Saturday, 14 November 2009

Camping at Cottonwood

Having previously decided that two days in San Diego would definitely be enough, we set off on a camping trip back to Joshua Tree National Park, just for one night, hopefully under the stars. We'd borrowed Lizzy and Andy's camping gear- which was surprisingly quite extensive- how they grow up. Also in excellent condition and well-packed, mainly down to Lizzy, who organised the camping pack-up. I'm beginning to realise that Lizzy is quite tidy and organised about getting ready for trip- I suppose she's had plenty of practice!
Anyway, less than 3hrs later we were back in the desert. Before we'd been to the North part of the park, in the Mojave Desert, and although there were several camp-sites in that area, it was another couple of hours drive, so we decided to stick to the Colorado Desert in the south of the Park. This turned out to be a good move, because there is no drinking water in the North, whereas there was at Cottonwood Springs, where we camped. It was also very quiet, with only three other couples camping- one in an RV.
The site was great, and we pitched opposite the trail, water, restrooms not far away, complete with toilet paper,a large bbq/fire pit just for us, with stunning desert scenery. But no stats or sunset, because it was overcast.
Just after 1pm we were pitched, and all set for a walk on the trail to Lost Palms Oasis. The Ranger told us of a number of smaller routes, and said that one we wanted to do was such a long way at this time of day- all of 9mls!! Obviously hadn't come across keen walkers from the UK! Actually, we just about made it back in time, and walked at a good pace, but the desert, we learnt, is one of those places where distances can be deceptive. We did it in less than the advised time but with about half an hour or so of daylight- dark by 5.30.We'd walked over to Lost Palms Oasis, a great little spot, with a large number of Californian Palms,watered by an underground water-hole. We walked past the lush Cottonwood Springs oasis, climbing up to views over the Salton Sea, and on towards Arizona.
Once you get used to the arid, bleached views, you start to distinguish the varied and subtly colourful plants and shrubs- jojoba bushes, creosote trees- which the Indians used to make tea out of and, not as I originally thought, paint their fences with! Lots of herbal plants and shrubs- apparently a local Indian woman was famous for saying that she looked at the desert like the rest of us would look into a supermarket!
Once back at the tent there was enough light to get the bbq going, but as it got colder we wished we'd brought some more wood with us! Instead we found a nearby dead yucca and managed to keep the fire going by stripping bits off it. The Indians wouldn't have approved of us burning the materials they use to make footwear from!!
As we sat by the fire we could see tiny gerbil-like creatures looking for scraps.
A great night in the tent, hearing coyotes howling in the distance, and Ian scaring me by saying he could hear something outside!!! The following morning we awoke to a lovely pink sunrise at 6am, but not extensive because it was overcast again, though would be warm. Off for another hike up Mt Jacinto today.

1 comment:

Robert said...

Wow! Sounds like you had quite and adventure in the Southwest desert. I've spent some time in Arizona outside of Phoenix hiking in the desert and it is amazing. You are right about the subtlety of the colors, plants, and animals in the desert. Initially it is easy to think everything is just one colour, but afte a little time you begin to see the beauty in the subtle differences. Welcome to America and enjoy your camping adventures here!