Pushing the Limits in Joshua Tree

After working in depth with the environment and wildlife, Thursday was dedicated to experiencing the more touristy side of Joshua Tree National Park, either through rock climbing or a tour of the historical Keys Ranch. Needing to understand better what possesses hundreds of rock climbers every year to scale steep piles of rock in the middle of the Mojave Desert, I decided to go with rock climbing.

I feel like part of what makes rock climbing the intense experience it can be is an unexpected balance of fears. Yes, staring up the smooth rock face I could feel my stomach clench with apprehension, despite the instructor’s constant motto of “You will not fall. Only slip.” (At the time, this was somehow less reassuring than it sounds.)

However, even worse is the fear of “what if.” Five years in the future, I want to remember trying (and yes, even failing) opposed to wondering if I could have successfully climbed a certain route, and if so, why didn’t I.

Everyone did an amazing job of just going for it and supporting others. I know that personally I wouldn’t have climbed the routes I did if I hadn’t watched my fellow SCA volunteers tackle their fears and push their limits.

Nighttime was a significant change of pace, as we gathered in the sand after dinner for star gazing.

Living in Los Angeles, any stars that are seen usually turn out to be airplanes, so simply staring into the night sky was an experience in itself. Laser pointer tracing out the stories and characters passed down through years of human history, SCA leaders Tyler and Peter introduced us to a new way of looking at the night sky. Knowledge like this is fascinating, it makes you aware of how insignificant an individual is in the greater scheme of time and space, yet seeing the stars with these stories makes you feel connected in a way you were not before.

Tomorrow will be the final work day, it is amazing how fast yet full of memories this week has been.