By: Dean Acheson
Maris Valkass agreed to assist me on an overnight backpack with cross country to finish up my I rating requirements. In need of some fresh air and relief from the LA noise, we chose Joshua Tree as our trek location.
Seven troopers met at Indian Cove ranger station Saturday at 8:00 am, drove a mile south to Scout trailhead to begin our tri. Weather was perfect - no clouds, cool - perfect hiking weather.
Shortly after starting up Scout trail, we ran into a beautiful little desert tortoise (this was the first meeting with one of these in the wild for some of our group) which provided us with excitement for a good 20 minute break. Good-hearted rock-hopping got us a thousand feet up a gorgeous canyon where we set up camp after two and a half miles of pleasurable hiking.
Predicting a coldish night, Pat and I had procured a couple of aluminum turkey roasting trays (which we put together, one inside the other) and two small bags of self lighting charcoal. These we used to create a makeshift campfire, which was just right for a small group like ours, and helped us extend the social hour well past the early sunset. (I don't think we retired until after 7:00!) Carry-out of ashes and used aluminum was easy and light -we all thought we'd use the charcoal idea on future trips.
Next morning we hiked cross-country and up to Keys Peak, where we got to admire the beauty of this Joshua Tree country and meet other hikers climbing up from other directions. On the way back we took a side trip up another small unnamed peak just for the fun and view of it, got back to the cars about mid-afternoon; some made a short visit to the visitors' center, and we all met in town for snacks before going home.
All in all an enjoyable, relaxing, leisurely trip which I might repeat sometime just for the fun of it. Many thanks to Maris for his assistance.
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