Joshua Tree, Part II

We woke up on day two in Joshua Tree to conquer our namesakes: Ryan Mountain and Barker Dam. The climb up Ryan Mountain was a strenuous three miles of 1,000 feet gain.

We made it up most of the way when we saw this one lonely juvenile Joshua Tree. Please note that my latest trend of socks and Chacos is due to two giant blisters sandwiching my pinky toe. But this combination is surprisingly comfortable, so I may incorporate it into my everyday life (to the dismay of everyone I know and love).

We were rewarded at the top with a fantastic vista.

After our descent, we took it easy with a one mile out-and-back to Barker Dam.

I made Ryan pose by a Joshua Tree for the millionth time. You can’t blame me though. How cool are these things? They’re not even trees, but incredibly large yucca (Fun fact: they get their name from early Mormon settlers who thought they looked like Joshua reaching out to heaven).

Barker Dam was built by early cattle ranchers, but now houses happy visitors picnicking on surrounding boulders.

After a little too much sun, we took in some shade at our campsite (“Ryan and the Yucca” take 101) before checking out the 1.3 mile Hi-View loop near Black Rock.

We observed Joshua trees blooming at different stages and wrote in a young man’s notebook that he left at the peak. It was moving to go through the entries of strangers encouraging this young man who felt lost in his life. I hope he finds peace in the words written in that book as he looks out at the beauty that lays before him.

I reviewed the day’s highs and began to drift off to sleep. But then a group of youths began playing the djembe and singing around a campfire. Do you know what’s worse than hearing the djembe played poorly at 10 o’clock at night after a day of hiking/possible dehydration? Hearing someone join in (off tempo) on ukulele. Joshua Tree, why you have summoned the hippie nouveau with your gnarled branches? There is only so much one can take on a diet of vegetarian Top ramen and instant mashed potatoes.

We awoke and the musicians had dispersed. Perhaps it was the rain. We took advantage of this and hiked the 6.6 mile Panorama Loop. We gained about 1,100 feet and were rewarded with the promised panorama.

I really enjoyed this walk with Ryan. We talked about where we see ourselves after this trip ends, the home we hope to build, and how much we miss temperature regulated housing.

It’s exciting to explore and not know exactly where you’ll end up.

Toward the end of the hike the student became the master and Ryan instructed me to stand in front of a Joshua tree. My work here is done.

The gray skies turned blue, so we headed to Cap Rock. We sat on some boulders and got some vitamin D…

…and tempted fate by standing in between two large ones.

After a few days without bathing, we were feeling a bit too natural. We drove in to town and took the best 7 1/2 minute shower that $5 can buy (Why not 8 minutes, Coyote Corner?!) Joshua Tree, you were lovely, but we must get moving because the rest of the Mojave is calling us.

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