While we’re all excited for and eagerly counting down to RTXX (128 days), there is an even closer event that we need to start getting ourselves psyched up for – SPRING BREAK! Just 51 days from now we’ll depart for for southern California for a week of hiking, backpacking, and of course a bit of relaxation. Although we’ve spent time in that part of the country, there are three NPS sites that we have not yet visited. We’re looking forward to correcting that this year with visits to Joshua Tree NP, Death Valley NP, and Mojave National Preserve.
The main reason we haven’t yet been to these places is temperature. Our annual road trips take place in June and July so we’re usually traveling at exactly the wrong time to visit these hot desert areas. We’ve been to Palm Desert, the closest city to Joshua Tree, in June. It was so hot that even the car’s AC running at full blast didn’t do anything to cool us off. Despite the heat, all three of these parks have a reputation for quiet, isolation, and beauty. They are also all home to gigantic areas open to backcountry hiking and camping, so they’ve all been on our wish list for years. This year we’ll finally get our opportunity to see them as they should be seen. In March.
Our plans for this trip began forming at 12:53 PM on Tuesday, February 19th, 2019. I know the time so precisely because this wasn’t our first choice of trips. Our original plan had been to do a rim-to-rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon. To Zoe’s delight, it was at that exact time that Molly and I both learned we were losers in the lottery system the Park Service has put in place to determine who can stay at Phantom Ranch, the lodge at the bottom of the canyon. We were already planning on camping for several nights of the 4-5 day trip and considered the opportunity to stay at Phantom Ranch an essential part of the experience. We’ve got other things in store for 2021, but we’ll certainly try our luck in the lottery again in the future!
With the Grand Canyon out of the question we immediately moved on to our backup plan. I started researching backpacking trails, lodges, routes, and all the other information that needs to be gathered for us to pull a trip like this off. A rough outline emerged pretty quickly and after everyone agreed it would be a suitable alternative I began making arrangements. I’m planning another series of posts about how we plan so I’ll save some of the details for another day.
We’ve got a lot planned for Spring Break 2020! We’ll be backpacking 4 nights as we visit 3 different parks in addition to spending three nights in (hopefully) nice hotels. In the coming days I’ll profile each of the parks we plan to visit as I explain our plans and devote a final post to how we plan to spend some of our time off the trail.