Taiwanese-American blogging about his travels outdoors and occasionally his thoughts on life.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hiking in Joshua Tree National State Park, California

A map of our journey.
Trail Description

Length:  19 miles
Elevation Gain: 1784 ft
Difficulty Assessment: Moderate
Trail Type: One Way

The trail was a combination of many trails. The majority of the hike was along the California Riding and Hiking Trail which spans 37 miles. Our hike began at Black Rock Canyon and ended at Keys. Overall, the hike was around 19 miles over mountains and valleys. Each day we aimed for 9 miles.

For more information see: National Park Service

The Hike

This weekend I went backpacking in Joshua Tree National Park. For those of you who don't know what backpacking is, I would describe it as hiking for a long time with nothing but a backpack containing what you need to survive. It was definitely an amazing experience and it reminded me just how during the human body is when you have the will and prepare accordingly. This was my first time backpacking and I was glad I packed just enough to survive comfortably each day.

We got there on Friday and camped at Black Rock Canyon for the night. To set up camp, we had to hike one mile down the path and then 500 ft off the path.

The morning after the first night. Everyone had at least a sleeping bag except Sam. It was amazing how he survived the cold nights in just a blanket.
One thing I came to appreciate on this trip was my sleeping mat. It really helps keep you warm by keeping you off the ground which is a huge source of heat loss. Some of the gear I had to rent from REI. I didn't have cooking gear, a sleeping mat, or even a proper backpack. To offset the cost of a backpacking pack, I ended up using a normal school backpack and tying my sleeping bag and mat together with strings.

The first day of hiking, we hiked until we reached Covington Flats.

The beautiful hike along the ridge on day 2.

Here is a picture of my backpack that I made using rope to hold the pieces together.
The following morning, I discovered that the temperature dropped so low in the valley that it froze the dew on my sleeping bags. Never has feeling the sun rise and hit your skin felt so good when it did that morning. I am unsure how much sleep Sam got that night. He didn't have a sleeping bag and resorted to sharing a bag with another friend. I don't think that was working out so well because he ended up staying up most of the night. In the morning, he told us he climbed up a nearby mountain while we were sleeping. I suspect it was to keep warm.

The morning after spending the night at Covington flats

After Covington, we got back onto the trail and continued our journey and in time, eventually made it back to my car that I had parked at the trail-end before we left.

A glimpse into what the trail we followed looked like.

All in all, backpacking is definitely an experience that I feel everyone should try at least once. At the same time, I would also point out how it's not an experience everyone can accomplish due to the physical demands. But if you can, I highly suggest you do it.

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