even though palm desert is just south of joshua tree national park, it’s still a good 35 minutes or so to get to the south entrance of the park and a bit further just to get to a few of the maintained trails in the less populated area of the park. the north entrance is probably an hour away and another 30 minutes to get to the good cluster of stuff in the midddle of the park. we debated going all the way around, but in the end we opted for the shorter trip and the less cool stuff.
mastodon peak loop is a little over two miles and has a challenging rock scramble, great views, and an old mine, making a perfect adventure for all lid-people.
off we go…
by the way, if you find yourself in the area and want to do this hike, make sure you go counterclockwise on the trail, which we did not and ended up trudging uphill through sand washes and made for miserable kids.
when we were not in washes, everyone was in good spirits.
we stopped to climb here and there, careful to not wear ourselves out before the big scramble at the peak.
the scenery was pretty awesome. even if there are no actual joshua trees in this part of the park.
it feels like being on another planet.
more scrambling to break up the sand wash misery.
eventually, the trail turned less sandy and more solid and we started to make good time.
up, up, up…
just before the peak, we happened upon the mine.
there wasn’t a ton of info, or if there was, we didn’t see it, so we just peeked around carefully and got back on the trail.
isaac, who usually grumbles through all hikes, was the leader, forging ahead and setting the pace.
my “i love the desert” pose.
the final walk to the scramble before the peak.
the scramble/climb takes you around the backside and up to the top.
it takes longer to get to the top, when you stop to climb on all the boulders on the way up. by the way, that bit of flat area about two thirds of the way up on the right hand side of the picture is the salton sea, which we visited earlier in the week.
derek and the big kids raced up to the top to take in the views (and the wind!).
once you’re at the top, there’s some other scrambling areas to explore, which they did while they waited for hazel and i to reach the summit. (she wasn’t a fan of the elevation situation).
finally, we were all assembled at the top.
hazel was pretty much freaking out, so i had to sit down with her and chill for a bit, taking in the views, before we started back down.
i knew going up that going down would be a bit crazy, but once we got back the hard stuff, hazel did better and we made our way down to the trail, with no one crying or having to be carried.
derek lagged behind and took this picture of us in the wilderness.
and then he hustled down to join us.
the rest of the hike was easy peasy and all downhill. we were off to the races.
at the end of the trail is the cottonwood springs oasis, which we had actually visited on our last trip to joshua tree. it really felt more like an oasis this time around, after our long desert hike, and knowing that the car was just a bit past it.
aaaaaaand. that was our big family adventure into joshua tree this time around.