Joshua Tree National Park. November 2013.
The perfect weekend getaway. A two-and-a-half hour drive outside of Los Angeles and into a world of Joshua Trees, camping, amazing rock formations, and desert wilderness.
I traveled to Joshua Tree with a group of friends for birthday celebrations and rock climbing. My first time! We parked at the “Hall of Horrors,” an area within the park filled with large rocks and boulders for climbing. A guy in our group of friends was a former instructor, so he set up a belay type rope system and showed us a few tips before we started climbing.
The rope was merely there to catch you if you fell, and we were instructed to climb as if there was no rope. You couldn’t depend on it or use the rope to pull your body weight up. What a challenge! Reaching and stretching and using the smallest of ledges and cracks, I tried to wedge a foot or grab hold of anything I could to climb.
There were moments for each of us where we almost gave up, couldn’t see a way up, scraped knees and sore arms.
Although rock climbing is extremely physical, I found it more of a mental challenge. One look down and you realize that you’re hanging off the side of a rock / mountain with nothing holding you up except a thin rope.
When you’re hanging on for dear life, you don’t think the rope will catch your fall. Scary!
(can you see me?)
I made it! Hallelujah!
If climbing up the rock was not challenging enough, the next step was even harder. “Now, turn around and lean back like you are going to fall.” Uh, What? Climbing over the ledge, sitting into the harness, and extending your legs out straight so that you are parallel with the ground!! EEEEKKKK!
But such a thrill! Nothing beats walking down a huge rock after climbing to the top. Amazing!
“It is not the rock we conquer, but ourselves.” – author unknown
If you find yourself in Joshua Tree National Park, here are my recommendations:
Best Campsites- Jumbo Rocks, Hidden Valley
They are first come, first serve but worth it to be deep inside the park and camping within the rocks. The sites are a little more secluded than the popular sites you can reserve online.
Best hikes – Ryan Mountain, The Maze, Cholla Cactus Garden, Lost Horse Mine