After two consecutive backpacking trips that gave us wet socks, it was time to relax a bit and visit somewhere dry. We started the new year by backpacking in Joshua Tree National Park to visit Lost Palm Oasis. The original plan was a 3 days 2 nights trip, but we were able to finish within 2 days and 1 night. The trip began with a night hike which actually brought us a lot further than anticipated.
One of our checkpoint was Mastodon Peak which we unknowingly walked past in the dark. We ended up backtracking for about quarter of a mile before deciding to set up tent. The area we were in at that time made setting up tent difficult as cacti were abundant. After a bit more exploring, we decided to just settle for the best area we could find. Little did we know (which we found out next morning), we only had to hike for about five minutes more to reach a completely flat ground ideal for a campsite.
As we settled down and made dinner, the temperate began to drop and it got really cold. Interestingly, this was colder than the last trip in the snow. The weather of winter night at a desert should really be respected. After dinner, it was time for some night sky photography. Unfortunately for us, the sky was pretty cloudy and at our location, and light pollution was heavy.
After a while, we started playing with more long exposure. Running back and forth while creating these pictures kept us warm until it was time to sleep.
The moon came out before we went back to our tents. It pretty much illuminated the entire area to the point we didn’t even need to use our head lamps to find our way back to the tent site.
Sleeping during that night was difficult for me. It was extremely windy and loud as the rainfly was constantly barraged by the wind. Eventually I fell asleep, but I didn’t feel like I slept at all since I woke up many times throughout the night. Because the moon was so bright, a few times I thought the sun had risen. When the sun eventually did, I was greeted directly by it as our rainfly was blown off by the wind.
After some breakfast which consisted of a lot of snack bars, leftover complementary bread from restaurants, and donuts, we continued on the trek towards Lost Palm Oasis.
For the remainder of the trail until we reached Lost Palm Oasis, I felt that the overall view of the scenery was lackluster. Other than some interesting rock formations here and there, it was pretty tame until we reached our destination. The sky along with the clouds that day gave a pretty nice view though.
After a few miles (some parts of the trail felt like Stairmasters on steroids), we finally reached our destination. Even though we were in Joshua Tree National Park, we actually did not encounter any Joshua trees at the areas we visited, but I guess we can settle for the Fan Palms for now.
We took a break here as Henry trekked into the palms to take more pictures while we had lunch.
Before we left, we took the mandatory group picture plus more.
The journey back was quick as we didn’t settle for any breaks. I think at this point everyone had enough of the park and was ready to head back for some hot shower and clean clothes.
Overall, the trip was a great experience in a desert environment. A little bit disappointing given that we decided on this trip for stargazing, but it was hampered by clouds. Given the popularity of this park, it was pretty crowded when we were there as expected. Ideally, I would have preferred less people as it takes away from the experience. I’m not sure if we’ll be back here anytime soon but I’m glad we were able to check this off the list.
Next stop: Skyes Hot Springs at Ventana Wilderness