backpacking trip cancelled. went camping instead.


Over the past several years I have made a Memorial Day Weekend tradition of hiking what I call the San Jacinto Loop. One would be hard pressed to find a more varied and diverse 60 mile route in just about any place in North America; maybe anywhere in the planet. Due to a route that passes through 5 climatic zones, Memorial Day timing is about perfect. Not too hot in the desert and not too cold in the alpine zone. You can read about the 2009 and 2010 trips.

But this year I had to cancel.

Cancellation of the trip was due to the “Mountain Fire” that burned for sixteen days during July of last year (2013). The most dramatic part of this hike is still closed and there is no suitable alternate route.

Normally I don’t go backpacking on 3-day holidays; I would rather spend time with my wife. But the San Jacinto Loop was a special hike worthy of a 3-day holiday exception. So it was obvious to me, and to Joyce, that we should go camping instead.

In years past, we would go camping in several special boondocking sites on holiday weekends; sites we know would be void of other campers — no reservations needed and no fees to use the sites. But last year we purchased a travel trailer to replace our tent trailer, which was a total loss due to vandalism. And the new trailer is too large to take to our secret mountains retreats.


Deserts are heating up at the end of May, and most people avoid desert camping during the hot months. Empty desert campgrounds are attractive to us, and we know the high desert elevations are mild — at least mild for us desert dwellers. With a short cooling trend in the desert and forecasted highs in the 80’s (F), we hooked up the trailer and headed out for a few days.

Relative isolation.
Relative isolation.

Our campsite was only $6 per night with my senior pass. Most days found the campground less than 1/3 full, and by Sunday night there were only 7 occupied sites.

View from our front patio.
View from our front patio.
View of our "back yard."
View of our “back yard.”





Any camping trip with Joyce is a good camping trip. But our best trips usually include some good hiking, and this trip was no exception.


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With mild evening temperatures we spent hour after hour outdoors. Of course all our meals were cooked and consumed outdoors!



Drive a hundred plus miles away from any metropolitan area, add the clear desert air, and you have the perfect formula for grand night sky viewing.

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More pictures can be found here.

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