Why I’m Not Stressed About This Climbing Trip To Joshua Tree

Sitting in a Starbucks on some seemingly random street in Fresno, Moby is pumping through the speakers and the two guys next to me are laughing loud.  My phone keeps lighting up with incoming direct messages on Twitter and my email inbox is growing with conversations from across the US.  I’m meeting one friend, being introduced to another and picking up a third at the airport around midnight.  I got into town about 40 minutes ago.  I’ve never been here before and we’ll be leaving early in the morning for the 6 hour drive.

I have a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, a couple changes of clothes and a spork in the trunk of a car I borrowed from a friend in San Francisco yesterday.  I also have my climbing harness, shoes, chalkbag and about 13 quickdraws packed.  And my helmet.  And that’s it.

I’m heading to Joshua Tree National Park tomorrow to spend three days rock climbing with some strangers and a bunch of friends.  Things I don’t have at this point in the game:

  • Food
  • Water
  • A tent (arriving from Pennsylvania)
  • A sense of direction now that the sun went down
  • Cookware or a stove (arriving from Washington)
  • Cash
  • A rope or sufficient equipment to build a climbing anchor

This situation in the past would have freaked me the hell out.  I used to have to have everything in line before a trip like this.  My first climbing trip this year included a bag that weighed 97lbs and cost me $40 each way to check.  This time I only brought carry-on bags, enough room for those things mentioned and my trusty camera equipment.

And yet, I’m not stressed in the least.

A huge part of my lack of stress is the great climbing community I’m going to be a part of.  I’m not a total mooch and I don’t normally travel this way, but in an attempt to save money I cut corners (the flight was taken with frequent flier miles).  I’m relying heavily on friends to help me make this trip happen.  I borrowed a car from Travis in San Fran and I stayed with my friends Liz and Jesse last night.  I rode public transit from my home to downtown San Francisco (except the airplane part) for total cost of $16.25, paid entirely in quarters from my change jar.

I know I’m heading to a place where I need not worry about not having enough.  No rope, no climbing protection, no guidebook?  It won’t matter.  I’ve climbed with a lot of these folks before and the others I’ve known online.  I know they are loving, giving and fun folks to hang out with.  I know they all know how to camp and that I can borrow what I need this time around.  Maybe next time I’ll have more of my act together and be able to offer more.  Maybe I won’t.

But I don’t think it really matters to most.  Short of actually stealing gear and selling it on eBay, the climbing community that I’m involved with is inviting and forgiving.  There is a lot of give and take and helping each other out.  It’s not some magical Utpoia, but it is a community populated with great folks who I trust my life with (mostly :)).

I’m looking forward to catching up in person, hitting new routes and, at the end of the day, sitting around a campfire (someone brought wood, right?)(and I need a chair).

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