Friday, January 6, 2012

49 Miles to 29 Palms: Joshua Tree National Park

It's just 49 miles from Desert Hot Springs north and east around the vast Joshua Tree National Park, a mind-boggling 800,000 acres. I'm definitely excited about this destination.

Highway 62, divided, climbs the dry hills.

And along the way, swaths of wind generators dot the landscape, an otherworldly sight.
A quick stop at Guide Dogs of the Desert for directions (navigator confesses).

In 29 Palms we shop for essentials: gas, the NAPA store for a new regulator plus other bits, and provisions. Once we get into the park, we'll be an hour from anywhere. Sparse pickins at the local grocery for organic food lovers, but boxes of baby spinach seem to be ubiquitous.

Doing errands, I feel as though my vital fluids are drying up. It's incredibly dry.

As we make our entrance into the park, forbidding beauty. Legend has it that, in the mid-19th century, Mormon pioneers named the tree after the biblical Joshua, viewing the outstretched limbs as a gesture of supplication, guiding the travelers west.

Ancient locals.

We choose Ryan campground, one of many in the park, because Art got a book at Powell's in Portland that says the grueling hike up Ryan Mountain starts from here. It will turn out to be a fine decision, mostly.

No electricity here, and no water. Our solar panels will drink up the sun, though, and give us everything we need. There are three on top of the Avion--see it nestled into the landscape?

The sun sets behind us. Mon dieu, this place is magnificent.

For supper tonight, all the greenies we had left before shopping: beans, spinach, and broccoli. We're going to need our strength for tomorrow's hike.

In the pastel light, absolute quiet.

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