Monday, February 4, 2013


When I was 25, I hiked Half Dome in Yosemite with a friend.  He was on a crusade to make the hike 50 times before his 50th birthday, and he always needed willing hiking companions.  My sister and my dad had both done it, so I signed up, too.

Unless you are crazy wilderness survival person, the hike is pretty intense.  It's 16 miles round trip, and you gain almost a mile in elevation.  And here's the crazy part: the last 500 feet or so are straight up the back of the granite dome, with iron hand cables and wood planks bolted to the rock for foot holds.

The hike was pretty gruelling on the way up, but it was during those last 500 feet when I suddenly realized that my life, my actual life, depended on the strength in my arms.  This is when I realized that I am a regular person who enjoys walks in the outdoors, not crazy wilderness survival person.  But what was I going to do?  I kept going, did not under any circumstances look around and definitely not down, and told myself my arms were in great shape.

We had lunch at the top, and then headed back down for an eight mile hike home.  After going down a lot, the last two miles are nice and flat, but they're also very sandy.  FYI, hiking in sand after your muscles already feel like rubber bands is not enjoyable.  I think the 15 miles I'd already hiked, the mile up and down I'd gone, and the fact that I'd confronted death really hit me during this sandy stretch, and I knew there was no way I was going to make it.  My friend was going to have to call Yosemite search and rescue, and I'd be on the news, and I might never see my mother again.  Why had I done this to myself?  What was I trying to prove?  I lost all sense of decorum, and my friend, who had done this about 47 times already, was getting a little impatient with me, and I'm sure my hysterics weren't helping.

I did make it, without calling search and rescue, but the slog through that flat, sandy part remains in my memory as bad as clinging to the side of a granite mountain a mile in the air.

Something about my current knitting project reminds me of that sandy two mile stretch.

I'm over the fun part, I'm done with the tricky part, and now it just feels the garter stitch will never end.

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