Posted in Adventure, Hiking, Mother nature

The Descent from Cathedral Lakes

It was time to tackle the descent from Cathedral Lakes to allow plenty of time without having to rush. It’s crazy how much quicker it goes going downhill, but I still find the constant pounding on the knees and putting the brakes on just, if not more strenuous as climbing.

Nearby thunder was still in the air and could be heard off and on. It was time to go and I enjoyed the play of watching the clouds make way to bright sunshine, only to cast shadows on the peaks a few seconds later. I surely gotten my fix watching the “Puffies” dance that day.

This picture was taken on the way down and you can see Tenaya Lake in the distance. The non-existing trail continues over the even steeper drop off in the middle of the picture. Yeah it’s so steep it literally vanishes and looks like there is nothing more but cliff. Most of it had to be tackled in switchback motion, a zigzag pattern to ease the incline or drop off. My trusty hiking stick always by my side and often bracing myself.

In the end I made it of course. I’m here to tell the story. It was surely an adventure that left me feeling accomplished and grateful to have finally seen this place. It would become one of those hikes throughout the summer, strenuous and in high elevation, but ultimately conditioning me into better shape. I earned it and I am grateful for the memories.

Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Life

Mad Max – Desert style

Mad Max – desert style, or life, adventure, and it’s meaning.

When was your last adventure?

For me it was during a little road trip in the desert, with no schedules and no particular destination. Dirty and sweaty, windows rolled down, cruising the endless road stretched out in front of me for as far as the eye could see. Mile after mile passing by with no other vehicle in sight. Mountains, painted rock on both sides, wild horses, tumbleweeds, canyons, and a whole lot of open land, a whole lot of nothing. For sure no water or at the best very scarce. A gas station, well hidden that I never found or needed, where I was instructed beforehand in case it’d be closed. “Just go across the road to the bar, they can call the owner of the gas station to come and open it if you need gas.” Welcome to the wildest of the Wild West.

Luckily I had a tank full of gas and enough water to last. Drinking was a whole other adventure and it was so hot you didn’t actually mind spilling a little water down your throat, feeling it run down your chest, mixing with the dust. I couldn’t help myself feeling like I was straight out of a Mad Max movie conquering the “barren wasteland”, I mean the desert of my home state Nevada. And it was in that moment that I smiled and envisioned a Mohawk skull as a hood ornament for the Jeep. If a car did come and was visible way up on the horizon, it was like gripping the wheel and driving into battle on fury road.

Last stop before heading back to civilization, climbing a steep canyon wall, meeting a cool stripped tail lizard on the way up, and an awesome view and shadow reflection of myself, on top of the world. Bottom screen – middle.

I share this story wondering if you ever noticed how many of us rush around in dizzying speeds? Serious, unable to play, straight faced, meaning business all the time. Unable to sit still for a moment as if afraid to miss something. And in doing so we miss the whole meaning of life and what it’s all about. We forget that success is not measured by our possessions and achievements, but that it is about our experiences and moments like these.

Every day a new chase begins, rushing to catch a little more of the same old. Is it our social conditioning, to make ends meet, because our workload is too much that we’ve forgotten how to relax, how to be still and just be, or perhaps is it that we are frantically chasing the meaning and the purpose of our life? I think sooner or later you might have to answer that question for yourself. What do you think, do you chase? If you are, then please consider this.

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

-Alan W. Watts

You don’t need a desert adventure to feel alive, but for me it was one of those moments and a reminder to put this quote into perspective.

Posted in Adventure, Human spirit, Life

Stairway to heaven – PT 2

PT 1

One false summit after another, the non existing trail was rising relentlessly and without mercy once the climb had started. The first mile took us through a meadow, along the giant granite Dome, and the occasional but manageable incline. This was behind us now and the remainder to the lake would be steep, steep, and even steeper. Is that a word? Anyhow, it was a smooth and slippery incline that wasn’t going to let up. The terrain got rockier as we passed bolder fields and moonlike landscapes. Desert varnish streaks, indicating where seasonal waterfalls had run over the smooth granite, polishing it to it’s smooth surface.

