Backpacking Boy Scout Trail - Joshua Tree National Park
Earlier this year, for Valentine's Day, we finally had our first full and successful night in the backcountry of Joshua Tree. We had attemped to #OptOutside on Black Friday with REI folks last year, but ended up having to leave before midnight due to the freezing temperatures. Read more about that trip in the blog titled - Our First Backpacking Trip: A Freezing Adventure.
Preparing for this quick overnight trip we had upgraded to Nemo Cosmo Insulated sleeping pads and Marmot Trestles 15 degree sleeping bags and some new thermal underwear. These are absolutely essential. Keep your dirty hiking clothes out of your sleeping bag and have dedicated thermal underwear pants to sleep in. In the desert, the temperature always drops at night, so it's a safe bet that you'll appreciate having something warm to wear, too.
Since this was out first hike out to camp, we decided to do a very small portion of the Boy Scout Trail in Joshua Tree National Park. The purpose of this trip was to sleep out in the wilderness, not a particular destination. We started at the backcountry board at around 3PM on February 13th. The parking lot was almost full - this is one of the most popular trails in the park. One of the greatest things about Joshua Tree National Park is the ease of backcountry camping. All you need to do is pick one of their thirteen boards, fill out a permit and head out on the trail. Of course, this is desert wilderness so prepare accordingly. There is no water in the park, the sun is hot, and when the sun is high these glorious trees we love do not provide much shade.
We hiked just over a mile out, the minimum you have to be from the road to backcountry camp, and then headed west from the trail to find some rocks to nestle the tent against. At this point on the trail, the Wonderland of Rocks is on your right side. The Wonderland area is designated as Day-Use only - no overnight camping is allowed. Stick to the left, and you'll find some nice spots to tuck a tent.
The only regulations for where you can backcountry camp is that you must be 1 mile from the road and 500 feet from any trail. Once we had wandered away from the trail, we found a nice rock formation to pitch our tent next to.
We pitched our tent, explored the surrounding area a bit, and climbed up on our rock to watch the sun go down.
Once the sun went down we got out the Jetboil, boiled some water, and whipped up some Alpineaire Pineapple Orange Chicken. Not the best dehydrated meal, but definitely filled and warmed us up.
The silence of sleeping in the backcountry is incredible. We both slept great and managed to sleep a little past sunrise. We brought Trader Joe's instant coffee packets (lightweight, and it has creamer and a little sugar in it) for our morning coffee. Climb up on a rock with a cup of coffee and watch the desert wake up. This is one of my favorite experiences while camping, especially in Joshua Tree.
After slowly drinking our coffee and having some Munkpack Oatmeal (these are awesome!!) we packed up our stuff and hiked back to the car. This was a fantastic short overnight trip that we hope to do over and over and over again around Joshua Tree National Park.
All photos taken by Andrea & Kim
Cameras: Olympus OM1N, Olympus XA2, iPhone 6
Film: Kodak Ektar 100, Kodak Portra 400