Joshua Tree: California Riding and Hiking Trail

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    Tony Wong
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Joshua Tree: California Riding and Hiking Trail  37.5 miles

    Link for Tom Harrison Joshua Tree National Park Map

    Joshua Tree National Park Website

    March 16th to March 18th, 2018

    Daytime Temperatures: 60F to 40F

    Night Time Temperatures: 35F to 28F

    Sunny to Overcast with Cool Daytime Breezes that required wind shirt and gloves while hiking

    Link to Jeremy’s Trip Report


    Jeremy recaps, “There’s no water on the trail, so the next morning, we dropped caches along the route.  After an awesome breakfast at Country Kitchen in Joshua Tree. We ended up dropping three caches.  One at Upper Covington Flat (taking the La Contenta Road about 7 miles to get there), one at Key’s Road, and one at the road that goes south to Cottonwood Springs.  Then we drove to the North Entrance, left the car, and took an Uber back to Black Rock Campground, where the trail began.”

    Day 1, starting at around 2pm, we hiked about 10 miles.  The weather had been nice the day before, but it was pretty windy and chilly.  I think high temps for the day were around 60 F. (Per Jeremy)

    Black Rock Trail Head 1:18pm on March the 16th

    After driving around to drop off 12 gallons of water over 3 caches, we took an Uber ride from the North Entrance to the Black Rock Trail Head. We drove to the Visitor’s Center just outside the North Entrance where Jeremy was able to get a cell phone signal to summon an Uber driver who followed us into the park where we parked my car at the backpacker’s dirt parking lot at the North End of the trail. This worked out great for us as the Uber ride cost us about $35. We had seen a taxi cab in town that was charging $2.50 per mile. Probably saved us a good $40-$50 by taking Uber. Our driver, Greg , was a real character who arrive in an older Saturn car. Full of charm and easy to laugh, he gave us an informal tour of the surrounding area that we drove by on our way to the trail head.

    Waiting to get onto the trail

    After we filled out our permit and checked with the Ranger’s Station to see if my car might get towed away, we were ready to hit the trail. (we forgot to get a permit/tag on my car. We were assured that as long as the permit we filled out had my license plate on the registration and park entrance fees had been paid, we would be fine).

    We started out carrying about 4 Liters of water each, though we only had to hike about 7 miles to our first water cache. We both were very cautious about how much water we carried. Often, we were easily carrying double the amount we needed, if not more. Our packs were light, so we did not mind the few extra pounds for the comfort of knowing that we would not run dry on the trail.

    Getting out on the trail in a new environment

    Jeremy had been to Joshua Tree two or three times previously, but had not done a multi day desert hike of this distance before. For me, this was all new as I had never been to the desert before.

    After a short distance, we went off trail to crest a small ridge. We were essentially parallel to Highway 62. From here we could see the civilization that we were leaving behind

    Heading down to get back on to the trail

    Jeremy initially thought that these mile marker signs were a bit silly, but we came to appreciate them as they assured us that we were on the right path. There were many times other named or nameless trails cut across our path. These mile markers let us know that we had not strayed.

    Working our way deeper into the trail and further away from civilization

    Much of the early part of the trail was simply following washes….dried, sandy river bed that created natural walk ways that were easy to follow.

    A Shady Spot for a Snack Break…..the sun was out, but the temperatures were mild. Essentially perfect weather for hiking. Cool enough to prevent you from sweating while hiking at a good pace. Sunglasses were as important as having a wind shirt and gloves.

    Healthy food for Jeremy….Cheetos for me because I cannot get enough Yellow Dye #5 in my diet

    Jeremy’s Chicken Bar…never seen one of these before

    Packing up and moving out

    Jeremy and I both have Mountain Laurel Design Exodus Packs with the Full Suspension Upgrades

    Link to Mountain Laurel Designs

    Joshua Tree along the Wash….the trail this afternoon would be a slow rise of about 1,000 ft over 7 miles, which made for a pretty gentle and easy trail.



    Day 2 we hiked 21 miles.  Started at about 8 in the morning and hiked until about 6 pm.  It was pretty darn cold most of the day.  Clouds and sun off and on, but never really warmed up above the mid 50s at best. (Per Jeremy)

    Day 3 We finished the hike with about 6.5 miles and made it to the North entrance backcountry trailhead parking by around 11 a.m. (Per Jeremy)

    Ben C
    BPL Member


    Locale: Kentucky

    Great report.

