03-Sep-2006 -- Having failed miserably at
N36 W112 we were in the Joshua Tree National Park to achieve our first successful visit to a US CP. Lack of preparation, incompetence, weather conditions, or Mars in ascendence
(who believes this star rubbish anyway) were not going to mess this one up. I had actually read the previous
reports for this one but couldn't remember much about them. Only that it was straightforward (but not easy).
So around 10:40 found us at White Tank campground entrance where we left the car as the barrier was down and the campground closed. The distance from here was 2.4 Km, the temperature was a pleasant (compared to Death Valley)
86F (about 31 Celsius). I made Michael put on his walking boots instead of his trainers - I was a bit paranoid
of standing on a snake and getting bitten. I hoped walking boots would give more protection. We also both wore
jeans rather than shorts for extra protection from the bushes and thorns. This proved to be a very wise decision.
We decided to take a beeline just following the GPS arrow. We headed through the campground, deserted now, through
an area of large boulders (see photos) making fast progress. This was the furthest we had ever gone in desert
conditions, the heat being the most noticible aspect. We saw rabbits, lots of lizards and a number of small
rodents. No snakes though, although at one point we saw what I thought were lots of dried snake skins (see photo)
which Michael thought were just dead cacti. We agreed to differ.
With about 1 Km to go we started to ascend a small hill. Michael was already complaining about the heat and now
we had to go up hill. But we had already covered 1.4 Km and there was no way I was going to give up and go back.
We made the top of the hill, with Michael trailing farther behind, and on the descent disaster struck. The soles
of my walking boots came away at the front. They had started to come away at the instep on previous walks but
otherwise seemed ok. They are (were!) pretty good boots but had been re-soled a few years ago and I suspect the glue
could not stand the temperatures they were being exposed to. We had 500 metres to go; the descent of this hill we
were on and an ascent up to the CP. I would walk in bare feet if I had to - snakes or no snakes. I tied the front
of the boots to the soles using the laces and had to re-tie them a couple of times before we were finished.
The final ascent to the CP was tough; the boots didn't help and the heat was intense. We were both relieved to
have made it. We drank something and then took the usual pictures taking in the great view from this point. Further
up the hill we saw a fenced-in building. We didn't have the energy to take a look but if there's a building there
must be a road. It seems that the easiest route (if that's what you want - more on this later) would be to take the road to the building and walk down to the CP.
After a short rest (there's no respite from the heat) we headed back down. We decided to walk down to the bottom
of the CP hill and traverse around the hill we had ascended/descended. This is what we did and it made the return trip significantly easier. On the way back we came across something very dead - see picture.
At around 1 p.m. we were back at the car, relieved to get out of the heat. Driving back towards the West Entrance we passed Belle campground which we noticed was only just over 2 km from the CP and would have avoided the ascent/descent of our first hill. But what's the point of doing everything the easy way. We had a great adventure and suceeded in the end anyway.
We didn't know it at the time but we were on our way to