June 17, 2016

The Valley At Last

Yosemite. The fairy tales are all true. On our last evening of our two week stay we were eating a well deserved pizza after our epic Half Dome hike and I over heard a woman asking a Yosemite regular if she only had one day in the valley what should she do. The regular replied, “go sit in a meadow and cry.”

Our stop in Yosemite came a few weeks earlier than planned which worked out perfectly. Our friends, Mark and Julie, from Maryland met us there. Julie is pregnant and was quickly reaching the “no fly zone” of her term. We were all a bit concerned about the weather impeding our hiking and climbing plans. Just a few days before they arrived it snowed, but then the sun came out and we had perfect weather the entire week. Julie had been training for hikes and impressed us all with how much she was able to do. While the boys rock climbed, her and I saw a sandy color black bear on one of our outings! We all stayed at the Cozy Bear Cottages in Yosemite West neighborhood. It was very cozy, our hosts were awesome, and Phil and I got a much needed break from van life. The four of us checked out the famous Camp 4 and went to almost every waterfall. Spring is definitely waterfall season. Phil and Mark climbed Royal Arches, a fifteen pitch trad route. The 19 repels took five and a half hours alone! It was a great accomplishment for both of them individually and as a team.

After Mark and Julie went home it started to rain. We waited a few days and on Phil’s birthday we hiked up to El Capitan and did some scrambling to the base of the climb. That rock climb takes about five days to complete, is way above my skill level, and requires gear we don’t own yet. So maybe another year. On our last day in the park we hiked Half Dome. It is sixteen miles round trip and 4800 ft of elevation gain. The last 400 ft is a vertical climb up cables. During the summer season the park creates a type of staircase with cables and wood boards, but we opted to go when the cables were down. The cables are still there to hold on to. We used our climbing harnesses and a prusik knot for extra safety on the cables. This technique also let us take a rest whenever we wanted. A huge advantage to hiking Half Dome when the cables are down is that there are very few people. During the summer season they give out 300 permits a day to do the hike! This is one of our favorites things we’ve ever done and are delighted we got to do it together.