Five Days In Mojave National Preserve

 “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous” – Aristotle

Whenever I think of the desert, the word empty finds its way to my tongue. I find it to be an empty and desolate landscape. Then I worry about how long I can last in it - the lack of trees, of greenery, of water. The things I’m used to having around me.

But the desert surprises me each time I’m in it. And slowly I settle in and embrace it.

 
While I find this picture beautiful, I also find it disheartening. Light pollution from Las Vegas, around 70 miles away, brightens the northern horizon. Paul Bogard, author of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in the Age of Artifical Light, says that 8 in 10 children born in the U.S. will never know a night sky dark enough to see the Milky Way. We never did see the Milky Way during our stay in Mojave.

While I find this picture beautiful, I also find it disheartening. Light pollution from Las Vegas, around 70 miles away, brightens the northern horizon. Paul Bogard, author of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in the Age of Artifical Light, says that 8 in 10 children born in the U.S. will never know a night sky dark enough to see the Milky Way. We never did see the Milky Way during our stay in Mojave.

 

On the windless nights, the world is so still and silent that it’s hard to believe that I’m not looking at a photograph. It’s always amusing to find footprints in the sand of critters that roamed through the area during the evenings. Desert sunsets are hands down some of the best sunsets I have ever seen. And since I’ve been on the road, I’ve watched quite a lot of sunsets.

 
We boondocked behind Sunrise Rock aka Mojave Cross. The original cross was erected in 1934 in honor of those who died in war.

We boondocked behind Sunrise Rock aka Mojave Cross. The original cross was erected in 1934 in honor of those who died in war.

 

One of the first things we saw as we drove into Mojave National Preserve is a roadrunner running across the road. I eagerly hoped for the “beep beep” as he ran by, followed by a plume of dust and then Wile E Coyote to ungracefully follow. As a child of the 80s, that’s what I automatically think of when I see a roadrunner.

We boondocked behind Sunrise Rock (my review of it in Campendium), which is across from Cima Dome – home of the world’s largest concentration of Joshua trees. Here we are surrounded by Joshua trees, which aren’t even trees but a species of yucca that grow up to 40 feet tall.

While we’re at least 20 miles away from majority of the points of interest in Mojave, we really enjoyed our spot. Secluded, quiet and not a single person in sight most of the time.

Two separate days we decided to drive across the park to check out its highlights. The first day we went over to Hole-in-the-Wall to hike the Rings Loop Trail. Then we dropped by the Hole-in-the-Wall campground because Bold Adventure, a full-time RV family who I had been following on Instagram, was staying there. Mike was home, but his wife and two kids had made a trip into town. While visiting him we met Jon and Erin, another full-time family who were also staying at the same campground. Somehow we always manage to stay in places where there’s no one else – which is great, but there are moments when we crave more human interaction than just with each other.

 
 

The other day we drove over to Kelso Depot, which originally opened in 1924 serving as a train station, restaurant and employee housing for the Union Pacific Railroad.

We were both really interested in the lava tube that’s west of Kelso Depot. Lava last flowed in the area 10,000 years ago, creating 32 cinder cones and a lava tube. The desert floor by the lava tube also had several long ridges of hardened lava that used to be the top portion of a tube that collapsed over time. It was a short 300 yard walk from the truck to the entrance of the lava tube. A climb down the ladder and across a bunch of boulders led us into a chamber lit by a beam of sunlight.

 
 

Teutonia Peak trail was right across the road from where we were staying. Our first attempt hiking it ended with us carrying Tyki back out to the trailer. He wasn’t on the leash and managed to get huge chunk of Cholla cactus stuck to his paw. We tried to get the spines out of his paw, but he’s terrible about having his feet touched anyway and the added pain was just too much. While we got out most of the spines, there were still a few left in his paw and we just couldn’t get him to stop spazzing out. We decided to drug him with Benadryl, which made him sleepy the last time he had it. Except we couldn’t remember the correct dosage and didn’t have cell signal, so we guessed the amount, which turned out to be way too little. Oh, and then a week later we found out that it wasn’t even Benadryl that I gave him. It was a non-drowsy antihistamine. Good job reading, Ching.

We ended up having to put him in a whole bodylock to extract the last few spines. He screamed so pitifully and loudly that Tybee hid behind the truck (but still peeked her head around the truck to make sure she wasn’t next). Two days later, we did make it to the top of Cima Dome, with Tyki on the leash this time.

Jerud at the top of Teutonia Peak.

Jerud said this ended too abruptly. In case he's right.

The end.

Jerud and Tyki hiking Teutonia Peak trail.

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