Joshua tree is a plant, a town and a climbing paradise.
Joshua, the Plant
Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) was named by a group of Mormon settlers who were crossing Mojave desert in 19th century; it reminded them of a biblical story, where Joshua reaches his hands up in the sky for prayer.
It populates arid soils of Southwestern parts of North America in states of California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. Mojave desert and the Joshua Tree National Park (as the name suggests) is very abundant with these groovy trees.
They grow very fast for a desert plant – up to ¬8cm a year the first years, and have an extensive root system (up to 11m in radius), as one might expect. It lives for hundreds of years, a few are even know to survive thousands of years. Talking about resilience …
Joshua, the Town
Before entering the Joshua Tree National Park, there is a small cozy town – Joshua Tree with a few organic cafes, and food product shops, a laundromat and a library. Library has WiFi, and cafes have divine smoothies – all that I need from civilization. We did our laundry, which was very exciting. A plump and smiley lady, who looked like the Godmother of the place, gave us a sachet of detergent and nodded approvingly. Chills went down my spine from the intensity.
As we arrived to Joshua town, got all our stuff sorted it was already afternoon. Heading into National Park we got turned around by the National Park check point people – apparently the campsite is super full, and “they don’t know where all these people are coming from”. We got pointed to the overflow “campsite”. After driving a few miles outside town, we made a turn into the fields basically. The dirt road we were on kept on getting worse, and after 10 minutes of driving in a straight line through empty fields we swallowed some Fuckitol tablets, and parked behind a slightly larger shrubbery.
Joshua, the Climbing Paradise
In the morning we packed early, and were already at the campsite, when people were crawling out of their tents, and sipping their coffees.
We drove around in circles looking for a free spot, and luckily these two cool dudes, where just leaving, and we took their site. They also left us some food and goodies 😉 Joshua Tree provides you with all.
We spent the day just climbing random things, and barely even checking the grades. We just had one day, and wanted to chill and enjoy the vibe of the place. Imagine a large flat desert land decorated with bizarre trees, unusual rock formations, with a small community of super relaxed chill rock people. No water, but lots of sun.
We mainly did easy looking routes, but it was indeed very enjoyable. Really good grippy, high friction rock, and countless routes.
Unfortunately I cannot tell much about the routes – did so few of them, and only around the campsite. That was the saddest part of my US trip – I saw so many exciting places, got to touch so much amazing climbing, but did not have time to stay anywhere properly – imagine have a taste of the most amazing meal, and not even being able to have a proper bite.
Happy people below
Be One with the Tree
Being silly people that we are, we spent a few good hours playing around in the cool Joshua Tree landscape…
As the evening set, the sky gave us a proper color show – from light pink and purple tones to green-like yellows and deep greys. As the valley descended into the darkness, all we could see was the outlines of the Joshua trees, and beautiful rock lit up by the moonlight.
That got me into thinking that so many extraordinary places I would have not seen, if not chasing rock across the planet.
Being a rock climber has taught me to see the texture, the lines the shapes of rocks and mountains. I do not just remember how the landscape looked, I remember how it felt to touch, how solid and featured it was .. how cold and wet it got in ran and what was the smell of the dirt on the ground … Rock climbing teaches you to be respectful and attentive. It teaches you to be slow and patient, adjusting and learning about place.
And here is our version of the Biblical Joshua reaching his hands up for a prayer – a scruffy climber, hands still taped after a long day of jamming, hair all tousled, clothes ripped and covered in chalk, face – happy and tanned. Tired, yet passionate, he is reaching his hands up to the moon and the sky, embracing the rocks that give him the grounding and elevation. If that is not a bliss, I don’t know what is.
We departed early the next morning, and drove all the way to LA, where I caught by a good friend of mine, I met in Squamish campsite. After stuffing ourselves with food, we slept like drunk babies, and the next morning I caught my plain to Hawaii …
I know, life’s good.
Excellent read! You are certainly getting us excited for our US climbing trip! You are so right how our hobby takes us to places we would never have known existed! Looking forward to your next installment. Sarah