A few months ago, off-highhandedly in a late night conversation with Howard, I mentioned that we should take on the challenge of climbing Half Dome in Yosemite. Over the years, Howard has learned to take some of my life decrees with a grain of salt. I mean if I did everything that ever crossed my mind, I won’t be the procrastinating writer who often misses her yoga classes for cuddling sessions with her cats, and where would the fun in that be?
But the Half Dome dream stuck and for a few months before the hike, Howard and I found ourselves training in our separate cities while the thought of pine trees and waterfalls danced in our heads. So last weekend, we left the cats to their adventures and traveled to Yosemite to stay in a Curry Village tent before the big hike.
^^ Our little tent came complete with its own bear locker and heater, both of which were greatly appreciated. These photos were taken over 6 hours and in the last, we’re almost to the top! ^^
I would take you through every mile of the hike but I’m not that mean. All you need to really know is we started out at 7am when the sun was rising and finally made it back to the car at 7pm when the sun had just set. It was 12 hours on the trail, climbing 6,000 feet in altitude, surviving on the gallons of water we had strapped to our backs, cliff bars, penguin gummy snacks, and lunchables. The hike was physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done and to date, one of the scariest.
While I knew about the cables from applying to the Half Dome permit, my mind didn’t anticipate the last four hundred feet of the hike I’d be just pulling myself up the side of a mountain. But once you reach the base, as you can see in that photo where I look anything but comfortable, you simply pull yourself up, wooden plank by plank, hoping you don’t fall and roll down the mountain the entire way. We aren’t strapping ourselves onto anything?! What is this!
Technically I can say, I climbed those cables one and a half times since halfway up the first time I had a panic attack and came down crying. My advice to you, don’t look down and BRING GLOVES! Holding onto the side of one of California’s largest mountains, with nothing more than my own upper body strength to keep me safe, left my knees knocking the entire second time up. But with the great encouragement and patience of Howard — lets keep him, shall we? — we made it to the top and looking over the edge, couldn’t help be in awe of the natural world, and feel so small in its presence. Everyone at the top kept congratulating each other on making it. Numerous strangers came up, expressing how proud they were I’d given it a second try and offering advice for getting down, which was much scarier because the trail got clogged so we just dangled there for a while.
The hike back had to be the hardest part because you’re already exhausted and still have the 8.2 miles to travel home. Your legs are jelly, your feet are throbbing, and all you can do is picture a warm meal at home. But Howard and I chatted all the way about life and current events and dreams and, at times, nothing at all. There’s something special about just being with someone and taking in an incredible experience around you.
Now back in our daily lives, our legs are still stiff and Half Dome seems another world away. Most nights before we fall asleep, one of us will say, Can you belieeeeveeee we did that? And then we’ll begin to plan our next adventure — marathons, world travel, a backpacking trip to Mt. Whitney. Because what are dreams worth having if you’re not living them?
Howard, I love you to Half Dome and back. Thanks for being the world’s best partner.