By OAN Intern Nalani Lopez
With two vans packed full of camping tents, warm clothes and 10 excited participants, the SRPMIC Outdoor Recreation Adult Hiking Club headed west to Southern California to hike in the Joshua Tree National Park on the weekend of December 2.
The weekend in the Mojave Desert started on Saturday afternoon with the participants and staff setting up camp a few miles away from the national park. Before the hikers headed out onto the trails, they visited the Joshua Tree Visitor Center to learn about the local tribal communities, including the Serrano, Chemehuevi and the Cahuilla.
“I learned they had an enormous understanding of the desert plants and valued the natural flow of the rivers and springs,” said hiking club member Isaiah Lerma. “It was important for them to know this agriculturally.”
Once out in the rocky desert landscape, the group spent the afternoon exploring various trails and rock formations in the park, including Arch Rock and Skull Rock. The extraordinarily large boulders and iconic spiked Joshua trees made the area a unique terrain for the hikers to explore.
“As we did our hikes, one of the participants, Amson Collins, took the time to explain the different plants and medicines the desert had to offer, and how we can still use them,” said hiking club member Elizabeth Anton. “It was one of my favorite memories.”
After a couple more hours of jumping from rock to rock and squeezing in between the boulders’ crevices, the group watched the Mojave Desert’s sunset from the Keys View lookout.
Back at their campsite, temperatures dropped to the low 40s. The campers gathered around the campfire to stay warm and look at the blanket of stars above.
“It was a blast enjoying everyone’s company, joking around the fire and stargazing at night,” said Lerma.
Bright and early the next morning, the group shared a warm breakfast consisting of fresh ce:mait, fluffy scrambled eggs and sizzling bacon.
“It was nice to have teamwork with everything, especially during breakfast,” said Anton. Breakfast was the group’s last meal before they packed up camp and headed to their last trail.
To close their weekend in Joshua Tree National Park, the hiking group visited the Hidden Valley Nature Trail and Barker Dam. Afterwards, they hopped back into the vans and returned home to Salt River.