Conquering Half Dome

When Matt and I decided to go to Yosemite, I left most of the planning to him. He talked about going on a few hikes, one in particular called “Half Dome.” I didn’t pay much attention to him during these rants… I figured “hey, I’m from New Hampshire. I practically grew up in the mountains. How hard can this hike actually be?” Well, let me tell you…hard.

When I was in 8th grade, my school spend the first third of the year preparing for our trip to Mt. Cardigan. We practiced outdoor survival skills like getting up tents, starting soil, measuring trees and analysing soil. But more than that, we learned teamwork, independence and real problem solving skills. The memories that I formed in 8th grade, particularly on our trip to Mt. Cardigan, are some of the fondest that I have from my childhood.

When Matt was in 8th grade, his school took a trip to Washington D.C. They toured the city and spent the night in a hotel. Honestly, there is no comparison between our experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I love the city of D.C. and think that the city has a lot to offer. However, going with your school won’t provide a very different experience than if you took a family vacation to D.C. That is what made Mt. Cardigan so special. It was an experience that was created by our teachers and more importantly, by ourselves.

For the past 9 years, every time Matt and I go on an outdoorsy type vacation I compare it to Mt. Cardigan. When we went hiking in the White Mountains, it wasn’t as intense as Cardigan. When we went hiking and camping in Havasu, Arizona it wasn’t as intense as Cardigan. When we went canyoning and ice climbing in Interlaken, Switzerland it wasn’t as intense as Cardigan. When we went cliff jumping in Capri, Italy it wasn’t as intense as Cardigan. Matt has grown to detest Mt. Cardigan because none of our trips can ever live up to those 4 days.

Well, after successfully hiking to the top of Half Dome last week, I am happy to report (and Matt is EXTREMELY happy to hear) that it was more intense than Mt. Cardigan. After more than 16 miles, 9 hours, 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,  and more than 8 liters of water later we successfully completed Half Dome.

Although we both walked away extremely tired with sore muscles, it was worth it. The views from the top were worth the sheer terror I felt while hoisting myself up the “cables” at the top of the mountain.

So now when Matt and I take our vacations, they will have to live up to the experience of conquering half dome… although, Cardigan will always have a special place in my heart.

A Walk in the Woods

After our awesome weekend in San Francisco, Matt and I left for our second adventure, Yosemite. We drove to the edge of the park on Sunday and stayed in a nice little motel for the night. We ate pizza and I was introduced to the beer, “Fat Tire” which Matt has been raving about for years. Thankfully the beer lived well up to expectations and I am now on a mission to get this beer for our wedding. I spend the evening organizing and packing, and then re-packing my bags while Matt watched his favorite TV show, True Blood. We went to bed early in preparation for our big camping experience.

In the morning we drove the remaining 50 miles into Yosemite. The views were breathtaking. It is hard to capture the sites on a camera, but we tried anyway. After finding our campground, we set up our tent and stored all of our food in our bear locker, before heading out for our first hike.

We started hiking up a 4 mile path that was a little more challenging that I had anticipated. I was sort of shocked to see so many people on their way back down, who looked like they were not in shape or dressed appropriately for the hike. I started to feel slightly pathetic as I struggled to make my way to the top, thinking that these people had done the same hike as well. Well, when we got to the top, an area called glacier point, I was surprised to see a parking lot full of cars, buses dropping people off and a large store containing souvenirs and all sorts of food. Seeing this, I felt a lot better about my struggles, as most of the people we had seen on the hike, had probably taken the bus up. It was a little weird to see such a commercialized area in the middle of our hike, but that didn’t stop Matt and I from taking advantage of it and getting some ice cream! Clearly we aren’t as hardcore as I make us out to be.

After satisfying our hunger, we continued on our hike. When we started the day, a 13 mile hike sounded like a good idea. It was about 6 miles in, that I realized that is the same distance as a half marathon. I would never go out and run 13 miles without a little ¬†preparation. Suddenly, I felt a long way from our campsite…

Matt and I hiked on, climbing our way to the top of three different waterfalls. As hard as the hike turned out to be, the views were incredible. You don’t see sites like these in New York, that is for sure!

After 8 hours, we finally made our way back to the valley floor. With sore muscles and blisters on my feet, I was so exhausted that I didn’t mind sleeping on the hard ground, the hot temperature inside our small tent, or the bears that were walking around our campsite looking for left over food.

The good news was that we survived our first hike. The bad news was that our hardest hike of the trip was still 2 days away. Up next, tackling Half Dome…