That's when everything changed...
I wish I could go on to talk about a life-changing adventure that took us across the globe on a wild goose-chase focused on finding the meaning of life. And that along the way we ran into secret societies that wanted their secret kept quiet and ancient civilizations that survived underground who wanted their whereabouts kept quiet so they teamed up and tried to hunt us down. Yet we survived and managed to gain all the knowledge we set out to find. But no... That type of story is completely unrealistic and, quite frankly, ridiculous. Instead we went on a hike.
I've learned that I really enjoy hikes. The challenge that the different terrains provide keep you on your toes. I walk with my eyes on the ground because the paths are full of rocks and never evenly laid out. So I have to make sure I step in the right places to keep from falling or rolling my ankle. When I pause or rest I look around in awe at the sights around me. The landscapes and scenery are amazing to take in. The air is fresh and clean. The feelings of adventure as you constantly scan the world for things that you'll never see in your home settings. On this trip I was looking for desert Tortoises and desert sheep. *SPOILER ALERT* I didn't see any... The biggest reason I love hikes is the silence. Whether I'm alone or with people, there is always moments and stretches of silence. It doesn't matter if we're walking, climbing, sitting, or whatever it is that we are doing, there comes a point when we're all quiet. The silence returned is like nothing you'll experience in the city. There's always cars and sirens to compete with. Noises all the time. Out in the middle of nowhere nature gives you very little. Maybe a bird chirping or a gust of wind through the leaves. It gives me time to reflect of everything in life.
The trail isn't that difficult to navigate through. On the hike there is an overall 300 foot climb and descent to get to the oasis. What I really liked about this trail is that it isn't just a straight climb. There are hills and inclines but they level off, and sometimes dip, so that you can catch your breath while walking along. Combine that with the fact that we were stopping here and there for pictures, we were able to get to the oasis in pretty good time without feeling exhausted or water-deprived. The mid afternoon sun is not that intense either. Many times the rock walls would block it out completely. I walked most of the day without a shirt. I will say that on the way there we had to go down a large flight of stairs (they even appear in nature damnit! Curse my luck!) that I knew were going to hamper me on the way back. Still, I didn't let that dampen my mood.
I don't know how long it took for us to get to the oasis. I'm guessing it took about an hour and a half to traverse that 1.5 miles of desert terrain. Upon arriving at our destination I was initially disappointed. There wasn't a fountain at the oasis either! I was holding on to hope that the empty water bottles would be filled up here and we could relax at the anomaly of palm trees in the middle of the desert. I pride myself on a short memory when it comes to things like disappointment and sadness. Instead we climbed on rocks and wandered around to find a good place to sit down and eat. Lunch was pretty light. Granola bars, apples, bread, and cheese. Afterwards we all laid down for a little bit on the rocks and warmed up in the autumn sunlight. Before leaving, we took a few more pictures and headed back to the car.
The reason I'm sharing this isn't just because I like hiking or that going on hikes are healthy, but I also broke new ground yesterday. I mentioned earlier that there was a large set of stairs that we came down. Well when it was time to leave we had to go up those stairs. We reached the bottom of the stairs we were all together. As we walked up, I slowly fell further and further behind. My lungs were burning and my legs hurt. I could feel every muscle from my quads up to neck straining as I pushed myself along. At the halfway point I considered calling out to the others and asking to take a break but I realized something. I was feeling a little sore and out of breath but I could go on. I didn't need to take a break. I took note of where my energy level was and I had plenty in the tank.So I decided to push on and dake it all just one step at a time. And that's what I did. I put my head down and took each step with deliberation until I reached the top! WITHOUT STOPPING!
Since I started running outside I've gotten used to pushing myself past the point of comfort. For most of my life, when things started getting tough (physically speaking) then I would bail. That doesn't mean that I would quit. I would take a break while telling myself that it was impossible. Essentially, I would comfort myself with the knowledge that I was out of shape and that only a normal person would be able to accomplish the task at hand. What I realized yesterday is what I considered as my limit is actually just the halfway point, when it comes to my endurance. I'm going to try and make a habit out of pushing myself more and more. I'm excited at this discovery. It felt great standing on top of those stairs looking down. At the bottom I had already written this off as impossible. I want to revisit challenges just to see if I can get better results.
The rest of the hike was pretty simple and we only took one break from walking to drink the rest of the water and rest our legs. I was buzzing with happiness over having conquered the stairs the way I did. It felt great to sit in the car though. My legs were feeling pretty worn out. We went on to drive through the scenic areas, stopping to take pictures here and there along the way. At one stop both Margaux and myself stepped on cacti in our sandals. It may have been the same cactus as a matter of fact. Luckily the three spines were all long and pulled out clean from my foot. Still hurt for a good part of the night. We almost hit two rabbits and we pulled over for a few minutes to gaze at the millions of stars that come out far away from the city lights. Dinner was a burger and chili cheese fries at a local restaurant called Crossroads. I splurged on dinner because I was famished and hadn't eaten much over the course of the day. All in all it was a very fun excursion! Today my legs are a little bit sore but it's nothing that I haven't faced before. This concludes the daycation adventure to the Joshua Tree National for
I leave you with a summary of why hiking is fun and everyone should get out and do it! PANORAMIC PHOTO TIME!!!