Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Few Days in the Desert

After leaving the booming metropolis of Kingman, AZ, we headed southwest for Joshua Tree. On the way we stopped at a little gas station on historic Route 66 and the attendant told us what we had been looking at for an hour or so. The black hill off in the distance was Amboy Crater -- formerly a volcano that had blown its top. He informed us you could hike to the top and then inside the crater. So, a mile down the road we parked the car and made off on this short hike. The volcanic rock that littered the trail was very hard to step on, but made the desert floor much more interesting. It was fun hiking around inside and then enjoying different views from the rim of this 250 foot hill.

We arrived in Joshua Tree about an hour and a half later. There we picked up some supplies and headed into the park to stake out a campsite for the night. We weren’t able to get into the first couple of sites that have climbing routes actually in the sites so we were forced down the road to the Jumbo Rocks area. We found a sunny, south-facing site and set up camp. Our neighbors were very nice and we shared a fire with a handyman from Orange County named John.

Monday night we froze as the desert temperatures dropped to below freezing and the wind ripped through the tent. My feet never warmed up and Dan was in his sleeping bag with jeans and a sweater on (usually he sweats in the bag). However, we survived and staked the fly down the next morning.

On Tuesday we did a climb on the side of the Jumbo Rocks corridor. The rappel was off a boulder on top and we couldn’t pull the rope. Eventually Dan jumared back up and was able to pull it. Afterward we scrambled on rock for a long while and then took a short hike before dinner.

Tuesday night was cooler (but our tent was much warmer) and we both slept a lot better, although neither of us was excited about camping out again. So we packed up the site after a pre-breakfast hike, and hit the road. On the way out of the park we hiked Mount Ryan (5,000-something feet) and checked out rock around the Real Hidden Valley. Unfortunately, the climbs we wanted to do were all in the shade where it was considerably colder. We did leave the park and tried to find lodging in town. Being that it was New Year’s Eve we had no luck and decided to head north towards Las Vegas.

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