    Tony Wong
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    (continuing on as I cannot edit my original post to add more photos)

    Actual Tree Along The Trail

    Curious Rock

    Steadily Gaining Elevation

    Intersecting the Eureka Peak Trail a Little Over 5 Miles In

    Jeremy Taking a Break at the La Contenta Road at the Lower Covington Flat  4:02pm

    After completing our slow, steady climb, the terrain leveled out and gave us a good opportunity to rest and hydrate.

    Tony Swapping Out Platypus Water Bottles….finishing my first liter of water on the trip

    Interestingly, on the dirt road that was literally behind Jeremy, we saw the only person that afternoon on the trail….a woman walking on the dirt road with her dog.

    Back on the Trail

    Putting on the Wind Shirts Due to the Constant Breeze….a little over 6 miles into the trip

    The Terrain Changes…flatter and with Taller Joshua Trees

    Reaching Upper Covington Flat

    Retrieving 3 Gallons of Water

    Water is Life…

    Labels that I taped to each water bottle said: “PLEASE DON’T TAKE! REMOVING WILL PLACE OUR LIVES AT RISK. FOR: TONY & JEREMY  BACKPACKING 03-16-18 TO 03-18-18

    Packing 7 Liters of Water in our Packs

    I had started out with 4 Liters of water this afternoon and found that I really had only drank 1 Liter of water in the 7 miles that we had traveled. We loaded up with water with the help of a small plastic funnel that Jeremy had wisely thought to bring. This made filling up the water bottles much easier, without spilling a drop of water. Jeremy would hold the funnel just above the opening of the water bottle to air the deplacement of air from the water bottle. With his other hand he would hold the water bottle while I slowly poured the water from the gallon water bottle.

    Upper Covington Flat Trail Head 5:20pm

    We left about 3/4 of a gallon of water here, adding our bottle to the others left by others. Many were marked for use from a trip earlier in March of 2018.

    8 Miles into a 10 Mile Afternoon

    We wanted to push on about another mile or so from the trail head here so we could be assured of having some solitude/privacy. Another motivation for us was to make it easier for our next day’s planned 20 miles. More importantly and immediately, we were looking to find a sheltered area to escape the constant breeze we were hiking in.

    Starting to Lose Elevation

    Starting to Fall into the Shadow of the Ridge…we started descending, coming across wooden logs/post and other materials that the trail crews were using to improve this section of trail.

    Starting to Look for a Place to Call Home for the Night

    Finding a Spot Before the Sun Drops

    We spotted a pile of rocks off the trail by maybe 1/8 of a mile. We hoped that the rocks might provide us some shelter from the wind. The wind was not danger to our shelters, but simply something that would chill us by slowly sucking the heat from our bodies.

    Jeremy’s New Zpacks 21.0 oz Duplex Two Person Cuben Shelter

    Jeremy blowing up his Neo Air Sleeping Pad

    Link to Zpacks Duplex

    Tony’s Mountain Laurel Designs 13.0 oz 2008 Soul Side Zip Bivy with yellow eVent top and green silnylon 2.0 bottom in Wide.

    We quickly setup our shelters for the night just as the sun was falling behind the hill behind us.

    We put on our hats, pulled out our headlights, put on our gloves and put on our long underwear for the night to come.

    Jeremy’s Green UrSack and Snow Peak Canister Stove

    Difficulties with Esbit in the Wind

    Tony’s MSR Titan 0.9 Liter Kettle with Flat Cat Stove’s Snow Leopard Cooking System and Focus Fire 14 Esbit Stove

    Outsak “Chainmail” Food Storage Bag

    I was having huge difficulties with getting my mini bic lighter to fire up in the wind. I resorted to using my “trick” birthday candle to get lit with Jeremy’s flame from his canister stove. Only to have it blow out multiple times trying to get it over to my esbit cube. I even tried to block the wind with a large rock in the background. I eventually had to use my body hugging up against the rock to the right of my stove to shelter it from the wind. Eventually, my esbit stove boiled up the water, but very slowly. As I am getting older, I am finding that I am willing to trade convenience for weight. Maybe, next time, I will bring my Pocket Rocket Stove. That said, once my esbit wsa lit, the Focus Fire and Flat Cat Stove worked fine.

    My new luxury item….2.4 oz Sea to Summit Collapsible Mug.

