Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park

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(Did you know it’s the Centennial Celebration of the National Parks? It is! The National Parks Service is officially celebrating their 100th birthday on August 25th. I absolutely love and respect the National Park Service and plan on doing a whole bunch of National Park posts this month. Check out my last posts about Rocky Mountain and Arches. Next up is this one, Joshua Tree National Park….)

Back in January, way at the beginning of the year, my boyfriend and I got the chance to take a two-week vacation and go on a road trip. We chose California, with the main goal to climb Mt. Whitney (because it’s my name, duh). While we did not summit Mt. Whitney (and a whole different story), we got to venture and explore some other places on our way to and from home.

Attempting Mt. Whitney

Attempting Mt. Whitney

On our way back towards Golden, CO we stopped for a few nights to camp and climb in Joshua Tree National Park. All climbers LOVE it here, supposedly. I wrote a little bit about it when I first returned home from that trip here.

Joshua Tree was a really cool place to visit. The scenery, plants and animals is so different from anything I had ever seen. I loved it and wanted to take a million pictures.

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We visited in January which meant it wasn’t that hot in the desert. In fact, it was a bit chilly which made it really hard for me to climb. (If you are a climber and are reading this, please keep in mind I am sorta new to climbing and a bit of a pansy. I don’t like cold hands).

We had a couple of days to get in some climbing but was thwarted with the cold weather, rain, and difficulty of climbing. I cried a lot of tears as we kept reaching different challenges (including a super stressful down climb).

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Climbing in Joshua Tree is old school. All the routes are way more difficult than they are rated in the guide books, the rock is rough and feels like sand paper, there are not a lot of rappel loops to get off the rock (meaning you have down climb the back sides of routes) and there’s mostly crack climbing, which is not fun for a beginner. Picture wedging your toes and hands between two giant rocks and using those appendages to pull yourself up. Yes, it hurts.

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We camped at the south end of the park which meant that we got to drive through the beautiful sights every time we went to a climbing area. Joshua tree is characterized for the giant rocks (sometimes looking like a giant kid piled them up) and for the actual Joshua Tree plants that grow there.  All of these characteristics offer great photographic opportunities (and me wishing I had a better camera).

Some of my favorite things:

-The Cholla Cactus Garden: these cool, super pointy cacti that grew only in one section of the basin in the park.

Cholla cactus

Cholla cactus

-Skull Rock: Literally as it sounds; a rock that is in the shape of a skull.

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-Indian Cove: a ton of climbing!

This is the main views of Indian Cove.

This is the main views of Indian Cove.

Getting there:

  • Enter the park from the south side off of I-10 or the north side off of HW 62
  • Park Website

Tips:

  • A smaller National Park but with a lot of things to see. If you are just a sight-seer, you could totally make a great one day trip out this place.
  • Climbers: you could spend a week (or more) climbing all that Joshua Tree has to offer!
  • Tape your hands, if you’re going to climb. 😉 (A little bit of an inside joke between my boyfriend and I. We’ll see if he catches it).

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Tiger Trot 15K – Post Race Recap!

Ok, ok, I know, I didn’t do a Pre Race Review…but, SURPRISE!!! I can now cross Kansas off my list!!!

Racing The States goes all the way to….Kansas!!

The Trip:

It was sort of a last minute decision. I have my calendar on my computer with a BUNCH of different races I could do or want to do…. a couple weeks ago, I saw I had added this one and finally decided: Ok, I’ll make the drive to Kansas. It was an 8ish hour drive to Wichita, one that I was not able to make all at once.

I got off work at 2:30 Saturday afternoon and had originally planned on leaving no later than 3. However, when my “driving buddy” backed out on me, I knew I had to plan a little better. Reason being, if I didn’t make it all the way to my friend’s house that night, I would need a shower pre-drive so that I wouldn’t be SUPER gross on the way home. I also had to account for more coffee in my diet since I had no one to talk to/keep me awake plus a few other logistical things that took me a bit to figure out. I ended up leaving Colorado at 4pm. Not taking into account the time change, I had to text my friend that so graciously offered me to stay at her place, “thanks for the offer to crash, but I will not make it there at any reasonable hour.”

