Walkabout Weekend: Hike to Round Valley Meadow

In my world, a three day weekend is a precious gift to behold.  Over the Labor Day holiday, my friend Alia and I decided to have a walkabout, a spontaneous journey through the wilderness of one’s choosing. (Source: Urban Dictionary)  My original plan was to stargaze from the desert floor of Joshua Tree, but flash flood warnings ruled out back-country camping.  Instead, we headed toward Joshua Tree to catch the sunset and stargaze.  From there, we would drive to Palm Springs to see my parents and hike Mt. San Jacinto.

Sunset Chasers
Sunset Chasers (Photo by Alia)

The sun was scheduled to set at 7:14PM in Joshua Tree, but as we drove through Yucca Valley, we noticed the sun dipping behind the mountains.  We didn’t want to miss the action, so we followed Alia’s sixth sense to a dead end lookout on top of a hill.

130905_laborday_1
Dead End Exploration in Yucca Valley (Photo by Alia)

We drank red wine out of empty plastic bottles and enjoyed homemade peanut butter banana sandwiches with cinnamon and honey.  The sun painted a brilliant sunset of red, orange and gold across the sky.  Alia and I chatted about life until the stars began to peak through the heavenly canvas.

Dead End Sunset
Dead End Sunset
Stars peeking through the heavenly canvas.
Stars peeking through the heavenly canvas.

After an hour of stargazing, we drove to Palm Springs to rest before our next adventure.  In the morning, we drove to the base of Mt. San Jacinto and purchased two tickets to ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  As we ascended the mountain on our golden sky chariot, the temperature dropped almost 30 degrees, and the landscape changed from desert to forest.

Your golden sky chariot has arrived...
Your golden sky chariot has arrived.
So this is what it feels like to be on top of the world...
So this is what it feels like to be on top of the world…

Once we reached the top of the tramway, we began a 5 mile hike on the Round Valley Trail.  The temperature was a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  We followed the trail under giant trees studded with psychedelic mushrooms and purple moss.  After hiking several miles, we stopped for an afternoon nap in a sleepy meadow.  Wilderness naps are my favorite.

"May the peace of the wilderness be with you."
“May the peace of the wilderness be with you.”
Nature makes me feel small.
Nature makes me feel tiny. (Photo by Alia)
Afternoon nap in a sleepy meadow
Afternoon nap in a sleepy meadow
130905_laborday_7
Alia, up close and personal with nature
Psychadelic Tree Mushrooms - Effects Unkown (Photo by Alia)
Psychedelic Tree Mushrooms – Effects Unknown (Photo by Alia)

As we returned to the Ranger Station by the trail-head, I noticed a wooden sign carved with these words: “May the peace of the wilderness be with you.”  The Catholic school girl in me said, “And also with you.”

Every adventure has a sweet spot, a moment in time where I can be completely present.  I collect these moments and replay them when I feel stressed or upset.  The peace of the wilderness is with me at all times.  I just have to access it from that tiny gem collection in my soul.  You can too.

Forest Walk
Walkabout: A spontaneous journey through the wilderness of one’s choosing. (Source: Urban Dictionary)

Special thanks to my friend Alia for contributing photographs to this post.  For more beautiful photos, follow her on Instagram @alohalias.

Round Valley Trail

  • Trail-head: Access via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  Click here for ticket purchase and info.  I highly recommend buying tickets online at least 24 hours in advance on a busy weekend.
  • Trail Length: 5 miles round-trip
  • Fitness Level: Mostly easy, with the added challenge of high altitude.
  • Permits: You must obtain a free day hike permit from the Ranger Station located at the trail-head.
  • Source: Click here to visit the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway website.
  • Tip: I took some ibuprofen before the trip, since I am sensitive to altitude change.  Make sure you drink plenty of water and bring snacks!

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