    Tired of being jealous of Jeremy enjoying his dinner with a hot cup of tea, I decided to join him. Jeremy does a boil in a bag meal, so the left over water in his mug he uses for his tea. As I cook and eat out of my Kettle, I did not have anything to put hot water into for a nice hot drink. Problem solved!



    Staying Warm in the Wind

    I was fortunately that Jeremy had an extra pair of long john bottoms that I could use on this trip. I had not though to bring any extra clothing on this trip. I sleep in my hiking clothes.

    In the background to the left is my 3.0 Liter Hyrdapak Seeker water bottle. I also carried a 2.0 Liter Seeker water bottle, which had a small pinhole leak at the top, near a seam. I caught the problem the night before leaving and managed to pack it with some superglue. This patch eventually failed near the end of the trip. Only my 3rd trip with the Seeker, but I have submitted a warranty claim to the manufacture. Waiting for a reply…been 2 weeks.

    Like the bottle….works perfectly with the new BeFree water filters.

    I carried the two Seekers inside my pack and two 1 Liter Platypus Water Bottles on the sides of my MLD Exodus pack… 7 liters total. I think that Jeremy carried about 7.5 liters.

    A beautiful sky

    I had a bit of a scare before taking this shot from the comfort of my bivy. We had stored our food bags in a dead tree to keep them away from any possible critters. To reach the upper branches, I was standing on a large rock. One of the dead branches was laying across the top of the rock. As I had placed my food bag in the tree, I stepped on this dead branch, which then gave way and I found myself falling backwards into the darkness into the rocks bellow. I crashed into a bush and landed hard onto a large rock between my shoulder blades, knocking my head light off my head. I laid slightly upside down stunned. I had cried out as I fell but managed to tuck my head forward to my chest as I fell. I was shaken and laid there for a maybe 30 seconds to a minute. Jeremy yelled out from his tent if I was okay. I did not respond to him directly. I yelled out that I had fallen. Again, he asked me if I was okay. I yelled back that I had fallen but thought that I was okay. Grabbing my headlight off the ground, I managed to get up. I felt shaken and a little sore from landing on my back. I was lucky that I had not hit my head…there were rocks everywhere I had fallen, but I manage to land on a flat-ish rock…I think. Making it back to where our shelters were, I took some time to think about how lucky I was. I had only had a few “accidents” on the trail and this was one of the worst for me. Counting myself lucky and wondering if I would have any problems the next morning, I slipped into my bivy and started to take some photos to distract myself from what had happened.

    Enjoying Night Time Photography

    The night was windy…really windy and my bivy was full of condensation.

    The wind howled at times and at others gently slapped against my bivy. I was reminded of how much I appreciated and loved my bivy….despite the condensation. I felt the wind press the foot end of my bivy against my quilt. The wind blew and yet I never felt the wind cut through my eVent fabric.

    Dreams in the night….a funny thing, in the middle of the night, where my dreams seemed to be my reality. I thought that there was a creature brushing up against my feet. At one point, I thought that the creature was “rolling up” the foot end of my bivy. I actually woke myself up from my dream by crying out into the darkness and thrashing my feet about to try to “shoo away” the monster. The monster was the wind and Jeremy had heard me cry out in the night…which we laughed about in the morning when I had explained my dream to him that night.

    (Day two coming in the next reply posting)

    Day 2 we hiked 21 miles. Started at about 8 in the morning and hiked until about 6 pm. It was pretty darn cold most of the day. Clouds and sun off and on, but never really warmed up above the mid 50s at best. (Per Jeremy)

    Day 3 We finished the hike with about 6.5 miles and made it to the North entrance backcountry trailhead parking by around 11 a.m. (Per Jeremy)

    Alex H
    BPL Member


    Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW

    Nice report Tony, cool weather always makes desert hiking easier!

    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Right there

    Nice! I miss the desert. Time for a trip. Thanks for some inspiration.

    Kevin B


    Locale: Western New Mexico, USA

    Nice write up!  Your windy stove issues mirror my thought process as I age. Thanks for posting, Tony.

    Tony Wong
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Day 2 we hiked 21 miles. Started at about 8 in the morning and hiked until about 6 pm. It was pretty darn cold most of the day. Clouds and sun off and on, but never really warmed up above the mid 50s at best. (Per Jeremy)

    6:35 AM  Saturday Morning after a windy evening

    Tony Bundled Up in the Bivy

    Despite the windy night, my bivy suffered a lot of condensation that damped the whole top of my quilt.

