2017 wrapped up with a bang. I took off December 28 for 5 days in Joshua Tree, leaving early in the morning, and leaving the smell of smoke that still lingers in Ventura from the Thomas Fire. That first day of the trip my friend and I drove around looking for something fast to do to warm up on, and found ourselves on some deceptively easy looking, but actually pretty tough climbs in Echo Cove… which I ended up seeing in a guidebook as being 11b (which we would even argue was low for the right most climb). Other climbs done during the trip: Pope’s Crack, 4 routes on Poodle Cracks, Banana Cracks (the left one). The park was very crowded, this time period being popular, plus the weather was warmer than usual, hot in the sun, but still cool in the shade. The first few days, the crowds seemed to be mostly hikers/non climbers, but starting Friday we noticed routes/walls were busy as well.

This trip was unusual for me: I didn’t spend a single night in a tent (though I did use a sleeping bag one night in BLM land, and one night in the rustic accommodations we stayed at the second night of the trip). The trip was also unusual because the highlight wasn’t climbing every day like usual – two of the days we focused on hiking/scrambling/scouting instead of climbing. What was also unusual, but a real treat, was meeting up with a couple I haven’t seen in person in years! I know Christina from college days and she was on the Canadian Climbing Road Trip I went on many years ago. It was just her, our friend Jessica, and myself – 3 climbers out for adventure in British Columbia and Alberta (one day I’ll post about that trip). Matt, her husband, is also a climber/adventurer, and their 14 and 12 year old daughters climb now too. It was such fun to reminiscence and catch up! Sadly, we forgot to take a photo together!

Perhaps partly because of the need for me to summarize a lot of what’s happened to me in order to catch them up, I realized that the past few years, while truly having some very low, lows, also had some highs, and that things have been looking up again. So, goodbye 2017, you included some nice firsts for me: first time in Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Happy Boulders, Yosemite camping with just my sister and nieces with rain nearly every day of a five day trip — and many more experiences I’ll keep close. The unpleasant firsts of 2017 I’ll not list, but will learn and grow from them. 2018, look out!

See below for a slideshow or click here for the gallery page: