Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Lesson in Humility

Wednesday morning Shelly, Kelsey, and I flew to Fresno, CA and then drove to one of the most amazingly beautiful places I have ever seen, Yosemite National Park. As you drive there you wind your self and I do mean wind, through beautiful forested mountains. Along the way you drive through a long tunnel carved out of a granite mountain and as you are coming out of it you see this amazing view, WOW !
We then drove to Curry Camp and moved into our humble abode a little tent cabin with 4 beds in it. It was very clean and very comfortable and it had a little desk with a chair and a light.  There were hundreds of other tents just like this in the camp. We were only a couple tents away from the bathroom which made it nice especially in the middle of the night. Bears are a big problem there so they have you put all food, drink, cosmetics, and toiletries in the bear boxes outside of each tent. You can see it to the right with the water bottles sitting on it. If you take anything in your tent with a sent you may have an unwanted visitor in the night. I double checked my backpack every night to make sure I hadn't missed anything.  We never saw a bear, but Kelsey is sure she heard one on the hike, thumping, rustling, and breathing heavy in some brush near the trail we were on. Shelly started playing here harmonica and we all started yelling and singing to keep him away.

Wednesday night Shelly's friend Eda met up with us, she is second to the left.  We went to bed around 10 but none of us slept very well. There were too many noises and it got pretty cold. I think I got about one hour of good sleep. We got up at 4 am to get ready and left camp at 5 with our head lamps blazing. The dark made for an interesting first few miles which entailed some steep uphill trails and never ending stairs carved out of rock going up the side of a cliff with the rush of a waterfall in the blackness. We could feel the spray of the water from it, thus that part of the trail is called Mist Trail. It felt really good because we were working very hard and had worked up a sweat. The higher elevation made it more challenging as well.We made it to the top of Vernal Falls just as the sun was coming up, it was so beautiful.

It was very sad to realize that just last month 3 people were swept over the falls and died at this very spot. They went over the railing and with the slippery rocks and rushing water they lost there balance. Only one body has been found so far. They actually closed this area for a few hours shortly after we passed by so they could continue searching for the two missing people. There was a picture of them posted near this spot as missing persons, a pretty young woman and young man in their twenties.

We continued on the trail and passed by this beautiful crystal clear river. Our destination was  about 3 miles away. Around this point we crossed paths with a young man who was from Ohio. He was traveling across the country on his motorcycle and had hiked the Grand Canyon the week before. I asked him how he was handling this hike because I felt it was very hard and he said "it is a lesson in humility." I loved that statement because I could totally relate.  Nature is very humbling when you are faced with all of the challenges it places before you. When we reached the last climb before we got to the cables to go up Half Dome I had to talk myself into going on. It consisted of another set of granite stairs carved out of the side of a mountain with nothing to hold onto except for wide open space all around you. It was rightfully named Misery Hill by Shelly's father.  We were at about 7000 ft elevation at that point. I was doing OK until we hit the end of the stairs and we had to walk across smooth slanted granite with a steep incline. I couldn't handle it and started to feel very panicky so I told everyone I couldn't go any further. Talk about humbling. Everyone else was doing fine but the heighth was really getting to me. Shelly went most of the way down with me to make sure I would be OK. At certain spots where the steps were really steep I had to scoot down on my rear. I found a spot to wait with all the other unfortunate souls who couldn't make it up the mountain while Kelsey and Shelly scaled up the side of Half Dome. They had two cables to hold onto and they had caribeners and a harnuss to strap themselves onto the cables for safety. At one point they said they had to pull themselves with all their strength to get to the top because it is almost straight up.
The picture below is Half Dome. We had to hike to the far right side of it from this point. 

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