October 27, 2011

East, Towards the Desert

The waves were dying down and after three weeks of cruising the California coast, the Syncro had developed a coating of sand and a special odor.   In addition, parts of Southern California were starting to feel familiar. Weighing my options, I stopped by Trader Joe’s in Silverlake to restock on provisions and headed east towards the desert.

The suburbs faded into obscurity as the 10 ran east towards Palm Springs.  Desert started winning the war over farms and cul-de-sacs.  Following signs towards Joshua Tree National Park,  I turned off on 62.  Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley,  Whats the big deal about this place? I asked myself.  The loud shriek of a nearby military jet confirmed my suspicions that the area was fit for weapons testing.  Pulling into the park, I started seeing what the hype was all about.  For the first time in recent memory,  I couldn’t see a house or other sign of civilization, just trees from a Dr. Seuss book.  Sporadic rock formations decorated the horizon and hills, inviting exploration.

After a day a day of solo hikes, crawling around rocks and camping in a busy campsite,  I started growing uneasy.  Nature should be raw and open ended, not packaged and consumed. Driving off in search of a campsite on one of the so-called 4×4 roads designated by the official park map, furthered my angst. Under promise and over deliver,  perhaps for a Prius.  The Syncro wanted more dirt, and I wanted more seclusion.

See the face?

Craving God’s County, BLM and National Forest, I left Joshua Tree at sunrise the next day. Setting my sites on Kern River Canyon,  I headed north away from roads connected to LA.  Traffic died off.  The occasional lifted pickup truck sped by, and my music blasted with windows down.  A sign read “No service for 55 miles.”  Good things accompany these signs.

Sunrise in Joshua Tree National Park.

These ditches are dug to stop off roaders.

One of the most beautiful sunsets of my life.

The shortening days prompted me to pull off the road earlier than usual.  Invited by a trail snaking up to a hill,  I drove to the gate, packed my pack with The Monkey Wrench Gang, my Snowpeak cook kit and two cans of chili.  No registration or designated areas to cook, just a mile of hiking to do before sunset.  I locked the doors out of habit before realizing that there was no one around for ten miles.

Here are some more links,

Sunset (Picasa),

The Desert (Picasa).



  • Kyle
    October 27 , 2011

    I’m reading The Dharma Bums by Kerouac (which, coincidentally, I discovered on the The Burning House as someone’s takeaway) and parts of this post remind me of the book.

    How did you like Kern River Canyon? I’m from Bakersfield and my grandparents had a house on the side of a mountain in Bodfish when I was growing up.

  • October 27 , 2011

    The kern river was gorgeous. Amazing. You need to go Check it out. As for darma bums. Its on my list.

  • October 27 , 2011

    Loving following your adventure. Great photos, beautiful locations. Quite jealous of your travels right now.

  • October 28 , 2011

    Thanks april. I’m having a blast

  • Ryan
    October 30 , 2011

    Nice choice of reading material. I wrote a paper on The Monkey Wrench Gang in college arguing that they actually caused more damage to the environment in the name of trying to save it.

  • October 31 , 2011

    Great rocks! And yes that face is clear, and a little freakish I might add! We share that drive to find the ‘less visited by humans’ locations! Are you planning on going really south or really north? I suppose with the cooler weather heading your way, south might be a good option for the next six months! Stunning imagery as usual Foster.

  • Jes
    October 31 , 2011

    Biggest question that’s been bothering me where do you shower/use facilities?

  • October 31 , 2011

    Thanks rohan,
    its all about getting off the beat path. as the cooler weather hits i will move south. after 5 years in the north east, i am over snow and such.

    campgrounds, stores, and rest stops all have normal bathrooms. i spend a lot of time in middle of no where so their i improvise. as for showering, I usually shower at friends places but have been known to buy a day pass at a gym and use their locker room.