Friday, July 18, 2014

Half Dome

Neither Aaron or I slept well the night before our half dome hike. The ranger came banging through camp at 2am, we didn't know it was the ranger. Opening food bins and making noise. Aaron was on his knees ready to attack. It is always nice to camp with boys you feel so much safer. I was really nervous and sleep was still really hard to do. So at 5am we were both more than ready to get up. We started hiking at 5:45. Not bad. There were a few others already on the trail. Aaron and I have never done a long hike together so I was interested in how it would go. Let me say that we started FAST! Like super fast, passing everyone fast. I am a decent hiker and I was struggling to keep up with Mister race to the summit. Well that lasted for about 1.5 miles and then he needed a break. I might have given him the are you kidding me, why are we breaking so soon, this is gong to be the longest hike ever look. Turns out he started faster than he should have. I took the lead after that. He wiped himself out and was pulling his legs up with his hands. Too much lactic acid and we are 1/7 of the way in. He did great keeping up with me, if he took the lead he was super slow, so that privilege was lost to him:) We went up on the Mist trail. It is a mile shorter but much steeper. Going up we knew it would be fine.

There was a nice paved path all the way to Vernal Falls, a popular tourist attraction.
 It was very nice and still very early. Yet we were already sweating.
Then the terrain changed and we hiked up two miles of steps to get to Nevada Falls.
 I knew there was a reason I love the stair stepper.
 The waterfalls were gorgeous. It was so quiet hiking in the morning. We were by ourselves for most of the way.
 Once we got to the top of Nevada Falls the terrain evened out for a mile before we started going up again. It was interesting because you could not really see half dome for most of the hike. I wasn't sure we were headed in the right direction. The higher up we got the better the views.
 It was a really hot day. I was so happy we started early.
I wish I had pictures of us hiking the sub dome. You finally reach the granite rock and can see the cables way off in the distance. They look like they are straight up. Then you hike up at least 1000 more stairs on the sub dome to get to the cables. We took a break about 100 yards before the cables. This is when it got real real scary. It looked nuts. It was so steep. I was scared just sitting there, that was a bad idea.
 Finally I told Aaron I had to go. This was crazy. He told me to have fun there was no way he was going. Aaron does not like heights and so I knew this might happen. I said ok and headed towards the cables. The closer I got to the cables the more I realized it was steep but not as steep as it seemed.
It starts off kind of gradual at least. I told Aaron to come to the base and check it out but he insisted that he was good where he was. So off I went on my own adventure. I was blessed to feel great all day while hiking. No vertigo at all, but the cables did make me nervous.
 But I did it! Some random dude volunteered to take my picture.
I also took a couple of panoramic shots from the top.
 The view was amazing and I did not do a good job of capturing all that the eye could see.
 Then I started the dreaded hike down the cables. I was most nervous about going down. I got gown maybe 50 yards and Aaron pokes his head around a random person and says, "you aren't coming down are you." Yes, why yes I was. But I turned around and went back up. I was really happy he did it. Some random stranger talked him into it. We hiked 7 miles for this view. Just to illustrate how scared Aaron is of heights, I went to give him my camera and I touched him and he told me not to touch him. "We don't touch this high up." Um ok. We were not by a ledge and our hands barely grazed while I passed you the camera. Got it. No touching.
 Since Aaron was taking my picture I needed to incorporate a power pose. We learned about these at girls camp this year. It was a take home for me. So here is my power pose overlooking Yosemite Valley.
 We ate lunch on top before heading back down. It was not as bad as I imagined. Actually better than going up.
 I could not take my eyes off the rock though. If I did I got super nervous. No enjoying the view while on the cables for me. We experienced the traffic jam on half dome cables on the way down. To many people, one lady trying to turn around in the middle and freaking out, one lady with a heart condition that could only go 5 steps at a time. We were on those cables a long time trying to get down.
 Aaron said he was good to look around as long as both hands were on the cables. Every time you get to a pole, every 10 yards or so, you have to lift your hands off the cable one at a time. That was the worst for Aaron. He was able to look  around. It was pretty steep though.
We did it. Now we had 8 miles back (taking the John Muir trail). It was really hot and we were only half way done. The hike back was relatively easy though. Long but not too steep. It was fun to go a little different route on the way back. I even let Aaron lead since he goes down faster than me.
 Such a beautiful place. We saw so many people still coming up the trail on our way back. I felt horrible for them. It was so hot. So glad we started early.

