Day 0 – Welcome to Joshua Tree (or, J. Tree…we’re on a first name basis now)


Joshua Tree Photo © Jarek Tuszynski / Wikimedia Commons

After walking into the baggage claim area of Palm Springs Airport, I knew from the heap of camping equipment that greeted me that my spring break had begun. I introduced myself to Tyler, our group coordinator, and was shortly on the road to Joshua Tree with seven other students. During the ride, our group got to talking about who had seen a Joshua Tree before. Not having seen one myself, I was excited to hear Tyler say that, “just over that next pass, you will see Joshua Trees.” Though we were driving through suburban sprawl, sure enough, as we crested the ridge that Tyler had pointed out, it seemed as though we had ridden into a Dr. Seuss book. Our group enjoyed the trees’ other worldly appearance (they look a lot like something out of The Lorax) and our excitement for the week ahead grew.

With a quick flash of our NPS volunteer credentials, we passed into the park about half an hour later. Though I was happy to have finally arrived, it occurred to me that the land beyond the ranger station was pretty much the same as that on where I had seen my first Joshua Tree less than an hour before. Though the trees outside the Park had become part of Southern California’s urban landscape, it seemed good that, at least on this preserve, we could still enjoy them as they have been from time immemorial.

Our campground at Lost Horse

After arriving at our camp near the Lost Horse mine, we enjoyed a dinner prepared for us by Haley, another excellent project leader. No one left hungry. After dinner, we spent a couple of hours getting to know each other, and hearing about what we could expect in the week to come. After breaking into tent groups, we bedded down excited to spend the next five days working in an American treasure; Joshua Tree National Park.