This report will cover several trails over a 4 day period (Stubbe Springs, Boy Scout, Willow Hole and Lost Horse). Despite its name (given by mormon settlers in the mid XiXth century) and its appearance, the joshua tree is not a tree but a type of plant or bush that belongs to the genus yucca. The park is of course full of this type of vegetation and also features interesting terrain and rock formations. I didn't have definite plans for this park and figured I would get advice from the visitor center to decide which trails to hikes. I decided to explore the northern section of the park. Originally, I thought of maybe hiking the Coxcombs, situated at the extreme east-end of the park. This required parking the car at some random location outside the park boundary and I finally changed my mind after the lady at the visitor center suggested I leave a note of my whereabouts on the wind shield of my rental car in case police officers patrolling the area found my car abandoned. For some reason I thought I would be at a greater risk of having my car removed or vandalised. In truth, this could happen anywhere but just the fact that I would be out of the park had this psychological effect on me. So after studying the park map, I decide to get settled at the Ryan camp site.
So I'm looking for a camping spot at the Ryan camp site by driving around the lots; I see what is the the last available tent spot on the site. I immediately show up at the entrance and register that spot and pay the fee at the drop box. I show up on the lot and notice a tent at some distance. It is not too clear to me how the plots are divided and the tent seems to be a a fair distance (I've seen tent sites where people are very much crammed that I don't find this out of the ordinary) and conclude it is on the plot next to mine. So I go ahead pitching my tent. As I was doing so, I young woman shows up and informs me that I am trespassing on their camp site. After verifying my ticket and site number on the lot post, I determine I was on the right spot and I was entitled to it. After discussing it for a while, it turns out she and her boyfriend had talked to the park ranger earlier on and he had told them they could go go hiking right away and pay for their lot afterwards. I had already paid for it as it did not have a receipt attached to the post (I therefore concluded it was available and paid for it by dropping my money in the drop box).
I offered to perhaps share the space since it seemed to me their tent was far away enough for them to have their privacy and since I felt I was entitled to the spot; since I felt I was entitled to it, this could mean they should move out. The site however was very roomy and I felt we could have shared it and that this was the better outcome. There was at least a good 50 feet from their tent to where I was. I offered to perhaps share. She responded by saying she would talk it over with her boyfriend who was not around. So off she goes and a little later, I hear and see this huge SUV pulling up; the driver steps out of the car and goes "hey buddy, this site is ours so move on!". I tried to explain to him I had already paid for it but he was being very aggressive and I determined he could not be reasoned with. So I go ahead gathering my things as they watch on. Then, as I was loading my car, the guy says "look, there is probably plenty of room at Jumbo Rocks"; I just ignored him and continued packing; as I was getting into my car, his girlfriend offered me energy bars. I refused them politely (after all, I am canadian ;-)
I suppose the guy must have felt somewhat regretful to have bullied me out of what I still feel was my spot. So I'm off to Jumbo Rocks. Sometimes, those little things can make a big difference. As it turns out, the Jumbo Rocks camp site had plenty of room and it was a much nicer place and allowed for some late afternoon hiking in very attractive terrain. Over the course of my hiking journey, I have had plenty of time to reflect on what happens to us and the meaning we gave to those events. I had also given thought to how we choose to react and the outcome from those choices. In this case, I chose to evade confrontation and escalation over what really comes down to a trivial matter. I think I got a better outcome by simply letting go. Despite this, I still feel I let myself down for not standing my ground.
Once settled at Jumbo Rocks, I decide to head out and explore. This was the first time I hiked in a desert like terrain. There was really no trail to speak of where I headed out. I determined to reach a small hill that would in my pinion give out a great view. As I was walking along, I realised how one could easily become lost. Like the forest, the surroundings can seem to be pretty much the same all around. I had to go up and down several rock formations and I would at times lose sight of that hill I set out as a goal. THe change of position can make a landmark look entirely different just by offsetting your course by a few dozen meters. Also, I realised I did not know what the Jumbo Rocks camp site would look like from that hill. Looking behind me, I could make out some indications of a human presence but the farther I would go, the less obvious these indications would become. Also, it would get dark soon. So I remained very cautious of my movements and always made sure I could detect the signs of the camp site as I moved. Overall, this was a very lovely hike and I was very satisfied at how this altercation with that dude ended up by having me come over here.