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I went into the 2nd Annual #JTreeTweetup sick. Not too sick, just a head cold, but I treated it like it was a disaster so I would force myself to get better. I knew it was bad when I didn’t even want to pack last week; I just wanted to sleep.

Joshua Trees make everything better.

But this is THE climbing trip of the year for me, even if I spent this year training for other sports and laying off the rock to rest injuries. Getting to reunite with friends from last year, make new friends this year, and embrace the post-tweetup glow (very similar to the awesome first-date-glow) was worth feeling like hell the first half of the trip and coming out the other side feeling 100%. There’s just something about the #JTreeTweetUp.

A few notes :

Sponsors: A HUGE thank you to @Rockgrrl who organizes this event. And our sponsors! We were sufficiently equipped with calories, hand salve, cleaning supplies and sun protection with Clif Bar (Luna Bars, Clif Shots and experimenting with Rock Shox), Climb On! salve, Coach’s Oats, Eastern Mountain Sports trucker hats, Action Wipes and Boulder Canyon chips, plus backclip.com generously donated stickers!

Diversity of People: I love meeting new people. I love meeting climbers even more and finding out who they are, what makes them tick, why they climb and what they do outside of climbing. This event, which attracts folks from all over the country via Twitter, provides such an awesome platform for doing such investigative work. Rocket scientists, architects, farmers, software engineers, hobby engineers, artists, musicians, teachers, students, graphics designers, bloggers, media folks, outdoor industry folks … and many folks are many of these things at the same time.

Why are there lasers at #JtreeTweetup? Because they're LASERS.

One highlight was the hobby astronomer, @JetforMe, who brought his super powerful telescope, giving us a chance to see things that you can’t see normally, such as “Baby-Star-Making-Factories” (Orion Nebula), Jupiter and its moons and storm clouds, and an extreme close-up of the Moon. I also got so lucky as to see a plane fly in front of the Moon as I peered through @dmasten’s binoculars, I cried.

Climbing Head: Oh yeah, the climbing. This trip was about climbing. Seriously, it was. However, instead of being frustrated with my low-level of climbing spunk this weekend, I sucked it up to being sick and I was OK with that. And I was OK with the fact that I really hadn’t trained to be a rock climber this year.

Not me. Ben and Aleya, on Atlantis Wall.

A year ago, I would have been frustrated that I didn’t have the energy, desire and excitement to be a climber, especially since we had so many awesome trad climbers this time around who were just kickin’ ass and taking names all over the park. Some days I want to be them, some days I’m cool just being a follower. I get intimidated easily. But I’m working on that.

After this trip, I definitely want to start making a project list and dedicate next summer to really up-ing my skills and ticking off multi-starred climbs and feeling better as a climber. First step – buy Self Coached Climber, The Rock Warrior’s Way and a book on crack climbing. I think it’s a good goal to have. Spending the winter reading about climbing, being a gym rat and nursing the ol’ shoulder back to full strength should set me up pretty well for next spring.

And as @KatieBeth predicted, climbing the classic Touch and Go at Echo Cove cured all ailments. I toyed with the idea of climbing it, scoped it out and thought what the hell, why not? It took me 30 minutes, I flailed like fish out of water but got it. No more TheraFlu and NyQuil for me.

The other great climb of the weekend was Ceremony, a 5.10c on Atlantis Wall. Both climbs were great because they were so bloody hard and technique was involved. And they involved some crack. It reminded me why I do this.

History note, a year late: I was reading the history of Joshua Tree in the Falcon Guides book and it noted that the first official recorded rock climbing trip to the area was Veteran’s Day weekend, 1949. That would make last year the 60th anniversary. It also marked the first year of the 1st Annual Joshua Tree Tweetup. While the “first” climbing trip preceded me by 30 years, I like to think about how nothing has changed much in the past 60.

Climbers in 1949 are like climbers in 2010, as the premise is the same: gather some friends, head for the desert, bring the gear, food and shelter and enjoy a long weekend together. It’s a comforting constant in this ever-changing world that seems to change faster and faster every year.

Sure, we have 21st Century technology that brought together the recent gatherings. But as noted in camp, Twitter and sitting around a campfire are like playing telephone … one person starts with an idea, then passes it along, then passes it along, then passes it along. It may change, it may evolve, it may get stronger, it may get weaker. But the point is –  Turn off the phones, bring on the laughter and kindness and it’s a return to humanity that we often forget about in our high-tech world.

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