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Post-Thanksgiving

Right, then.

So, I’m not “The Most Prolific Man in the World”, just the Second-Most Interesting.

Much to my surprise, I, too, fall victim to The Inexorable March of Time.  Case in point, the last post was written on October 2; it’s now November 25, nearly two months later.  I’ve done things, but I haven’t written about them until now.

So, I previously made reference to a “Big Hike” that I had planned in October.  That hike was to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite.  While I did set out to complete the hike, a combination of unfortunate weather, discretion and self-preservation kept me from making it all the way to the top. 

I set out for the trail at 5:30 on October 9 and made it to the base of Sub-Dome by 11:45-ish or so (may have been a little later – all I remember is that it took longer than I had originally thought).  Upon reaching Sub-Dome, I encountered a Ranger standing next to this sign:

You'd Turn Around, Too

The Ranger – a nice guy in his own right – explained that slippery and icy going up hill was frustrating and dangerous.  Contrarily, slippery and icy combined with gravity and a 600-foot drop going downhill, is deadly.  He also stated that while he could not legally stop me, he would need me to provide the following information, should I continue:

  1. Name and contact information for next of kin, in the event that I fall and die;
  2. My height and weight for when the chopper pilot has to move my remains out of the area.

He then proceeded to regale me with tales of the last two deaths of hikers that slipped off of Half-Dome (he did not count the Austrian climber that fell off the face two weeks prior, as that was due to his climbing rope getting cut by the granite). 

I told him that all that was unnecessary as they had me at the sign.   I had him take a picture (which I will not post as I had sweat through the crotch in my pants and it looks like I’m wearing pee-pee undies), shook his hand and headed back down the hill. 

I count myself as lucky as I do not let my ego drive me, especially when it comes to things like this.  As a function of that, I’ll get a chance to try this again next year.  Next time, there’s a high-probability shot that we’ll be backpacking in from Tenaya Lake, so that will be a whole ‘nother groove.

One month later, I turned 40. 

The big four-oh.  The Pirate Looks at Forty.  It’s not as bad as it used to be, I think.  I remember when 40 was really old.  My parents were effectively dead at 40; I’m still picking up steam.  I do notice things, though:  I’m injured, so it hurts more when I run (or after I’m done running); I have steadily increasing gray hair (though I do rock a mean salt and pepper beard, now).  Most importantly, I’m happy; happier than I was earlier in life, due to numerous factors.  True, things can always be better, but I realize that on the large, life is pretty damn good.  So I got that going for me…which is nice.

We celebrated with a trip to Moab, UT.  We arrived with a general list of things to do, but no major schedule as a) weather could trump us at any time, and b) you never know what you’ll find when you get there.  In the end, we hit Arches National Park a couple of times, Canyonlands National Park, and did a longish bike ride in a canyon along the Colorado River.  While it was a bit cold, we geared up nicely so it wasn’t that bad. 

One majorly-cool thing was the NPS-led tour through the Fiery Furnace section of Arches NP, which required scrambling over rocks and through tight spaces and such.  Through the entire tour, I was giggling to myself:  “Goddamnit shit, this is so fucking cool!” and thinking “Dig me! I’m the guy in the REI ads!”

Like Him

What was most impressive was how mind-flatteningly beautiful it is out there.  While I was there, I was plotting how soon I could make it back. 

There was one small disappointment:  I had been scheduled to go skydiving on my birthday.  However, the day before, the skydiving company called and stated that their plane was broken and would not be fixed until the end of the week (after I had returned home).  Now – I’m no skydiving expert, but I know in a vague, abstract sort of way that aircraft (specifically, functioning aircraft) is a necessity for skydiving.  So – I didn’t go.  All that means is that I’ll need to find a place at home during the next year that can take me.

That was the beginning of November.  Now, it’s down to normal day to day stuff.  Naturally, we just cleared Thanksgiving, so we’re in holiday mode now.  I ran a 10K turkey trot, yesterday.  In a couple of weeks, I have a 10K trail run in Woodside and the week after that, I’m solo backpacking for a couple of days in Sunol Regional Wilderness. 

The backpacking trip is sort of a test-fire.  I want to see how I do a) backpacking solo, and b) backpacking in sub-optimal weather.  Mind you, this is not a major stress test:  It’s Sunol, for fuck’s sake.  The weather doesn’t get all that bad, and I’m not all that far away from real life.  I just want to see how I do and how well I like it – if I enjoy it, I can get in some decent non-crowded backpacking during the wintry months. 

After all that, then, it’s Christmas in Fresno (with a snowboarding trip thrown in, since I’m there) and New Years (XC skiing and/or snowshoeing and/or snowboarding) and lather, rinse, repeat for the next 12 months.  It will be interesting to see where life will lead me in 2012.  I’ve been spending more time on the motorcycle, so there could be a road trip or two in the works.

OK, enough of this…

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  1. March 10, 2012 at 16:24

    Half Dome, check. Canyonlands, check. Arches, check. NPS-led Fiery Furnace hike, check. Did all of these, and they were all amazing. Sorry about your luck w/ the Half Dome hike, hopefully you’ll get a chance to hit the top in the future. Nice post.

    • March 10, 2012 at 21:35

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, it was disappointing about Half Dome (moreso now that they’re going to a lottery system, making it that much more difficult to get passes), but – without getting to New-Agey – I believe that The Universe does certain things for a reason…and for some reason it seems that the only snow of the season had to occur the week prior to my climb, so I reckon I was not supposed to be on the granite on that particular occasion. The good news is that I don’t think Half Dome is going anywhere, so there’s still time.

      Thankx,

      MIMW2

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