Cornerlands – Joshua Tree

 

We had just returned from our stay in Poipu Beach, a bit jet-lagged and the kids’ sleep schedules very much out of whack, when Ben asked if we’d be interested in joining them for a night or two at Cornerlands, a beautiful house near Joshua Tree.  At the risk of sounding like a spoiled brat, I determined that yes, we could rally and join them.  I was still recovering from the flight back from Kauai, which involved a delightful spray of Kalani barf.

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“Cornerlands” in Yucca Valley, mere minutes from the Park entrance

We drove out on Saturday morning and were welcomed by crisp blue skies.  The weather was brisk and beautiful, which made getting into the Park a bit of a hassle (20 minute line).  Ben rented a pair of rock shoes at Nomad Ventures while I perused their sticker selection for my new Space Trailer, which arrived the day before.

Space Trailer

Space Trailer

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Jasmine and Stacy hauling their little parasites, near Split Rock

I had done a bit of research on Mountain Project before leaving- I wanted to find a fun climb that we would both enjoy.  A local classic called The Eye in Hidden Valley immediately jumped to mind, and after checking out the beta, it looked like the perfect route.  Originally rated 5.1, it has since been upgraded to 5.4 in most modern guides.  This being Joshua Tree, that puts it somewhere in the 5.6-5.7 range, if you want to compare it to a typical gym route.

I wasn’t sure if Ben had ever lead belayed before (almost positive he hadn’t), so I wanted to climb something that I’d feel confident on.  Forty feet up the line, I was reminded that the relationship between grade and confidence are rarely linear, and would be better described as a squiggly curve.  Little things, like the fact that my shoes had just been resoled, started to bother me. My numb fingers, and having my wife and kids watching from below.  Halfway up the route, I realized why so many people climb The Eye as a free solo – the protection is sparse and other than a handful of places where you can get a piece in, a fall on lead is absolutely out of the question, rope or not.

Ben just below the belay ledge

Ben approaches the belay cave

the belay

This is the classic “I survived this!” smile

Of course, the climb passed without incident and we enjoyed a couple of PBR’s while relaxing inside a very fine belay cave, with views overlooking Hidden Valley.  As soon as we started our descent off the back of Cyclops Rock, my mind shifted to the dinner that awaited us back at the house.  I had braised a couple of pork shanks the night before, and brought along a nice ribeye steak.  Ben was planning to make spaghetti alla bottarga and a simple arugula salad.  We’ve bonded a bit through our cooking, and he got me interested in homemade charcuterie and sous vide, which has turned out to be a lot of fun.  You can feast your eyes on his creations here.

Let's call this dish Pork Shanks Overwhelmed (by Rosemary)

Let’s call this dish Pork Shanks Overwhelmed (too much rosemary)

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The Boys

We hiked around a bit more before heading back, though.  We drove over to the Split Rock trail head, and we ambled about, giving Zane an opportunity to scramble around and explore the rocks.  Kalani tried his best to keep up, following his big brother around as best as he could.  We had to intervene here and there, lest he fall into a chasm or cholla.

crack climber

crack climber

Jasmine and Kalani

Jasmine and Kalani

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Tippy Rock

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Beautiful day in the high desert

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