“Are we good?” I asked Tyler as I pulled the honda civic seat forward a half inch. We sat in his driveway running through a mental checklist. Everything we needed for Cuba and Central America was loaded into the Silver Phoenix’s (my car’s) nooks and crannies, along with skis, a snowboard and all of the miscellaneous stuff that will be stored at my Dad’s place in LA. Tyler’s house was finally clean and empty after much drawer-opening, vacuuming, and pile shifting.
It was 4pm on Thursday, a day and four hours later than we had originally anticipated saying bon voyage to Tahoe. A rogue snow day forced me to unpack my skis and take a few turns at Heavenly on our initial departure day. “Might as well, now that I’m officially unemployed,” I thought. (Clarification: Unemployed connotes a negative feeling, much like homeless, whereas now Tyler and I fit both of these generalizations and could not be more stoked!)
Driving away felt like an exhale after a scary scene from “The Shining.” And what better place to inhale then the majestic Yosemite, which draws us like a carnitas burrito from a taco truck?
We stayed with a friend of mine who lives in Foresta, a mere 15 minutes from the Valley on Thursday night, and reserved a site the following morning along the Tent Highway of Camp 4.
Rock climbing is Tyler’s favorite sport. I tend to associate it more with pain and terror, but I’m trying to work on that. Friday we climbed his all-time favorite route, Royal Arches, which rises 16 pitches (about 1600 feet) from the valley floor. The steep ascent and descent were punctuated by a lovely sunset overlooking Half Dome and El Capitan.
Fortunately our friend Jonny joined us for Friday-Monday climbing and camping adventures, so Saturday they cragged (climbed single pitches where the belayer is on the ground) while I jogged, hiked and yoga-ed. Sunday all of us had a big day. While Jonny and Tyler went off to climb the East Buttress of El Capitan (whoa!), I hiked fifteen miles to Yosemite Falls and on to Eagle Peak.
Along the way I stopped to refuel and admire epic views and crazy people “high-lining,” or walking a two-inch piece of nylon cord suspended 2,000 feet above ground next to a raging waterfall on a windy day.
Monday was a rest day for Tyler and I, but we still managed to go caving amongst the little-known Indian Caves hidden a mere quarter-mile from the main trail. After wriggling into a hole in the rocks, we descended deeper into the ground, at times crawling on our bellies, until we reached a small opening with an ammo container filled with notebooks of people who have been there before. Scrawls from 2002 – today line the pages, and now Earthtickle has been added to the party. We turned our headlamps off and stuck our hands in front of our faces, invisible in the utter blackness. The first glimpse of real light is always a relief after doing something like that, even though the chance of a freak-earthquake or getting lost is slimmer than getting hit by a gawking RV driver.
Tuesday we rose with the sun, on the Mist Trail and bound for Half Dome by 7am. Tyler and I can charge up trails with the proper snack motivation, and we cruised to the top of the iconic peak by 11am.
The last time we had been on top of Half Dome was in November after climbing Snake Dike, though we summited and descended in the dark and could not see the glorious view. This time, alone on the rock, it was easy to see why it is such a magnet for people around the world.
If anyone has even a smidgen of fear when it comes to heights, I highly recommend you go during the permit season from May-September when the cables are up. Otherwise you have to grab hold of the slick metal cables and pull yourself up and lower yourself down the surprisingly vertical face. The experience felt like something I would have done in a third-world country, not the litigious U.S.A. Thank goodness for the sticky rubber of climbing shoes!
We’ve been in LA since Wednesday, gorging on too much food with Dad and Elyse, enjoying tank top bike rides throughout the Santa Monica Mountains, and even catching an improv comedy show. We’ve broken up the tedious necessities like applying for healthcare with wonderful, relaxing times with family and friends – ice cream on the beach, laughing at the over-the-top ridiculousness of Furious 7, and hiking around Griffith Park.
Tomorrow we leave for Cuba, and we could not be more entusiasmados. Venga!