A recent trip to California necessitated a visit to Joshua Tree National Park. We didn’t just want to do the “Drive Through” version, I wanted to get out into it. Away from traffic and roads. We decided Lost Horse Mine trail was a good candidate. Hauling cameras, water, snacks and two munchkins, who aren’t too trilled with hiking but do recognize the beauty in it.
Hiking with the kids end up challenging me to help them see and appreciate the little things, the geology, how the environment was created, the desert’s extreme effects on the ecology. Why it’s important to stay on trails, pack in-pack out, etc. You might say I get extra excited about vertical rock layers so that they might understand the immense power taken to get horizontal layers to stand on edge. Our kiddoes also help me see perspectives I might not otherwise. A somewhat symbiotic relationship, perhaps. After 10 miles, we walked out with sore feet and a few hundred pictures (sometimes I use the pause for a photograph as a guise of my own exhaustion).
Joshua Tree yielded an immensity and fragility difficult to capture in digits (no matter how many). The eye is so adept at seeing great expanses at 180 + degrees, and layers of depth that challenge each photographer. It was my first time visiting these climes and I was in awe of every aspect. Not just from the point of view of a photographer or rock hound. We were constantly finding critters making this desert home. Seeing clouds build and dissipate in the upper level winds. We noticed that our sweat was efficiently carried off before eeking down our foreheads. That our paltry ten miles was a tiny portion of the whole. We could spend lifetimes exploring the breadth of just this corner of our country.
Our lessons: that our country has so much to offer. Our national parks and public lands are truly a treasure to protect and taking kids out into the bush creates people who value the land and resources. Another lesson (learned from many recent walkabouts), kids can hike a good distance even if you have to put up with a little bit of whining... but the promise of an ice-cream goes a long way.
Also, lenses get dusty on the trail, blow that sh&% off sometimes.