 The John Muir trail is less steep and not as close to the waterfalls. It was amazing to get this view of the falls and of half dome. I believe half dome is on the left in the picture, I could be wrong though. I hiked that!
I had Aaron sit on a ledge to take his picture. He didn't like that either.


























Once we got to Vernal Falls and the paved trail we jogged down. We reached the point of wanting to be done. We were sore, tired, hungry, blistered. It was time to be done. After our hike we went straight to the showers.

We were supposed to stay one more night but we knew tomorrow morning was just a clean up and go morning. We also knew the darn rangers would be going through camp again. We decided to just pack up and head to Ben and Katie"s. Half dome was a great adventure. It was 15 miles for us. It took us around 10 hours total. It was a long amazing day. Until next time Yosemite!

Exploring Yosemite Valley

Monday night right before midnight I got the email that we had permits to hike half dome on Wednesday. At this point I was more terrified than excited. It was unfortunate because I have wanted to hike Half Dome for a long time but I just didn't feel good. I am so glad we had a days notice because we were able to plan Tuesday out and make sure we had energy for Wednesday. Tuesday started off waiting in line to secure our campsite for two more nights. Since we arrived after hours we had to do this. It wasn't a big deal it just took up precious morning hours where it is still cool enough to hike. Once that was taken care of we packed our bags for the day and headed out.

So while Amber and I were at Jan and Lou's she read in backpacker magazine about the hike to Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite, the intriging part of the article is what the Native people believed. Wikipedia also confirms what the article said:

The Ahwahneechee tribe believed that Bridalveil Fall was home to a vengeful spirit named Pohono which guarded the entrance to the valley, and that those leaving the valley must not look directly into the waterfall lest they be cursed. They also believed that inhaling the mist of Bridalveil Fall would improve one's chances of marriage.

Since Aaron and I are both single this was a must do. It was our first little adventure in Yosemite Valley. We took the more scenic hiking route. It is all pretty flat but we didn't realize you could just drive and hike on a paved path. Lesson learned. We got to the base of the falls and there was an entire field of boulders we had to cross to inhale the mists. (Picture is from the waterfall looking down at where we came from)
 Aaron was like well we have to go. Remember I didn't feel well. Climbing on boulders seemed like a really bad idea, really bad. I pretty much stepped on a rock and then fell until I caught myself with my arms. It was slow going and my head was spinning. Sacrifices must be made for some things people!!! And I can report that I did inhale those mists and it was really pretty. The waterfall didn't have much water flowing from it because it is summer so we got to get pretty close.
 Nice sweaty back, the joys of hiking with a backpack.
 Not a lot of water coming off those falls. I look like I might fall in. Balance was still a little off.
 The pool at the base of the falls was beautiful. On a warmer morning I would have swam, well if I had my suit on. And seriously who wears a shirt that says, "Everything I do I do it big."

After our morning hike we found a spot to enjoy lunch. After lunch we were looking up what to do next and I realized I needed a nap. At this point I hadn't really slept for three nights and so we headed back to camp and I crashed until it was too hot to sleep. Then we decided to go for a swim and explore the valley on our bikes. So glad we brought my parents cruiser bikes. They were perfect for getting around the valley. We swam in the river. It was gorgeous.
Pictures just don't do the park justice. It is so beautiful it is hard to capture all you see with a picture.
 These two are kind of the same but I love them both.
We enjoyed time in the village. There is an art gallery, a museum, a store, and food. A direct quote from Aaron, "LaNell I am always hungry. Anytime you are hungry you should just assume I have been hungry since the last time we ate." Ok, let's eat some food then!

