As part of my Year of Go, I headed out on a “Galentine’s Weekend” camping trip with some friends from the internet to spend some time exploring the Sand to Snow National Monument, get to know each other better, and discuss some of the topics floating around the outdoor world lately. By the end of the weekend, we dubbed our outing the Feral Female Weekend…and we already have another one tentatively planned for next month!
I picked up Paulina (Little Grunts) up from the airport Friday evening and we cruised out to Mission Creek Preserve to meet Shawnté (contributing writer to Modern Hiker, among other awesome things) and Oshie (Hike.Eat.Camp.Repeat) for our weekend adventure. Our original plans included us sleeping at the trailhead Friday night and then backpacking for a night on the Pacific Crest Trail. The weather was a little iffy and we wanted the opportunity to visit a few places in the area so we decided to base camp in the preserve and spend our days hiking and hanging out.
After a leisurely morning around the nearly empty campground, we hit the trail. This area is part of the Sand to Snow National Monument, which was established almost exactly one year before our trip. It was a nice way to celebrate these public lands. Southern California has seen a very wet winter so far and everything was green! If you’re from a naturally green place, you may not appreciate the excitement we felt, but other Southern Californians know exactly how we felt as we made our way from the preserve to the Pacific Crest Trail in search of views of San Gorgonio and San Jacinto peaks.
For not being very active over the last few months, I felt great on this hike. It was really nice to stretch my legs after sleeping in the back of my car all night with Paulina. If you are familiar with the drive from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs, you know that there are wind farms in this area, and for good reason! Once we got to the ridgeline, we felt the breeze and I needed to put on my rain jacket to keep warm.
We stopped for lunch after a few miles. We split snacks and shared what our go-to meals are when we’re hiking. I haven’t done the long distance hiking Shawnté and Oshie have done, but I do know the importance of lightweight yet delicious food when you’re outdoors.
Throughout the weekend, we talked about being a woman outdoors, diversity on the trail and in outdoor media, balancing work with getting outside, and making friends on the internet. It was great to be able to joke about things with these women that our work friends may not understand.
Our campground at Mission Creek Preserve has a big stone building that is open for the campers and day use picnickers to hang out in if the weather is bad or if they want to learn more about the preserve and surrounding areas. You are not allowed to sleep in here overnight, so don’t get any ideas! There is also no light in the building, so if you want to hang out in here at night (like we did) be sure to have some lanterns handy.
When we made it back to camp, we set up shop in the stone house and played a bunch of games, had a little happy hour, and made friends with a Girl Scout who gave up a weekend selling cookies to camp with her dad. How cool is that? We played mancala, Bananagrams, and Yahtzee. We used the room as our base for the evening, so we warmed up dinner (thank you, Paulina, for sharing!) and relaxed.
The next day, we had a relaxed morning and Oshie made sure we all went home with some printed photos from our adventure. The Girl Scout from the night before was very patient with us as we posed for photos.
Shawnté is more familiar with the area than the rest of us and she gave us a few options for how we could spend the day before needing to drop Paulina off at the airport. We ended up going hiking in another area closer to Joshua Tree and making the very wise choice to make a detour after at Cactus Mart for fry bread tacos and some shopping. The food was so good and we devoured everything before I could take a photo! Cactus Mart is really cool and I hope to make it a regular stop on our way to and from Joshua Tree. There are two cats who live on site and they are both very charming mascots. I picked up some coffee beans and a candle that I cannot get enough of while we were there but I know I’ll be getting some plants on my next trip out there!
Like I hinted at earlier, I think another Feral Female Weekend is in the works! Stay tuned.