    Frozen Droplets of Water on the Top of my Bivy

    Jeremy Retrieving Our Food Bags in a Dead Tree

    Jeremy is standing on the rock that I fell off of the night before that gave me a good scare. I was lucky to wake up without any bruises or soreness. Lesson learned….the back country tolerates no stupidity.

    Jeremy digs into his UrSack to pull out his breakfast…having a hot meal

    My breakfast was the same one that I always have on the trail….one cup of Costco bought Quaker Oaks Granola supplemented with dried fruit, pine nuts, shredded coconut, and a tablespoon of Chocolate Quick powdered drink mix. I am estimating that this easily gives me 450 to 550 calories to start out my day. Generally, I put in 700 ml of water with this to help me hydrate in the morning. Ideally, I like to drink at least 1L to 1.5L in the morning so I start out well hydrated.

    Happy to see the sun break

    Jeremy Getting Ready for the Day

    Getting Packed Up

    Quick Snap Shot of Where I Fell the Night Before

    In hind sight, I was simply lucky and the fall was not bad. It had definitely rattled me.

    Rejoining the Trail after Leaving Our Campsite

    A little bit of Uphill in the Morning

    Looking Back….Seeing Where We Had Spent the Night….a whole valley just for us

    Almost to the Top of Something

    The morning was cold….I had removed my long john bottoms, but keep my gloves and wind shirt on. Not much wind this morning, but it still was chilly.

    Up and Over The Top

    We were greeted with another change of terrain this day. Rather than flat expanses, there was brush, ridges with views of the surround low lands below us. There were short climbs along rocky areas. I was slowly getting an appreciation for this desert and realizing that there was a great variety of topography to be had.

    Dropping Down and Seeing Larger Brush

    Salton Sea in the Extreme Distance

    <span class=”Y0NH2b CLPzrc”>”The Accidentally Created Lake. … In 1905, heavy rainfall and snowmelt caused the Colorado River to swell, pouring water down the canal and into the <b>Salton</b> Sink. The <b>flood</b> waters breached two dikes and formed two new rivers that quickly inundated the valley.” Quick search of the internet:

    Jeremy, always the knowledgeable tour guide, told me the story of how the Salton Sea was accidentally flooded. He had said that at one point there was fishing and recreation on the Salton Sea, but after decades of slow evaporation, the waters became too salty for fish to survive and the sea was used less and less….the business of recreating faded away.

    Moving Up the Ridge Line

    The Trail Stretches Out Before Us

    One of the Last Trail Markers….sort of

    After the 12th marker, we did not see a 13th. I figured that maybe they skipped posting “unlucky” number 13. However, as we passed more of these trail mile markers, they were only for the the opposite direction, which drove me nuts. Money to drag the metal post out there and to have mile markers for the OTHER direction but falling short of funds for us on the North Bound trek???

    Lots of vegetation on this stretch of the trail

    Prickly Pear Cactus???

    Either way, this was one of the biggest ones that we would see on the trail

    Losing Jeremy in the Vegetation

    Again, I did not expect to see so dense a patch of plant life out in the desert…each step of the trail was a wonderful surprise.

    Hills and Ridges in the Distance

    Working Our Way Through

    Nice part of this trail was that there was only one trail….no crossing intersections or trails to confuse us….just one well worn path to follow.

    Gaining Elevation….moving at a good pace, I got a little bit a head of Jeremy

    Going Somewhere Up There

    Looking back where we came from

    A Grey Morning

    Moving Ahead

    Near the End of Our Climb

    A One Sided Trail Mile Marker

    Nothing on our side, but the other side said 24. So I guess this could be the 13th mile mark for us.

    Jeremy Back in the Lead

    Blue Skies and the Trail Flattens Out

    After getting a little heated up form the climb, this flat section was a welcome sight. Easy cruising as we wanted to reach our 3rd water cache by tonight, which meant we needed to keep a good pace to complete 20 miles to reach the water we would need for the night.

    Land full of no one…Jeremy and I wondered when we might see anyone else on the trail. It was still early and we figured that we would run into people walking towards us and unlikely that anyone would come from behind us.

    Rarely Seen Photos of Tony….Yes, I really was on the trip!

    Thank you Jeremy for taking a few snaps of me

    My dad often complains that when I send him links to photos essays that I have posted, that I am not in many of the photos. That is just what happens when you are the photographer. Jeremy plans the trips, I just show up with food for the number of days Jeremy says that we will be out on the trail. I never look at my copy of the map that I carry…I just follow the guy with the blue shirt. Thank you Jeremy for taking me on these amazing adventures.

