Joshua Tree National Park

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, plus a variety of wildlife including bighorn sheep, jackrabbits, and coyotes. March is a great time to escape from your frigid climate, explore the Mojave desert, and lose weight (or more accurately, improve body composition).


This trip will run from March 16-24, 2013. Here is the proposed itinerary.

Our route will begin about a mile from Quail Springs. We'll cross the Park Road and head down the Park Road and onto the Old Lost Horse Road, spending the night at Ryan Horse Camp. From there, we'll hike up and over the Johnny Connector Trail. We'll then head down Quail Wash to the Samuelson Rocks. Then we summit Quail Mountain, the highest peak in Joshua Tree National Park. We then hike via the California Riding & Hiking Trail to two beautiful overlooks: Fan Canyon View and Covington Crest. Finally, we snake down the interesting and amazing Smith Water Canyon back up and over one last canyon, ending our hike at Quail Springs Picnic area.

Much of the trail will be rugged, exposed to the sun, and poorly marked, requring off trail navigation with a map, compass, and GPS. Expect this to be a true adventure!

Important! Water is scarce in this region and we will 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. But fear not, just because you are carrying 16 pounds of water when you leave the cache, you will be carrying zero pounds of water when you arrive at the next cache.

Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg, lives in Hull, MA and has many years of backpacking experience over a variety of terrains and guides most Fitpacking trips. He is a SOLO certified Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Trainer, and Certified Food Handler.

Rick Romine lives in Pleasanton, CA and is a Wilderness Medicine Institute certified Wilderness First Responder. A life long outdoor enthusiast, Rick is the founder of the wilderness education site Rick has been leading backpacking treks and teaching outdoor skills to both youth and adults for over 10 years.

Equipment List

Here is a list of equipment we suggest you bring. The list is extensive and can seem daunting, but please don't let this deter you from the trip. You can rent top notch quality gear for reasonable prices from Traverse Outfitters, Lower Gear or Outdoors Geek. It may also be possible for us to provide some gear for you at a nominal fee if you let us know far ahead of the trip. Unfortunately, we're not in the gear business so the selection of our available inventory is unpredictable. Please feel free to discuss any gear with us before the trip.


We don't believe in austere eating regimens. Backpacking is a rigorous, rewarding activity. You must feed your body in order for it perform. Your body will dictate that you eat often. It's important to have fuel to feed it. See what we have planned to eat. Note that this is not necessarily a comprehensive list. If you want to bring a 5 pound chocolate cake, go for it. After carrying it 50 miles through the desert, your body will reject the empty calories and prefer nutritious food.


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking. Expect a warm respite from your end-of-winter blues. Historical March weather averages 60s and 70s during the day, which is perfect for backpacking, although we might also experience blazing heat during the day. or frost at night. Expect 30s and 40s at night although on the 2009 trip, it did get down to the low 20s and on the 2012 trip it began to snow just as we ended the hike and loaded into the shuttle.


$1200 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Palm Springs, CA (PSP) as well as personal equipment, and any restaurant meals.

Covered expenses include 2 nights in a hotel, 7 days of trail meals, ground transportation, permits, fees and awesome guides.