San Jose, California
JOSHUA TREE / WINTER RETREAT
San Bernardino County
Well Here It Is! Our 1st retreat of 2006. How exciting! Joshua Tree National Monument Park is located in the Southern part of California, East of Los Angeles. As its namesakes suggest, this desert is covered in scattered patches of spiky, dramatically crooked trees that add a surrealistic edge to this beautiful park. It's sort of like being inside of a Dr. Seuss book. This large desert park joins the Mojave & Sonoran Deserts. Only 13 years old this national park was enacted by President Clinton with the California Desert Protection Act and 75% of its land has been designated as wilderness.
Our journey takes us to the southern end of the park; in the lower elevation (some parts as low as Sub 3,000 feet). This should keep us dryer & perhaps warmer than the north or west portions. The park's plant life is abundant despite the harsh conditions, with creosote bush, jumping cholla cactus & spidery ocotillo. February is the perfect time of the year as the rangers predict wildflower blossoms.
Our campsite is in the Cottonwood Campground which includes a visitor's center,
ranger station and plenty of backcountry. We have reserved the largest of the
three group sites which can accommodate 25 people & 14 vehicles.
From San Jose: Take 101 South exit S 10 th St. and turn left. This becomes Pacheco Pass Hwy/CA-152. Take the I-5 exit South toward Los Angeles. You will be on this Interstate for a grueling 240 miles. Use cruise control. Take CA-14 N exit onto I-5/Truck bypass South toward Los Angeles. Then take I-210 East exit toward Pasadena. About 44 miles later take exit #45 onto CA-57 South toward Santa Ana. Take I-10 exit toward San Bernardino. Cruise control again for a stretch, enter the park and exit onto Cottonwood Springs Road. We are the 3rd Group Campsite at the end. Drive time @ 7.5 hours. Carpool and enjoy the company of other addicts. Parking is included in Retreat price.
Two trails are available right from our camp. We'll do one Friday and the other Saturday. Both hikes are rated Moderate by the park rangers.
Mastodon Peak Trail is a 3 mile loop hike that offers excellent views of Eagle Mountain & Salton Sea. It's an easy walk; Level 1, 371' elevation. This hike is perfect for Friday afternoon so get there early!
The other hike will prove to be a little more challenging. The trail stretches for 8 miles one way and takes us through canyons of palm stands. This hike involves some scrambling. It's Level 4, 16 miles round trip, elevation to be determined.
This is a Retreat – You will be far from home for several days so plan accordingly. Bring plenty of warm clothes, camping gear (i.e. tent, sleeping bag, toothbrush, etc.) food and water. Though it has been our tradition to have a pot luck on Saturday, I have yet to hear plans for this one so bring at least enough food for Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning for each of your party. You will want to have a backpack for carrying water and snacks on the hikes. Possible necessities are bug repellant, sun screen, hats, rain gear, first aid kit, etc. Dogs O.K. on leash.