After a lazy Saturday morning, we went over to the playground to get a quick workout in with the Lifeline Jungle Gym suspension straps and let the kids play. I love these things because they are so mobile. It is an instant gym and full body workout, and you just need a sturdy anchor. Should we hang out at the campground and swim or jump in the truck and head to Joshua Tree National Park? The only thing we knew about the place was that some of our friends had stayed there and posted pictures of a rock that looked like a skull. So, with no real expectations, we decided to pack a lunch and head to Joshua tree. It was about a 45 minute drive from Sam's Family Spa Campground in Desert Hot Springs where we were camped to get to the West Entrance of Joshua Tree. There are 3 entrances, so it took a phone call for us to decide which would be the best option for us.
When we got to the visitors' center, we picked up a map and got a few highlights of what to hit first. The kids were starting to complain that they were hungry, but we still had about 15 miles to go before getting to the picnic area at the "Hidden Valley" trail that the lady had recommended. So, we broke out the chips and pushed on. The first thing we noticed were all the Joshua Trees. Hence the name of the park. The trees are everywhere. It looked like a Joshua Tree farm in certain areas. Upon closer investigation, we decided that a Joshua Tree must be a cross between a palm tree, cactus, and pine tree. The bark is "hairy" looking and the leaves are small tufts of green. Bizarre and beautiful.
The second thing we noticed were the huge piles of boulders everywhere. Our first stop was supposed to be Hidden Valley to eat lunch and watch the rock climbers, but we saw a group of rocks that just had to be climbed and stopped for our lunch on a rock. As we all jumped out of the truck, you could feel our excitement. It was an exercise in will power to sit down and eat lunch before playing on the rocks. In case you are wondering, 3 years old is too little to climb these boulders, but too old to be left behind. We helped her do as much as possible, but it was exhausting for us...well, Troy. Silas (age 7) and I climbed as high as I felt safe. He was actually a really good climber using skill and common sense to gain my confidence.
It was so much fun, but our hands got sore from the rocks and we were in need of water, so we headed back to the truck and drove on to Hidden Valley. It is an area of the desert surrounded by rock piles and creating a valley in the middle. The trail was only a mile, but it took us over an hour to do the loop because there was so much to see and there were so many rocks that needed climbing. Silas saw a lizard hiding in a crack where he was about to put his hand and that freaked us out a little. The last thing we wanted was a gila monster bite (they clamp on and gnaw repeatedly injecting poison) or a rattlesnake bite (the anti venom treatment is about $150,000).
We absolutely loved Hidden Valley and left reluctantly because we were tired and needed water. After a bit of driving we came upon Skull Rock. It was a short hike, so we hoped out and let Silas be a "booger in the nose of the skull" as he requested. The rocks were more crumbly here, so we weren't as comfortable climbing around with the kids since we couldn't trust our hand and foot holds as much as the other rocks.
As we were leaving Skull Rock, we ran into this wolf named Sage. Sage has a business card and a career. He is an actor and stunt wolf for movies and tv. His owner/trainer was more than happy to brag about Sage's jobs working with Kevin Costner, Jennifer Aniston, and many more. So keep an eye out for Sage to show up on the big screen in the year to come.
I am a wife, mother, and exercise physiologist with one foot in the world of travel and one foot in the world of fitness.
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