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Posts Tagged ‘California Trail’

Missing the Point

When I go to a National Park Service site, I really try to get the point of the place. I’ve got to get out of the car, strap on my boots, and hit the trails. I have to get in a kayak and paddle the lakes. I have to clamber through the caves. I have to hit the vistas and the valley floors. Doing any less is missing the point. I don’t want to just go to the visitor’s center and buy a lapel pin, I don’t want to just take the scenic drive and stop at the overlooks. I don’t want to just look at stuffed animals on display. I want to feel the parks, get the sense of what they’re all about, even commune a bit with nature, as corny as that sounds. True, I don’t do hardcore wilderness backpacking (I’m too fond of hot showers and soft beds), but I still make that effort to get my boots dirty and breathe the clear air.

When it came to the City of Rocks, I blew it.

Westward Wagons © 2008 America In ContextThe City of Rocks is an expanse of rock formations, eroded from ancient strata over millions of years. It’s in the high-desert region of southern Idaho, so it is hot & dry, but it’s actually a pretty cool place, very Flintstone-esque. It was a landmark on the California Trail, supposedly earning its name from comments made by the first of the westward wagon trains in 1849, but its biggest claim to fame is its status as a great place to go rock-climbing.

Rock climbing is one of those things I’ve never done. Not being particularly athletic, and having some physical limitations (namely extreme nearsightedness that even contact lenses can’t fully correct), there are a lot of things I haven’t done. Rock climbing, however, is something I should be able to do. OK, I’ll probably never scale Half Dome, but there’s really no reason I can’t do simple climbs, with a little training and some hard work.

Worm From Dune © 2008 America In ContextBut when I went to the City of Rocks, I didn’t even think about rock climbing. I didn’t research the place at all, didn’t even know rock climbing was what CoR was all about. So, when I went, and saw all those climbers over all those rock formations, and I felt left out. It probably would have been very simple to sign up for some beginning rock climbing lessons while I was there, but alas, my pre-planning was completely absent. It was my own fault, and I had no time left to get into the groove (pun intended, I suppose).

Some time ago, I posted a comment about over-researching a park and only hitting the popular highlights. To me, that’s like only seeing blockbuster movies while missing great independent films. There are a lot of great hidden jewels in the parks that can be stumbled upon by walking the lesser-traveled paths. But City of Rocks taught me a valuable lesson: you should at least do a little reading before you go anywhere, to make sure you don’t end up missing the point.

[Photos on this post are the property of the blog owner. Please do not use without express written permission. A few more CoR pics can be found here.]

Links:

City of Rocks National Reserve

Rock Climbing at City of Rocks (notice “quantity of climbs = lifetime”)

Google map to City of Rocks

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