A Mid-Summer Jaunt
With travel at a stand still, we’ve all had to make sacrifices. Adventure has been one of those things I’ve had to live without. I’ve had to quench my sense of adventure in other ways. Local hikes have had to fill that void for the moment. Unfortunately, the summer season isn’t quite the ideal time for it. Here, in Southern California, the temperature can average 90 degrees and sometimes exceeding 100 degrees.
It is now Independence day weekend here in America and I wanted to stretch my adventure out a little further. I wanted to go to Joshua Tree National Park. There is a unique trail there that I would describe as something out of the Moroccan desert. The Forty Nine Palms Oasis is that place. In this harsh desert is an oasis complete with pools and much needed shade. I knew had to start my hike early as today’s temperature would reach 94 degrees. Temperatures here can average in the 100 degree mark late in the summer. So, I left my home at 5:30 a.m. and I completed my drive to the oasis in one hour and forty minutes. I got my gear ready and left the trailhead at 7:20 a.m. and the temperature was already 72 degrees.
The trail would start with an incline hike up hard rocky steps. This would be the terrain for the first half mile. The rest of the way to the oasis would be fairly easy. What makes this hike tough is the heat beating on your skin. It’s slightly a little more than three miles, up and back, with no shade at all along the trail. It can seem a little longer with the sun making the conditions harder. I recommend hiking the trail early in the morning or in the winter when the temperature isn’t so high. This would be great advise for any desert hiking, I suppose. Once you reach the oasis, you can shelter in it’s shade.
It’s a great time to have a protein bar and refuel for the return hike. Take in this unique environment before you leave, I actually stayed here for 40 minutes. I was lucky enough to have the place to my self. The early bird hikers had passed me during my approach and the average hikers hadn’t arrived yet so I was able to roam the oasis at my leisure. When it was time to leave, a couple entered the oasis as I departed and that signaled the shift change. The average hikers were coming, hikers that don’t compromise their sleep pattern for any hike. I passed a dozen people on my return to the trailhead and there were more that just arrived at the parking lot as I reached my car at 10 a.m.
I drove to my next trail in Indian Cove but I noticed the temperature had already reached 84 degrees and it was only 10:30 a.m. Obviously, this day would be hotter than forecasted. I decided to err on the side of caution and skip this hike. I then pulled off the highway near the entrance for Joshua Tree National Park. I parked along a residential road and consumed some snacks and Gatorade. I picked this spot because of the open field of Joshua Trees that a could roam in. This would have to represent my visit to these iconic cactus. It had become too hot to safely do vigorous exercise outdoors so I proceeded to drive home.
I did have one more stop on my itinerary. I stopped at the Palm Springs wind farms. This large canyon is home to one of the best and most consistent source of wind in the world and the abundance of windmills confirms that. I exited the highway and drove the backroads along the windmills. I realized that these farms where fenced off and I would not be able to take photos anywhere near them.
But, as I was heading back to the highway, I noticed an open gate as workers where in the distance and had left me an opening. I parked along the road near the gate and made my way in. I was able to get the photos I wanted close up without a fence in the shot. I didn’t press my luck, only staying for about ten minutes before I made my way back to the car and back to the comforts of home.
My morning of exploration had come to an end. It had quenched my sense of exploration and adventure, contributing to my physical and mental well being. I’m adapting to these strange times and I can’t wait to see the world again but these short jaunts will have to do for now.