Last weekend I threw my tent and crash pad into my Jeep and made my way out to Joshua Tree National Park to join the ladies from Arêt Basewear and Girls Who Climb for a few days of climbing and camaraderie at their Climbing + Cacti meet up.
Typically I'm a pretty outgoing and extroverted person. I have no problem speaking in front of crowds or approaching complete strangers - in fact, my career and art are built on this particular skill. However, the older I get the more introverted and reclusive I have seemed to become. Sometimes I have a hard time deciding when it's more beneficial to spend some time alone* and recharge or when it's actually in my best interest to push through those feelings and be social.
Despite all the excitement I felt during the previous week to get outside climbing with a bunch of rad women, I woke up Saturday morning with a nervous energy and the need to find some peace and downtime. I packed up my current book, stove, and favorite camp breakfast (chicken top ramen, Taco Bell Hot Sauce, and Tajín) and joined my friends Olivia and Eric in a morning scramble up the Lost Horse Area. They spent the morning rigging and highlining while I was able to read in peace and soak up the morning sun as it rose over the desert floor below.
That afternoon Olivia and I met the rest of the ladies at the base of Intersection Rock, but I was still feeling heavily reclusive and had a hard time introducing myself or being social. Even though I had my ideal secluded morning, all I wanted to do was run away by myself again and lizard in the sun on top of some rocks. After dropping Olivia back off at the Hemingway Highline I found my friends at Arêt still in the parking lot outside of Intersection and decided to join them for a mellow day of bouldering, goldfish-snacking, sun napping, and laughing. The ladies of the Green House are my kind of wonderfully weird and I always feel comfortably myself around them so the day ended up being a satisfying balance of seclusion from people and friendly company. As I sat by the campfire in the BLM that night I felt guilty that I hadn't really accomplished my goal of meeting new female friends and climbing partners and I promised myself that I would be better and more social the following day.
I watched the sunrise that Sunday morning from my warm sleeping bag and still felt that heavy urge to be introverted weighing on me. I put on a smile and a pot of water for tea as I struggled with the choice of going home early or forcing myself to stay and be social. I ran into an old climbing friend and I made the decision to stay. I came out here to meet some amazing woman and I was going to uphold that promise I made - and I'm so glad I did.
After a few wrong turns, Christina and I eventually found the bouldering group tucked back away in the Outback Boulders. As I warmed up on the rocks I also found myself warming up to the wonderful people around me. Everyone was so friendly, encouraging, and excited to be there that the positivity was contagious and the heaviness I was feeling quickly melted away. My favorite part about climbing in groups like these is that they are so supportive, both on the rock and personally. I explained how I felt guilty I wasn’t more friendly or present before and they understood and reassured me. It wasn't long before I was feeling comfortable in this group of strangers and enjoying my day climbing with my new friends. It was a pleasure to meet, laugh, and climb with all of you!
Thank you Lea Hernández , Girls Who Climb, and Arêt Baseware for organizing this event! The photos below are only a few of my favorite from the weekend. If you attended the event and want to see additional photos I also added about 50 to the shared google album on the event page.