I was in Joshua Tree National Park with some friends, who happen to be leaders in the Sierra Club’s Wilderness Travel Course. A small group of us went on a hike and after a few hours, it was high time to hang the hammock. With no shortage of Joshua trees—a.k.a. Yucca brevifolia—nearby, we set up shop and got down to business (i.e. relaxing).
Later, when I posted the photo on Instagram, I got a few strongly worded comments about disrespecting the fragile trees, which are being affected pretty badly by climate change.
After some research, I was surprised to learn that while the trees are not listed as threatened or endangered (yet), you are not supposed to go near or touch them while inside the park.
I quickly removed the photo, not wanting to encourage others to think it was a good idea to be hanging hammocks there.
Since then, I’ve seen dozens of amazing photos of hammocks hung from Joshua trees, including some epic long exposure night shots with tons of stars in the sky. “Half the park is after dark,” reads a poster we picked up while visiting, and it’s true. It really comes alive at night.
A couple of these photographers and adventurers have large followings, yet no one was noticing or pointing out the faux pas, which really doesn’t surprise me. After all, none of the WTC leaders or students that day on our hike were aware of the issue, and they are particularly up to speed on all things outdoorsy, especially with regard to conservation and park rules.
I am thankful to the smart and environmentally respectful nature lovers that are the HammockLiving community. I appreciate you for teaching me this important lesson, and I’m happy to oblige to any and all rules that help protect and preserve trees and land.
The next time we went to Joshua Tree, we took our trusty hammock stand and enjoyed the park all the same—knowing I would post this photo and write this post and hopefully help spread the word even further.