Tuesday, 22 November 2011

When I climbed a mountain and didn’t hate it

So Tom and Kels have returned from their adventure, and I realised that I should be doing with this blog what they did with theirs. In short, I need to tell you a bit about California life. From the perspective of an East End Girl naturally…

Autumn 2011 163We spent the weekend at Yosemite National Park, staying with friends, one of whom works and lives in the Park itself. We left SF early on Friday afternoon and drove through the Central Valley, the agricultural heartland of the State and where 90% of the world’s lettuce is grown, according to the adoptive Californian tour guide in the driver’s seat.

Having only recently gotten accustomed to the enormity of roadside attractions on our journeys to other parts of the state, I was expecting more of the same, particularly looking forward to whatever could rival the monstrosity that is the Crystal Cathedral, next to the 5, somewhere near Bakersfield I believe… It was great to experience a completely different side of California instead.

As we drove through Modesto and the surrounding areas, the roadside sprouted fruit and veg stands of every size, shape and stock. Nearly all had half price pumpkins. Most were unfortunately closed.

As the clouds moved in, I was reminded that wishing it didn’t rain on your first trip to one of the world’s shrines to nature’s beauty, breaks the first rule of angering the rain gods. And thus, the heavens opened. (Luckily though, we’d attracted our fair share of the Central Valley’s bug population on the windscreen, and the torrential downpour sent them to their watery graves).

The road dropped to a single lane as we got higher into the Yosemite 11 008mountains, at various points causing me to lean into the centre of the truck, away from the sheer cliff face we were driving by. I know I’m safe but it’s like when you play Mario and subconsciously jump your hands over the plantpots, it just makes me feel better…

We got to our destination as it was getting dark and remembered to take our leftover pretzels into the house. You know. Just in case any bears break into your car in the middle of the night looking for a post-game snack. That was pretty cool. As was being woken up by the sound of someone knocking on the wall outside. The wall that is 20ft off the ground. We’d been warned that the neighbourhood woodpeckers liked to make themselves known in the mornings, but nothing prepares you for seeing them knocking on the outside of your house in the morning sunshine (yes, we were very lucky, it stopped raining).

Our first day hike was up the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls. And I’m pleased to report that I really enjoyed it. Most of you will know my lifelong aversion to exercise was cured a few years back, but I haven’t done anything like this since then. It was a good test of my overall level of fitness, which I’m very proud to say, didn’t really let me down.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there were definite parts where I had to stop and catch my breath, and my legs still feel like jelly two days later, but overall, I didn’t hate it. Which meant I could enjoy myself, and the stunning, breath-taking, insert adjective here scenery that we were in. Whatever you have read about Yosemite is true, and no human creation will ever come close to replicating its beauty, or how you feel when you stand in the park. 

When we got to the top, which followed about a million steps (NOT an exaggeration), we were at the top of the waterfalls and could see for miles. It was brilliant having people with us who knew loads about the Park and following the lead of three experienced hikers, I mainly followed their steps. Except when they went too close to the edge. My stomach turned over a few times, let me tell you, there are certain members of my family who would not have made it up there.

But I did. And I’m pretty pleased with myself. Next step, camping. Just not in the snow if that’s ok…

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