Wild Weather in Joshua Tree

When I first got out of high school, I had a constant desire to just get in my car and explore. I would typically pack up my little Camry on a Thursday night so that once I was clocking out from work on Friday, I could hit the road and escape away from the chaos of Southern California. I’ve always loved those spontaneous trips but it seems they come around less and less. Life inevitability gets busier and other obligations get in the way. So I was definitely excited when my friend Mason asked if I would be down to go to Joshua Tree for a quick night! He had just received some new gear so it was a great opportunity to break it in and explore one of California’s beautiful landscapes.

We packed up his 4Runner Friday afternoon and headed out to the desert. We grabbed some pizza in the town of Joshua Tree and headed into the park to setup camp. I knew there was a small cold-front due to sweet through that evening and snow levels were looking to be in the 3,500 ft range, which was below Joshua Tree. I mentioned we might get a dusting of snow but I wasn’t too confident that this would happen, since the storm was weak and it rarely snows in the park.

We setup camp late at night and enjoyed some incredible pizza, a blazing fire, and cold beer as the faint winter milky-way drifted overhead. Man do I love nights like this. I wasn’t too excited to shoot as I wanted to just enjoy being away from work, traffic, and Wi-Fi. We went to bed full and satisfied, alarms set to get us up just before sunrise so we could start shooting.

By the time I woke up, Mason was already running around shooting away. I miss when I was that motivated! I wasn’t too inspired by the location we were at and the clouds I was hoping for never materialized…it was perfectly clear outside. Just as the sun was starting to flicker above the horizon, we decided to race up the road to some rocks that would provided a more interesting composition. It was a stunning sunrise and we even had some clouds starting to filter in from the west! Once we were done shooting, we headed to another spot in the park so we could cook up breakfast and setup for some morning bouldering. As we cruised down the road, a massive wall of clouds rapidly approached ahead. Could this be the storm? I saw one snowflake fly by. Then another. A few more. WOW! It started dumping snow. It turned into a whiteout and we were absolutely chomping at the bit to get out and enjoy it. We turned off into a day-use area and started shooting this desert snow squall and made some breakfast. Just as soon as it came, the storm left and a brilliant blue sky took over and it turned into a stunning warm day. The rocks dried out and the guys climbed for a bit before we headed back home. Definitely a perfect weekend getaway.

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