Turning Archive 2006

Subject:
OT- Turned 40 on Sunday (in Yosemite)

steve antonucci
>to celebrate this "accomplishment", I decided to do something completely different. My oldest son (who turned 8 on Monday) and I went backpacking in Yosemite. First night I slept on the ground - ever. First vacation with one specific goal- to climb to the top of Half Dome.

We arrived one day before our hike began and spent the day putzing around the valley floor. Next morning, we were awakened by a pack of coyotes running through Curry Village at 5AM. Our hike began at the trail head from Happy Isles and we headed up the Mist Trail towards Vernal and Nevada Falls. At the top of Vernal falls, I seriously doubted we'd ever summit Half Dome or even make camp which was still another 1250' elevation gain and 2.5 miles up the trail.

We did.

The next morning, after my first night on the ground, I woke up at 5AM (a recurring theme) and began stretching. Without the 45# pack, I felt much, much better. My son woke up ready to go, and we approached our second day with a renewed sense of possibilities. We headed out of camp by 9AM, and began the 4 mile ascent towards Half Dome. We made great time, and reached the shoulder by lunch.

Te shoulder is ridiculously steep, and open to the elements. It tests your will. While a lot of people consider the cables to be the most intimidating, I will nominate the shoulder as "the hardest part" of summitting Half Dome. When you reach the top of the shoulder, there is an area that descends about 50' or so called the saddle. It is a short, but welcome rest for legs that have been climbing that long. It is also the narrowest part of the "rock", with a 3500' vertical drop on either side. Someone going up the cables dropped a water bottle, and it came whistling past us and disappeared over the edge.

Finally, there is are the cables. For my money, they were no big deal. After walking for 4 hours, it felt great to be able to use my arms to help me get up the rock. The cables support people both going up and down, at the same time, and there were a lot of "log jams". We brought our own gloves, since I had done a fair amount of prep. The whole way up, people were very encouraging to my son, who refused to let me quit (a thought which had occurred to me more than once and is totally our of character for me...)

My gift to myself and my son was the experience. I wanted for us to spend time together, challenge each other, and experience everything that Yosemite has to offer.

I believe that by setting the bar higher than practical and achieving more than was probable, we both have learned that anything is possible.

Attached are a few shots. Thanks for listening.

Steve

40 is just a number...

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