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Joshua Tree National Park

Wednesday, November 1, 2023 - Wednesday, November 8, 2023 -- $1600 ★★★

Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California features a desert landscape whose signature plant is the rare and beautiful Joshua Tree. The park boasts unique geological formations such as granite monoliths and rugged canyons. Barren but beautiful, it is a destination that particularly appeals to those who enjoy desert landscapes, rock scrambling and mild weather with little precipitation. This is a great trip to 'cowboy camp' under the stars.

The park features a variety of elusive wildlife including bighorn sheep, jackrabbits, and coyotes (none of which we're likely to see). November is a great time to explore the arid and rocky Mojave desert because the oppressive summer heat is ostensibly gone and cooler nights are moving in.

Our route is new to Fitpacking and features off-trail travel for some (if not most) of the trip. This a great trip for navigation weenies. We will navigate by the sun, dead reckoning, map, compass and GPS. We will begin near the Pleasant Valley Backcountry Board (like anyone knows where that is) and then head due East on the Fried Liver Wash "Trail". It's officially a trail, but is generally not well-defined, other than it's a wash inside of a canyon.

We'll eventually cross the Pinto Basin Park Road and pick up our first cache of water. Then we travel across the desert with no trail whatsoever. In the desert, we should expect nothing but rocks, sand, creosote bushes and solitude although we will cross the Old Dale dirt road track. Eventually, we'll reach another dirt track, Black Eagle Mine Road where we pick up our 2nd water cache.

The final section of the trip will head down the remote 17-mile long Big Wash Trail, that eventually exits the park at the park boundary.


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking. Expect warm, sometimes hot days of hiking. Historical weather averages 70s during the day, which is perfect for hiking, although we might also experience blazing heat during the day or frost at night (important primarily if you decide to camp). Expect 50s at night, but of course it might get much cooler due to radiational cooling.

Probable Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Rick Romine


The biggest issue with this trip is that we will carry 8 liters (2 gallons) of water at the outset of the trip and after the 2 water caches. THERE IS NO WATER IN THE PARK (there is, but in the remote event we find any, we must leave it for the wildlife). Some of the trails will be rugged, though reasonably flat. Expect to be exposed to the sun all day.


$1600 per person. You will be responsible for transportation to and from Palm Springs, CA (PSP) as well as personal equipment, any restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include ground transportation, 6 days of trail meals, 1 campground night, 1 hotel night, permits, park entrance fees and awesome guides.

Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.


Water is scarce in this region and we must cache it ahead of time. Be prepared to carry as much as 2 gallons (16 pounds) of water in your pack. Even if we find surface water, the park prohibits us from using it, as it is to be left for the animals and plants.

While we expect to see Joshua Trees during the hike, there is a distinct possibility that we will not see any at all during the hiking portion of the trip. The route is new to FPING and traverses the desert and canyons at a lower elevation than our past trips.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Fly or drive into Palm Spring, CA (PSP)

We will have a vehicle waiting at the airport for you. Since people are flying in from all over the country, you may have to wait around a few hours for other participants to arrive. We antiticpate taking 2 trips from the airport to the park where the trip is based.

As you arrive, we will perform a a quick equipment shakedown. We expect to have done this online prior to the trip and will only be looking for obvious last minute omissions such as water containers, pack, hiking shoes etc.

When one of our shuttles is full, we will bring you to 29 Palms, CA and drop you at our first night campground

Before body composition measurements taken

Make-your-own trail mix from our cornucopia of ingredients

Buy last minute and forgotten items at Nomad Ventures, Joshua Tree, 61795 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree, CA 92252, (760) 366-4684.

