Hiking miles through desert. Eating our own cooked meals. Sleeping on desert ground and gazing at the night sky. An experience to remember.
Joshua Tree National Park has earned its’ keep in being one my favorite places to visit. There are various hiking trails to attempt that weave throughout the desert. The desert landscape is filled with rugged rocks, vibrant desert flowers and of course- Joshua trees.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to experience Joshua Tree the way it was meant to be experienced- on foot. I was accompanied by two friends of mine, whom of which are outdoor enthusiasts as well, so I was in good hands. The day of the trip, we packed our packs with the essentials: loads of water, blankets, flashlight, propane stove burner and (with the help of Wallmart) multiple food packets. The drive over was not as far. That is one of the joys of Joshua Tree. Close enough for a quick getaway, but far enough to escape the city lights and buzz of traffic.
The night we arrived, it was easy to see why Joshua Tree was so effortlessly beautiful. At night the stars can be seen. With the moon so big there was no need for flashlights. The desert air covered us with a cold but comforting blanket. Which was much needed (and appreciated) during the hike out. We had a quick meal and soon enough, we started our adventure.
Hiking in Joshua Tree at night is an experience in itself. Shadows of Joshua trees surround you, hearing the crunching of your boots on the desert ground, the cold night air grazing your skin. At moments you mistaken a Joshua tree for a man standing to wave hello. The environment is welcoming and there isn’t a need to talk. For minutes to soon hours, we found ourselves not saying a word. I was captivated and quickly immersed in the lifestyle of Joshua Tree.
While hiking, it was easy to forget we had elephants strapped to our backs. Of course an exaggeration, but there is so much to be distracted by that you forget you’re even backpacking. The formation and details on the rocks that surround you are bewitching, providing quick moments of shade and cool breezes. The sand on the ground acting as cushions for your feet.
It is easy to get lost in the beauty that is Joshua Tree. You don’t just go out and visit “JT”. You experience it. With every step you venture out, you are part of the adventure.
Eventually fatigue was starting to hit us. At this point we have been backpacking for miles of desert. Fortunately, we found a spot to set up camp. There was a burrow of rocks that we came across, having three walls and an open door scenery. The ground was soft and the rocks provided us with comfort and shelter. Laying down on the desert floor after backpacking for hours is a phenomenal feeling. I found myself dropping to the floor, and just gazing at the night sky. It is hard to believe how beautiful Joshua Tree can be. We slept directly under the Big Dipper and the moon put me into a trance.
The Morning Home.
The morning home was quiet. We woke up with sore backs and shaky legs but we didn’t mind. This was no Airbnb mind you, but I would take this over that any day. We woke up to a cool breeze and a breathtaking view. As a whole, we sat in silence for a few minutes. Proud of the miles we received under our belts.
The hike back to the car was difficult but manageable. As we hiked, we saw the shoreline of the town, giving us the extra boost to continue on. Although chilly at night, during the day the sun beats down and tires you fast. I found myself closing my eyes and just walking aimlessly. The crunch of my boots with the desert ground comforting me once more.
Once we were in few feet distance from the car- we ran. We ran with our backs facing the mountains, making our way back home. It is a bitter-sweet feeling leaving a place like Joshua Tree. It gives you a time to think. Time to escape your worries and strife. I felt connection and inspiration backpacking out there. And that is a feeling that I will never forget.
If you haven’t backpacked Joshua Tree- what are you waiting for? Go out there. Get out and stay out!
*all photos were taken by me. To see more outdoor photos and stories, follow this blog as well as my Instagram page: @jasonsuerte.*