    Lots of Flatness and Tall Vegetation

    Ultra Runners at an Intersection

    Coming out of nowhere from behind us, two runners overtook us while Jeremy was checking the map at an intersection we had come across.

    More Runners Joining Us

    Talking to these runners, I was struck by the fact that they were older…maybe even close to our age. Some of them had a bit of grey in their hair, which I found pretty inspiring. Jeremy later commented that many of the ultra runners are older…having the mental toughness of experience to do the longer distances.

    We figured that they had perhaps started around Covenington Flats. We had told them that we had started out from Black Rock, but they did not say that they had started from there too. Either way, running 20 or more miles in the desert…bad ass in my book.

    (More to come in the following days)

    Day 3 We finished the hike with about 6.5 miles and made it to the North entrance backcountry trailhead parking by around 11 a.m. (Per Jeremy)

    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Right there

    Salton Sea use to get more tourists than the Grand Canyon.

    Matthew / BPL


    Thanks for posting this trip report. I’ve enjoyed the rich details and tons of photos.

    Tony Wong
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    (Continuing Day 2)

    After Jeremy was able to confirm where the runners were and that they were on the right trail, they were off and running

    And heading off down the trail, eating their dust

    After going a short distance, we decided to stop for a short break….it was 10:43 am and life was good

    A rock is a good place to sit…beats sitting in the dirt

    The land opens up….wide open expanse

    Moving Forward, Once More

    I found it surprising to find large granite boulders and rock formations this far south of the Sierras. I had previously thought that most to all of the granite in California was in the Sierras. These seemingly random formations stood out against the flat and stark landscapes of the desert.

    More Train Runners…another reminder that I am older, slower, and not so bad ass as my imagination might lead me to believe.

    Slow and Steady Wins the Race? So Jeremy and I tell ourselves.

    It was nice to have the sun on our backs after the grey of the morning seemed to either burn away or perhaps we hiked fast enough to leave it all behind.

    Seeing More and More People on the Trail….as expected as we were getting closer to the roads of the Joshua Tree National Park



    The Giants that Tower Above Us…..always impressed by the size and height of these pseudo trees that seem to thrive in this harsh environment.

    Another Photos of a Sign….Jeremy used to think that it was funny that I would take photos of trail signs. I find that they help me reference where I am in the photos when I look at the topo map at home while sorting out these photos to post online. In many ways, posting the photos forces me to study the map that I rarely look at while on the trail with Jeremy. It also helps me relive the trip and the photos remind me moment when I was taking the photo….a digital memory for a guy with a poor memory.

    More and more people on the trail….not that there were a lot, but it seemed like it in comparison to only seeing one woman with her dog all of yesterday.

    Desert Jungle?

    Making Good Time with a Steady Pace….the trail was gently rolling, flat, or with an easy decline that allowed for a good pace

    17.5 Mile Marker approximately…as the sign on the “other side” said 20 Miles. So about 12.5 Miles more to go til the 3rd/last water cache.

    Hill or Mountains in the Distance

    Another Big Joshua Tree

    Spikey things along the trail

    Getting Close to the Road and Our 2nd Water Cache

    Parking Lot in Sight

    Key’s Road Intersection of the Trail and a Parking Lot

    Hiding In Plain Sight….Sort of.

    We took efforts to hide our water a little bit so that it was not obvious or easily seen from the trail. I took photos of the areas that we left our water caches to reference later, if needed when approaching the caches.

    Jeremy Checks the Map to See Where We Are and How Much Further We Needed to Go

    Having Lunch and Tanking Up on Water.

    We actually had way too much water at this point. The cool weather, grey skies, and relatively gently trail made for easy traveling with little sweating. Of the four gallons that we had, we gave two gallons away to a group of backpackers who had pulled into the parking lot behind Jeremy. We left about a half gallon at the trail head for those in need. I took the time to pull out my Katabatic 22F quilt and Goosefeet down socks to let them dry with the limited sun that we had. It was still breezy and I had to be careful to not let my gear blow around too much. Again, having a wind shirt while stopped was critically important for being comfortable.

    Note: You can see Jeremy’s small, white plastic funnel next to the water jug. Really helpful tool.

