Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Yes - Our trip to Yosemite was clear back in August, but it still needs a belated mention in the blog archives. So forgive me because here it goes...

Jaw - dropping.

That is the the reaction I had when JT, Rock, Mayflower and I turned the corner in Yosemite Valley and saw El Capitan for the first time. This is one of those places where pictures are worth a thousand words and yet just don't do justice to the scope of the landscape. I was simply speechless at times.

The first day in Yosemite Valley (hereafter known as "the Valley") was spent leisurely sight-seeing, taking photos and gathering some last minute trail beta and tracking down some gloves to use on the chains of Half Dome. We camped outside the park in a campground called Yosemite Pines. It was about an hour away, but the accommodations were much cheaper than in the Valley.
August 8th - Half Dome Day ...8.5 miles up to the top....which means 8.5 miles back down:)
Start time: approx 6:20 am
Rock, JT, Mayflower and I (DB).
Waterfalls - 2 major falls plunging hundreds of combined feet. Mist, moss, rainbows, weeping rocks, etc.
Breathtaking views - numerous at every corner.
Towering granite formations - always in view.
Trees stretching to the heavens - a forest full of them.
Until we got to the "shoulder" of Half Dome, Mayflower was the youngest person on the trail that I saw. Out of 400 permits for hikers that day, I saw only 2 boys younger than her.
Now about our little Mayflower. I am pretty proud of her. She was literally the energizer bunny (thanks in part to a little Zipfizz in her Camelbak) that kept bopping along the trail in front of us, waiting patiently as I took pictures and never whined or complained. She wanted to turn back twice (1. as she made her way up the granite steps cut into the shoulder of Half Dome and 2. when she first saw "the cables" to the peak. Her fear of heights and the exposure put tears in her eyes. It turns out that her fear of being left behind to sit and wait was greater), but only when her strength literally gave out and she could not safely pull herself up the cables did she wisely turn back. Rock turned back down the cables with her to make sure she got down safely and I was left to follow JT and pull myself and the camera up to the top and document his bucket list check mark. I had not prepared my upper body for this at all! Legs and cardio were no problem, but the dozens of pull-ups required while trying to keep my mind focused on putting one foot above the other while keeping a tight grip on both cables was one of the toughest things I've done in a long time. I kept thinking that if I turned around, JT would have no one to take his picture at the TOP! That, and the thought that I just might not get here ever again. ( A sad side note here - for some reason I can't get my pictures of Half Dome to upload here. Please see them in my facebook photos).
So, I hauled my sorry carcass up those blasted cables, never looking down, and blessing my garden gloves the entire way. I am extremely grateful that Mayflower wisely decided not to continue up the cables. She pushed herself past her limits as it was and I am very proud of her for knowing her abilities. JT and I enjoyed taking photos on top of Half Dome and marveling at the view of the valley. The "shuffle-slide" back down the cables was much easier for me. It felt like rappelling:) Only with much more concentration required seeing as the "rope" was missing. It was still very slow going, though, because those people coming up the cables have the right of way, so those going down scoot over as much as they can and let those pulling themselves up go past.
As the 4 of us made our way back down the trail, our water ran low. But knowing that we brought a water filter eased my mind. As we came back to the river to filter water, it was discovered that a small crack in the filter we noticed that morning had grown to the point that it was virtually unusable. The nice couple that we told to meet us at the river and we could fill up their water bottles were sadly out of luck as well, but extremely kind and forgiving. It was fun getting to know June and Brian from LA.
So we hustled down the trail, JT and Mayflower taking the slightly longer but less steep way we had come up, while Rock and I ventured down the Mist Trail to see another waterfall. We all met back up together near the end and finished the hike in just over 12 hours. Thirsty, hungry and tired never felt so good!
First of all, special thanks need to go to Little T for her amazing permit-getting skills. Without her, this special trip never would have happened. Next time for sure!
Second - My big bro JT rocked! It was so fun to share this adventure with him. It was because of him that I made it to the "TOP".
And last - My Rock and my Mayflower. You amaze me. You both made this adventure ...priceless.