I wanted to get outside one last time before 2010 ends, and settled on Joshua Tree for it's proximity to my parent's house, lack of snow, and absolutely stunning scenery. My best plans were nearly compromised when Southern California got dumped on with several weeks of pouring rain. What was originally going to be 3 days in the high desert was downgraded to a single day. My brother joined me overnight, and our folks came out during the day and early evening for a hike up Ryan Mountain and beers around the campfire.
Bryan and I got to camp early and found a nice spot that was backed by a massive boulder pile, ensuring that were there an earthquake, we would be completely squashed under the weight of a million tons of stone. We did a little bouldering and scrambling around the rock piles, which consisted of Bryan smoothly scaling sheer stone faces while I kept falling off.
When our parents got there, we headed to the Ryan Mountain trail-head for a sunset hike. The temperature dropped quickly on the shaded side of the mountain, but the scenery was more than worth it. The Ryan Mountain trail is a pretty easy 1.5 miles, going from around 4K feet elevation to around 5.5K. As you crest over the spine, you have views in every direction. I love high desert. It looks like you are on some foreign planet, completely devoid of life.
After getting back to camp, we shared a few beers, and then Mom and Dad headed home. Bryan and I stayed up, discussing plans and New Year's Resolutions (or their lack), the benefits of the Falcon Punch * and appropriate recipients of it, and we drank more beer. Or I did, rather. Bryan was drinking like a pansy. This is why his Falcon Punch will always suck.
Eventually we stumbled off to bed. I don't think it froze that night, but it was cold enough, surely in the mid 30's, but three layers of clothing proved sufficient for comfort. Upon waking the next morning, a fire was surely in order, followed by coffee/hot chocolate, and some more boulder hopping. It was Christmas Eve day, and we headed back to Palm Desert early. A brief but very enjoyable trip.
* Falcon Punch, N.
The act of jumping off from your f-zero vehicle, charging and engulfing your arm with flames so that punching an unexpecting person to his/her mortal doom would cause the breaking of a hole in the space-time continuum and creating a beam of light so great the goddamn galaxy doesnt have the balls to show anyone....