We had set out to Joshua Tree with the intention of a fun MLK weekend of climbing, lounging and drinking some 'sodas'. Camping at Indian Cove we climbed acouple fun walls, nothing too extreme, mostly enjoying the awesome weather and trying to forget about school. Around noon on Saturday, I started to get bored though, and remembered a hike I had done as a scout years back up a Rattlesnake Canyon. After consulting the topos I had brought, I proposed the idea to my little bros, and we decided to set out on a fun hike that was only 3-4 miles at top and wouldn't be that bad right?
The plan was to hitchhike the mile and a half with a few friends not going over to the picnic area at the base of Rattlesnake Canyon. We left around 2pm with snacks, water, and headlamps just in case. Very shortly we ran into what a few guide books describe as a slot canyon. There was a lot of water to our surprise running through some very scenic polished rocks in the "slot canyon" area. After oogling over all the water and enjoying the sun we decided to head on up the canyon. After approximately a mile of bouldering we came to a V of sorts in the Canyon. We followed the V to the right and scrambled up a lot of rock to a saddle not knowing what we would see. We saw boulders and rock walls in all directions. For the rest of the evening we followed our topo and GPS directions in a meandering path over 4 different ridges. My little brothers were in heaven, having to scramble and boulder almost the entire trip. (Good thing my Mom doesn't understand a computer enough to read this) We probably should have used a rope over a couple of the sections, but for the most part were able to scramble around any large empasses.
Around 5:40pm we finally needed to break out our headlamps, and didn't get back to camp until after7pm. We now know that 3-4 miles in JT can take a heck of a lot longer than expected, and bouldering down steep canyons is not the best idea by headlamp. But the day turned out marvelously, nobody fell, and there were burgers and "sodas" back at camp to make the night less painful. Rattlesnake Canyon is an excellent day of scrambling and route finding through a wonderland of rock if you ever need something to do in JT.