joshua tree national park | camping & climbing

We've wanted to go to Joshua Tree for as long as I can remember. It's such an iconic national park and once I read about it in Lynn Hill's book Climbing Free I knew we had to go! We finally made our way out there in January (you might remember our photo sessions in the park here and here). We stayed two nights (at the Jumbo Rocks camp site) and especially enjoyed waking up before the sun to wander aimlessly through the huge desert.

As we left the park to head toward Alabama Hills, we made a stop at a little gear shop and found a used section. I rummaged through a few slightly used pairs of approach shoes and pulled out a pair that was beat. I mean these shoes looked like they had been around longer than me. And they had a price tag to match. In fact, scribbled in red marker on the little tag was the word "FREE" which seemed kind of funny, but I untied the dirty laces and slipped on the old shoes and -- get this -- they fit perfectly! They felt amazing, already broken in. Given the fact that they were in a gear shop outside of one of the climbing world's most iconic locations, I had a feeling these old La Sportiva's had lived quite a life. I'm a total sap, I love this kind of stuff! As I proudly tied up the laces, the old hippy lady keeping shop walked by with some incense and stopped to admire the old shoes. She went on to tell me that they were hers, and she had climbed years in them and even had them resoled, so she felt she "couldn't let that good rubber go to waste!" I asked her her name, a few more details about the shoes, and we shook hands and agreed they'd live a good life! As a very timid climber (VERY timid) having some good approach shoes has helped me be a little more comfortable. I even sent my first real rock sport route at Red Rocks a few days later, in my new old shoes of course!