“I think I took the non-Non Drowsy allergy pills,” I said as my husband and I walked along looking for Future Games Rock in Joshua Tree National Park. The fact that I used a double negative should have alerted me at the time that my guess was correct. However, it wasn’t until I nearly fell asleep putting on my shoes was I really convinced that I had inadvertently sedated myself.
It had started because I had rolled down my window to take a photo of the windmills on the way to JTree. I had done that, got the shot, and then promptly started sneezing. My eyes started tearing up as well before the window had even sealed shut once again.
My allergies continued to bug me as we drove into the park and met up with Charlie and Diane Winger (authors of the fabulous guidebook, “The Trad Guide to Joshua Tree: 60 Favorite Climbs from 5.5 to 5.9“), met a group of their friends, and found a campsite in Jumbo Rocks. The allergies abated a little bit as the sun set so I did at least get to enjoy a short photo walk and the company of the Wingers and their friends around camp. I had originally “met” Diane when she first posted on the first iteration of the Rockgrrl.com forums, and then soon found ourselves chatting on Twitter as well before meeting and climbing for the first time last year in Joshua Tree.
Friday morning after a pancake breakfast Charlie and Diane cooked for everyone [and I added an allergy pill to my consumables] K and I set off to find climbs the Wingers had recommended called “Continuum” and “Invisibility Lessons”, ones we had not done before, so it was pretty fun to go to a new-to-us formation called Future Games Rock. There was no one around in the parking area when we arrived. It was pretty hot, the high was in the 90’s, and probably felt hotter than usual to K and I since it’d been awhile since we’d been doing any hot weather climbing. The wall we searched for was in the shade though, and turned out to be quite fun until the sun started to shine on it. Once that happened, we just weren’t feeling it so much. K had a tough time with a cam he’d set as part of an anchor he had set up for us to fool around on some other routes on the wall. When I came up to investigate (I got it out with a bit of finessing) I felt the full heat of the sun. I’d already experienced the drowsy putting on of rock shoes, so, when we got back to camp, supposedly just for a late lunch break, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that I ended up dozing off while sitting in a camp chair positioned in the meager shade from the lifted trunk of our car, or that K did the same after his one “lunch” beer.
I felt like quite the lazy climber when some of the Colorado crowd drove by our site and saw me still dozing in the chair, but I laughed it off. Sometimes you just don’t feel “on”, ya know? That night no one really roughed it though. Friends of the Wingers from California had arrived and apparently had brought a ton of food and generously shared it with everyone. There was salad, beans, garlic bread, and barbeque for all… and carrot cake for desert!
The next day K and I had been urged to find another climb we had not been to but was in the Winger’s book called “New Toy”, we chose it mainly because it would be in the shade, the temperature was even hotter than the other day. Diane and Charlie were going to meet us at the climb since they were striking camp and taking off for home due to a change in plans but wanted to see us before they left. Meanwhile though K and I set off to find the formation in the Stirrup Tanks area, following the directions in the trad book. On the dirt road to the parking area for this climb we spotted a tortoise in the road, which K easily avoided since we’d spotted it in advance. After some discussion, he put the car in reverse to go back to the turtle, which another vehicle had stopped for. Turns out it was a desert tortoise, a rare sighting of a species that used to be on the endangered list (it’s now listed as threatened). The group of guys in the truck took pictures and told us they planned to move him off of the road. I got some shots as well before they moved him. Then we all continued on, the turtle safely off of the road this time.
Turns out that group of guys was the only other group we saw out climbing that day. Charlie and Diane found us before we got to the base of “New Toy” and helpfully told us how we could throw our rope bag down a crack so we wouldn’t have to climb up to the belay again to retrieve it.
“New Toy” was fun and easy and the view was great. We were still pretty jazzed about seeing the tortoise when we topped out. I reflected that even though I’d been coming to Joshua Tree for many years, there was still something new to see.
Coming back to camp K and I contemplated the prediction we had heard of 120 degree weather for Sunday. K and I at first decided to spend the night and get one more climb in in the morning, but after some loud neighbors moved into the site next us, we decided to go home instead. We had the luxury of being close enough to Jtree to come again some other time.
It was an unusually short and hot Spring trip to Jtree but it still had its highlights. On the way to Josh we had stopped by the FiveTen Underground Outlet and K had gotten his early birthday presents (multiple pairs of climbing shoes); we got to meet up with Charlie and Diane again, and meet their fun friends; we had gotten to check out new-to-us climbing areas and climbs; had gotten to eat well; and, had seen a desert tortoise.
I can’t complain about that. Though, next time I’m making sure I bring the non-drowsy allergy stuff.