Camping Trip To Joshua Tree National Park, Part 1
I had been looking forward to this weekend as it has been many years since I have camped out in Joshua Tree National Park. My brother-in-law and I arrived at the park visitor center on Friday afternoon with hopes that we were early enough to get a campsite for two nights, but unfortunately, all were taken. Our choices were limited to some Bureau Of Land Management open space outside of the park boundaries, a hotel in town, or take a short hike from one of the backcountry parking lots and camp out. Since both of us have a lot of backpacking experience, we were comfortable with the last choice if needed. We set off into the park and stopped at the Hidden Valley picnic area to cook a great dinner of chicken quesadillas and then went up to Keys View for the sunset. From Keys View there are views to the west of Palm Springs, Mount San Jacinto, Mount San Gorgonio; and to the south one can see the Salton Sea. While enjoying the view I walked around the area looking for a Joshua Tree or something else that would make a nice foreground element to the coming sunset. After about ten minutes of searching I returned to main lookout area and a nice Joshua Tree that would provide some framing for the sunset. Knowing that the tree would to silhouette when exposing for the sunset so I set up the flash unit to try and get some detail in the tree.
A few minutes later the sun was once again visible between the two layers of clouds, so I switched to my 400mm lens to get closer
After the beautiful sunset we drove through a couple of campgrounds on the off chance someone had left. Unfortunately everything was full, so we made our way over the Desert Queen Mine trailhead, grabbed just what we needed for the night; sleeping bags, tent and pads, hiked out under the star filled sky for a while and enjoyed a very quiet nights sleep in the backcountry.
Saturday became a day of hiking and enjoying the sights. First we took in the Barker Dam area and with the air so still the half full lake was perfect for reflections.
In the afternoon we hiked the two miles to the Lost Horse Mine, for forty years prior to 1931, this mine produced significant amounts of gold and silver until an earthquake damaged and shifted the mine shaft and the once plentiful spring water almost completely dried up. These titbits of information came from a Ranger at a campfire presentation at Jumbo Rocks campground.
More on the trip in Part 2, coming soon.