Five Days in California’s High Desert


Image courtesy of Luke Daniel Photo:

The hardest part of trip preparation is not determining where to go or how to fill my time, but predicting what to wear while I’m out there. I want to make sure I’m prepared for whatever the journey entails while packing as lightly as possible. However, being prepared for “anything” takes quite a bit of consideration and planning, especially if your travel style has been described by others as “aggressive” or “unorthodox.”

Admittedly, Luke and I don’t really relax on vacation. We so commonly run ourselves ragged exploring our new surroundings that we now expect to come home five pounds lighter. We also tend to go in the opposite direction of most travelers, happily trading ideal weather conditions for smaller (or nonexistent) crowds. It makes pretending we’ve discovered a new land all the easier.

We just returned from a five day trip to Joshua Tree. By local standards, it’s damn cold there right now with daytime highs in the 60’s and evening lows in the 30’s. We considered these conditions to be perfect for long(ish) haul hikes throughout the national park. For a week, I practiced packing and unpacking clothing appropriate for a 30-degree temperature swing. In the end, I settled on a few items that were warm and functional with high desert style.

Here’s what ended up in my half of the suitcase:

  • 800-fill down vest (my new best friend)
  • Two long sleeve shirts (1 wool, 1 flannel)
  • Two pairs of hiking pants
  • Two blouses
  • Two pairs of jeans
  • Two pairs of shoes (hiking and leather ankle boots)
  • Patagonia Better Sweater (my other best friend)
  • White cotton v-neck
  • White cotton tank top
  • Three bras (1 sport, 2 regular), 6 pairs of socks and 6 pairs of underpants
  • Two hats (knit and trucker)

The only item I packed and didn’t wear was a swimsuit. (No matter where I go, I always pack one, even on business trips.) The only item I forgot to pack was a pair of gloves, but Luke was nice enough to lend me his.

Each of these items served me well throughout our desert adventure, from exploring the park, to driving around the Salton Sea, to dancing at Pappy & Harriets. And best of all, we only had to check one bag.







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