Besides do more local climbing in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, I also did some weekly hikes. I didn't do any long and/or strenuous hikes since I didn't plan on doing any long and strenuous hikes at JTree. I also worked out at my gym (Yoga/Cardio/Strength Training).
For my solo hikes, I referenced the "National Geographic Joshua Tree NP Topo Map" and the "Best Easy Day Hikes, Joshua Tree National Park". This Falcon guide is simple to use and even has a section for referencing types of hikes, i.e. hikes for Panoramic Views, Historical, Mining, Nature hikes as well as hikes for Birders. I wanted hikes that were easy to moderate and wanted to be able to complete a couple of "on-trail hikes" - this guide made planning uber easy.
For climbing, I referenced the Joshua Tree Rock Climbs Guidebook from Wolverine Publishing, by Robert Miramontes. I truly love this guidebook! It's pricey but it's built to last and printed in color on high quality magazine paper. Besides climbing route descriptions, the book lists park info, maps, GPS coordinates and even has a section of the amenities in the surrounding towns of Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. While here I purchased The Trad Guide To Joshua Tree by Charlie and Diane Winger from Nomad Ventures in Joshua Tree.
Mountain Guide Service - Rock Climbing
For rock climb guiding, I hired Joshua Tree local Seth Pettit of Mojave Guides. He got back to my email right away answering my questions about private guiding, permits and insurance. He and his guides also hold AMGA and wilderness medical certifications. He was very professional and prompt, and within 3 days of my first contacting him, I was all set with my accommodations for flight, car rental, lodging, and private guiding.
**I scheduled lessons for weekdays instead of the weekend. My first lesson with Seth was on Friday and the park was a bit busy with climbers, campers and visitors for the weekend. My second lesson with Seth was on Monday and so much less folks in the park.
I worked with Seth for two full days and both days were unforgettable! Not only did I learn to crack climb, I got to experience the beauty of Joshua Tree NP while learning. In the two days of my lessons, I was able to climb 15 pitches, and those 15 pitches were super fun! Seth is a great guide; I always felt safe throughout my lessons with him. Prior to my trip to JTree, I had emailed Seth a link to my blog of climbs to give him an idea of how "not hard" I climb! LOL! He was confident that there were plenty of routes in JTree for me to climb and enjoy. Also, since our focus was on crack climbing, he was looking forward to teaching me these new skills as teaching crack climbing would be fun for him too.
And just as important, Seth is a great teacher. He is patient and kind, and very knowledgeable and passionate about this popular desert park. Seth made learning how to crack climb really fun. I highly recommend climbing with Mojave Guides if you plan a trip to Joshua Tree and need a climbing guide. My two guided days of climbing was an experience I won't ever forget!
Meetup Group - Hiking
I joined the Hi-Desert Hiking Club, a local hiking group at JTree NP. They do quite a bit of "off-trail hikes" in the "easy to moderate" range so hiking with this group was perfect! I signed up for one "off-trail" hike which was lead by Tim Liddell. Tim lead the group and is very organized, knowledgeable and passionate about the park. He and the other members of the group made me feel so welcomed - I can't wait to get back to hike with them again!
I made my flight, car rental and lodging reservations through AARP Travel Center - expedia-aarp.com. I got flight/car rental discounts when booking together through AARP Travel. It was the first time I had flown United Airlines in a long time and I had no problems whatsoever. I didn't experience any flight delays (or lost luggage) and the flight members were very pleasant and professional. In addition to checked baggage, I also had a carry-on and a personal item. On both my flights back from the west coast, I took the option to check my carry-on into baggage at no extra cost. My car rental was through Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
I also got 10% discount off my hotel accommodations at the Best Western in Twentynine Palms. My room was clean and stocked with the standard room amenities, and full breakfast choices were complimentary every morning, with one complimentary dinner during the week.
**Breakfast menu during my stay: Tater tots, egg omelets, pork links, bacon, turkey bacon, pancakes with fruit toppings, cold cereal, hot oatmeal, toast, english muffin, mini chocolate donuts, danish, fruit (bananas, apples & oranges), coffee (regular & decaf), juices (orange, apple, white cranberry), hot water, boiled eggs, yogurt (flavored and greek). And in the lobby there was complimentary coffee (regular & decaf), hot water, lemonade and cookies all day, everyday.
I knew that the month of November was going to be wonderful weather for both climbing and hiking in the Joshua Tree NP. So I wanted to make certain that I got my reservations in as early (3 months) as possible, especially for private guiding and lodging. If you plan to lodge outside of the park, I highly recommend you make your reservations well in advance.
Itinerary - Joshua Tree National Park
Day 1 - Arrive
Day 2 - On-Trail Solo Hike, JTNP
Day 3 - Off-trail hike, JTNP
Day 4 - Day 1 Private Guiding Rock Climbing, JTNP
Day 5 - Ryan Mountain, Solo Hike, JTNP
Day 6 - Rock scrambling Rattlesnake Canyon
Day 7 - Day 2 Private Guiding Rock Climbing, JTNP
Day 8 - Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Food & Shopping
Day 9 - Depart