To everyone who donated, followed us, shared us on Facebook, reached out with kind words, and believed in us and the project from the very beginning: THANK YOU. The amount of love and support we have received in these last seven days has been nothing short of unbelievable – we probably texted each other at least ten times a day saying something along the lines of: “Oh my goodness look at what (so and so) said to me!! That’s so nice of them – holy sh*t it’s happening it’s happening!!” We’ve been friends for almost a year now, and in that short amount of time it has been a crazy whirlwind of camping trips, summit hikes, and building a two-woman operation together.
After working together for about three months, it was Alex’s simple mention that she was in the market for a new camera that finally connected us. After I to put her into contact with a friend I knew who was selling his camera, we just kept talking until well after our shift was over. About a week later, I invited her on a last minute camping trip to Joshua Tree, and she said yes without hesitation!
The first night we got into the national park just before sunset, and scrambled around near Arch Rock and took some photos of each other. (As anyone who knows us can vouch – this would soon to be come a major part of our friendship). It was my first desert sunset of the summer, and as the sky streaked with pink and orange as the light slowly seeped out of the sky, we did our best to capture every single second. Joshua Tree at sunset is something that can’t be captured with a camera – the way the stillness of the air sinks in and the rocks change colors to match the sky leave me wanting more every time.
After dinner at a funky saloon, we headed to the BLM ground to claim our spot for the night (and maybe got ~slightly~ lost along the way). Once we finally made it, we got a fire going and stayed up under the stars well past 2 am. Anyone who has been to Joshua Tree can tell you – the true magic happens at night. The soft, cracked earth of the land underneath us illuminated by the glow of our fire made us feel so alone and untouched in the universe as we chatted under the simultaneously jet black and twinkling sky. After a couple hours of sleep and taking advantage of that soft spot of earth for some sunrise yoga, it was time to head back into the park for a full day of adventuring.
First stop: Hidden Valley. As none of us were climbers at the time, we were just looking to scramble around and make it as high up on the rock formations as possible. In looking at one particularly massive pile of rocks, Alex and I decided to try to scramble up to the top. About three quarters of the way up, there was one gap that neither one of us could physically reach with our limbs, and it seemed as if we might have to turn back. In a last ditch effort, I hoisted her up gymnastics style and then she lent me her hand and pulled me up right next to her. Fueled by the adrenaline of getting over this tricky section that we thought would make us turn around, we practically ran to the highest point on that giant pile of rocks despite the mid-July heat of the desert. We were so hyped after – it was both of our first times taking scrambling seriously enough to work through a problem, and it just laid the groundwork for all of the physical limitations we would push past in the future.
Getting in and out of the Grand Canyon in two days, summitting Mt. Baldy through thigh-high powder snow, and a blistered, 15 hour one day summit of Mt. Whitney all started with that simple scramble on a hot July day. After that Joshua Tree trip, we became inseparable at our spin studio and spent almost every weekend together in the mountains. When the idea of Small Towns to Summits was born, it simply seemed to be the natural continuation of this most special friendship. From the beginning, we’ve been pushing our physical limits together. Even the early stages of our project have already given us the chance to push each other’s creative potential in directions that I personally never imagined myself taking.