Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Photo Essay: The Climb

South Park Peak Bench at South Park Peak

If you can't see the world with new eyes, it's a good idea to change the position from which you see the world.

I traded New York City for California - and not just another big city, but the California desert. It's given me a little perspective on the city I left behind, and more importantly, who I am when I'm there.

Now that I'm in Joshua Tree, I often trade the Hi-Desert for an even higher elevation, climbing some crater or canyon or mountain to get a good look at the settlements and wilderness below.

South Park Peak register Register at South Park Peak
And when I climb, I pace myself. I only travel a mile or two, make an elevation change of two or three hundred feet. It means I can really get somewhere, get back to where I started, and still feel like I've done or seen something.

High View Nature Trail Register at High View Nature Trail
Better still is when I know there's a respite from the sun and heat waiting for me, a green oasis from my fatigue and fears.

49 Palms Oasis 49 Palms Oasis

I lean over railings and benches and overlooks without a barrier, trying not to fall.
Yucca Ridge Trail Yucca Ridge Trail

I drive my car in circles up mountains and canyons, leaning to the side in the spinning centrifuge, craning my neck to see the head-on collision before it comes around a blind curve.

Palm Canyon Palm Canyon access road
And then sometimes I hit a road block that's been cleared - just wide enough for me to get through. I stop and take a picture of it first so I can remember what I drove through. I duck my head down instinctively, though my car has low enough clearance to avoid scraping its roof against the narrowing rocks above. When I'm mid-way through, I pause as the rocks block the sun and it gets a little darker and a little cooler in my car. I giggle once I've cleared it.

The road leads up to a canyon and is the only road that leads out. When I drive back through the rock clearing, it passes more quickly and more brightly than the first time. Or maybe it just looks that way from the reverse standpoint?