Monday, January 30, 2017

Hiking in California Snow

The next morning dawns bright and sunny - a perfect day to hike Mt Ryan (~5400 feet).  As we approach the trailhead we see that the distant mountains are capped with snow - and even Ryan has a dusting of snow on his top.  If you are impressed that we're doing a 5,000 foot climb, don't be.  The trail head is ~1000 feet below the mountain top.  It is a good climb but not a monster.  And it is just a 3 mile round trip.  We get an early start and are surprised by the number of people we encounter.  Even as we're imagining that they must be Angelinos, we hear a nice variety of accents from all over the world.  (Los Angeles is only about 120 miles to the west, making Joshua Tree a reasonable weekend destination.)

Snow on prickly pear and Joshua tree - photos by Alex who has fine eye-ability

After the hike we head for more firewood, thinking that if we don't build a big fire tonight, we'll leave the wood for the next campers.  In town we find a vendor who is part of a business compound where all sorts of goods and services are available.  We see big equipment, car repair, random hardware, and firewood.  The wood is hardwood of some sort, and promises a long slow burn that will get started with help from the grocery store pine.

The fires that allow us to be outside, let us be amazed by stars.  Tomorrow we will head south.  That is the only direction where the weather is anything but cold, windy, and rainy.  We hear from Michigan that it is warmer there!

There is another cactus park where the forecast is sunny and warm.  It is in southern Arizona near the border with Mexico.  Organ Pipe National Monument.  Our modus operandi is not to drive in order to reach a destination, but to enjoy the journey.  So we take a dirt road south along a abandoned narrow-gauge railroad.  We read that this part of the desert was used to train Apollo Astronauts in anticipation of moon landing.

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