Elevation gained: 2,955 ft/Miles 63/Total Miles: 2,758/Total Fast Food: 18
I awoke this morning from a terrible sleep, not because of the scorpions, but because last night we had a fellow camper playing guitar with a group of his friends. He was quite a talented musician covering everything from jazz to blues to country. Unfortunately, he decided to start his “concert” at 1am and he played for almost two hours.
With my earplugs in, I managed to fall back asleep until 4am. That’s when I was awakened by a couple in a nearby RV in flagrante delicto. It was loud, lengthy, energetic and evidently filled with religious meaning as there were frequent calls to the Lord. If I hadn’t been so tired, I would have walked over to their rig and given them a big round of applause for such a conspicuous performance. It was really quite impressive and, evidently, I wasn’t the only one in the audience. When I walked around the campground in the morning, I heard many others joking and smiling about our early morning wake up call.
Drama and I enjoyed breakfast, our last meal together, and then he headed south toward Palm Springs. In his short time riding with me, he experienced about everything, with the exception of a dog attack, but we will save that for a future ride so that he has something to look forward to. Despite the lack of sleep, I was excited about today’s ride, as I would be traversing the park from south to north. For five hours, with the exception of a handful of cars, I had it all to myself and it was spectacularly beautiful.
After a short initial climb, the route turned into a long slow descent into the Pinto Basin. Yellow-flowered creosote bushes were everywhere along with red tipped ocotillo, dune primrose with long white tubular blossoms and yellow flowered brittlebush. As I sped down the mountain, I passed service roads running to the horizon looking like dirt contrails across the desert floor. In one area there were several acres of cholla cactus with their hairy thorned covering. It looked like something from another planet. And, finally, as I climbed the 1,600 ft out of Wilson Canyon, I saw the plant for which the park is named – the Joshua Tree.
An hour later, I had reached the summit of the northern boundary of the park and I coasted for miles enjoying the easy descent into Twenty Nine Palms. This is a military town that services the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command. I’ve lived in these places before in my youth. They all have the same feel; lots of flags and patriotic decorations, fast cars and motorcycles and young men with sidewall style haircuts.
Heading west on Hwy 62, I turned into the hot, dry, dusty wind for another 20 miles before arriving in Yucca Valley. The end of another long day on the pedals.
Some additional photographs of Joshua Tree: