Today we got up and set off to hike Joshua Tree National Forest. We had a quick breakfast of Luna bars and Starbucks. Dusty appropriately played the U2 album The Joshua Tree for us as we got ready.
Joshua Tree is HUGE. We got inside the park, paid at $15/car entrance fee and picked up some postcards. On the ranger's recommendation, we decided to stop and see the Cottonwood Springs Oasis, and then head over to the western side of the park. The western side of the park is at a higher elevation, so there is more flora and fauna. It is crazy to drive through- it's about a half hour drive from where we entered the park to the Ryan Mountain trailhead. The boulders are huge, and there are lots of fun fluffy cacti and Joshua trees
. We did the Ryan Mountain hike, which was a 1000 foot climb, from about 4400 ft to 5400 ft. It took us about 2 hours roundtrip. It was tough and steep at times, luckily this time the upward trip was first (unlike the Grand Canyon). We didn't see much wildlife, just a bunch of lizards and the occasional kangaroo rat (i.e. glorified chipmunk). The views were amazing though. We each took 1.5 liter of water and we were still pretty dehydrated at the end. And it wasn't nearly as hot as it is in the midsummer. Dave in particular, who was fighting off a cold I gave him, was feeling not so great by the time we got back to Palm Springs. Dave slept, Dusty made phone calls, I checked my email and then we showered and ventured into Palm Springs for dinner. We hadn't really eaten since the morning (also smart when you're hiking and dehydrated), so we had a great Italian dinner somewhere in Palm Springs. In general, we didn't like Palm Springs much, it was cheesy and resort-town-ish, though I hear we did miss the heart of downtown, which has lots of cool 50s architecture.
Trip pics are at: http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2101096903