2014 Joshua Tree Rock Climbing Trip Report

February 16-17, 2014

Donald N.

We started off our trip by meeting at Carl’s Jr at about 8 in the morning, to avoid traffic. Mr. Mier y Teran explained what we would be doing on our trip to Joshua tree. We left and it took about 2 hours to get there. But before we got there we all stopped at a sit down breakfast restaurant for brunch. We then arrived at our campsite at about noon. Then we all set up our tents and supplies. I was with the Luoma brothers, using Taco’s extra tent as mine. We all sat and relaxed and played with some cards and right before the sun went down we went on a quick hike. It was about a 4 mile hike, nothing hard. It was a steady incline and decline in elevation with an amazing view of the nearby town. Then Mrs. Ohashi directed me and some boys to make dinner. It included spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, but for cracker-barrel we had cup of noodles and hot chocolate. Afterwards we enjoyed a campfire with a few games of Mafia before we went to bed. Sleeping for once actually wasn’t that bad, because we had to wake up at 6 in the morning. So we all packed our tents and supplies while having a quick breakfast. We quickly hung a shirt with an American Flag and put our class A’s on for the morning flag ceremony. We then left our campsites for a 30-minute drive to our rock climbing destination. We received all of our gear including helmets, shoes, and harness. Then the boys learned the basics of climbing and made 3 new knots. It was the water knot, double fisherman knot, and the wrapped figure 8 knot we used when we actually climbed. All of us had to climb, repel, and blear 3 times to achieve our merit badge. All of the boys accomplished it with lots of fun and excitement. Towards noon we had sandwiches and chips for lunch. We ended the trip with me and Andy Luoma racing to the top of the hill. Of course I won but we all had a great time. We handed in our gear and got our blue cards back. Then we took back to the road to get back to the Irvine Carl’s Jr. In my opinion I thought the whole trip was great fun and I really enjoyed this time.

Trip report from an adults perspective . . .

The trip started with a beautiful and sunny Sunday morning. Keeping with Troop 606 tradition, families gathering at the parking lot behind Carl’s Jr. at 8:30 am. Once gear was packed and scouts divided into 4 cars and two leaders and the fifth, a total of 12 scouts and nine leaders hit the road. The caravan arrived at John’s Place in Yucca Valley to stretch the legs and in the need of sustenance. Once bellies were full we headed down the road to Black Rock Campground and set up camp. After a quick rest, it was decided to take a hike through the campground. The “Short Hike Trail” was agreed upon, which was supposed to be 3 ½ miles long. Being the true Scouts that we are, and a quick side trail to find the real trial head, we managed to turn a 3 1/2 half mile hike into a 2 and hour, five mile adventure. We returned to camp to test a theory, “How many scouts does it take to make as spaghetti, meatballs, garlic cheese bread and a salad?” For the record, 8 scouts. And that is literally too many hands in the pot. We did manage to discover the reason why it takes so many Scouts to cook a meal . . . no one wanted to do KP. After dinner we had a great, roaring camp fire. While the Scouts told a few jokes and played a few games, the adults managed to do some star gazing and identify Ursa Major and Minor, Polaris, Drago, Leo and Taurus, with the possibility of a planet or two. The Full moon rose and out came the hot chocolate and the Cup Of Noodles. Scouts were sent to bed because 6:00am was approaching quickly and we were going to have a busy day on Monday. Morning came early and the rush to tear down camp and get breakfast by 8:00 am was upon us. We were able to break camp and after a 30-minute drive, we were able to meet our guides, Sue, Steve and Kathy right on Scouting Time (8:45). Scouts were sized up with shoes and helmets and we did a quick “scramble” on some small rocks to get our “footing.” We then completed the “class” portion by tying the water knot, figure eight, figure eight follow through and the double fisherman’s knot. The rest of the day was spent climbing the rocks. Three stations of about a 40-50 foot climb faced the scouts next. It did take a couple Scouts time to get their climbing legs on, but not long. After a quick lunch of sandwiches every scout was climbing the rocks with speed and accuracy. Three adults joined in and were able to get in multiple climbs. All Scouts managed to climb at least three times and repelled back down three times by 4:00 PM. This allowed us to hit the road and deal with California traffic on the way back home. No major injuries occurred and only 2 cacti incidents. Lessons of “do not use your thumb to knock a cactus briar off the tennis ball,” and “watch where you are running,” were learned. All scouts and parents were able to enjoy the beauty that is Joshua Tree National Park, and all Scouts were successful in achieving their Climbing Merit Badge.

-- Jeffrey A. Simancek

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