Thursday, December 24, 2015

Turkey Week Vacay Part 2: Joshua Tree NP

Nikko meeting the sun.  Ryan Mtn Summit.  
After Pinnacles, we drove down to LA to visit our friends Emily and Finn.  We stayed a night with them and they hosted a successful movie night and the kiddos had a great time in their yard with an amazing tree house.  

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Nikko happy in the kitchen...
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we met up with Pat & Sid to go to Travel Town, then got some N. African Tacos for lunch...
Once in Joshua Tree we were quite lackadasical in getting to our campsite.  Big mistake.  Between Thanxgiving and X-mas is their peak period... and as most of the campsites are first come first serve, you have to get there early it turns out.  At the visitor center we saw that there were plenty of sites open. By the time we got to the entrance station, the ranger there told us that he doubted that there'd be any sites open.  Turns out the visitor center doesn't update their open site numbers that frequently.  After that we opted to go straight to Jumbo Rocks Campground, and after nearly giving up, we parked next to a car that turned out to be leaving.  I really think we got the last site in J-Tree. Crazy.  They need to have a reservation system in place from Nov to Dec.  It's really chaotic and you basically have to vulture around to get a site there.

After that stressful experience, we set up our campchairs and drove off to Keys View.  I wanted to do this hike, but it was quite blustery up there.  
Salton Sea... 234 ft below sea level (vs Badwater Basin at 282 ft below).  Check out the 6 min short below for a succinct tragic history of the sea and its surroundings.  For a more scientific view check this one out.  

some man on wire action.  I'd like to hop on a high line someday... next time in J. Tree... I'd like to dedicate a few hours to set one up.  

A typical sight during sunrise/sunset in J-Tree.
we had a funny interaction at camp.... as Kimbo was putting Nikko to bed in our van, our neighbor was getting something out of their car.  Kim asked, "how are you doing?" to no response.  Kim brushed her off as a bit unfriendly... then 10 min later her husband came by with a few logs signing to us that he was deaf. They were leaving and were giving us their firewood.  Both couples were deaf and didn't hear anything from Nikko. Probably the best neighbors you can have if you have a crying baby camping.   
The next morning we took Kai on his second hike of the trip.  Ryan Mountain... Only 3 miles, but 1000 ft of elevation gain.  Kai started off with a good luck hug.  
Nikko did some hiking on this one...
After some snack breaks...
and some photo breaks...
Boom!  The kiddos made it! Easy peasy.  
Summit Shot!
After the hike down, we had another snack, and I got Kai on rope, scrambling around the boulders.  
Kai = slab master
Back at camp, I went for a quick scramble to catch the sunset...
From Kimbo's perspective.
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The next morning, Nikko was still asleep in the van.  Nikko was not a very good sleeper the first 5 nights of this trip... but Kai was great.  
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We snuggled Kai up during breakfast.  The weather was quite cold for J. Tree.  At night dropping into the 40s.  
Exploring more of the rock formations before breakfast.  
Breakky time!
Skull Rock
Some useful links:
Next time:
  • Download the OruxMaps for the area, as the park map really sucks.  Or buy a topo.  The fee maps here are useless.
  • Check out Indian Cove Campground (reserve-able, but not in the main area of the park) and explore that area the whole time.  No driving, etc...
  • If you are arriving sometime between Thanxgiving and X-mas get to the campsites early to stake out a spot.  They go quick.  Or just make a reservation at Indian Cove.  Though it would be a drive to anything from there... but if you are staying for only a night or two, sounds like a good place. 
  • Go explore some of the caves. You can get the book, or probably go to the table of contents and google some of the spots.  
  • Other hikes
Always a nice place for some fun photos...

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