Early April is often a good time to find the beautiful cactus blooms in the Joshua Tree National Park in California. For my wife and I, part of the enjoyment is that you can’t just drive along and see the cactus or blooms. You have to get out of the car and exert some effort and in the process you, of course, slow down and study the terrain. Your pace slows down. I can’t say the mind slows down because the unique desert world is highly stimulating.
Every plant, the spacing of plants, the rock formations, the trees and cactus are highly contrasted to our home turf of the Pacific NW (Western Oregon). Finding the cactus and possibly finding them in bloom is part of the enjoyment. The colors, the varieties, and their locations are so rewarding. In the process, you feel the altitude, the wind, the sun and fresh air. You shake off the Winter doldrums.
It seems obligatory when discussing an outing into the desert to mention water, planning, route selection etc. Like in any outdoor adventure you truly must plan to some degree for safety and what if’s. Cell phone coverage inside the park was very spotty. So, be aware depending upon your age and fitness that you can slip, trip and fall. You can while focused on snapping images place yourself in harm’s way atop a rock, or moving too close to an edge.
What I notice ever more is, dare I say it, one’s age and degree of fitness plays in here. My mind thinks I’m much younger. But, as I move about the terrain I notice the lessened spring in the step…unsteadiness in the hips….misjudging the strength to hop from here to there. So, if you never did embark upon that New Year’s resolution to work out, or you have a physical limitation or two, be careful.
Although a ‘park’ it is the desert and all that entails. Don’t drive down roads or terrain your rental car was not designed to take on (I did this near Salvation Mountain and promptly got momentarily stuck with no one around). If you are doing a drive through the park with a few side hikes and short jaunts into the desert terrain you should be safe planning wise….but still watch your steps and slow down. Definitely have a map or two!