Friday, January 24, 2014

A week in the desert

I've had the good fortune of having to go to the desert about 18 times in the last 12 years.  With the exception of 3 of the trips, all were at least 1 week and one was 3 weeks.  There is a lot about the desert that I like, the including the quiet, the stars, the vegetation, which can be intimidating, and the driving.  On several of these trips I had to drive alone for 2-4 hours, sometimes at night, almost always ending up a mile or more off of a gravel road that you maybe shouldn't take a rental car on.  It's a pretty amazing experience driving down a road and seeing the lights of a car 3 or 4 minutes before I pass the other car, which means we were noticing each other from 6 or 8 miles.  And, of course, as everyone notices, everything looks closer in the dry, unpolluted desert air (Las Vegas, Phoenix, other large cities, and sandstorms excepted).  This year the weather was amazing: blue skies every day, highs near 70 and lows in the 30s, which isn't bad sleeping weather.  I'm back in the northeast, with a daytime high today of 16F and a low last night of 0F.  I did miss some good weather here but warmer winter days in Boston just don't compare to what I experienced last week.

This looked like a great place to spend a week away from the internet.  Next time.

A challenging slope - largely cholla, yucca, and barrel cactus.

The view out of my tent at sunset.  You can see that I had to weigh down my stakes, as I was camped in a wash.  Otherwise you could easily pull out the stakes.  The tent was solid in 40 mph winds (and has withstood 60 mph winds on a couple of other trips.  The tent is an older (2001) North Face Mountain 25.  It's tight for one with gear and is hard to change in (max height is about 33 inches) but with wind always a possibility, I wouldn't trade this one in.