I can do that.

There are many more difficult day hikes in this world than the 16-mile round-trip trek to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.  I have't been to those places.  I haven't seen those challenges first hand.

50,000 people hike to the top of it every year, so what's the big deal?  Well for starters over 3,000,000 people visit the park...making it about

Yes, it's iconic. (It was on the California state quarter.) Yes, it's on the list of hikes everyone is supposed to conquer.  But I never was much of a hiker so lists like that mean very little to me.  I enjoyed it, but I'm not the intense kind of granola outdoorsy type as a lot of other people I know.  I don't even really like to camp.  So simply put, it's just one of those things I've wanted to do for a very, very long time...from before I even saw the incredible granite monolith with my own eyes for the first time seven years ago.

On that first trip, we had no realistic expectation to get far as we were sickingly out of shape--I weighed over 30 pounds more than I do now.  With a need to feel at least a little active on our first trek to the valley, Liz and I walked up the first mile or so from the parking lot to the base of Vernal Falls and it practically killed us.

On visit number two, I was on a revival road trip of sorts with my old friend, Ryan Howe.  My physical condition was only a bit better, but we somehow pushed ourselves 3.5 miles up the trail--ending at the top of Nevada Falls. This was a grueling 1,900 foot climb up along the cliffs of two massive waterfalls. It was a gorgeous hike but we were both drop dead exhausted by the end. (I recall nearly falling asleep eating pasta in the cabin that night). And the top of Nevada Falls isn't even close to half the distance or elevation to the top. Plus, it doesn't involve the dreaded cable climb (we'll get back to that one another time).

Ever since that trip I've talked about wanting to go back--this time prepared--to make the entire journey. It presented several challenges--1. We needed to take up hiking.  2. We needed to find the time to get back to Yosemite (it's over six hours from our house), preferably in the late Spring or early Summer before the waterfalls calmed to a trickle. 3. We needed to prepare ourselves with increasingly difficult and longer hikes.

We moved on the first challenge last January.  Around the time that Barack Obama was inaugurated, Liz and I bought our first hiking shoes and a daypack. We started going on short nearby hikes of a few miles. But our options were limited and without a trip planned we had no reason to progressively push ourselves.  While four-mile hikes might be great for exercise and fresh air, they weren't going to get us up Half Dome.

There were a lot of conversations with no action and Half Dome was starting to feel like a lofty crazy idea.  Liz went to Boston for the summer and by the time she returned it would be way too late to be ready before the trail closed for winter.  We often make plans and don't follow through. It's a problem we have and the goal (and trip it required) was only becoming more emblematic of that with each passing day.

That changed a few days before Valentine's Day when we talked about it seriously once again. Liz took that as a cue to frame a picture I took on our first trip and give it me. She said, "We can do this." And we've been realistically moving forward to make it happen ever since.

It's crazy how fast things move the moment you commit to the decision in your head. I don't know why I don't act in such a way more often.  Soon we pulled out a couple Los Angeles hiking guidebooks and started tagging trails for preparation. And two weeks ago I booked a place for us to stay at the end of June. Finally, an end date.


Biggs said...

Good luck, stilesbeirne.com.

Anonymous said...

That's so awesome! I'm so proud of you guys! I think this is a great "subplot" for your blog