Hot! Gunsmoke

On my first trip to Joshua Tree when I was still learning to climb, the group I was with was hiking back to the car at sunset when we crested the rock into a sheltered meadow of J Trees. It was my first “different world” moment in J Tree. Everything had a warm, orange glow on this spring day and I felt like I’d somehow been transported to Mars. I stopped in my tracks when we came around a corner to see a dozen people “walking” their way across a long, L-shaped traverse. It followed a long horizontal crack in the rocks rimmed with white chalk from all the attempts.

Later I learned that this was Gunsmoke, one of Joshua Tree’s classic boulder problems in the Barker Dam area. The whole traverse is more than 75 feet long, but you are never more than 2 feet off the ground. You can jump on and off at any point and this makes it great for climbers of any skill level. Plus the open area around it is a great gathering spot. It’s the perfect setting to warm up at the start of the day, or chill out at the end.

I’ve never done more than a few feet of Gunsmoke but for me, a trip to J Tree isn’t complete unless I’ve visited this spot.

(Thanks to Matt Hoffman for the photo of me in the blue shirt.)

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