I was planning on heading North after San Francisco, but one of my best friends from Ohio had business in Southern California, so we decided to meetup and hit a few places. After he took care of some work, we headed for Joshua Tree National Park. I kept thinking of the U2 album of the same name, and wondered if that’s what inspired it. Anyway, the desert park is really cool. The park I went to in Utah had a desert feel as well, but Joshua Tree definitely has this sense of being very barren and dry, and yet is very beautiful at the same time.
It’s not really what you would think of when you hear the word forest, but that’s what they are… a forest of Joshua trees. The park is huge, something like 60 miles across. My friend and I decided to focus on a couple of the more strenuous trails, and ended up going to the top of Ryan Mountain. I’ll never get bored taking in the scenery at the peak of a mountain. It’s just something we don’t have back in Ohio.
The park is the site for a couple abandoned gold mines that were in use about 70-80 years ago. It’s interesting to see all this old equipment lying around and imagine life there. On one site, we found old food storage cans and what I think was someone’s home. It’s hard to imagine life out there. The dry climate, hot days, cold nights, and desolate rocky landscape that would make it extremely difficult to get supplies, food, and all the mining equipment one would need. Some of the machines must weigh tons, and after you’ve spent hours hiking through several miles of rough terrain to reach the mine, it’s hard to believe someone hauled all that out there.
I read that the mine generated 9,000 ounces of gold while in use which is about 14.3 million dollars today. I guess that made it more believable someone found a way to get all that stuff out there and would tolerate the tough living conditions.
One really enjoyable aspect of the trip was that my friend was traveling for business, and since there was no extra cost, he was gracious enough to get a hotel room with two beds and let me crash one. It’s not something I want to get used to, but I enjoyed sleeping on a real bed and getting a nice breakfast every morning. I’ve really adapted to sleeping on small beds and couches at this point, and don’t want to get soft, but luxuries like this are appreciated when they come along.
Well, that’s it for now. I’m headed to San Diego tonight for about three to four nights to wrap up my SoCal exploring. California is spectacularly beautiful, and I can see why people love living here.