National Park #24: Joshua Tree, Day 3

Previous Day

Ever since our Zion NP trip, we’ve been talking about how some parks are “playgrounds” for adults.  Parks filled with those activities you loved to do as a kid but larger and grander.  Our last day at J-Tree would be a play-day.  Once we packed up camp, we headed for the Boy Scout Trailhead. (F)  This is the access route to most fantastically named climbing area I’ve ever visited… The Wonderland of Rocks!!  The specific area we were headed is Wonderland North, Middle Kingdom, Outer Mongolia. (E)  (Climbers kick ass at naming things.)  Most of the climbs at J-Tree are trad routes which restricted where Aly and I were could climb, since we’re sport climbers.

If you’re not familiar between the two styles of climbing read this for “trad” and this for “sport.”

Boy Scout Trail

Joshua Trees at the Boy Scout Trailhead

Not only are the climbs here epic but the approach could be a day’s adventure on its own.  As you walk through the expanse of flat earth spotted with scrub and Joshua Trees, you can see the large boulder forms in the distance.  The monolithic rocks are so prominent as you’re walking that it’s almost difficult to understand their scale.  Once at their base, Aly and I began scrambling up to our route.  The boulderfield is a great scale to practice all sorts of climbing maneuvers without the knowledge and gear of vertical rock climbing.  I wished we had more time to go back to this area and make a full circle of Outer Mongolia, just scrambling at the base.  Once we got to our route, we laid out our gear and stretched out.  I’m usually better at cleaning routes (the last person on a route, their job is to take down all the gear to leave nothing behind) so leading is Aly’s responsibility.  She did a marvelous job on a tougher-than-its-rating 5.9.  In all, we climbing 3 routes in the Wonderland area and enjoyed great views of the area where the Colorado and Mojave desert systems meet.  Sweaty, with chewed up fingers and nicked up knees we hiked back to our car.

Outer Mongolia Scrambling

Alison scrambling on boulders in Outer Mongolia

Alison Leading

Aly’s first outdoor send!!

Belay Shot

Me, cleaning the route

View From the Top 2

View from the top… this is why we climb (click to enlarge)

To say this park left us wanting more would be an understatement.  I’m not sure a full week or two would have been enough to satiate us.  While no park can ever be fully experienced in a short visit, many parks we go to and they feel like an end unto themselves; we’re there and we satisfyingly cross it off the list.  Alison has the stamp in her national park passport book that says we’ve been to Joshua Tree but, I don’t think either of us feels like we’ve experienced everything we want to in the remarkable desert wilderness of Southern California.

24 National Parks visited… Climb on!!

Joshua Tree NP

Click for the full Joshua Tree album!!!

Even though we were climbing, you can’t turn the birder inside off…
My eBird Checklist: Hike to Outer Mongolia

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