I could feel the judgement in her eyes even though she was too polite to express her exact thoughts. The national parks employee had just helpfully marked a driving route of Joshua Tree on my map and asked if we needed any suggestions for hiking or other activities. “Nope!” “But there are just a few short–” “Nope!” I wanted to tell her that it wasn’t that I was lazy and underprepared, because while both of those things are true, neither has ever prevented me from getting out there before; I don’t really consider it a hike unless there’s a possibility of imminent death. However, I was also smack in the middle of an enormous day trip and simply didn’t have the time to really flirt with disaster in my usual fashion. Then again, maybe I’m growing up a little: before you enter the park, they make it very clear that people have died there from preventable accidents–things like not having enough water or food, so I backtracked just a bit before the entrance, gassed up the car, and bought important survival necessities like two flavors of gatorade and chips with the guacamole baked right inside so I wouldn’t have to expend any energy on dipping. My obituary certainly isn’t going to bemoan, “If only she had dipped a little less gratuitously” unless, of course, they are talking about the decades-long buildup of nacho cheese that is even now slowly coating all of my arterial pathways, waiting for the right time to strike.
Joshua Tree is gorgeous, with a wild beauty you might not even know was there, based on the area outside of the park. Thanks to a number of pull-out areas and parking lots, I was able to get out and wander around a bit even without tackling one of the proper hiking trails or attempting any bouldering. Since it was still spring, I got to enjoy spotting all kinds of teeny-tiny wildflowers blooming in the desert–not the riotous lush swaths of color you get elsewhere, but delicate clusters of petals wavering under the winds and blazing sun. I would like to go back and explore more thoroughly when I have the time–I should probably plan ahead and bring at least two bags of those chips.
Thankfully, it was not hot enough when I visited for bees to try to drink the water from my eyes or I definitely would have thrown myself off a cliff. Which is a thing they do, and fuck that, fuck that, fuck that.