Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Joshua Tree- Wonderland of Rocks

Ahh Joshua Tree, unlike another other national park I have ever been to. Not a lot of waterfalls, or greenery here, nope no sir. Just lots and lots of weirdo rocks. My wilderness class decided to explore those rocks and spent 2 days in the park which was a great but tiring experience.

First, setting up the tent!

It has been AGES since I was camping so thankfully Marmot makes an idiot-proof tent to sent up, just 2 poles, regular dome structure and even color coding so you know how to put on the fly. Considering it was about 8 in the morning when I set up this tent, I needed all the color coding help I could get.

Then it was on to the day in which I learned all the basics of rock scrambling. Let me tell you friends, I was like a little baby goat out there, legs and arms all a whirling dervish trying to hang on to ledges and footholds, it was not a pretty site.

After lunch, the next thing was to put these skills into practice and go climb a peak. How did we get there? Well through a boulder filled gully of course!

It might have been only a mile or 2 but it took us a good 3-4 hours to navigate the gully and come up to what one could charitably call a flat spot.

I was scared during parts of it, tired during other parts and looked like I knew what I was doing for exactly 1% of the ascent.

Eventually the summit of 4377 came into view (I think JTree gave up on naming mountains and just named them after their elevations).

I wish I could tell you that I made it to the summit but I did not. My fear of exposed heights (heck just regular heights) kicked in and I decided to call the summit push at a place I felt comfortable. When I hike, I usually hike with a purpose and more often than not, it is to hike to a summit or distinguishable landmark. So while I fell short of my usual goal and was disappointed I could not join my classmates on the summit, I felt like I made the right decision for me because getting up the mountain is only half the battle, getting back down it is the other half.

Getting back down it you say? Well yes, we had to get back down and while the descent was not nearly as bad as the ascent, we had the extra challenge of doing it in the dark!

(those lights are part of our party coming down the mountain)

Once we got back to camp, we were all pretty beat up and things were made slightly easier on us with a backpacker potluck meal and a nice campfire.

The next morning we were back at it again with a day full of learning navigation and applying it to our surroundings. I know what I am doing on paper but applying it to the field was a whole 'nother challenge and my instructor Will really helped lock it in for me.

Then back on the bus and heading back to LA, sore but significantly challenged.

As some of you know, Joshua Tree is not my favorite of places but it sure does provide for some pretty pictures.

Overall if you attempt to hike in the Wonderland of Rocks, be sure you know what you are doing and make sure you budget enough time to do it in! Sure my muscles might be sore now but when I look back on these pics I will look back on them with fondness. Onward!


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