• the first encounter.

  • Retro Vintage Girl in Grass With Purple Shoes

  • Retro Vintage Girl in Grass With Purple Shoes

  • Retro Vintage Girl in Grass With Purple Shoes

Oct 28, 2014

Indian Cove Campground. Joshua Tree National Park

Leave a Comment
Indian Cove Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best places for a fall camping trip in Southern California. The weather is mild and breezy, the night sky is cloudless and perfect for stargazing, the crowds are relatively thin and the chance of rain is basically zero. Joshua Tree is a short 2 hour drive from the beach in Orange County.  If you absolutely hate camping, you always have the option of staying in nearby Palm Springs about 50 minutes outside the park. If you’re headed to Joshua Tree from San Diego, you might even consider a stop in Temecula to visit a winery.

I've stayed inside the main part of the park on past trips, but this time we opted to stay in the Indian Cove Campground located in the northern part of Joshua Tree,  just outside of the town of TwentyNine Palms. The Indian Cove Campground is less cramped than many of the campground located in the main part of the park. Most of the campsites in Indian Cove are situated in between giant rock formations that offer a fair amount of seclusion from neighboring campsites.  The tent sites are extremely reasonable for only $15 a night. You can even avoid paying the 15$ entrance fee into the main part of Joshua Tree by hiking the trails located within the Indian Cove Camping area.

The best trail in the Indian Cove section of Joshua Tree has to be the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail. The word “trail” is a bit misleading, as Rattlesnake Canyon is really a maze of giant boulders you’ll have to hop, squeeze through and climb until you've had your fill. There are countless small caves and crevices to explore among the boulders. We even found a few small arches. This is also a popular spot for rock-climbing.  We saw several groups of people climbing in this area of the park.  We spent 3 hours in the canyon navigating through the boulders up the mountainside. We took a break at the top of a large pinnacle of rocks. We came back down limping like wounded birds and covered in scrapes and got ourselves into a little trouble while exploring a pool in a slot canyon when I accidentally disturbed a wasps nest. They chased me up the side of an eight foot granite wall, but I avoided getting stung. I didn't notice how tired I was until we reached the car. This not a hike for beginners or small children. If you plan on hiking to the top of the boulders, do not be mislead by other sites claiming this is a moderate hike. Rattlesnake Canyon will kick your butt. With that said, this was one of my all-time favorite desert hikes.

A few words of warning: The sun can be intense in Joshua Tree and you can end up severely sunburned, even when the temperatures are cool.  Sun tan lotion and plenty of water are the two most important things you can have in Rattlesnake Canyon. I also recommend bringing a pair of leather gloves because the granite in Rattlesnake Canyon is rough and will tear your hands up.

Rattlesnake Canyon was closed for 5 months this year due to graffiti in the canyon. If you see someone vandalizing the park in any way, please report them immediately by calling park headquarters at
760-367-5502. 


Indian Cove Campground can be booked in advance by visiting http://www.recreation.gov/

Rattlesnake Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park
Directions to Rattlesnake Canyon Trail-head:  From TwentyNine Palms Highway 62, turn right onto Indian Cove Road and drive approximately 3 miles. You will pass both the ranger station and the group camping area. Make your first left onto Indian Cove East and continue one mile through the campground until you reach the parking area for Rattlesnake Canyon. 
Read More...

Oct 18, 2014

Mount San Jacinto State Park. Palm Springs, California

Leave a Comment

Mount San Jacinto State Park
This week, I finally made my first trip to Palm Springs to hike in Mount San Jacinto State Park. My girlfriend and I had a few consecutive days off and we made the decision to drive up at midnight the night before. I found a cheap hotel about ten miles down the road in the town of Desert Hot Springs through Travelocity for $60. The Aqua Soleil looked nice in the photos, so we booked it and headed out at 10 a.m. the next morning.

We made it to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway around noon. Tickets for the tram cost us $24 each. You're basically forced to take the tram, because if you tried to hike from the bottom, it would take you around 7 hours and ten miles of hiking with 8,000 feet of elevation gain. People who have hiked it say that its worse than hiking Mount Whitney. The tram ride takes around ten minutes. Once we reached the station at the top, the temperature was  around 30 degrees cooler than on the desert floor below. It was a nice change to hike in 60 degree weather in the middle of a desert. The tram station at the top has a few small restaurants where you can buy food and snacks. I bet a lot of people never make it outside of the tram station.

