Oct. 8/9: Mojave National Preserve

On day 23 – Oct. 8th – we left Baker, California and headed into the Mojave National Preserve. We drove to the Kelso Dunes trailhead, where we decided to hike into the dunes and up the highest one we could see from the parking lot. When we began our hike, we were the only ones on the trail, as it was still fairly early in the morning. As we trudged through the sand, we observed the many animal tracks including various types of lizard, kangaroo rat, and scorpion.

After about an hour of walking, we reached the base of the large dune. From the trailhead, the dune looked like no hard task. In fact, from the trailhead, I was under the impression I could summit the dune in one go, without any breaks. From the bottom, however, I realized the foolishness of this thought – the dune was so steep, the ascent was almost straight up. When climbing, Danielle and I would take 40 steps and then take a break of probably 45 seconds, and then repeat until reaching the top. At the top, I took a few pictures and then we returned to the vehicle.

Back at the vehicle, we drove back to Kelso and checked out the visitor's center, where we had our lunch. After lunch, we drove out into the desert to find a campsite close to the Hole-in-Wall trailhead which we planned to hike the next day. We found a campsite not too far from the main road, and quite close to the trailhead. We set up camp at the base of a small hill, surrounded by cactus and other desert flora. I worked on my computer while Danielle made a collage out of the various maps we'd collected along the way. We then made/ate our dinner as well as took some photos before falling asleep to the sounds of cows grazing nearby and coyotes howling in the distance.

The next morning we awoke to the cows mooing, and a brilliant sunrise. We ate our breakfast and packed up camp, and then headed to the Hole-in-Wall trailhead. We hiked the short and somewhat underwhelming-but-still-beautiful trail in less than an hour, and then began our exit of the preserve, stopping near Cima Dome to take a few pictures of one of the largest and densest Joshua Tree forests in the world and to have our lunch at the Mojave Cross – a memorial for fallen soldiers. We then left the preserve to head back into Nevada towards Primm.

In Primm, we'd hoped to stop at Starbucks to use wifi on our laptops, but upon arrival found that the only Starbucks there were small, attached-to-other-stores Starbucks that lacked wifi, seating, and electrical outlets. Without much else to do, we checked out the outlet mall in town where Danielle bought a dress and some pyjama shorts.

Without much else to do, we headed towards Las Vegas. On the way, we stopped in Henderson, where we found a Starbucks, and spent a few hours on our laptops, editing photos, blogging, etc. At the Starbucks, I researched a truckstop in Las Vegas to stay at, and we then headed that way. After a frustrating drive and missing a number of turns, we finally arrived at the truckstop where we spent a very hot night.

Follow along with our adventure in real time by clicking here.

Kelso Dunes.

Me atop the tall Kelso Dune. Photo Credit: Danielle Seeliger.

Our campsite in the Mojave.

Photo Credit: Danielle Seeliger.

I found this on the ground near our campsite. I'm not sure what it was.

Photo Credit: Danielle Seeliger.

Danielle's first attempt at astro turned out pretty well I would say. Photo Credit: Danielle Seeliger.

Hole-in-Wall Trail.

One of the densest Joshua Tree Forests on the planet, apparently.

The Mojave Cross.

Me taking photos of the Joshua Tree Forest. Photo Credit: Danielle Seeliger.

A single Joshua Tree. Photo Credit: Danielle Seeliger.

Goodsprings, Nevada. A certain group of people will understand the significance.