Winter Update

San Jacinto Mountains

Imagine this: You’re in a tank top, shorts, and flips, there’s a gentle warm breeze, and above you is the persistent caw of a hungry raven. From your camp chair, you are watching the sunset glisten on the Sultan Sea, while the San Jacinto Mountains turn bright pink in the distance. The sun is setting on another beautiful 75° and sunny day in the Mecca Hills Wilderness and there isn’t another soul around, at least that you can see.

This is our reality right now! This is how we have been spending our evenings and I am not mad about it at all. We found this area by accident, randomly deciding to drive through it on January 1st, just “to see what it cuts through”. Haven’t left since (aside from re-supplying in towns) and don’t plan on it either until we head back to Moab at the end of February. There is no shortage of hiking trails, canyons to explore, or places to camp- basically a #vanlifers paradise. We have barely even touched the landscape and we are 21 days in to staying here, there is still so much left for us to do and see, and of course, never enough time.

an arch made out of very soft sediment

There are no traditional developed trails in the area (there a few in the back section, but only accessible with 4wd) so it’s mostly just hiking around, exploring different canyons + drainages and then turning around when they choke out, dead end, or turn into a dry-fall. Which may sound weird or boring but soooo far from accurate. We have found some incredible slot canyons within these badlands, and because the landscape is practically melting all around, it is v. v. eerie to walk through and under the walls, but you must. We often find ourselves whispering as not to disturb the very sensitive rock, sediment, and sand that is stacked above us. The badlands are not a place you want to be when it rains, the flash flooding that occasionally sweeps and destroys the area claimed a young lawyer in October 2018, that same flood shut the road down for over 6 months for repairs. While hiking around, you will see large pieces of pavement hundreds of yards away from the road itself, showing just how powerful those storm waters can get.

a cave you can walk through

We have focused primarily on exploring the area we are camping in, but we will probably start spreading our wings here soon. As I said before, we are close to the Sultan Sea, which means we are close to the famed Slab City, Coachella, Joshua Tree National Park, and a few other places that I have always wanted to visit. What am I most excited about? I’m so glad you asked!! I found a really cool little place called the International Banana Museum that I am dying to check out (LOL) maybe today is the day!! With Rufio, Joshua Tree is kinda hard to explore or fully enjoy, but we still want to check it out and I obvi need my passport stamp! Another area we want to visit this winter is something Sean’s dad told us about, the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area! Have you ever been to sand dunes? The ones we have been to and explored, were on such a small scale and still really cool, I can’t imagine what this massive area will be like, cannot wait! Drop a comment below if you are familiar with the area and have a special place you think we should see!

This winter has done a lot of things, but going according to plan has not been one of them. We wanted to spend the winter climbing and though we started off really strong in December, we haven’t climbed once this year. Instead of being really bummed about that, I am going to choose to focus on all the things we are getting to do, and just be grateful for that. That doesn’t mean to say we aren’t still training or changing out climbing goals for the upcoming season, we still plan to go HARD. So in the meantime, we got one of those hand and finger strengthener things, and we have been working out, cutting fat and building muscles that we hope will help us climb smarter and longer. We shall see this spring!

It’s been 8 weeks since we left Moab for our Winter Adventures already, with only 5 weeks to go before we head back- time is flying on by! I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed our little home in the desert, but mostly, I miss our friends!! Which is one reason why I love social media, because while Sean and I are off having our adventures for the winter, so are our friends! We get to watch them explore far off places, other countries, ice climb up frozen waterfalls and enjoy the peacefulness of winters in Moab, I love to check in and see what they are up to but it definitely makes me stoked for allll the desert shenanigans we will get into this season with our chosen family. Soon!

SO there’s your update! That’s what we have been doing this winter. Nothing crazy exciting to report, just quietly enjoying each and every day in our own version of paradise, resting our bodies and minds for a very busy and hectic season ahead.

Before I sign off, I just want to say Thank You to every one who cares about us enough to read our blog, send us encouragement, check in when you don’t hear from us or see an injured person on the news in an area we are- it means the world to us. To know that there are people who love us and wish us well, from near and far is the best gift that vanlife has given us. We have never spoken more with our family or friends than we have since living on the road, it truly has renewed our relationships with them, each other, and ourselves. From the bottom of our growing hearts, Thank You. Know that we love + appreciate you more than we could ever express.

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