After dinner we hiked to Lower Yosemite Falls and then started on the path to the upper falls. We knew that was a really long hike so we had a turn around time so we didn't run out of daylight. We also didn't want to be sore for half dome.

The Lower Falls
 On our way to the upper falls
 Me pondering all the great things in life. Man what a view.
It was funny on our little hike how many people were so concerned that we were starting a hike so late at night. Everyone tried to talk us out of going all the way up. We were prepared even if it got dark but there many concerned citizens. After our hike we headed back to camp and prepared everything we needed for half dome. We wanted to wake up at 5am and be ready to roll.

On to the next adventure

My brother Aaron and I had planned a trip to Yosemite. It crossed my mind that maybe I should cancel. You know I still could not walk in a straight line or sleep at night. I don't know why but sleeping was the hardest thing. So weird. But he had taken off work. Neither of us had been. In the end I knew I could just do the easier things if I wasn't feeling up to it.

Sunday night we left my parents and headed to Than and Erica's to sleep for the night. This put us closer to Oakland so we could drop Amber off at the airport. Than and Erica were in Utah, definite bummer, but were nice enough to let us use their house. It worked great. We got Amber to the airport and then stopped in to have lunch with Sariah.
Man I got lucky with this friend. We catch up so easily. We know each others families. We have so many great memories together. It was so much fun to spend a couple of hours with her. Can't wait until she is in Utah in August!

After she treated us to lunch we started our drive to Yosemite. We did not have reservations for camping so we were hoping there would be something for us when we got there. That is very risky business when it comes to National Parks, especially this one. I was very surprised at the terrain as we got closer to the park. Before you get to Yosemite you drive through this nasty canyon. Everything was dead and hot. I am sure it is pretty in the spring and winter. You get to Yosemite and BAM it is green and amazing. We entered close to Yosemite Valley and the views were breath taking. Different than anything I had ever seen. We did not stop for pictures though, we were on an important mission: find a campsite. We lucked out and there were three spots left in Camp 4. I think it helped that we were getting to the park on a Monday following a holiday weekend.
It is a walk in camp site. We had the lame spot right by the bathroom but we didn't care. The view from our tent was spectacular.
We had a place to sleep and it was close to everything we wanted to do. We got camp set up and then took some pictures.

 This is what you see as you enter the park.
 Here is a shot of half dome.
Our goal was to hike half dome but at this point we still didn't have a permit. I had applied on Sunday night to hike on Tuesday and was denied. I had to apply again on Monday night to see if we could go on Wednesday. Looking back it is really good that we didn't get permits for Tuesday. I don't think I could have done the hike and we would have lost our campsite. This was all we had time for on Monday. As dark approached we went to bed. I didn't sleep again. Still suffering whenever I was laying down or closing my eyes.

And then the trip ended . . . . . . a little earlier than planned

Like I mentioned in my last post I was feeling great. Once we got back on the coast I was really enjoying myself. Yes there were hills, I was tired, the days were long but the cool temperatures and amazing scenery seemed to make it all ok for me. So I have no idea what happened in the early morning hours of July 5th. I think it was around 2am. I was in my tent, a little uncomfortable on my side (you know camping problems), and so I did what I had been doing all week long, I rolled over. And in that roll my world went crazy. Everything began to spin. Not a little but a lot. I tried rolling back over, I laid on my back, I sat up (really bad idea), I closed my eyes. Nothing made the world stop spinning. I found the most relief flat on my back with my eyes open. Just watching my tent spin in circles. As daylight approached I really had to go the bathroom but there was no way I was going to sit up again. Between 7 and 8 Amber mentioned that we should get going and I told her my dilemma. At this point I forced myself up and to the bathroom. What would make the day worse, peeing my bed, so off to the bathroom it was. I could not walk straight. It took a lot of focus. When I sat down on the toilet I was hit with a massive wave of nausea. I made it back to camp. Threw up all my carrots from the night before and climbed back in my tent.
 Luckily Amber had some Dramamine that I took and finally was able to sleep a little. She went to town and charged our phones and I just slept. She came back in what felt like minutes but had been hours. I felt a little better. I went to the bathroom. We discussed our options. We had no flexibility in our schedule. She had a plane to catch on Monday. We had to either get on our bikes or call it quits. I started packing up my gear and as I did I realized there was no way I could bike 60 miles, like no possible way. I was so bummed and sad. At that point I realized I had to call my parents. It was super emotional for me. Not because I was sick but I was so disappointed. We had come so far. I was so looking forward to riding across the golden gate bridge. It was a huge let down to what had been a great adventure. I was devastated and so naturally I started bawling when I heard my Mom's voice. Luckily my parents were close and able to provide a rescue, in a few hours.

