Desert rocks and hiking boots.

Gratitude for Hiking in the Desert with Friends

I’ll happily drag my butt out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, and head out with my backpack long before the sun comes up, just to get to a beautiful day hike in the desert. This hike wasn’t too far from home, only an hour’s drive or so, but it was worth the time.

I’ve been to Amboy Crater several times with different people and I highly recommend it as a day trip if you’re in the area, or as a stop off the freeway if you’re passing through. There are bathrooms and a picnic area, plenty of parking, all paved, but no water at the trail head, so be sure to bring plenty of your own.

What made that crazy trail in the clouds?

It’s about a three-mile walk, round trip. Most of the trail is an easy slope up across the open desert until you get up to the base of the cinder cone. You can stop there and go back if you’re not up for a rocky climb. The view is spectacular from the top, so climb if you can. You will not be disappointed.

A word of caution about hiking the desert (from me and now all the new signs): Do not go out here on a hot day. People have recently died doing it. I’m not sure what would make anyone think it would be a good idea to get out of the car and go for a walk in the desert sun on a day over 100 degrees, but let’s all take a lesson from them and not.

Walking on the edge of the cinder cone.
On top of the world!

Personally, I wouldn’t even try this hike on a warm day because I’m not a fan of heat at all. There is NO shade anywhere on this hike. The day we went, it was 65 degrees with a high thin cloud or two…and I was still a bit warm in my flannel shirt and jeans. I got a little sunburned too, but with the red hair and fair skin, that’s expected!

I love hiking anywhere, especially with friends.

Something about a long walk lends itself to deeper conversations. Maybe it’s the length of time you’re together, or the fact that we aren’t sitting face to face with each other, but I feel like we get to the more serious topics, we open ourselves up more when we’re walking.

When you’re at a restaurant or a coffee shop, your time is limited. They want their table for other customers and there’s only so much coffee you can drink (believe it or not). There are other people around that can overhear your conversation. And a lunch date is generally a prescribed time, so we usually have other things we’re doing that day.

But a hike? You know you’re going to be there all day. Walking in the woods, along a lake, or out in the desert, a conversation gets long and involved between the views and discoveries, the bird sightings, and trail dog pettings. It feels natural to bare your soul and get advice along the trail.

Winter is the best time of year for desert exploring on foot. The days may be shorter, but I can typically hike all day in the cooler weather without getting overheated, so I’m happy. As Spring approaches, I get a chance to watch the green shoots come up and then the flowers. Once the heat gets over 90 on the desert floor, I head back up to the mountains and into the trees until Fall returns.

When I lived in the city, and my kids were little, we’d walk everywhere. One day we even had a “Walk As Far as You Can” day, where we packed a backpack and headed down the main street until our feet gave up and we had to call Dad to come pick us up. We only got about six miles from home, but the boys loved seeing their hometown up close and personal.

Now that my kids are grown, I’ve had to reach out and find new people to go hiking with. I just can’t walk alone! I’ve heard it’s a great meditation, but I just can’t seem to do it. When I do, I’m nervous, my cell phone clutched in my hand. I imagine myself walking a trail alone, taking a break and making some notes in my journal while I rest, maybe talking with some fellow hikers, but I don’t. I worry the whole time I’m out and rush back home. Strange. I don’t even know exactly what I worry about. It just doesn’t feel comfortable.

A friend of mine says this isn’t hiking, it’s walking, but I beg to differ. It’s a trail, I’m wearing my hiking boots, and there are no houses or streets. It’s hiking. Mostly easy day hiking, but hiking, nonetheless.

Do you go hiking? Do you go alone or in groups? Am I the only one that chatters on and on the whole time we’re out there?

Want to read more of my gratitude posts?

Why Do I Get Up in the Morning? Episode #11

Why Do I Get Up in the Morning? Episode #10

Or…start at the beginning! Why Do I Get Up in the Morning? Episode #1