Little brother Sean had one day left on his lease for his car. He asked if I wanted to drive somewhere. We settled on Joshua Tree, the desert national park two hours east of Los Angeles. First I insisted on heading to the all you can eat vegan brunch buffet. We filled ourselves to the brim and started our day trip.
As we drove we could see the snow capped mountains of Big Bear. Neither of us had been there before so we took a slight detour several thousand feet in elevation. All of a sudden there were trails in the middle of the snow. Sean was wearing shorts so he was hesitant to follow me into the Alpine. He went back to the car to grab his camera as I started down the trail. I quickly slipped and ate it on the icy terrain. I pulled myself up and when he showed up I wanted to see if he could figure out which patch was slippery. He knew if the snow was shiny and black, it would be easier to lose your footing. Maybe they’re right that people living in the sunbelt are dumber.
We walked through the pine trees to see a Mexican family using a green plastic disc as a sled. It had been many a decade since I sledded and the family was kind enough to give me a turn. There’s nothing more fun than the nervous rush of going high speed down a slope. After Sean made a shorts wearing snow angel we continued our drive.
We passed the stunning Big Bear Lake encircled by snow. We drove away from the mountains turning from one minor highway to another. At some point we made a right instead of a left which took us an hour out of our way. After being called a stupid fuck for not navigating us in the right direction we got our bearings back and made it to Joshua Tree an hour or so before sunset. I camped out there five years earlier and had accomplished a few hikes, but the ranger recommended a short one I’d never done. It was called Barker Dam. You enter an alley of piled up boulders. This is equipmentless rock climbing at it’s finest. You get to climb up a high distance without needing any technical experience. Just grab on to a perch with your hand and look for a foothold. At the top there’s a view of an army of joshua trees hanging out with no place to go.
You climb back down to the path which leads you to a lake in the middle of the desert where birds are dive bombing. A man was there with a heavy duty camera. Its lens was so big it needed its own tripod. He’d heard there were wildcats out and had been waiting all day in vain for an appearance.
Eventually you loop around to a rock with petroglyphs (cave paintings). At some point in the twentieth century Walt Disney decided to enhance the crude, ancient stick figure drawings of fish and people with paint for a television show. So they are now easier to see, but less historically accurate.
We got back to the car as the first stars were making their appearance. Living in a city you forget there are more stars than people in the world. There are also a hell of a lot of planes hovering in the desert air and a world of beauty if you seek it.