    Goose Feet Down Socks….gear for cold sleepers

    Katabatic Quilts….I have a 22F and 30F quilt….pricey but so light and warm with many thoughtful features for retaining warmth on chilly nights.

    Where the Chicken Crossed the Road….or where the two crazy backpackers crossed the road

    Back on the Trail….after meeting a young Korean Guy from LA who had driven up for the weekend for an over nighter. He was starting go transition his gear to UL and he recognized our packs and asked us a few questions. He started out a few minutes before us and left us in the dust. Again, were reminded that having a light pack helps a lot, but nothing beats youth.

    In the Shadow of Big Clouds that Blotted Out the Sun

    The Start of the Wooden Trail Mile Markers

    From this point on, we would see many of these trail markers…sometimes separated by only a few hundred feet. Beat by the sun, we surmised that the ones that we had seen up to this point were relatively new and were going to slowly replace these old wooden post.

    Sandy Trail and Hard on the Feet in a Different Way

    A bit of thick vegetation

    Ryan Camp Ground

    Turning Away From the Camp Ground

    We never entered the camp ground as the trail turned away, but we could have used the restrooms or thrown trash away in the garbage cans that they had. We had considered leaving our 2nd water cache here, but decided against it.

    Only 10.5 to 11.5 miles more to go….it was 12:44 pm

    (More to come…slowly in the coming days)

    Day 3 We finished the hike with about 6.5 miles and made it to the North entrance backcountry trailhead parking by around 11 a.m. (Per Jeremy)

    Tony Wong
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Something for reference where we were on the trail

    Water Pipe to the Lost Mine…this pipe seem to go on and on, but we were headed away from the mine

    Gaining Ground…gentle incline

    Prickly Stuff

    Passing the Guy We Had Met at the Parking Lot Where We Had Lunch

    Nothing beats being young…..he would later pass us up and leave us in the dust….never to be seen again.

    Open Brown Spaces

    Thicker Vegetation….Jeremy Leads the Way

    Old Trail Post Dot the Landscape

    From this point on this stretch of the trail we would see these sun baked post along the trail at very frequent intervals….sometimes just a few hundred feet apart

    Descending to open ground….and easy trail to follow

    Another Wooden Trail Marker

    What lies ahead

    The Trail Opens Up and the Land Flattens Out

    Trail Side Art Work….Stones Arranged Around Cactus to Make a Dry Garden

    Cross Roads…another marker of where we are

    Still in the Shadow of the Clouds

    Jeremy with his wind shirt….this trip would have been miserable without our wind shirts to keep the constant breeze from sucking the heat off our bodies

    A Short Break Along the Trail

    Mile 22 into our trip our trip

    Rock Formations Catching My Eye…simply because they were some of the bigger outcroppings of Granite that we would see along the trail

    More Rocks

    A Broken Egg??

    A Worn Stone Standing Tall

    Keep Going One Foot in Front of the Other

    So Flat….yet so full of vegetation

    As I said before, each day on the trail provided a very different landscape and today it was a wide and flat terrain. At certain points in the day, I truly felt like I was out in the middle of nowhere.

    Ahead of Jeremy and Looking Back at Where we had Come From

    The trail was wide enough and soft….deceptively easy as I would later find out as my knee became stressed from sinking slightly with each step.

    A Row of Plants Bunched Together Caught my Eye

    Joshua Trees….sentinels over a sea of sand

    Another Backpacker on the Trail Passes Us By While we take a Break

    Road Crossing in the Distance

    Trail Meets the Dirt Road for Off Road Vehicles

    Another Sign

    Easier Road Than the One We Took for our 1st Water Cache

    A Trail Head

    Moving on….we did not linger at the Trail Head….we had miles to get done

    Rock Formation in the Distance

    A Spot of Sun Breaking the Clouds to Shine on the Rocks

    Ahead of Jeremy for a Stretch of Time…Looking Back

    Strange Spidery Plant

    Taking a Break With a Little Shade Next to the Trail….about 26 miles into the trip and 16 miles so far this day

    It was good to take a break and to rest my feet. Though my pack was not heavy, walking on the soft sand was starting to take a told on me. Maybe it was at this point that my knee was starting to hurt and causing me to limp a bit. Sucks to be getting older. In the past, I would not worry about my body and I would simply just “go”. With time and age, I now feel the limits of my body…having to consider what I can and cannot do. I will be 49 years old a few months….though I am looking forward to becoming 50.

    Two Post Together on the Trail….why?

