Pannier Tour: Joshua tree

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

JANUARY 29 - 30, 2005

 

We were ten riders on this terrific tour in a beautiful desert park in winter.  Although winds were predicted, we started the ride on Saturday under sunny skies, with moderate breezes, and the promise of a beautiful weekend.

 

Friendly tailwinds escorted us along highway 62 toward the entrance of the park at the town of Twenty-nine Palms and pushed us up the grades toward our lunch stop at White Tank campground.  We descended from the Mojave Desert with its Joshua trees and other high desert vegetation down to the Sonoran desert with its preponderance of creosote and cholla cactus.  After crossing Fried Liver Wash, Cholla Gardens, and Porcupine Wash, we climbed to our campsite at Cottonwood Springs.   We set up camp, then took a short hike down to the springs to learn about the Indians who once inhabited this area and to see the huge native palm trees that were planted there.

 

Happy hour followed, then a communal dinner and a roaring campfire provided by our one non-rider who brought firewood in his camper vehicle.  We enjoyed each other's company and the stories we had to share.  The winds did not abate, so many tent flies flapped for a good part of the night.

 

Sunday morning dawned cold and windy, but the glorious sunrise raised our spirits.   We retraced our route as far as yesterday's lunch spot, bucking headwinds of twenty plus miles per hour with gusts; a slow, strenuous ascent back up to the Mojave.  We rested in the shelter of some large rocks before continuing along the road that took us over Sheep Pass, through the part of the park that features favorite outcroppings of rock climbers, and finally down and out of the park.

 

Along the way we saw several jackrabbits, lots of birds, cactus swollen from the recent rains, ocotillo and other desert plants dressed in green leaves, and a coyote that was sunning himself on the road.  Evidence of the recent rains was everywhere, especially in the washes where plants, rocks and other debris were piled up.

 

This was an exhilarating ride, one that surely bears repeating.  Although it was colder and much windier than we would have liked, all riders were well prepared.  The wind enervated us, but the beauty of the desert and the quiet solitude, light traffic, and the pure magic of this park made this trip one of the best.  Be sure to join us next year!!

 

Participants were Leslie Gold, Linda Goff, Larry Moore, Dick Kniepkamp, Jerry Tate, Bob Lloyd, Philip Conmy, Rick Adams, Mike Wolfe, and Ellie Antonio.

 

Special thanks to Warren Goff who secured our campsite and provided the firewood.