Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Yosemite: Day Two

If you recall, we were all in bed and snoring by 8:30pm. And we didn't get UP until 8:30am. And it was nice. No rush. No worries. No time frame. Just...us and the Yosemite Valley. We got up slowly. The boys stayed in their sleeping bags playing their video games...yes, we let them bring them along. It's a long drive. They stayed in bed a while playing video games and Chris and I walked down to the coffee shop for a coffee. We came back and ate danishes and fruit and enjoyed our coffee out on our little porch while watching the very brave ground squirrels forage for their breakfast. The air was crisp and the sky was clear. It was going to be a good day.

Eventually, we headed out. Chris and the boys had packed up the backpack with everything we needed to survive for a week. Not really...but it seemed like it! Rope and knives and a water purifier. Several frozen bottles of water and a snack lunch of cheeses wrapped in wax, a summer sausage, trail mix, apples, some grapes. We were set. We hopped on the shuttle and headed to our destination: Vernal Falls.

This is just the beginning of the trail. There is no bad place in Yosemite. No matter where you go you will find something beautiful and amazing. Everywhere you turn there is beauty. Little bits of beauty in leaves or dried seed pods or little lizards warming themselves in the sun. Or huge, majestic, jaw-dropping beauty in the cliffs of the surrounding granite mountains.
We began our ascent. This was considered a "moderate" hike. So it got your heart pumping. A few areas were steeper than others so we'd stop now and then to catch our breath. Well, I would stop now and then to catch my breath and the boys would humor me and then go climb whatever rock was handy.
The boys decided to climb up this little outcropping of rocks and as I'm watching them I'm thinking, "I think I could do that." So I said to Chris, "I think I could climb that." He looked very surprised but then said, "I'm sure you could!" So...I did.

See me at the top there throwing peace signs? I did it! I was so proud of myself. I won't, however, show you the pictures Chris took of me actually climbing because I am SURE my butt is NOT as big as those pictures make it look. I'm sure of it. Ahem.
No sooner am I basking in my own glory and feeling all brave and accomplished do I notice something scurrying up above me to my left. You have to look close to see him, it was Ian scaling a slab of granite. (You can actually see him in the above photo, just his little head poking up there...sneaky.)
Can you see him there underneath that tree in the middle of the photo? It's kind of dark, I know. But I wanted to share this photo because it makes me laugh. You have to see the look on MY face. See me there in the bottom left corner of the photo? I went from proud and elated and holding up peace signs to terrified and straight-faced in like half a second. And I think I said a bad word...or seven. So much for peace.
Somehow, despite this harrowing climb (humor me), we made it to our destination: the halfway point to Vernal Falls. At this point you can either keep going up, up and up on what Chris was referring to as "The StairMaster 5000" or you can head back down. Well, as the boys are looking out over the bridge they decide we need to hike down by the water for our picnic.

Simple enough. Right? But for some reason this just threw me for an anxious loop. But, I did it anyway because I want my boys to have adventures regardless of my fears. I don't want to pass it along to them...and thankfully, given their boulder hopping, rock climbing, log balancing skills...I haven't. Thank goodness.
Down we go, down to the boulders and the water and whatever else was waiting for us. Wild animals in MY mind. My anxiety is just going crazy as my family goes further down this little trail and then down a somewhat steep (to me) embankment and then out onto giant granite boulders that when the falls are flowing are usually under water.
They all go down this little embankment without a second thought. I, on the other hand, begin to cry. I'm frozen. Paralyzed. And blind from my tears. They are having the time of their lives and are instantly running from boulder to boulder...and out of sight...each kid going in different directions. And now, the anxiety is in FULL FORCE. Chris notices that I'm not down there with them and comes back to try to "encourage" me. I tell him to just let me be...I'll figure it out..and I'll work my way down in my own time. So, he does. Then, here comes Seth. He says some sweet encouraging words and I assure him I'll be down just as soon as I can see.
Eventually, I do make it down. And I am literally sobbing. You know the cry where your chest is heaving and your sucking air? Kind of like a little kid? Yeah. That was me. Pathetic. And I have to say, while the tears are from fear...partly for myself and the fear of falling but more of not being able to get to my kids should something happen...they are also, and maybe even more so, tears of anger and frustration at myself for being this way. For being a chicken. For being small. For not being able to get a grip. It can be very frustrating.

