The Fit Girl's Getaway Guide
Destination: REI Adventures' Rock Climbing Camp in Joshua Tree, California
I arrived in the Saturday sun at Ryan Campground, part of Joshua Tree National Park in California, and met my REI Adventures group: a married couple from Los Angeles; my tentmate from Houston; our guide, Seth Pettit; and his girlfriend, a park ranger. These strangers would become instant friends over the next three days as we put our trust in one another to practice some outdoor rock climbing.
At Joshua Tree, you wake with the sun. The first morning, Seth brewed coffee, and after an oatmeal breakfast, we made our way to our climb. I'm not new to rock gyms, but this was only my second time climbing outside.
Following a quick belay and safety course, we were ready. Seth set up routes of varying levels, so we didn't have to wait our turn. When I first touched the hard rock face, my fear kicked in. "Trust yourself," Seth said, anchoring me on the other end of the climbing rope.
Within minutes, I was at the top. And then again. And again. When we'd had our fill, we walked to where we had pitched camp for our second night -- the wilderness. "Want to see a rattlesnake?" Seth asked at coffee the next morning. It was coiled beneath a rock, its tan spots blending into the desert. Before, if I had known I was going to sleep mere feet from a rattler, I'm not sure I would have shut my eyes. But this snake seemed peaceful, like everything else. I had never felt so relaxed.
That day brought more climbing and less fear, along with encouraging cheers from the group. This time, we ascended a 75-foot slab that offered incredible views of the park. The Dr. Seuss-like Joshua trees were mere dots below.
-- Lara Rosenbaum
Book it: Three- to six-day REI trips in rock climbing, kayaking, backpacking and rafting available year-round, $595 and up; rei.com/adventuresMore Fab Trips to Try
Zozi Staycation: Take any long weekend up a notch with Zozi, which offers discount fitness getaways nationwide. Zozi.com hosts experiences like kayaking, urban zip-lining, oyster farming and shipwreck diving, often led by elite experts (catch waves with Maya Gabeira, a Big Wave surf champion, or take a climbing clinic with pro Steph Davis). (Available year-round, prices vary; zozi.com)
Adventure Cycling Association's Cycle Washington: This eight-day guided biking tour -- with overnight campouts -- of the Pacific Northwest spans from Washington's Cascade Range to the San Juan Islands with hikes and tasty meals along the way. (July 6 to 13, $1,199; adventurecycling.org)
Backroads' Texas Hill Country Bike Tour: Pedal your way through the Lone Star State; boot-tapping country music and legendary dance-hall visits are included in this five-day excursion. You'll stay in an elegant mansion, a historic cabin and a bed and breakfast. (October 5 to 9, 19 to 23, or 26 to 30, $2,398 and up; backroads.com)
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