|Half Dome at 530am|
What a whirlwind few days it has been. I am sitting here on my couch trying to do some pressure release therapy on myself. I never thought just crossing my legs would provide such relief. Let's just say that when I put my legs up on my mini table like I normally do, instead of my calf muscles nicely flattening out and being all comfy, it's like I am laying them on top of two apples. My calf muscles are so tight I walk like I have braces on both legs.
How did I get here? Well, I conquered physical feat #2 of 2011: hiking Half Dome.
I never fully doubted I could do it, but there were some fears. Would my feet hold up? Could I get over the heights (even though I've never had a full blown fear of heights)? Would my legs give out from the 7 or so miles of constant uphill? Would I freeze when I got to the cables? How about if I managed to get up but couldn't get myself to go down?
|The stairs up the Mist Trail|
I definitely was not the fastest in the group. The constant barrage of stairs and uphill climbs definitely had me winded. I was thankful for breaks here and there to catch my breath and give my glutes a break.
But the views were breathtaking. The last time I hiked just a portion of this trail we were in a drought. The Mist Trail was hardly misty. This time it felt like I was walking through a really windy rainstorm. I likened it to a hurricane, but obviously have not been in one of those. A simple poncho really didn't help a bit.
But on to the tears and triumph. Let's just say the crying started before I even got to the cables and was really unexpected. I cry when frustrated, but not sure I thought I'd cry from fear. Maybe I was frustrated of my fear - who knows.
|The route up the sub dome and dome|
S-C-A-R-Y is an understatement. Not only is it just steps carved into a side of the mountain, but at times they weren't really wide and sometimes they disappeared all together so you were just hoping you didn't slide off the face of this rock. Enter: the tears.
After some deep breaths, prayer and some motivation from friends, I continued on.
|The cable portion - those little specks are people!|
I really don't know how long it took, but luckily the cables weren't too crowded. I would estimate after 20-25 minutes we were at the top. It felt good.
The views at the top were amazing - you really feel like you are at the top of the world. We went from about 4000ft elevation to about 8800ft elevation in about 6 hours. To look down and see where you started really was unbelievable.
Then it was time for picture taking and seeing who could get the closest to the edge and make me feel nauseous by doing so. I managed to get on my butt about 5ft from the edge and scoot just far enough out to get a toe over the edge, but others were sitting on the edge with their feet hanging over. No way for me.
|That's me! Toe over the edge.|
I was even amazed that there was still snow at the top and little critters running around. Someone said one was a marmot and I think there was a squirrel too. I had to think, what the heck are they finding up here for food?
That was about to change.
The combination of exhaustion, downhill (no bueno for the knees) and the forming blisters on my feet really made it a tough hike home. Knowing I had 8 or so miles ahead of me killed the spirit just a bit. We had decided to take a different trail back to the bottom since it offered more switchbacks to hopefully help with the knees, but it didn't help much other than give me another mile of exercise.
And the last 4 miles took FOR. EV. ER.
|We rocked Half Dome!|
Overall, I am so proud of what me and my friends accomplished. I know a lot of people have done this hike before, but I also know a lot more people have not and never will. It's definitely not for the faint of heart and to be a part of the group who pushed themselves to do something that difficult feels awesome.
And to accomplish one of my 2011 goals times TWO feels doubly awesome.