Desert Does Not Always Mean Hot

I’ll be posting a series of entries about my recent hiking/bouldering excursion to Joshua Tree National Park sometime this week, but a story today on details the rescue of two groups of hikers, one in near Mecca, CA, and another on Mount San Jacinto, which hovers above Palm Springs.

The two Washington State-based hikers on San Jacinto were reportedly hypothermic due to lack of warm clothing and failing to realize that winter temps are often below freezing in the high desert, and especially on surrounding peaks.

hiking mt san jacintoI’ll admit that I once held the same misconception of the California desert, but luckily we had done some research prior to heading to Joshua Tree a couple weeks ago, and subsequently brought a few warm layers, a 20-degree bag, a parka and some gloves. My friend and I, who were seeking a nice respite from the frigid Northeast, were greeted by rain, fog and 40-degree temps in the Morongo Basin, and spent a few extremely chilly nights exposed in the Hidden Valley area of Joshua Tree. Needless to say, we would be the ones being rescued had we not prepared accordingly.

The moral of the story is perhaps obvious: Research, prepare for the unforeseen, and don’t get cocky.