Life on the Edge…(Chapter 21)

Bre pointed to Andy and Mike, who were waiting for us just ahead. I didn’t want the guys to see me all messed up like that so I grabbed some baby wipes out of my backpack to clean my face. Then, we went and met them.

They were happy to see that I had made it, and I was overjoyed to see them. I caught a glimpse of what was ahead, the Sub Dome steps leading, figuratively, straight up into the sky, and the famous Half Dome cables.

I almost choked. I told my friends I didn’t think I could do it. They insisted that they would not go up without me. I told them I would be slow and need to take frequent breaks. They were so patient and gracious that they were even willing to take the breaks with me and not complain about it.

My next concern was that I had to go to the bathroom. I had needed to for a while, but I had spent enough time in the outdoors that I was trained to hold it for as long as the entire day if I had to. I absolutely refused to use nature’s potties. (Hey, I might be an outdoorsy girl, but I am still a diva.)

The nearest bathroom was in Little Yosemite Valley, about 3 miles away from where we were. There was no way I was going all the way back there. I would normally just hold it, but when I took one look at the feat that stood in front of me and thought of my fear of heights, I figured it was best to cast off my daintiness for the moment, pick a tree where I would be well-covered, and just go. I didn’t want to get stuck halfway up the cables, get scared, and then wet myself. The scenario was terrifying.

Andy couldn’t believe that I was actually desperate enough to use nature’s bathroom. A couple of days before, we had a conversation about that very subject. I swore that under no circumstance would I ever use it anywhere other than an actual bathroom, whether it’s a port-o-potty or a brick and mortar restroom. I told them that I would hold it all day if I had to and that I had done it before, several times. Andy couldn’t stop laughing at me.

Bre volunteered to be my lookout. I asked her to help me find a tree where I would be hidden. We walked downhill a bit and spotted a big tree. No one was around and the guys certainly couldn’t see me from where they stood. I was grateful to have baby wipes and some zip lock bags with me. They came in handy. I had brought the baby wipes for my face and hands. I had no idea I would need them for something else.

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Life on the Edge…(Chapter 10)

Ms. Rosemarie and I hiked together until we met up with the rest of the group at the Vernal Fall Bridge. I had made it a point not to take many photos on this hike since we had done a portion of the trail earlier in the week and I had already taken, literally, hundreds of photos. My aim was to concentrate on the hike itself and not worry about trying to be the next Ansel Adams.

The sun had come up by the time we made it to the bridge, so we put away our headlamps. The next leg of the journey was the Mist Trail, which would lead us to the top of Vernal Fall. This was my third time hiking the Mist Trail, the second within three days that week. On the Mist Trail was a seemingly endless set of about 700 or so stone steps that passed right in front of the seriously gushing Vernal Fall.

The reason for the trail’s name is that you get doused with mist from the waterfall as you proceed up the steps. Depending on the time of year you go, the mist could be refreshing or it could make you turn into an icicle. Most people wear ponchos or some other type of rain gear when going up the steps. I wore my poncho, but even with that protection, I was soaked to the core.

I got separated from the group on the Mist Trail steps. Even Ms. Rosemarie passed me up this time. It wasn’t because I was taking pictures, though. I got left behind because of the frequent stops I made to catch my breath. Those steps were no joke. I was also feeling more and more fatigued. The lack of sleep was catching up to me in a major way.

This is my favorite stopping point before ascending the next set of steps.

Finally, I reached the top of Vernal Fall where I got to take a bit of a break with the rest of the group. After we passed the Emerald Pool, which is a cool-looking emerald colored body of water that supplies Vernal Fall with its beautiful, gushing torrents of water, we began the ascent up toward Nevada Fall and another set of stone steps. There were probably about as many steps there as at Vernal Fall, if not more.

The view of Vernal Fall from the stone steps.

Looking down from atop Vernal Fall

The Emerald Pool filled with logs

After we crossed over the Silver Apron Bridge, I fell further and further behind and became so fatigued that I was a bit disoriented. I was coherent, for the most part, just extremely exhausted. I made slower progress and became worried that I would never catch up to the group.

Getting ready to cross the Silver Apron Bridge toward Nevada Fall

Before I completely gave out, I remembered the Gu drops I had stashed into my backpack. Filled with caffeine, Gu drops give you a fresh wind when you feel like you’re on your last leg, which I certainly was at that point. I ate a package of Gu drops as I walked through a section of trees. I could hear the waterfall nearby and when I got a visual of it through the trees, I knew I was getting closer to the next segment of stone steps.

Nevada Fall beyond the trees

I cringed at the thought of tackling yet another set of those atrocious steps when I already felt like I had been run over by a truck.

Life on the Edge…(Chapter 7)

I’m an avid rock collector and consider myself a geologist by hobby only as I love exploring rock formations and seismic activity underground, caves, waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, all of those exciting natural phenomena.

I rode out Hurricane Ike in Houston 3 years ago and slept peacefully while pellets of rain and fierce winds beat against the house all night long. One of my friends, who shall remain nameless, was so scared that she camped out in the bathtub cowering under a mattress. I laughed when I saw her, but she was genuinely frightened. To me, it was a great adventure.

Many years ago, I was in my parents’ driveway and a rock caught my eye. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but thought it looked interesting because it had crystals in it. Later, I discovered that it was just a piece of limestone with some quartz deposits. The rock became a part of my collection.

Throughout the years, I’ve moved several times, but somehow this rock stayed with me. I even brought it all the way to California when I moved here. I had forgotten about the rock, to be honest. Prior to the Half Dome trip, I spoke to Lynn, our leader, about a long time issue that had been troubling me. It was an issue that I didn’t think had much significance in my life early on, but I came to the realization that it really did. It was a lie that somebody told me when I was in high school that I accepted as truth.

I was in tenth or eleventh grade getting some books out of my locker when a classmate stopped what he was doing to look me in the eye and tell me, “Do you know that you are hideously ugly?” I wasn’t even bothering the guy. I was at my locker minding my own business. I had never really spoken much with this boy at all, so it was beyond me why he would even say such a thing when I did nothing to provoke him. I was very hurt, but I let it go, or at least I thought I did. Little did I know that Darren’s comment would haunt me well into my adult life.