We got kicked out of our campsite. Lots of people wanted in and we were not staying another night so we got the boot. We finished packing up and by some miracle I rode 2 miles into town to wait for my parents. Of course this was the coldest day yet and it was freezing as we hunkered down outside of the grocery store. Our new home for 5 hours. Feeling miserable is bad enough feeling miserable and not being able to lay down or get comfortable is awful. It was a long day, but my parents made it and we drove back to Oroville for the night. Since that day everyday has been a little better. I still feel a little weird but I can function. Every time I think about not riding across the bridge I get a little angry on the inside.

So here our the stats:
6 days on bikes
340.16 miles (plus a few where I didn't turn on my GPS)
15, 412 calories burned
20,674 ft of elevation gain (5,098 was the most in one day)
28 hours spent biking

Here were the pros in my opinion:
  • Meeting lots of other people (the English brothers, the German, the college boys, the couple). All biking lots of miles. One of the college boys even offered me a beer. I was so touched:) Most of the people we met will be biking for 2-3 months. Made me feel like our trip was wimpy.  I have no idea how non-teachers can bike for an entire summer. I really enjoyed listening to their stories and hearing about their adventures.
  • Feeling like I was in good biking shape. I am sure I have lost it by now but I felt great towards the end of the week. As I downloaded all my data I realized my heart rate was a little lower everyday as my fitness increased. The last day had the most climbing but my average heart rate was the least.
  • I love seeing the world by bike. You just have more time to soak it all in. This was a very impressive route to bike.
  • Having a mid-week break. That was truly amazing and helped re-energize me for the rest of the week.
  • Improving the time it takes to set up and take down camp. We got really fast by the end of our journey.
  • Drinking a Dr. Pepper every single afternoon and not feeling bad. It is the only thing that sounded good and I needed those calories.
  • Realizing that I would do it again. Hopefully in another country someday!
  • My touring bike investment was well worth it. I loved the bike and I didn't have any problems with my gear. So glad I talked to some people and read lots of reviews before deciding what to do.
Here were some of the cons:
  • Our food choices were very limited because we didn't bring a stove. If I were to do it again I think I would consider bringing a stove. Eating from gas stations got old. I ate junk and I could feel that.
  • Possibly stick to 50-60 miles a day. The 70 mile days were just really long.
  • Not enough hot tubs on the route.
  • Very little shoulder on the road for this route. Something less traveled by car would be great.
  • I hardly ate any vegetables at all. I actually really missed having them in my diet.
  • I think biking less miles but adding some hiking each day would be amazing, if the route allowed it.
  • Visiting an area that I was familiar with. Good for a first timer but I am longing to go somewhere new.
I feel like I need to post some feelings I had leading up to this adventure. My heart was set on Biking from Astoria, Oregon to Coos Bay, Oregon. That was what I really wanted to do. I had made arrangements with my parents and that was the plan but I seriously did not feel good about it. I kept thinking that it was because I was asking my parents to drive so far but now I think it was impressions to keep me close to home. There were no indicators that I would have any issues with my health at all. That was so far from my concerns. Yet I believe Heavenly Father knows me better than I do. He can see the future. I really believe he kept prompting me to stay closer to home knowing how this trip would end. I was upset for days as I changed the route. I kept trying to go up into Oregon but it just wasn't right. I believe it was revelation that kept us closer to home and I will forever be grateful for that. I know His hand is in my life on a daily basis and it's just better that way.

