So, when we first arrived, the visitor service's guy scared the living day lights out of me with regards to dogs in the desert. As you might remember from last year, Duke & I ran through the Arizona & New Mexico desert on about 7 different occasions, no issues (other then getting lost, but, when I'd say Duke, find daddy, he'd turn 90degrees and bee line it back to the camp, not sure how he knew, he has a built in GPS, Jerry gave me a hand held GPS which allowed me to wonder and I'd test it against Duke, both always got me back to Jerry... so, i regress.. ) the Visitors center told me that the reason dogs need to stay on leash, verses, just dogs must be on leash.. The reason is, there are so many rattlesnakes in the desert, AND dogs DO NOT SURVIVE a Rattlesnake bite, where humans normally do. (Later in this trip, when we were in a hotspring in Arizona, a firefighter guy was there, he said Duke would be fine if he got bit by Rattlesnake, that that guy was just laying it on thick to ensure the dog was safe..) The Joshau Tree visitor's guy said by he time we would get Duke to the nearest vet, he'd be dead. He went on to tell me where Rattlesnakes hang out, under bushes and rocks, all the places Duke likes to put his nose under or pee on, so, I kept Duke attached to my the whole time at Joshua tree, Jerry started saying that I talk to Duke more then I talk to Jerry. I do have to stop that.
So, we got our camp site set up, and Duke and I walked up a little hill to look around, one thing the Ranger said to me was to stay on trails, this wasn't a trail, the ground was really mostly pebbles so, I kept slipping downward, filling something stung me on the shoulder and leg at the same time, I looked and saw what looked like two very long thorny nose attached to what i thought was a weird green animal with thorns coming out of it's back. I pulled it out of my skin, as it just sat there, one on my shoulder and one on my right calf. Ended up it was a part of a thorny plant. Then I lost my footing and crashed down the hill (I let go of Duke), i stopped into a Cati, the same one that stung me earlier. It grabbed my butt and right leg. So, i was impaled in this stupid Cati's arms. I had to pull my self out and up. I had around 80 two inch thorns in me. So, I was saying Ouch Ouch Ouch Ouch, allot, and loudly.. No one could hear me, as we choose such a great campsite. So, I couldn't pull any more out, as my figures where full of holes.. The ones under my shorts where the worse, as when i stood up, they where about an inch into my butt and upper thigh, and my shorts now covered them pushing them further in... Ouch, Ouch, Ouch.. I'm blind in my right eye as well, so, I couldn't see that area. I could only see the back of my leg, every thorn i pulled out left a bubble of blood the size of small pea. So, Duke & I got determined and got ourselves down the hill, without any more injuries, Jerry was inside the RV fixing stuff. I knocked on the door, as there was NO way I could step up without a lot of thorns being pushed further into my back end. So, he came out, kept a straight face ( it was really hard not to laugh ) and brought out tweezers, water towels.. and started pulling out thorns. Well, Duke never licks me, as don't like being licked, he kept licking where I had thorns just removed. Those plants also have little hair thin thorns that stick in your skin, those are harder to get out, a local later told me that you should us duct tape to get those out, I used a tweezers for hours, duct tape for the smaller ones would have been smart. Well, everything healed. I felt like a total fool. But, learnt my lesson as to what types of surfaces to walk on an which bushes to avoid!
So, we stayed in that night after my encounter with the thorning plant, with the windows open, as I didn't want to sit outside, I have to admit, I was kinda shook up.
Then the next morning, we were fine, Duke & I went for a 10km run through the desert, staying on roads this time. We visited to destinations on our run. I brought enough water for the both of us. On the way back I felt maybe it wasn't such a bright idea, as I was getting dizzy. But, we found some shade for a minute, and felt better. Duke, at one point, peed on the same type of bush that ate me the night before, there was the thorn with part of the plant on him, I knew what I was doing now, so I gently removed it right away, and he was fine, he looks carefully before he pees now.
Later that day, Jerry & I went for a hike, to Skull Rock, that was cool (I ran right by it that morning and missed it). We met some astronomers from LA, who invited us over to watch the stars with them that evening. His name was Richard, more on him later. So, we had a nice day around, hiking and biking when it cooled down again in the evening. Jerry, Duke & I bike together.
Then next day, Duke & I took off for another run, similar root as the day before, this time, the Park Ranger kept driving around, stopping and looking at tracks. I asked him what was up, he said he was just notified that someone was injured around here, on our way back there were more Ranger, Firemen, ERS and finally a helicopter. We was our Astronomer, Richard, he had fallen off a rock. He told us they come there often, so, they were very familiar with the place. We never did get over to find Richard the night before, but, we hope he recovers well.
I did see families with little kids, three years old and such, on rocks and hiking, we saw people of all ages. I think you do have to respect the desert and NOT wonder off unless you know what you are doing. Be safe, but enjoy. It's a vast beautiful place. We drove through from one end to the other, it's a 2 hour drive. We very much recommend the North end of the park to camp & hike in, it's beautiful.