ROAM FEE: $35 per person including park fee, campground fee, and food + gas$.
I recently made this trip right before X’mas. We got a long weekend and before hanging out with the family during X’mas time I decided to spend sometimes outdoor with Sir Boyfriend. Yes, I know what you all think… this girl must be nuts, who goes camping in the winter. Indeed it was freezing…
BUT it was a unique experience. I always love trying or experiencing something new. Camping in winter is just me expanding my horizon!
I am sure any of us would be able to withstand the temperature without the wind chill. But boy it was super windy! Our little tent was threatened to get blown away any second. We arrived at the camp site past midnight, we couldn’t get a reservation for the first night because we decided on the trip pretty last minute. We tried to pay at the park ranger office but obviously no one was maning the booth at that late hours. By the way, that is the secret to get free stay at the national parks. I definitely do not recommend it because the fee you pay goes to the preservation of the parks and we should support them. On the contrary, who doesn’t like to get free stuff sometimes. =)
Before we went to sleep that night, we made an attempt to capture the beautiful night sky. We just recently purchase a Sony camera and we were playing with it for a couple of hours. It was quite cloudy that night so the night sky was not as spectacular as in the Summer. Here is the outcome of our camera experiment.
We could hardly sleep that night due the cold. I slept on for my purple Thermarest, had my fleece blanket wrapped around my feet and draped my down jacket over the sleeping bag (rated for +25 degree F) as well as my face. After attempting to settle down for a few hours, Sir Boyfriend decided to sleep in the car (his sleeping bag was rated for +40 degree F) when the sun came up at 7am; it was 20 degree F.
We started the day at 9am with very little sleep. We decided to check out the trail right behind our camp ground. The Hi-View is a short 1.3 mile loop trail with pretty nice view at the top. You can see the entire city and all the way to the mountains. Although it was still quite windy, the actually helped a lot in terms of the temperature. Definitely pack your windbreaker if you want to try winter camping in Joshua Tree. Here are snippets on what to expect from the Hi-View trail.
Don’t forget to sign the guest book at the top! This trail didn’t get my full approval since it was missing an important element, guess which one?! (continue reading ’til the end of the post for the answer) Nonetheless, it was short and rewarding. Reception was quite spotty… I couldn’t instantly Instagram the view to you all.
Next we head into the Joshua Tree National Park. Park entrance fee was $15 per vehicle, free if you bike or walk in. The view was fascinating. It was almost like the giants from the past purposely arrange the rocks a certain way. With that said, Joshua Tree is the perfect playground for rock climber of all ages. The short time, we were inside the national park, Sir Boyfriend and I had the opportunity to conquer one of the more strenuous trail: Ryan Mountain, a total of 3 miles hike within 2.5 hours. We spent about 45 mins on the top to admire the view. This 3 miles hike honestly felt like 5 miles. It was 100% sun exposure, constant climb, and surrounded by miles and miles of barren rocks. I think my lizard brain always prefer greener scenery. Up at the 5461 feet elevation, we got the unobstructed view of Lost Horse, Queen, and Pleasant Valleys. Again, no reception at the top =(
Next we headed to Split Rock, it was around 4pm when we got there. We started losing the light and warmth. We decided to just explore the area a little bit and not do the 4 miles hike. Still barren surrounding but this time we got very interesting rock arrangements that reminded us of the “127 hours”.
So… Sir Boyfriend and I tried to be a little creative and recreate our very own “127 hours” posters =p
Obviously it’s not as epic as the real poster, but I am kinda proud of my own version as well. That night we both were too scared of the cold, we ended up sleeping in the car. We slept so much better the second night by far. Before we head back to reality, we were determined to complete 1 more hike. As per the ranger’s recommendation, we hit the 49 Palms Oasis. From the name of the trail, I got a bit excited since I was expecting to see a large body of water. Another 3 miles hike, much better hike than Ryan Mountain in my opinion. It definitely didn’t feel like 5 miles, has more interesting ups and downs and twists and turns. About 3/4 of the way, we saw a group of palm trees in the distance, that’s when we knew we were almost there, to the oasis!! Low and behold! This was what we saw:
Then we turned around…
Hm… we were speechless. OK… we sat there quietly for a few minutes and then we heard a trickle of water in the distance. THERE WAS WATER!!! It was just that we can’t really see it and we can’t access it. Oh well, when I got home I checked the Merriam-Webster dictionary for the definition of an oa·sis: “a fertile or green area in an arid region (as a desert)”. I guess, after all the name was right. I was just expecting too much. We completed the hike short of 2 hours, we spent about 30 mins at the so-called oasis (yes, I am still bitter about it).
That’s the story of my short trip. The take home lesson for me this time is: to think twice before deciding to go camping in the desert during winter time. It was fun though, you should all try winter camping at least once in your life time!
P.S. one of the most important element for me is H2O, if you don’t already conclude 2 paragraphs ago. =)
Over and out~