Manchester to Bodega Bay

 The day started off cloudy and yucky. We had a long day ahead of us and the weather was a little depressing. Up to this point we had been very fortunate. We woke up to sunshine every other morning on the coast. When does that ever happen? Despite the long day ahead we took a 4 mile detour to see the Pt. Area Lighthouse. On a clear day it would have been amazing.
It sits right on the San Andreas fault line, at least that is what a tourist from Kentucky told us. Glad someone did their research.
We didn't stay too long. There were also tons of sea lions on the rocks. I always like seeing the ocean wildlife.
After 15 miles or so we biked into the sunshine.
It was another day filled with beautiful coastal views and lots of rolling hills.
 I was amazed at the cliffs. It was not completely clear so none of my pictures quite capture how high up we were and how rugged the terrain was. It's times like this when I really think about Heavenly Father and the amazing world that has been created for us to live on. I had never been on this section of the coast and it was truly amazing. The cows grazing right next to the road on the crazy cliffs caught me by surprise.
There were lots of big hills this day and we really worked hard to grind out the 71 miles we covered. According to my GPS we climbed over 5,000 ft on this day so it was long and tedious. I didn't mind it though. I don't know if it was the views or my body adjusting but I felt great and had a good day on my bike. Even though it was a good day I was still super excited to finally reach our destination at Bodega Bay.
It was July 4th. We spent the entire day biking. I was a little disappointed in small town America. I was hoping that the little towns would have been more patriotic. Nothing all day long. I wore my red, white, and blue outfit for nothing. Not even Flags were hung. Luckily bikers don't need reservations we had a place to rest our weary heads.

Fort Bragg to Manchester

Remember I said it was hard to leave Willits. It was not so terrible but it was sad to know we were leaving all of life's comforts for a bike seat....again. Lou was kind enough to drive us to Fort Bragg so we were back on route. We had all clean clothes and a shorter day of biking ahead of us.

We ate in Fort Bragg. Two funny things here. The first and funniest is Amber ate three cheeseburgers at McDonalds. Who does that??? Not either of us usually but our bodies were just eating up the calories. It was crazy. The best part is she felt fine afterwards. The we went and got ice cream and I ate two huge scoops. Who does that? Not me normally. I ate every last bite and it was delicious. Fort Bragg has the best ice cream. I love their black forest.
 To say we were happy to be back on the coast would be a huge understatement. The views are so much better and the temperature was amazing. It felt so good to be back in the 60 degree weather.
 This was also a shorter biking day. Just 43 miles so we had time to stop and enjoy some things. Like Medicino City. We really just biked through it but what a cute little town.
I really grew to love my touring bike.
Didn't grow to love all that gear though.

There were cute little towns all along the coast this day. We stopped at Navarro Beach. We used the restrooms and I got out my towel and laid on the beach.
It felt great until the wind started blowing like crazy. It was a nice break from the bike seat and we were half way done for the day.

We went through Elk. Most the little towns just had one small store. That was all Elk had.
 After Elk we had the steepest climb of our trip. It wasn't long but I had a hard time keeping my front tire on the ground it was so steep. We rested at the top of that hill.
 Such beautiful views.
 There were lots of picture opportunities.
 Share the road signs were everywhere. There were so many bikers and cars and not many wide shoulders.
When we got to Manchester State Park we were a little dissapointed. There were no showers, or running water, or real toilets. After biking all day I was MAD. I did not want to sleep in sweaty clothes. Luckily there was a KOA just down the street. We decided to go check out the pricing there. Best decision ever! $10 a person for bikers. Great. Oh and they had showers, a pool and a hot tub. The hot tub was pretty much the best thing ever!
 I could have stayed in there all night. Then we enjoyed a walk on the beach as the sun was setting.
It was a great day.