We opted to start with an easy trail. The Desert View Trail is about 1.5 miles round-trip with a slight uphill elevation gain going in. This is the trail that most of the tourists do. There are 5 overlooks along the trail with views of the valley floor below. I was surprised to see so many large Jeffrey Pine trees in the park. I have no idea where they are getting water from because the creek was bone dry and we haven't had a significant rain or snow in several years now. October is a really great time to see Mount Jacinto. We could not have wished for better weather. My only regret was that we should have done this trail during sunset and not in the middle of the day. You can see all of Palm Springs below and I bet it looks amazing at night.

The next trail we hit was the Round Valley Trail. For this section of the park, we had to stop at the ranger station and fill out a permit. It only took about 3 minutes, it was free, and the ranger gave us a map. The hike to the Round Valley Campground from the tram is about 4 miles round-trip with approximately 1000 feet in elevation gain. It took us less than two hours and we stopped a bunch and goofed off. We really should have hiked the last mile past Round Valley to Wellman's Divide, but I was really sore from playing basketball the day before and I was really looking forward to a seafood dinner and a bottle of wine in Palm Springs. If you plan on hiking all the way to the top of Mount San Jacinto you would follow the signs and continue on past Round Valley. It gets rough from this point on, so make sure to bring enough water and allow yourself enough time to make the last tram out. The hike from the tram to the peak of Mount San Jacinto and back is about 11 miles round-trip and may take as long as 7 hours because of the thin air and elevation gain. I would like to come back and turn it into an overnight trip sometime and just camp at Round Valley.

All in all it was a pretty awesome trip, but a little more expensive than our typical day hikes after we racked up a bill at the restaurant that night and then drank ourselves into a coma at the bar. We found a couple of cool places around Palm Springs that I thought I would mention:

Tonga Hut
An awesome little bar in Palm Springs that serves tropical drinks. The bartenders were rad and we spent our night sampling beers with them.

Ruben and Ozzy's Oyster Bar
A east-coast style Oyster Bar. The Campechana appetizer was glorious. I tried to bribe the waiter to steal the recipe for me.

It was $60 for a room midweek and the rooms had just been renovated. They have two hot tubs and a large pool. The pool and hot tubs were open 24 hours and we had them to ourselves. 

To do for next time:

6 miles roundtrip
Trailhead in the Indian Canyons located on S. Palm Canyon Dr.
Admission charge; Information (760) 323-6018

TahquitzCanyon
3.5 mi roundtrip, 300 ft. gain, 2 to 3 hrs 
Trailhead: at the Tahquitz Visitor Center located on Mesquite Ave.


Read More...

Aug 6, 2014

Angel Falls on Willow Creek. Oakhurst, California

Leave a Comment
Angel Falls near Oakhurst,California


Since  Yosemite National Park is currently on fire, you might be looking for something to do outside the park. I thought I would do a post about Angel Falls near Oakhurst.
Angel Falls is located about 7 miles from the town of Oakhurst California. If you’re headed to Yosemite from Orange County of Los Angeles, you’re most likely going to be driving through Oakhurst anyway, so Angel Falls is definitely worth a stop.  

Angel Falls is a series of cascades and small waterfalls along Willow Creek. The largest waterfall is probably around 20 feet tall. In the summer, these waterfalls are really popular among the locals. There are several great swimming holes and a few great places for cliff jumping if you’re brave enough, or dumb enough, depending on how you look at it. If you head upstream, there is a trail on the left side of the creek that leads uphill, but I prefer hiking through the creek. The granite has been polished over the years by the water, so be careful if you decide to try and climb up through the rocks. Wet granite can be as slick as ice and it would be easy to crack your skull if you slipped and fell.

I visited the falls in mid-June this year for the first time and the water in Willow Creek was cold, but not unbearable like some of the creeks and rivers in Yosemite.  Diving off the rocks into the crystal clear pools was one of the highlights of my Yosemite trip this year, and when you’re talking about Yosemite, that’s a real compliment. If you’re looking to budget your time on the way into Yosemite, I would say that 2 hours would be sufficient to explore the falls and take a swim. There is another larger 50 foot waterfall about a mile upstream from Angel Falls called Devil’s Slide Falls. I only found out about this "secret" waterfall by accident a few days later when I was browsing the internet in our hotel room. I definitely plan on coming back next year to see it. 

A word of warning: I’ve read that Angel falls can get really crowded on the weekends with kids partying.  It was basically empty on a Wednesday afternoon in June, so you may want to plan your trip accordingly. 

Direction to Angel Falls:
Drive North of Oakhurst on Highway 41 for approximately 3 miles. Turn right on Highway 222 (Bass Lake Road). Follow Bass Lake Road for approximately 3 miles and bear left onto Route 274. Continue for 1 mile and look for the dirt pullout on the left-hand side of the road just before the small bridge.  Parking can be difficult on weekends.

Read More...