Leaders: David Eisenberg, Minor White
This trip was originally scheduled to climb Snow and Kitching peaks. However, the late heavy rainfall left the access road impassable and the peaks covered with snow. We decided to offer a weekend in Joshua Tree National Monument as an alternative. With a 9 am meeting at the Monument entrance, we were able to take a leisurely morning drive out. The snow on Snow and Kitching was visible from I-10, making us thankful for our decision not to climb them.
We parked our cars near the turnoff to Queen. We consolidated into the two four wheel drive vehicles and took off down the Geology Tour Road towards the Bernard and Berdoo trailheads. We were at the trailhead and ready to hike at 10:30.
We took a slight variation to the standard route. Rather than contour around towards the wash, we headed slightly southwest down a gully to where it met the wash. This was slightly longer - coming out about 200 yards south of the standard route and ducks - but was much easier going. We first climbed Little Berdoo, then Bernard.
We then headed for the Inspiration Pt trailhead. As we arrived at Keyes' View, we saw a large flock of turkey vultures circling about apparently looking for handouts or tired hikers. Minor took the lead to do this peak.
This was to have been it for the day, but Erich and Luella Fickle couldn't stay over for Sunday. I now had 99 leads and we decided to try a night hike of Lost Horse as we could think of many jokes we could make as we wandered around looking for the peak. However, we found the trailhead was closed for parking at sunset making this impossible. We then decided to do Ryan and pulled up just before sunset at the trailhead.
Making sure we had our flashlights, we headed up the nice trail toward the summit. There was the usual beautiful desert sunset. It was difficult to avoid tripping as we enjoyed the spectacular colors. We arrived at the peak just as it got totally dark for my 100th Lead! We took pictures and celebrated with flashlights and treats. Our return made a snaking pattern of lights as we found our way back to the trailhead.
We then headed for Jumbo Rocks Campground to continue the party with a campfire and more treats.
Sunday morning, Minor found a note on his car from Aaron Penn who had come to Joshua Tree with a group of photographers. They decided to join us for our hike of Lost Horse.
We decided to climb the peak first and then explore the mining area. On the way up, Minor took some time to explain the sex life of the Joshua tree and its growth patterns. Our youngest hiker, David Peralta (age 6) was having a great time on the hike, especially when he got a piggy back ride from another hiker. His only problem on the hike was when we took a split break. He didn't quite understand why he couldn't go with his mother!
As we returned to the trailhead, we found a large desert tortoise near the cars. Wanting to give him plenty of room, we made a large circle. To our surprise, he immediately headed right toward us and exhibited no fear whatsoever and allowed us to pet him.
Hikers not mentioned above were Rosina Mueller, David Jensen, Georgina Burns, and Paula Peterson on Saturday with Don Burrell, Nancy Peralta, Bruce Rice, Monica Arman, Christine Sison, Lisa Batterton, and Joe Raemer joining us on Sunday.