I originally had planned to stay with a girl I met at the Wild West Relay who lives about an hour from the race. Free place to stay? Done! And the hour drive in the morning would have been a good chance to wake up prior to running. Well, besides the fact that I wouldn’t have made it at a reasonable hour to accept her offer, driving safely was becoming a problem as the hours wore on.

As soon at I got off I-70 to head south through Salina, I was not driving safely at all! I was only about an hour and half form Wichita (where the race was) and I would have just stayed at a cheap hotel close to the race site, but smartly, I pulled over into a rest stop and slept. Knowing I would have to complete the drive in the morning, I set my alarm, pulled my car blanket over me, and shut my eyes.

My alarm went off before the sun even rose and all I had to do was put my seat in the upright position and start the car. Luckily for me, I’m really good at changing and eating in the car all while following directions on my phone (this might also be signs I’m a bad driver…but you do whatcha gotta do when you’re driving by yourself). I made it to the race head with 30 minutes to spare; enough time to pick up my race packet, go to the bathroom and stretch.

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Good morning!!!

The Run:

FANTASTIC run!!! I had a great run! I completed the 15K (9.3 miles) in 1:22:29.9, I’m not setting any records here, but I felt accomplished with this time, especially because I was just using it as a training run. I started off the run slowly because I didn’t get a chance to warm up very well, using the first mile or so to loosen up. At mile 3, I was slowly passed by two men with a garmin that was making all sorts of noise.

The starting line.

They first commented on the runners going the other way (by then the first men and women had already hit the turn around and were crossing paths with us). One man made a joke about how they weren’t having any fun running that fast. I chimed in and said, “yeah, it’s us over here having all the fun” and then throwing in…”were not competing, were training.” Since they laughed at my comment, I started to keep pace with them. The chime on his Garmin was signaling that we were under an 8:30 pace! This really excited me, so I decided to stick with them for as long as I could stand it. We chatted about their lives and what they did for a living and I told them I was from Colorado and about my running goals.

I stuck with them until about mile 7, but kept them in site for the remaining of the run as motivation. I finished strong, although I did feel a little alone because no one was there at the finish line for me or running with me…I think this might have been the first race I’ve done without any company.

Proudly wearing my race shirt after the race!

The Event:

Also FANTASTIC! Well put together. The money went to the Tanganyika Wildlife Park…so of course, I was well on board with this race from the beginning!

Super organized from start to finish. The course was well marked. There was enough water stations and people to direct you where every you needed to go. At the end there was booth that you could give them your bib number and they instantly printed your time along with finishing position and pace. Super awesome! The volunteers were awesome, I spent some time chatting with one of them; and the place was easy to find with plenty of parking. Well accommodating for the 700+ participants (there was a 5K as well).

Is that not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?????

I wandered around the park to “cool down” instead of immediately getting in my car and sitting for 8 hours. It was a small wildlife park, but really interactive. They monkey habits were on islands surrounded by water, but no fences between any of it. You could walk right up and touch the giraffes, tortoises, and kangaroos (which are super soft btw). There was also apparently a place where you could get your picture with some lemurs as well, but either I did not find it (cause you know I would have been all over that) or they didn’t have it set up because of the event. The rest of the exhibits were wonderful as well and the animals all looked very happy.

Pretty cool animal habitats, huh?

By the time I was done meandering, they were giving out the place awards as well as doing the raffle. I did not place (obviously or this would be a very different post) nor did I win any prize (which they gave out for last/first to register, last to finish, most pained expression at the finish line, etc) but they did have a sock throw at the end….and believe me they were clean socks…or you would have seen me sprinting as fast as I could in the opposite direction. I managed to catch a pair of the clean socks that had the Tiger Trot logo printed on them.

I’ve gotten shirts, headbands, medals and water bottles from races, but never a pair of socks. Do I wear them or display with my other race goodies??? Would that be awkward to have socks displayed or a dinner conversation starter (keeping in mind, I HATE feet – and that’s an understatement)???