Hiking, sweating, and some memorable wildlife encounters

Joshua Tree Travel Blog

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A view of the Coachella Valley.

Although sleeping in the desert is wonderfully romantic, it's just not nearly as comfortable as a good old fashioned bed. I awoke feeling like I'd been trampled by coyotes. One of the guides did let me try his yerba mate, which made me feel a bit better.

Our first stop for the day was the Cholla Cactus Garden. To my slight disappointment, it wasn't a garden tended exclusively by tough girls with dark lip liner, but a lovely sprawl of cholla (pronounced 'choy-a') cacti. After an hour or so of wandering through the short, spiky plants, Rachel came running up to me, claiming that I 'had' to see something. Oh yes, my friends, this was one of those "only Ruby would appreciate this" moments-- it was a  mouse that had apparently crawled into one of the cacti and got stuck.

The ill-fated mouse...
It had been dead for goodness knows how long, but its skull was beautifully intact, balanced delicately on a bed of thorns. All you squeamish people had better shut your eyes.

We then went off for a hike up Ryan Mountain. The view from the trail was sprawling and immense, but I could hardly appreciate it on the way up, for the heat was unbearable. (Ha, and I thought the Coachella Festival was bad two years ago!) The summit, however, was well worth it, and we all lay there sprawled on the rocks like so many of the lizards we'd been seeing. A tiny grey squirrel emerged from the shrubbery, and I chased it around in circles in a comical attempt to take its photo.

The day was exhausting, not so much due to the hike, but mostly the heat. We rewarded ourselves at the end with bananas- wrapped in foil, stuffed with chocolate and marshmallows, and roasted over the campfire.

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A view of the Coachella Valley.
A view of the Coachella Valley.
The ill-fated mouse...
The ill-fated mouse...
Peeking through the Cholla cacti.
Peeking through the Cholla cacti.
Joshua Tree
photo by: jenn79