Camping, Rock Climbing, Skiing, oh my! [Part 3]

23 01 2006

Day two at Joshua Tree involved more climbing, except that this time I was able to get properly involved using my new gear. 🙂 We went to a site called “Trashcan Rock” and did two climbs; “Tiptoe” and “Cranny”. Tiptoe was just a little beyond my abilities. There were two thin parallel strips of rock leading up the most vertical part of the climb and to ascend successfully you really had to trust in the grippiness of your shoes, which I just didn’t have confidence in yet.

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Tiptoe – notice the parallel slivers of rock

Cranny was just awesome fun though! Climbing it demanded using a move called a “layback” (different to the ‘move’ you learn in your local university pub) which you can see me demonstrating with grace here:

Matt in a layback

The whole idea is that you use your downward-pulling weight to lock yourself into a sizeable crack in the rock. It’s very effective but tiring on the arms.

Unfortunately the weather closed in a little after these climbs. It became overcast and very lightly drizzelled. Wet rocks are extraordinarily challenging to climb! Hardened rock climbers that we are, we decided to go into town for a coffee.

On the way Yenyi convinced Jason and I to stop off at a man-made dam in the area which, many years ago, supported life in this barren desert. Pretty cool seeing a little lake in such a dry area.

Lake in a desert

(Sorry for the really crappy photo – the light was flat and boring. But at least you get the idea!)

Soon after we were moving again Yenyi let out a squeal – “Stop the car!”. Jase quickly pulled over as Yenyi quickly explained that she thought she saw something “at the top of the mountain over there”. It was a “Bighorn“. Damned if I know how she saw it out of a car travelling close to 100 clicks… Anyway I whipped out my camera and got as close to the overgrown sheep with the biggest zoom I had (200mm). The creature was still a fair way off when I took a couple of photos. Soon after it bolted, I’m pretty sure it sensed or saw me even though the winds were blowing from the side.

Bighorn, from a distance

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Zoomed in and cropped

Still, it was an amazing sight. There were actually two of the animals (I didn’t catch the second one which was mostly behind that rock) and watching them dance over the rocks was breathtaking.

After coffee (surprisingly good by American standards) and another stop to buy more climbing gear (just an ATC and some rope to form a Prusik Loop with a double fishermans knot) we were treated to another beautiful sunset, though we couldn’t enjoy it from any vantage point.

Sunsets are just magnificent in Joshua Tree

Heading back to camp we found food a-cookin’ for us, once again prepared by Dan. The pasta and sauce he made were delicious. I’ll camp with Dan anytime!

Rob had also brought a couple of guests to the campfire (which was thankfully more significant this night!). He had hiked to “Ryan’s Lookout”, a nearby vantage point overlooking the entire valley and was there during the sunset (I need to see these photos Rob!). He met two women there, Tara and Merissa, enjoying the view. Being the friendly guy he is, he offerred to take their photo for them.

Only Rob could tell this story without sounding dodgey. 😉

There were good campfire companions, good storytellers. Merissa had one quote in particular that I want to share; she was explaining that a friend of hers in Alaska (I think) was bemoaning the fact that it was hard to find interesting men despite the four-to-one difference in gender. Her friend told her that “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.” Hehe, I lost it!




One response

23 01 2006

Camping, HIKING, skiing – same advantages, none of the stupid risk.
After a friend of mine cracked open his head and tore the dura (? – the internal membrane that protects the brain) doing this I figure if you want the exertion do it indoors.
Great pics though Matt. Live it up.

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