The month is August, the year 2015. I recorded my feelings in a notebook about my 1800 mile drive from San Diego, California, to Seattle, Washington.
“What is our life if it is not lived to it’s fullest? Who is normal and why have I spent so much time searching for my place in the spectrum of another’s eyes? This long journey north has shown me that life is impeccable, unpredictable, and littered with possibility: there is no wrong way to discover adventure. The first step out the door of comfort is the hardest, but so fucking worth it!”
After spending two weeks camping in the dirt, rekindling old friendships, visiting family, couch hopping; I discovered an independence inside my soul that had lay dormant my whole life. I woke with the sun most days, spent much of my time traveling on Interstate 5, and discovered that true friendship is the life’s finest wine: it really does get better with time.
Leaving Olympia, Washington around 6 pm, my soul-sister and I traveled south bound into the night, finally stopping at Castle Crags State Park around 3:30 am. Weary and delirious with laughter, we set up camp and rested our bones in the empty campground for a few hours. The next morning around 10 am we began our 8 hour drive via automobile, from Castle Crags State campground to Yosemite Valley. After long hours in the car, my companion and I decided it was time to stop. Tears had overcome me with exhaustion and communication between me and one of my oldest friends had began to fail. It was nothing a hot shower, warm meal, and a long nights sleep could not fix. Great friends are like that; they are and extension of the self and sometimes know you better than you think. Fate led us to the last campsite available, five minutes before the reservation desk closed: solace was found at the Yosemite Pines RV Campground.
That night a meteor shower flew over our heads, and we slept with the fly off the tent. As I closed my eyes and floated to sleep, excitement surged through me. I became refreshed after the long voyage in on winding back-country roads, but I was anxious to awaken the dawn and begin the five day “backpacking-trip-finale” to my already amazing summer excursion. Restless and ready we rose early, 4:30 am, packed up camp and jammed out the remaining 2 hour drive into the valley. On my second journey to the praised valley, new-found feelings and thoughts begin to unravel. What is wealth, riches, who am I and who do I want to become?
We arrived in the valley around 6 am, found coffee, and began the wait for a “first-come-first-serve” permit outside the Wilderness Center. Around 10 am a man approached us, and offered up two of his reserved permits to hike up to Little Yosemite Valley. We graciously accepted and learned that this was a stroke of major luck, as per the ranger: “There are no permits available to hike out of the valley today”. Permits secured, we headed to the back packers camp, dumped our gear and said good bye to the car for the next 5 days.
The following morning we began our ascent up to Little Yosemite Valley. After 8 miles, of “ass-burn” we finally made it to Little Yosemite Valley and found a campsite to make our home for the next few days. Once the hard work was over we played in the Merced River and ate out of our bear cans like, well- very hungry bears! That night I slept like a baby, nestled deep in my sleeping bag, with one of my best friends a few inches away. My soul-sister and I woke early before the sun; stars still shimmering overhead. We were excited to begin the highlight of our journey into this pristine slice of wilderness: Destination Half-Dome!
The hike up to Half-Dome is one of the hardest hikes imaginable. Steep as ever, constantly winding and ascending, until you finally reach the sub-dome; that is where inner strength is vital. The scary part of the hike begins here: upon the climbing of small steps, etched out of one massive granite pluton. Instincts reject the action all together, and send all signals of self preservation into overdrive. THEN you reach the cables, which I have found to be the most treacherous part. The cables defy all laws of gravity and sane human actions. I dug deep on the climb up; discovering inside a strong woman with a strong vibrant will. After some coaxing and encouragement for my comrade (who was new to the experience), with our spirit high, and our smiles wide, my soul-sister and I made it to the top!
In 2014 I climbed Half-Dome and cried like a baby the entire way up AND down. This time I stayed strong and found pride in my accomplishment of making it to the top two years in a row. On this journey into the wilderness of Yosemite National Park I discovered more to myself than I ever imagined. I learned that true friends are priceless, and that becoming secure in who you are requires great adversity, but will never be something you regret. After four wonderful days in the wilderness, soul-sister and I did the descent back into the chaos of Yosemite Valley on the weekend. First, we dumped our packs at the car. Then we gorged ourselves on cheeseburgers and giggled like children with each bite. Lastly, we hit the showers, refreshed and ready we headed home to San Diego.
The name Yosemite, means “Those Who Kill”. This could be seen as a bad thing, especially inside the historical context from which it came. But I see it as a positive. For me Yosemite means: “Those Who Kill” that fabricated version of themselves they thought they needed to be. For me Yosemite means, new life and adventure!