    The Clouds Chasing Us All Day….our day had started out grey and as we raced along the trail, we escaped into patches of sunlight that felt good on my skin. Sometimes it was a little frustrating. At times, warming up and others cool from the shade of the clouds, which also made it easy to move quickly without sweating.

    The Trail Markers Now Started to Be on “Our” side of the sign post

    30 Miles into our trip….20 miles so far today. 4:51pm

    Approaching a Main Road in Joshua Tree National Park

    Leaving the Trail to Head to Twin Tanks Parking Lot

    Parking Lot in the Distance

    Picking Up Our Last Water Cache of the Trip

    Jeremy Pulls His Pen Out So We Could Write on Our Extra Water Jugs that we did not need this water and that it was free for others to use

    We had left 4 gallons of water here and really only need to maybe a little more than 1 gallon of water

    Jeremy Carries Two Gallons of water back to the trail….someone else’s water jug in the fore ground

    Twin Tanks Trail Head

    Leaving Water for Others…though chances of death here are seemly low as there were cars frequently driving my on this well traveled road.

    Waiting for a Chance to Cross the Road

    Back on the Trail and Almost Done for the Day

    This was a good thing…my left knee was really killing me at this point. It hurt to walk….it seemed that the sides of my knee around the patella were super tight. I was guessing that walking on the soft sand and sinking a little bit with each step was stressing my knee in a way that would not happen if I were on solid ground. In fact, while hiking on the trail for the past mile or two, I was actively looking for firm parts of the trail. Walking on firm ground caused me less pain. I was even trying to change how I was taking my steps….trying to keep my foot flat with each step vs. landing on the ball of my feet with each step.

    A marker of where we were….we were going to travel about another mile past the trail head and road to give ourselves some privacy for the night.

    Heading Off Trail, Shooting for the Rocks in the Distance….part of me wanted to shoot Jeremy.

    More because of the pain in my knee, I was effectively done for the day and simply wanted to find a spot to call it quits.

    This looked like a good spot for a campsite to me…subterranean and sheltered from the wind. Mostly, I just wanted to get off my feet and rest my knee. I did not take a ton of photos on this last section of our hike.

    Stopping For a Photo Break….a good excuse to rest my knee

    Yellow Flowers in the Desert

    After Working Our Way up and through an out cropping of rocks that seemed a long way from the trail, Jeremy found this great campsite. Note: the fact that I have no photos up to this point just tells you how badly I wanted to get the task of setting up camp done so I could get off my feet.

    It was 6:13pm and we had done approximately 21 miles, which I was thrilled about. I have not been on trip in a few years where I hiked 15-20 miles per day….like I did on the JMT in 2011 and on a few trips after that. So it was gratifying that we could pull off the higher mileage day…though at a cost of my knee. Perhaps stupid to push or simply stubborn?

    Trying to learn from my experience the night before, I snuggled up to this bit of rock and juniper to give myself a very good bit of wind protection.

    Jeremy Gets Ready for Dinner….his Duplex in the Distance

    An Open Space Large Enough for a Tent, but Exposed to the Winds

    A wonderful place surrounded by rocks and offering nice views

    Looking Down on Jeremy’s Shelter….rocks, need more rocks for the stakes

    In the middle of the night, Jeremy had one or two stake get pulled out by the strong winds hitting his tent, which forced him to scramble around at night to re-secure his tent and keep it from blowing away.

    I was reminded of one of the reasons why I do appreciate my bivy….as it can fit in the tiniest of spots, which allowed me to take advantage of the spot that I can chosen. Very little wind reached me, despite hearing strong winds above me at night.

    Another View Around Camp

    A Well Deserved Rest

    Jeremy’s Boil in a Bag Meal…simple and easy. Add hot water, seal up, put in fleece bag to keep heat loss to a minimum and let the food cook/rehydrate. No dishes/pot to wash.

    Esbit Cube Cooking….one 0.5 oz cube was plenty of fuel to provide me with hot water for tea and for rehydrating my meal. The collapsing cup and tea is my luxury on this trip….my first time taking it out on the trail.

    Dehydrated Stew with mashed potatoes….interestingly, this did not kill me. It was vacuum sealed and in my freezer for at least 2-3 years. Still good…

    Pink Sunset Sky

    Sun Dropping Fast

    View Toward the Trail we left behind….well, in that direction

    Despite my knee bothering me, I hobbled from rock to rock back the way we had come to snap a few more photos before the sun was lost to me.