After sitting on a rock, paralyzed and catching my breath, I began to move around a bit. I ventured out onto some boulders, just a few...but just enough to feel like I had the upper hand, finally. I'm finally getting a grip...it seems that I just take longer to warm up to all of this dang adventure stuff.

And of course, as you knew I would be, I was so glad that I did. The boys picked a beautiful spot to hop around and test their own bravery. Climbing rocks and fallen logs. Jumping from boulder to boulder and back again.

And really, who wouldn't want to eat their lunch here? It was beautiful. The views were breathtaking. And the air off of what little water was there was cool and refreshing. Heaven on earth.
Eventually, the boys had climbed all of the rocks and maneuvered all of the crevices and it was time to head back down the trail. It was around 2:30 and quite a bit warmer than when we'd headed up. It was a good time to be going downhill. We rode the shuttle back to Yosemite Valley where we decided to have chicken strips and fries again before heading back to our room.
Once in our room we realized that it was just too dang early to be in for the night. It was only like 4:30. So, out we went again, this time in our own car. We drove around the valley a bit when we ended up at this little area.

It was a river bed. When the water is in full force...say in April when the snow's melting, this is all under water. But for now, it was a good place to walk around and adventure. And again, not a bad view in sight. Isn't it beautiful?!
You can see Chris toward the bottom left on a log. And the boys are way far away...being independent.
Eventually, the boys couldn't resist any longer. The shoes had to come off and they had to wade around in the icy water. It was very shallow...knee deep at the most in this area.
They ended up finding a crawdad....and catching it! The photo is blurry (I forgot to bring my stinkin' tripod..grr)...but you can just barely make out the little guy.
They wanted to bring him home, but we all agreed it would be really mean to bring him here vs. his beautiful home in Yosemite. Um, yeah. No comparison.
Not only was this an ideal place to wade around and capture unsuspecting wildlife. It was also a good place to watch these guys.
Can you say CRAZY?! I can. CRAZY! Oh my gosh. Just watching these mountain climbers from the safety of very flat land...I STILL got woozy in the pit of my stomach. I just can't even imagine. Not for one second. These guys are BOLD. Brave. CRAZY! Can you see him there? He's the blurry blob with a tinge of red quite near the center of the photo. A mountain climber. Three of them, actually. Just dangling there. Hanging off of a mountain. Being held there by a few little caribiners. A few little metal thingies. Are you kidding me? And to top it ALL off...Ian wants to do this when he's older. Should I have been surprised? I told him that if he wanted to, he absolutely should...when he's 21. Or so.
Eventually, the sun began to set. And the air began to cool way down. It was time to head back to our little cabin in the woods. Time to end our second day in this beautiful miracle of nature. We hopped in the car and headed back. We got to our room, showered and ate some snacks and fell asleep by about 8:30pm...again. I could get used to this! Amazing how much rest you get when there's no media to distract you. No TV overload...blog overload...texting overload...just you and fresh air and a warm bed. Life was good. Especially now that we were back on flat ground. Ahem.
Next up? Our last day of vacation. And our visit to Mariposa Grove.


Elaine said...

Oh my gosh, I feel like I was there with you! How very, very fun. I'm so glad you got some adventure!

Anonymous said...

look at you. I am so proud of what you did. And, great pictures by the way. Makes me want to go like really bad!!

Nancy said...

If I was next to you, I'd give you a pat on your back for facing your fears head-on. Yeah for you! Wish I had been there with you; it's beautiful.
Such handsome boys.

The Cottage Comtesse said...

Don't feel bad. I have flown for years but won't any more because of fear. I just can't take the heights like I use to. I can't stand near the edge of tall buildings and the Grand Canyon - well, let's say I stayed back from the edge a ways. As we are headed to Zion and Bryce Canyon on Saturday, I hope I can be brave for our own hikes and rock climbing.

BUT, I must say. You are a better mom than me. When my middle child announces how she wants to rock climb, sky dive, etc. I tell her "I didn't raise you for 11 + years for you to go do something stupid and risk your life!!!!" I'm a terrible mom when it comes to that kind of thing. And I was so adventuresome as a kid. Not sure what happened but I'd like to think I got smarter!

Anonymous said...

oh michelle! what a lovely, lovely trip! and you made it through all that anxiety! i love all the pictures, but i have to say the one of your three guys on the rocks is my favorite.

i was feeling proud for you on the climbing thing. all in good time right!

so glad you got to go! cannot wait to see more!

Beegirl said...

Peace..right back at you! Looks like such a wonderful trip. Leave me there..with the lizards..