We huddled around the puddle.


It was sunny, desert rays reddening my cheeks and exposing my freckles. It didn’t matter that it was December, Joshua Tree still blazed with heat by midday. The rock formations and mountains, despite their exhausting and incredibly dangerous climbs, offered a soul-quenching breeze that lifted the hairs on my neck and dried the sweat beneath my flannel.


I’d traveled across country, Florida to California, with a group of friends. Two of them, Mark and Landon, were in the huddle with me. All three of us squatted, staring at the puddle. Mark pulled out the straw that was meant for cases of imminent death by dehydration, and I sat my full water bottle next to me in case I needed to wash the rock water down.


I don’t remember who had the idea, and I’m not sure what compelled us to pause our adventure to complete the task, but somehow we’d managed to come up with, at the time, “a great idea”. The goal was to use the survival, filtering straw to drink water off the top of the mountain.


Behind us, Joshua Trees fanned out and captured the landscape. The next mountain was a distance away, and the sun perched on its crest. We knew we’d run out of day light soon, yet this task was worth it.


By the end of the trip, at the very least, we could say we drank rock water.

I pulled out my phone and recorded video, because I couldn’t possibly miss filming our greatest idea ever. Mark adjusted the straw and leaned down. Landon and I watched intensely as he took a slurp. He sat up, waited a moment, and passed the straw to Landon.

“What does it taste like?” Landon asked, leaning over and taking a sip.

“Water,” Mark said.

Landon passed the straw to me and nodded. “Yeah, tastes like water.”

I gave Landon the camera, so he could record me, and took a sip. Yep. Water.

We looked at each other for a moment. Then, we laughed.

One could say that, perhaps, the exertion from climbing had caused us to unravel a tad. Others may say it was the adrenaline from the mountain climbing that caused us to continue seeking new experiences. All of these people are probably right.

We did other things on top of that mountain, such as carving are names amongst other travelers and yelling out to the army of Joshua Trees to be aware of Scientology, but none were as highly anticipated as those three individual slurps of rock water.

We will, and forever will be, rock people, having acclimated to the elements of rock.

Always,Jinapher J. Hoffman