    Looking Back the Way We Had Hike All Day to Reach this Beautiful Place

    Big Sky and Big Rock

    Desperate to Catch the Light

    I was moving around the campsite trying to get as many photos as I could with limited success, but more to try to capture these moments to help me remind myself of the beauty of this place….unique and alien to me.

    Jeremy and the Colors of the Sky

    Putting our food bags in the tree…though we did not see any animals around the campsite at all. Nothing touched our food bags on this trip.

    7:35 pm….after dinner and taking these photos, I just slipped into my bivy and promptly passed out hard

    I would wake up a few times in the night, greeted by the sound of strong winds that seemed to just be 10 or 15 feet above my head. Sometimes a gentle breeze would push through the large juniper that I was next too. Despite the wind, I was safely sheltered and laid in my bivy looking up at the stars or simply enjoying the sounds of the desert winds.





    Day 3 We finished the hike with about 6.5 miles and made it to the North entrance backcountry trailhead parking by around 11 a.m. (Per Jeremy)

    Tony Wong
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Day 3 We finished the hike with about 6.5 miles and made it to the North entrance backcountry trailhead parking by around 11 a.m. (Per Jeremy)

    6:56 am Jeremy retrieving his UrSack

    Woke up about 6:30 am and slowly got up….it was nice and warm under my quilt and in my bivy. I was reluctant to get up in the chilly morning air.

    Super Dorky, but Super Comfortably Warm….love my merino wool Buff and Black Rock Down Hat

    The Buff is my newest bit of clothing, which I love because of its versatility. It can be a hat that could replace my Black Rock Hat. It is my neck scarf or balaclava. In dry climates…higher elevations, where the dry air leaves my nose and lips cracked, being able to cover my mouth and nose with the Buff helps moisturize the air that I breath.

    Jeremy Survives the Windy Night….big rocks and piles of rocks on your stakes is a good thing

    Jeremy enjoys a rare hot breakfast

    Normally, on longer trips where we watch every excess ounce of weight, Jeremy and I would have a cold breakfast….dinner being our only hot meal. Given how short this trip was, Jeremy wisely opted for a hot breakfast….leaving me a bit envious as I crunched on my cold granola.

    Looking Down on my little spot where I spent the night…..Jeremy’s breakfast setup by the rocks

    Taking some time to dry out the gear before packing it up

    Breaking Down Camp

    Hiking back to the trail….we left camp at 8:26 am.

    A very leisurely start for us, but with only 6.5 miles…what was the rush to get out on the trail? Simply enjoying the last day before it was all over.

    Back on the trail….8:37 am

    Some Interesting Rocks

    Something Watching Over Us

    32 Miles and so left to go

    Jeremy had accidentally snagged one of these prickly guys on his shoe on the trip….no lasting damage, but definitely not fun

    Crossing One More Road

    It was good to be back on the trail…my knee was still stiff, but my body was not too sore. Fortunately, walking warmed up my knee and it hurt less and the miles fell behind us

    Not many cars at this time of the day

    A Quiet Morning

    For a while the trail was close to the road but then pulled away behind some hills, which we were happy for

    A park maintenance facility tucked behind the hills

    A well traveled path

    A bit of civilization….power lines going to the park maintenance facility

    Who would have guessed that we would see this out in the desert

    View off to the side of the trail

    Desert Color

    Small Wonders in the Desert

    The trail seemed to follow the same line of power boxes buried in the sand

    Plenty of Vegetation

    Taking a Break on the trail or in the middle of the trail

    A gradual decent


    The brush here was a bit taller….we would see jack rabbit darting about the bushes

    Somewhere out there to the left was the parking lot where we had left the car

    The end is near….the hiking was easy and I was taking the in the last of the view…a little sad that the trip was almost over just as I was feeling like home on the trail was starting to feel like my new normal once again.

    Turning towards the road that is off in the distance

    Jack Rabbit?

    A sign that we were close to the end….excessive and unnecessary work to mark the trail

    Almost to the Parking Lot….there was a group of 4-5 backpackers coming up behind us

    Seeing the Cars just up ahead

    Another Adventure…a new experience…..desert hiking

    Beer in the Cooler

    11:03 am

    How Every Trip Ends for Jeremy….a nice indulgence


    Mike Bozman


    Locale: BC

    Great trip report!  There are enough pictures to make me feel as though I have ‘been there, done that.’

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