Adventure 2020: Joshua Tree— Eagle Mountain (March 8)

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Much of the narrative here previously appeared in a Weekly Image Rich Ruh post.

I started the month of March by flying to corporate headquarters in California. I flew out on a Tuesday to prepare for a conference the following week. As luck would have it, the conference was canceled on Thursday, the first personal impact that the corona virus would have on my life. I decided to stay in California for the rest of my trip, not knowing what was on the horizon. I started talking to my friends about a weekend hike I was planning. Justin asked to join me, and I gladly accepted the company.

Our destination was Eagle Peak, a mountain in the eastern portion of Joshua Tree National Park. At 5350’ elevation, Eagle Peak isn’t particularly high. It makes up for this by rising up thousands of feet above the flat valley floor of Pinto Basin, a massive bulk of granite that dominates the landscape. Eagle Peak has no trail, which adds to the adventure. The hike starts on an abandoned road. Although it hasn’t seen traffic in many a decade, plants grow slowly in the desert, and it was fairly easy to follow. From there, we left the road behind and headed cross-country to a wide ravine on the side of the mountain. The open desert was surprisingly interesting, with huge slabs of slickrock-like granite and piles of exotically shaped boulders. When we reached the base of the mountain, the route led steeply up the rough ravine.

Once at the top, we continued over a series of hills and valleys, filled with dense vegetation that scraped open the flesh on my legs, arms, back, and neck.

Joshua Tree stump
Joshua Tree stump

The views from the top were spectacular, stretching in all directions. The landscape was barren and brown, broken up only by the Salton Sea and distant snow-capped peaks. We relaxed, ate lunch, and tried to take pictures in the harsh midday desert sun.

Justin on the summit
Justin on the summit

On the way down, we more or less retraced our steps back to the ravine.

Once on the valley floor, I took us too far north and added a few extra minutes of walking.

Eagle Mountain has been near the top of my Joshua Tree hiking list for years, and it was great to finally climb the peak.

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