Existential Explorations of Rock & Mind in Joshua Tree, CA

An embedded outsider finds calm and clarity in the sun bleached life of the dirtbag climber

Existential Explorations of Rock & Mind in Joshua Tree, CA


Tom Daly


Chadwick Tyler


Sony a7R III


The following photo essay was contributed by our friends District Vision, an emerging experience-driven brand at the intersection of mindfulness and sport. This is not a sponsored post. We simply appreciate their aesthetic and approach to product, and think you will too. Enjoy.

Tom Daly is a New York City-based runner, practitioner of mindfulness, and co-founder of District Vision.

Chadwick Tyler is a Brooklyn-based fashion and fine art photographer.

As we drove passed the Institute of Mentalphysics near Twentynine Palms, CA the sun was rising. Piercing across the sky, it ironically exposed the other main institution in town—The Marine Air Ground Combat Center, the largest Marine base in the U.S., covering just under 1,000 square miles.

The town acts as a gateway to Joshua Tree’s slightly lesser known northern entrance, through which we accompanied six climbers on recent field trip.



Fresh from sleeping in our vans we entered the park munching on nuts and bars with the goal of earmarking the boulders and walls said climbers wanted to test themselves on over the next two days. 

Deep in the park with no people in sight, I felt we’d found an alternate universe. Not geographically, but inside ourselves. Sun bleached figures scurried out of their tents, cooked their food, and conversed freely. Gone were the phones, headphones, and other modern barriers to integration.


"With this came a certain peace. The type of peace that gives you the feeling they might just have figured something out."


These students of the sport had dedicated a great deal of their lives to the climbing practice, and found this alternative life as an expression of that. To an outsider, with this came a certain peace. 

The type of peace that gives you the feeling they might just have figured something out. An operating model in this infinitely more complex society of interconnected people and devices. A healthy choice for the chosen few that might take solace in the words of Krishnamurti - “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." 





Related articles
Glamping in Southern California: The 15 Best Spots to Getaway
The 15 Best Places to Go Glamping in Sunny Southern California

Explore SoCal's picturesque mountains, deserts, and coastline in these unique tents, yurts, and retro Airstreams

AutoCamp Joshua Tree Brings Luxe Glamping to the CA Desert
AutoCamp Opens its Latest West Coast Location in the Desert of Joshua Tree, CA

Featuring 47 Airstreams and a shimmering new clubhouse, the glampsite celebrates the High Desert with style

The 15 Most Unique Joshua Tree Rentals for Nature Lovers
15 Best Joshua Tree Rental Houses for Disconnecting From the World

Dreamy desert cabins, pueblo-style casas, and geodesic dome vacation rentals amid the iconic California desert

A City Dweller's Guide to the Perfect Joshua Tree Weekend Trip
10 Do’s & Don'ts for the Perfect Weekend Trip to Joshua Tree

Making the most of Joshua Tree NP and the Yucca Valley with a modern airbnb, sunrise hikes, and succulent shopping

1200 Miles Through the California Desert on 35mm Film
1200 Miles Through the California Desert on 35mm Film

Cold meals, long roads, and endless alien landscapes make this perfectly imperfect road trip one for the books

Overnight Rock Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park
Rock Climbing & Desert Camping in Joshua Tree National Park

A brief survey of life among the cactus and bouldering rocks, captured on 35mm film

More articles
Existential Explorations of Rock & Mind in Joshua Tree, CA

Gallery Mode


Chadwick Tyler


Sony a7R III

Back to article