Joshua Tree on Film

I bought a disposable camera before my trip to Joshua Tree in January.

This turned out to be a pretty good decision, as the cold of the California high desert killed my phone battery. So, while my climbing partner Jose had a high-end DSLR to take as many photos as he wanted (and they are great), I was limited to shooting on film.

I had only 24 exposures for more than three weeks on the road. That meant I didn’t take a lot of them, but every photo I do have is sincere. In addition to the prints, they gave me digital copies of all my photos, too.

Check them out, below the jump.

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The Free Soloist

Joshua Tree California

No lo permitiremos para quedar, I tell my climbing partner, Jose. We’re not going to let him stay.   

He nods, voices his assent in Spanish as we pull up to our site in Hidden Valley Campground, in Joshua Tree National Park. Hidden Valley Campground is the center of the Joshua Tree climbing scene, and on a Friday night, the place is swamped with after-work weekend warriors heading out from Los Angeles and San Diego.

Twenty-four million people live in Southern California. The 42 camping sites in Hidden Valley aren’t nearly enough to handle the demand. Luckily, Jose and I had arrived early and staked our claim.

Still, when we returned from town, we found a minivan parked in our campsite. The campsite could accommodate two vehicles, and we had only one. Graciously, the interloper had left space for us to park. Still, I wasn’t in the mood for company. We’re not going to let him stay, I told Jose.

Immediately after we’d parked, a young man walked up to the driver’s side window, and started to plead his case. Before he had time to get two sentences out, Jose interrupted him: “Yeah man, you can stay.”

Awesome! he said. Thanks guys. I’m gonna run off and try this boulder!

And he was gone.

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The Things I Saw in Joshua Tree National Park During the US Government Shutdown

J-Tree at Sunset

Joshua Tree was in the news a lot during December and early January, thanks to the US government shutdown. And if the Congress fails to reach a more permanent agreement by Feb 15, the government will shut down anew — and Joshua Tree may be in the news once again.

Why was Joshua Tree in the news?

A number of articles seemed to put forth the narrative that without US government workers to safeguard the land, irresponsible users were utterly consuming and destroying the park.

I’m an avid outdoorsperson and a huge advocate of Leave No Trace principles. I believe our public lands need to be protected and preserved for future generations.

But I’ve also spent the last few years working in online media, and have built a pretty healthy distrust for blindly accepting ‘reporting’. Here’s why:

  1. The media always has an agenda — and any given story is framed to advance that agenda. Sometimes this is done intentionally, sometimes it enters the writing unconsciously. But it’s always there.
  2. Reporters rarely have the time and resources to actually investigate their stories. In most cases, outlets simply parrot what the other sources are saying — resulting in a million versions of the same story, all based on the same dubious source. For example: the above photo of a Joshua Tree that was allegedly chopped down during the government shutdown (widely shared) turned out to be of a tree which had fallen down PRIOR to the shutdown

So, I’m not saying it’s all “fake news”. But I am saying, you should measure what the news says up against independent observers and expert voices.

I’m no expert, but I was observing Joshua Tree during the shutdown. 

And in my experience, people were being caring and respectful.

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Climbing Hidden Valley Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Hey all, I just got back from a pair of trips: a climbing trip to Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California; and a long-weekend of ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado.

Words are forthcoming about both ventures, but for now, I just wanted to share some photos my climbing partner Jose took while we were in J-Tree.

I brought all the climbing toys, and Jose brought his photography toys. Let me tell you — it pays to adventure with a professional photographer! It makes a biiiiig difference to have someone who knows what they’re doing along! (and someone who has all the expensive lenses, hehe).

Check out some of his best shots of Hidden Valley Campground, below.

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