"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." - John Muir
On Friday after work, we piled into three cars, trunks full of food, and drove into the night to Yosemite Park. We arrived at our beautiful four-bedroom cabin (about 30 minutes away from the trail) at nearly midnight and started stocking the fridge and making PBJs, assembly-line style. We could hardly put ourselves to bed with the anticipation of climbing Half Dome on Saturday.
With grand plans of waking at the crack of dawn, everyone fell into a restful slumber, only to get up at… 8 a.m. Oops. Gulping down coffee and scarfing down bananas, we hit the road before our ascent finally began.
Miles one and two were absolutely brutal: My internal monologue went something like: “AHHHHHH @#!$#@$&$&!” Imagine a couple hours of non-stop Stairmaster - hiking in Yosemite (as others had warned me) was no joke. For a girl who thinks chewing is a vigorous activity, I had severely overestimated my physical abilities. Slowly and steadily though, somehow we did the seven miles up. Though the ice and snow prevented most of the group from attempting the cables, two of our slightly crazy and incredibly in-shape friends made the climb despite the ranger claiming it was a suicide mission.
By the time we came down, our bodies felt bruised and battered: muscles were cramping, knees were giving out, toes were blistering. We stopped at the Curry Village grocery store for sustenance, headed back to our cabin, and the boys made a feast for the weary. Barely putting a dent into our libations, the hikers passed out one by one early in the night.
In the morning, friend and future YouTube star ;) Peter serenaded us as we packed up and munched on Hot Pockets - a warm-and-fuzzy end to our time in the great outdoors.
Between LA, Vegas, Miami, DC, Taipei, Hong Kong, and SF, I’ve been all over the place of 2011 - but Half Dome was actually one of my favorite trips of the year. The satisfaction of doing the most challenging climb in Yosemite, bonding with friends old and new on the trail, and being rewarded with majestic views after hours of pain - it was one of those feel-good experiences that left a lasting impression.
I will admit… I get major anxiety when wifi and cell reception are not readily available. But being unplugged for a few days was incredibly liberating, if only because I was forced to take in the trees, the mountains, the snow, the fresh air, and the silence for 48 hours.
Along the trail, we bumped into people from all over the world who had come to experience Half Dome - I can’t believe Yosemite’s been in my backyard for so many years, and I’ve only just now taken the time to discover it. I can’t wait to attempt it again next year, cables and all. (This time perhaps I will exercise more than once in the weeks leading up to it so that I’m not the slowest person in the group, despite being the youngest. SADFACE.)
“Death is very likely the single best invention of life. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life … have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”—Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech 2005
What I look like after two weeks of having cake for breakfast:
Note: Cheesecake is from Ijy Sheng, one of my favorite bakeries in Taipei - a few blocks away from Shida Night Market. In addition to a smorgasbord of drool-worthy cakes, breads, and pastries, they specialize in the most amazing mochi - glutinous rice balls with a sweet filling (e.g. sesame, peanut, red bean). Sesame - as always - is my favorite!
Ijy Sheng Bakery: 53 Shida Road, Taipei City (between the Shida subway stop and night market)