While at a conference not long ago, I had an opportunity to make a quick excursion to Joshua Tree National Park. I first learned about the place when I was in my early 20’s and getting into rock climbing. The park was a playground for some of the world’s best climbers who loved to show others just how far they were willing to go climbing hard routes without ropes. One of the superstars of the time was John Bachar, a fitness fanatic most known for his free soloing career until 2009, when he died doing what he loved best. In the early 1980;s he posted a note saying he would pay anyone $10,000 if they followed him around for one day, but of course no one at the time was crazy enough to free climb where he did, so the money safely stayed in the bank.
On my quick visit I had hoped to see some climbers, but could not get there until dusk – so none were around. I drove slowly through the park for miles, enjoying my solitude in the desert until a pack of coyotes came out to hunt along the side of the road. I dimmed my lights and drove even slower for perhaps an hour, watching them work. I know they knew I was there, but they seemed to not care, probably used to tourists. I wish I could have camped under the moonlight, but instead had a long drive back to my conference. Next time this will definitely be a family trip!