Saturday, July 12, 2008

The awe of nature.

This past week I went with some friends from work to Yosemite National Park for some camping, hiking, and relaxing. We stayed in a beautiful area called June Lake which is just outside of of the Park. On Wednesday, we did an easy hike along a river and through a meadow. One of my friends, Jason, brought his fly rod and did a little fishing.

The main event for our camping trip was to hike Half Dome. We got up at 3:45 a.m. on Thursday morning to drive the hour and a half into the Park to Curry Village where we would start out ascent. On the trail at 6:45 a.m., we began the 20-mile roundtrip journey to the famous peak. The surroundings of Yosemite National Park are breath-taking. We hiked past huge waterfalls that plunged over 100-foot cliffs that sprayed the trail in mist from the sheer force of the water. The hike gains elevation quickly, giving amazing views of the valley below. We could see Half Dome looming in the distance as we made our way through forests and meadows. The hike to the saddle of Half Dome was challenging but totally do-able. At one point, I was going at a pretty fast clip and, after passing a guy, he said, "You're not even breathing hard!!" I laughed and said, "I'm from a high-elevation state." I arrived at the saddle and waited for my friends to catch up. As I looked toward Half Dome, I realized what my friend Jason meant when he said we would have to "go up some cables." Holy sh*t, was my first thought. There in front of me were metal cables that were clinging to the granite face by metal poles that had been drilled into the rock. Every 10-15 feet there was plywood stacked across the poles, acting like a make-shift ladder. Emily and Sean met up with me at the saddle and I told them we had to get moving because the longer I stood there and looked at the death-defying acsent, the less chance there was that I was going to do it.

We each picked out a pair of gloves that are generously left at the bottom of the cables to protect your hands from being mangled by the metal... I chose a beautiful lavendar pair. I went first and began the slow climb up the sheer granite face. Let me just say that I have never had a fear of heights but I gained a healthy appreciation for how it would feel if I did. Climbing the cables up Half Dome was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life thus far. No joke. I wasn't able to look right or left where the rock face plunged over cliffs into the valley below because I was afraid I would either hyperventilate or vomit... or BOTH. At one point I said to Emily, "I can't believe our government allows regular people to do this!! Seems a little irresponsible!!" Many shaky hands and expletives later, we reached the top of Half Dome. It was spectacular and well worth the white knuckle ascent up those sketchy cables.

We spent about an hour up there, enjoying the views and having lunch. Surprisingly, the descent wasn't nearly as scary as going up... it was more like rapelling without a harness. You know, like rapelling without the safest and most necessary piece of equipment. Uh huh. And you wonder why 4 people a year die doing this part of the hike....

We had a great time hanging out together. Many thanks to Ranger Rick, i.e. Jason, and his wonderful girlfriend, Renee, for planning and getting everything together. I am so glad I went and at no time did I feel like the dreaded "5th wheel." Thanks guys.

I'm late for work but I'll post a few pictures from our adventure soon!

1 comment:

  1. Kinda reminds me of "free fallin'" at the Grand Canyon. I almost peed my pants doing that. I think I would die doing the chains. Have you ever done Angel's Landing?


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