Friday, February 21, 2014

Joshua Tree: Day 1

Everyone should visit Joshua Tree National Park. Everyone. It is breathtaking. It is simply breathtaking. Before this trip to California, hiking through Painted Canyon, and experiencing Joshua Tree, I did not know that the desert could be so captivatingly beautiful. These pictures do not even begin to do this park justice, and I think that they are really nice pictures. 
You do not need to be active, to hike and camp like we do, to thoroughly enjoy what this expansive park has to ofter...there is so much to see just driving around. You could drive all the roads in the park and be here all day. So please, put this on your list. Plan for a whole day here, there is that much to see, to be enraptured and captivated by. Honestly, I am trying to put something to words that cannot be, so I will stop here.

These are Joshua Trees

A sky so blue...

Incredible rock formations

Up close Joshua Tree

Up close not pleasant plant

You can drive right up to Keys View and park to enjoy the overlook view into the San Andreas Fault. There is a loop path that connects two vantage point, with the higher one giving you a 270 degree view. The other 90 degree are blocked by a mountain that the Big Horned sheep like to hang out on. Unfortunately for us, they were not there when we were.

Keys View: Looking over the San Andreas Fault

Keys View: Looking over the San Andreas Fault

Keys View: Looking over the San Andreas Fault

Keys View: Looking over the San Andreas Fault

One of our hiking excursions...

Cholla cactus

Pretty but painful

The Cholla Cactus Garden is actually a formal stop, parking lot and all, that you can stop at to view acres of the vicious cacti. There is even a 0.25 mile flat loop that you can meander to walk through them.

Cholla Cactus Garden

You kind of just get lost in it...

We climbed on everything, it was too tempting and fun not to!

There is beauty in everything...

...including the desert. Especially the desert.

Overwhelmed. In awe. Amazement. Pure peace. And happiness, lots of happiness.

There are a ton of pullovers, campsites, educational stops, parking lots, etc all over the park to stop into to get out and scout around. There are trails ALL over the place. You can be as active or inactive as you would like, but it was so much fun to get out and explore. To climb and jump, to enjoy the unimaginable blueness of the sky, and feel like a big kid getting back to enjoying the pure simple fun of Mother Nature. It was just so quiet and peaceful here. It also helped that it was a high temperature of 50 degrees, in the middle of a non-holiday week, so there were not many people around at all. There are so few times in life that you can actually experience pure silence, literally no sound at all, and I had that here. It was awesome. When was the last time you experienced true quiet?

Another interesting cactus

Home for the night, tent is up and ready for the sunset!

It may be the desert but it was only about 40 degrees...brr! Five layers here.

Good Night Joshua Tree

Note the glimpse of the fleece hat and gloves that were added...hello mid-20s

We stayed warm

The entire purpose of our camping out in the freezing temperatures was to experience the stargazing. I am obsessed with stars. Joshua Tree is so far removed from any towns/cities, and has no artificial lighting in the part, that it is suppose to have some of the most incredible stargazing that you can experience. Apparently though, we were there during those really rare times where it is cloudy at night. The only thing that could be seen was the very bright Big Dipper. It was a fantastic experience, but very disappointing.