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Joshua Tree advice
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Ben W
(bpwood)

Locale: NW Center for Volcano-Aided Flight
Joshua Tree advice on 02/23/2011 22:19:10 MST Print View

I'll be in southern CA in about a week and I've made time for a jaunt out to Joshua Tree NP. I am planning a 2-night solo trip there and seeking some advice. This is my first desert hike. (I know I need to cache water.)

1. Route. My current "plan" is to include the CRHT at least between Covington Flats and Juniper Flats, plus going up Quail Mountain. This probably isn't enough to fill 2.5 days of hiking. One way to extend this might be a loop around the Quail Mountain area, using the CRHT, Bigfoot Trail, ..., Johnny Lang Trail. Thoughts? Other suggestions?

2. Maps. What are the best maps available for this area? Just USGS quads?

3. Shelter. Am I crazy to take just a non-waterproof bivy?

4. Snakes. How active are the problematic ones this time of year? I'm under the impression that the answer is "not that active" and that the severity of an encounter gone bad would be low enough that I could walk a few miles to get help. (Yeah, I pretty inexperienced on the reptile front.)

Thanks in advance for any tips. I'll compensate you in turn with photos and report eventually!

Ronald Groth
(rgfooter) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
RE:Joshua Tree advice on 02/24/2011 17:04:41 MST Print View

Here is a post from my trip to joshua treeTry out Joshua Tree NP.

I did a loop last spring starting and ending from black rock canyon campground. The loop went something like this. Blackrock canyon CG via Calf hiking and riding trail through smith water canyon (this is a off trail route but easy to follow) over towards the west enterance station to get water. Then followed the Boy Scout trail to Johny Lange Canyon (another off trail section) to the Calf hiking and riding trail back to the Black Canyon CG.

This loop has a nice variety of terrain and about 45 miles i think. There was actually a number of springs in the canyons so stashing water was not needed.
Lots of good camping and no people in the off trail locations.

Joshua Tree is a 1/2 million acre wilderness area so there are alot of opportunites.

Another options is to hike the calf hiking and riding trail through the park. about 35 miles I think. This would require a shuttle and water stash.

The national geographic map was adequete, but the scale is kind of large

a simple tarp was adequete, we got some rain and snow

did not see a snake in 3 days

Edited by rgfooter on 02/24/2011 17:06:32 MST.

Jim Morrison
(Pliny) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Snakes? on 02/27/2011 22:11:59 MST Print View

I have spent about 3 or 4 weeks at various times in the park. They do warn you about snakes ("if the lizards are out then it is warm enough for the snakes to be out" someone told me). But I never saw any. My friend got bitten by a tick once and nearly died though. He is fine now. Unusual event I'm sure. I have slept "under the stars" without any problem and I notice many car campers have done that without a problem, but may have also been drunk, so I don't know if that counts. I have found very cold temps (but not freezing) at night and strong winds a time or two. Beautiful area with lots of history. The park does provide a map of sorts showing major trails. I am usual climbing and use the map in the climbers guide.

Michael Chamoun
(snowchief) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Joshua Tree advice on 02/27/2011 22:23:58 MST Print View

Did a 50 mile 1 nighter back in January. The Bigfoot trail is a wash so basically it's not there especially with the recent rains, but if you like x-country desert stuff give it a shot. It's fun.
All the other stuff you can just use the TrailsIllustrated Series of JTNP and meander on the existing trails. I would recommend the Boy Scout Trail and a x-country route through the Wonderland of Rocks.
BTW, I wouldn't concern myself with snakes at this point.
Here is a link to my trip:
http://www.michaelchamoun.com/2011/01/winter-backpacking-in-joshua-tree.html

Edited by snowchief on 02/27/2011 22:27:27 MST.

Ben W
(bpwood)

Locale: NW Center for Volcano-Aided Flight
Thanks on 02/28/2011 23:15:38 MST Print View

Thanks to all for the insights! I've settled on a counter-clockwise loop based at Juniper Flats. Highlights: Johnny Lang, Boy Scout Trail, Smith Water Canyon, Covington Flats, CRHT, Quail Mountain. I'll be sure to report back eventually (though March is promising to be busy).