Boulders were a natural part of the landscape. At times it was a single rock making it’s path down the mountain until the final resting place. Other times they came in clusters, even a field. Glacial erratics, once buried under thick ice, now revealed due to giant glaciers long gone. Leaving behind a new picture, a new landscape carved over time. It was incredible to imagine what this landscape must have looked like. Surely only the highest tips of the mountains were visible while the rest slumbered under the ice.

At one point, I was huffing and puffing across the steep incline in a sideways motion as if maneuvering invisible switchbacks. It was simply too steep to go straight up. Ankles were twisted, trying to find a good grip, and it was there that the question raised whether we should turn around. It was hot and I was struggling. Air was hard to come by and I had an elevation headache. I could feel my pulse pounding in the back of my neck, and lost track of many times I’d already overcame the desire to quit. “No, not now, look how far you have come, you’re not a quitter, where is your warrior spirit, you know you will never forgive yourself for turning around now, it’s now or never, what are you made of – this your time to show it, you just have to go slow and believe that you can do it, no pain no gain – remember?” These were some of the thoughts that went through my mind as if cheering me on and making quitting an impossible choice to consider. And with it I carried on.

Over 73 flight of stairs climbed in 1.5 miles, 16,663 steps and a round trip of 6.7 miles.

Posted in Adventure, Hiking, Inspiration

Stairway to heaven – PT 1

Only a title like this could have motivated me to keep going, although I didn’t really think of it at the time. It was more like a theme of “are we there yet” that played out in my mind. But what was awaiting me was a stairway to heaven, but also a great reward that would eventually show itself after one of these “false summits.”

How many times had I pushed myself this year? Pushing beyond limitations, beyond beliefs, and beyond what I thought capable. Whether it was in the physical form or mentally, each time required overcoming the inner resistance that urged me to quit. To give in and just call it a day. Something kept me going this year, something was different from prior times. I found a new willpower and it was thriving. A new desire that wasn’t clouded by pain, to not give up and to propel myself forward and keep going. Physically I was able to do so on most occasions. I knew it had to be a mental thing and steadily I pushed on. In the process of it, I leaned a thing or two about myself, and with it came the reminder that takes me back to old values that still hold truth. I’m talking about the belief that everything worthwhile requires hard work and this was a constant, something that wasn’t outdated. It rang true and required a dedication and commitment that often drives us to the brink of our limits. My stairway to heaven was going to take my precious lessons to the next level, perhaps beyond my preconceived self, my own set limits, and I would have to work for it because the reward would not come easy.

The first night camping was a night of adjusting to sleeping on the ground. In other words it was not the most comfortable night I ever had. It was a night filled with tossing and turning and daylight could not come quick enough so I could get up. I felt mummified in anticipation for a cold night that had me in too much clothing. In the end I was too warm which disrupted my sleep, yet I was unable to remedy the situation. You know the feeling of waking because you are too warm, but you are not that awake, or conscious enough to do something about it. The same applies if you’re too cold and that’s what kind of night it was. Uggghhh.

Daylight came eventually and would give way to the uncomfortable, sleep deprived night. After stretching the old sore bones and a modest campsite breakfast, we jumped into the Jeep and off to Yosemite we were. There was a previous conversation about doing a hike up to Cathedral Lakes. It was a new hike for me and also one that was a bit daunting. We had agreed that if we did attempt it, it would be on a day when there was no chance of thunderstorms. Much of the hike would go over exposed, smooth granite, which is not the greatest place to be when lightening strikes or the surface gets wet. With puffy white clouds in the sky and a chance for thunderstorms, I didn’t think that today was going to be “that day” but on a last moments decision, it was. It was probably a good thing since it left little time to stress myself out about the difficulty of the hike.

Off we were, along the way, passing the massive granite dome you can find here. We took a different route and a non existing trail that is as good as not travelled at all. It took us away from the crowds and the congestion this area often sees. It was a shorter route that also packed the elevation change into a much shorter distance, having me climb 73 floors mostly all in 1.5- 2.0 miles, at high elevation. The breathing and air into the lungs was a different challenge all together. It as so steep at times that I feared slipping on the smooth granite, only to face my nightmare and fear of falling to death. Leaning my upper body forward to compensate for the intense ascend, I could only hope for my shoes to have a good grip and prevent this fear from happening. “Why did I decided to bring the old shoes that nearly had no thread left on the bottom?” Brilliant decision making at it’s finest. Especially for someone that still doesn’t trust their footing a 100% and never knows when the RA decides to strike, leaving you uncoordinated and more vulnerable. By the way, that’s the rational common sense side of me talking right now, but the rebel and warrior inside of me just went for it that day. There wasn’t too much inner dialogue going on at the time and the warrior emerged in an effort to push myself to new heights and experiences. I was still going to be careful and not reckless after all.

