Rock Hard

(4/10/07) Photo Credits: Jeff C, Jeff H, Glen O

I really think Andy was an ox in a past life. So I was over-joyed when he volunteered to help me carry 120 lbs of food and water to our cache site Friday night. That night we car camped with two new members, Larry and Nathan. Nathan drove all the way from Scottsdale, Arizona for our adventure through Joshua Tree National Park's Wonderland of Rocks.

The following morning we woke to the sound of the car camp children's zoo and hooked up with the rest of our crew. The weather couldn't have been better. Cool enough to hike, yet warm enough to take the shirts off. We camped at a fantastic location near Key's Peak. That afternoon we climbed up to Key's and enjoyed the spectacular panoramic views of Joshua Tree and beyond. I was surprised to even find a couple benchmarks and a registry at the top.

I brought the party tarp. And party we did. Some a little more than others... It was one festive extended happy hour. Jeff entertained us by dismembering his arm and leg and reattaching the leg to his shoulder. For dinner we delighted in one of Perfect Pace's signature entrees, Southern Thai Ginger Chicken and Rice and finished off with Andy's famous desert bars.

But what is a party without glow sticks. Yes, we we're adorned with a parade of color that evening thanks again to Andy. The night ensued with a delicious round of Perfect Pace questions. Okay, I'll admit the questions we're a little over the top... hehe (Hey, life is short. And of course, what happens on the mountain stays on the mountain.)

The following morning, we climbed back up Key's Peak to watch a breathtaking sunrise. And then we began our arduous journey through the Wonderland of Rocks.

I knew the Wonderland or Rocks traverse would be a difficult trip after spraining my ankle and getting lost in my scout trip. I did a second scout trip to ensure I didn't lead folks into an early grave. On that scout I navigated correctly, but realized it was even more difficult than my first lost route.

The route we chose was even more challenging. All of us had at least one "Oh Shit!" moment. This trip is now our new Perfect Pace standard for technical rating. A few folks turned back. Some of us had panic attacks. Some came out bloody. Buzzards flew overhead. Snakes slithered near our feet. Skeletons revealed themselves along the trail. I kid you not. Check out the album. And we we're all pretty much out of water...

But, not only did we come out of it in one piece, we we're able to take something home with us -- a higher level of self-confidence, a stronger bond of trust with each other, and a ever-resounding Perfect Pace pride.