. I was shivering all night long and didn’t sleep a wink.
Every time I would open my eyes I was hoping it would be light outside. After I finally felt a little warmer, I had to go to the bathroom. You can’t have everything, right?
Sunrise came and it was worth it. My friend Stacey and I climbed up the rocks surrounding our fire pit and watched the sun rise with blankets wrapped around our shoulders. Bright pinks, yellows, and oranges peeked over the horizon. There was a gentle breeze. It was the perfect way to start the day.
After breakfast I took a nap on some rocks almost until noon. Then, in the afternoon, the whole group of us climbed a big rock mountain a little ways from our campsite. I’m terrible at judging height, but it was really tall. The tallest one around. Everyone in the group was a pretty good climber. We made it safely to the top (although my mother would have died if she had seen some of the areas we climbed up). One part near the top was almost a 90 degree angle with just a few handholds to hoist yourself up with. I thought it was the most fun part.
Getting down was easier than we had thought and we got back to our campsite and packed up in time for the sunset. We were going to play it by ear as to whether we stayed another night or not. The consensus was that everyone was too cold. And we didn’t have enough food for two more meals.
I love Joshua Tree, even with the miserable nights. I just need to be more prepared next time. I look forward to going back in the spring and camping a whole weekend.