Faux, Faux Backpacking Trek

It feels like forever since I’ve been on one of my faux backpacking trips, as I’ve been calling my treks in the desert carrying a backpack filled with bottles of water. (Water, because it’s easy to control the weight since each 16.5 oz bottle weighs a pound — or, in honor of my Aussie friend, each 5 litre bottle weighs 500 grams. And water because if the pack becomes too exhausting to carry, I can lighten the load by pouring out the water.)

In reality, I’ve only missed one weekend (last weekend because of my state line adventure) and one day (today because of lunch with friends and a disinclination to spend much time in the bitterly cold winds).

Still, today hasn’t been a total hiking flop, though the trip has been all online — a faux, faux backpacking trek, so to speak. I’ve finally started printing out the maps and information I need for my camping trip in a couple of months, and already, after a single stop on this e-trip, I can see myself driving straight through to Seattle.

For the first day, I’d planned to drive by the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve to see if any poppies were still in bloom, though because of the lack of rain, there won’t be any “still” since the poor things might not bloom at all. In fact, as of right now, only a few plants have sprouted.

Then I planned to head to Carrizo Plain National Monument. I’d hoped, of course, to be able to see some wildflowers, though that wasn’t my real reason for the stop. (My real reason was that I’d never been there and it seemed a viable place to camp on the way to the coastal highway.) Here, too, it seems as if there will be no bloom, though last year the place bloomed with phenomenal colors, so much so that more than a hundred thousand people visited the plain to see the very unplain “super bloom.”

At least I won’t have to worry about crowds when/if I go, though I do wonder about camping. Apparently, there is only a partially paved road in the monument, and that doesn’t go anywhere near the campgrounds. Ten miles or more on dirt roads in my ancient vehicle? Eek. Although much of the working parts of the car are still sort of new, such as the new engine and rebuilt transmission, the weldings are forty-six years old. Remember those early comic books where an old car drove down a horrid road and suddenly, the entire thing fell apart? Not something I would like to test.

Also, during the time I would be there, the self-guided Painted Rocks tour would not be available because of nesting birds, (a reason I can accept) so I’d have to take the three-hour guided tour. I suppose it could be fun, but I’d have to drive to where the tour started, and there are those roads again. (Some of the roads are clay, so if it threatens to rain, you are urged to leave immediately or be stranded since the roads become dangerous when wet. More eek.)

I considered dispersed camping, but there again, I’d have a long drive on iffy roads.

Still, a straight-through trip to Seattle is not an option — I have things to see and people to visit along the way — but I am making a note to myself:  make sure you have a back-up plan, such knowing where to find a motel for the night.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.