Joshua Tree Overnight (Part 2)

by justine

You can read part 1 here.

After a full day of climbing, we ate pizza, drove to a lot in Joshua Tree park and piled all of our gear on. We took the students and hiked out into the back country. H’s colleague, who runs the trip every year, had a choice spot he was seeking.

Amazingly, the site was open. We all staked out spots and set up tents. Then we roasted marshmallows over the camp stove burner and sipped hot chocolate.

H and I set up our tent so we could lay with our heads out of the door and stare up at the sky. We love looking at a starry sky, far from light pollution.

We slept in the tent, bundled in lots of clothes and our sleeping bags. It probably went down to the 40s that night. I was so cold, I hardly slept. My breath condensed on my sleeping bag making my sleeping area all wet. Ugh.

We both got up to go to the bathroom around 6am. H found the hand warmers we’d packed and gave me two. He got up to hang out with the students, and with the hand warmers doing their job, I slept another  45min or so.

We packed up the tents and sleeping bags and packed up our packs for the hike out to the car. From there we drove to another spot with picnic tables and ate oatmeal, Pop Tarts, trail mix, left over Halloween candy and sipped more hot chocolate.

Then we were off to another site to do a 7 mile hike.

At first, the elevation change of the hike was tough. H’s colleague is a serious outdoors guy and his pace is much faster than I am used to. I was dragging for the first hour or so. When we stopped for the view above, where H and I took our traditional vacation photo, the break helped. I fueled up on an Awake energy shot and trailmix and finally got going.

The hike gave me plenty of time to chat with H’s coworker and listen to the stories the high school students were sharing. I had such a mama bear moment of getting to be a part of these kids’ senior year trip to the desert.

It made me think a lot about how I was at that age, and the things I wish I did differently. I can’t believe I was there age over 10 years ago. It seems like just last year but also like the memories get fuzzier and dimmer each day.

On the drive home, we stopped at a Sonic. It felt crazy that we’d camped and hiked all before noon. The female students opted to ride in our car over the two days, and I loved that. One girl was sitting in the back seat and I asked, “Having a zen moment?” and she said, “It’s just so much quieter in here than the van”.

I had a flash forward of the type of parents or family life H and I may create for our kids and their friends. It only made sense that the quieter students would want to ride in our car – hopefully we can always create that calmer, quieter vibe for people. I know I cherish it.

I was sad to go home too. I love being outside – I could’ve stayed another 2 or 3 days. We have plans to be in Joshua Tree for Thanksgiving and I can’t wait.