I chaperoned my daughter's sixth grade class trip to Joshua Tree National Park. We camped in the desert.
The highlight of the trip was the boulder pile. The geography of Joshua Tree is characterized by giant rock ridges that look as if boulders were dropped from the sky to create mountains of stone that line the desert floor. The rocks are rust colored and contrast sharply with the clear blue sky.
We climbed the boulder pile from within, starting at the bottom and making our way through the various passages and rooms created in the spaces between the boulders to the top where emerged high above the desert floor. Some passages were merely the small space between the bottom of an enormous rock and the ground below it. I snaked through on my side, pushing and pulling my body with my feet, my hands, my abdominal muscles. Narrow passages would open up to "rooms" where a shaft of sunlight entering through a high gap in the boulders above illuminated the quartz crystals in the surrounding rock so that the space gently sparkled. It took every bit of my strength and flexibility to pull my way out of rooms that had no obvious exit. More than once, I leveraged my rear against one rock, my feet stretched out to a rock in front of me, and my arms outstretched to rocks next to me, so I could perform a crab-like backward scoot up the rock until I could make it up and over the rock in front of me.
Every single girl on the trip made it all the way through the boulder pile. I was so proud of the girls who worked together to overcome claustrophobia, fear of falling, self-doubt and spider webs to help each other through the course. I was also proud of myself for making it all the way through. I was not afraid, but there were moments that I was concerned about my physical ability to do the climb. (I was particularly concerned that my big fat rear end would not fit through some of the narrow passages we had to make our way through.) I joke with Tony the trainer about being the strongest middle aged mother of two in the Valley. But I don't think it's a joke. . .I really am strong. This opportunity to successfully test my strength made this one of my life's most profound experiences. I can't wait for my next wilderness adventure!