At around 3PM, shuttle to campsite: TBD, To Be Determined Site(s) TBD

Shuttling will take about 1 hours

Guides prepare dinner in camp. On some trips with longer shuttle times, we may opt to go out for an opening dinner at a local restaurant. (Cost of restaurant dinner not included in trip price)

Camp at TBD, To Be Determined Site(s) TBD

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Store all items you won't bring on the trail at either the end hotel or a storage unit

Drive to Joshua Tree National Park

Depending upon size of group and number of vehicles we have, we may take an hour to shuttle a vehicle to the trailhead at the end of the trip on MWD Aqueduct Rd.

Drive to the Cottonwood Entrance of Joshua Tree National Park

Take a half hour detour (each way) to cache water just off of Black Eagle Mine Road near the Big Wash Trailhead. It's a hassle, but everyone will be giddy to resupply with it later in the trip.

Drive to the Pleasant Valley Backcountry Board

Begin hiking at Pleasant Valley Backcountry Board, elevation 3300'

Hike 2.4 miles on the Fried Liver Wash Trail to Hexahedron Mine Trail intersection, elevation 3100'

Hike about 2.6 miles on the Fried Liver Wash Trail to the mouth of the canyon, elevation 3000'

Dispersed dry-camp at at the mouth of the canyon practicing Leave No Trace Principles, elevation 3000'

Mileage Today: 5.0. Total mileage: 5.0

Possible bailout: Pleasant Valley Backcountry Board

Friday, November 3, 2023

Hike about 9.0 miles on the Fried Liver Wash Trail to Pinto Basin Rd, elevation 1700'

There will be water here that we cached earlier to use for the next few days. Be prepared to carry the empty jugs out with us.

Hike about 0.5 cross-country miles into Pinto Basin, elevation 1700'

Dispersed Camp in Pinto Basin practicing Leave No Trace, elevation 1700'

Mileage Today: 9.5. Total mileage: 14.5

Possible bailout: Pinto Basin Road

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Hike about 8.5 miles across the Pinto Basin Alluvial Fan (and sand dunes) crossing Old Dale Road along the way, elevation 1900'

Dispersed dry-camp somewhere in Pinto Basin practicing Leave No Trace, elevation 1900'

Mileage Today: 8.5. Total mileage: 23.0

Possible bailout: Old Dale Rd.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Hike about 4.0 miles across Pinto Basin to Black Eagle Mine Road, elevation 2000'

Water is cached here. We will cook dinner here and have the no-cook lunch in the evening so we don't have to carry extra water. Drink all you can and we will take the rest with us for the remainder of the trip.

Hike about 5.0 miles on the Big Wash Trail to a wooded area (possibly), elevation 2500'

Dispersed dry-camp at unmarked campsite practicing Leave No Trace, elevation 2500'

Mileage Today: 9.0. Total mileage: 32.0

Possible bailout: Black Eagle Mine Rd.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Hike about 9.0 miles on the Big Wash Trail, elevation 2000'

Dispersed dry-camp at unmarked campsite practicing Leave No Trace, elevation 2000'

Mileage Today: 9.0. Total mileage: 41.0

Possible bailout: Black Eagle Mine Rd. or MWD Aqueduct Road

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Hike 2.7 miles on the Big Wash Trail to MWD Aqueduct Road, elevation 1400'

Hiking portion of trip is now over

Mileage Today: 2.7. Total mileage: 43.7

Possible bailout: MWD Aqueduct Road.

Shuttle back to Pleasant Valley Backcountry Board to pick up vehicle

Drive back to Palm Springs, CA

Shuttle back to local hotel: TBD, To Be Determined

Gather your off-trail items from storage

After body composition measurements taken

Dinner and awards ceremony at a local restaurant (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

Stay in our local hotel (included in trip cost)

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Take Free Airport Shuttle or we will drop you at the airport or we will pay for a shared cab/Uber

We would like to get everyone to the airport in a timely manner and not have people sit around all day waiting for their flights. We expect to shuttle everyone early in the morning in one shuttle to make sure those leaving earliest can catch their flights. This will depend greatly upon how many participants we have and when their flights are. As we get closer, we'll have a better idea of how to proceed.

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