To be continued….

Posted in Adventure, Books, Life

No naps on this trip

The time had come and I was getting ready for a four nights, five days camping trip. It would be the longest in years and a few doubts snug into my mind. Isn’t it crazy how often our thoughts are trying to sabotage us and turn a situation into something that never comes to fruition? I was having such a moment and was wondering how I would handle sleeping on the ground that many days in a row.

Packing my stuff, it was a last minute decision to bring a book along. I finally decided on one, and though an avid reader, this would be a first. Usually after hiking to a special spot, I’d just enjoy the area, take pictures, embrace it’s beauty and scenery, have a picnic, and finally take a nap. Everything was still going to happen the same, minus the nap. My goal was to tire myself to the point that I would sleep better at night. After hiking and spending the day in fresh air, it seemed like a perfect master plan. Daylight was fading quicker these days, and the nights were getting cooler. There was only so long someone could hang out in the cooling evening breeze once the sun had set. Especially if the winds kicked up. It would get chilly fast and I knew that the nights in the tent be long. Long enough to allow muscles to get sore, and to interrupt sleep. I was planning on being tired for the best chance to miss some of it.

After several hours of driving this campsite was found and would serve as our basecamp. It was already mid afternoon by the time everything was set up and it was too late to go for a longer hike. We took it easy for the rest of the day and hung out at the campsite for most of it. It had the most amazing reading rock, elevated like a little throne and shaped like a stone recliner. And it was in that moment, on our first day that I pulled out my book, gave up a comfortable hammock and settled on my reading rock.

This book had found it’s way into my life several years ago and I believe it came to me as a recommendation from someone. I don’t remember but I even started to read a few chapters at some point after getting it. All I remembered was that it didn’t capture me at the time, and that it was hard to read. Reluctantly I removed the bookmark that indicated my previous stopping point and pondered why I choose to bring this book. I could have take others, so why this one?

I started to read a few chapters and it was a different experience this time around, as if the book was speaking to me. The capture was there and I knew there was a message waiting for me. I got very attentive, feeling that this was not an ordinary moment. I knew there was a reason why this book came into my life and why I choose it NOW to bring with me. Perhaps the timing was right now. Little did I know about the chapters ahead of me and how important this book would become to me.

-to be continued

Posted in Adventure, Life

Remembering progress

A weekly adventure has become somewhat of the norm for me. Two days per week that belong to me, to peace and quiet, serenity and recharging, as well as exercise and pushing myself to new heights while increasing my health. It’s really a lot that crams into those days, but it’s the best of all worlds. Last Monday and Tuesday wasn’t any different as we went back to the Greenstone Lake area, exploring another part of this gem. Funny thing is we will probably be back next week, backpacking another section and taking advantage of it until the weather turns.

There have been many “AHA moments” along the way when I’m still and in tune to listen more deeply. Yet there can’t be a lesson to take away each time, and many of these experiences take time to incorporate and live until they feel organic as your new way of life. That’s exactly what I’ve been working on, although life is still hanging in limbo in parts for me. I think it always will be to a degree and perhaps things will never go smoothly for too long, but in times like these it’s beneficial to remember the process of it all. To look at how far you have come already, instead of focusing on how far you still have to go. Perhaps it is like Rick Warren puts it so nicely saying, that you are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be. Enjoy the current moment, like everything it will pass and never come back. If it’s a bad one, that’s good, and if it’s a good one, that’s bad. Time runs through our fingers like sand, passing and ever changing.

Posted in Adventure, Backpacking, Moon

Greenstone Lake

As the morning dawned, I was glad that Grandmother Moon made a brief appearance during the night prior. It seemed like I woke with the same smile than the one that had sent me off into slumberland just the night before. Seeing her glow through the netting of the tent was all it took and I could honestly say that I slept under the full moon light. It certainly was a neat sight in addition to all the star constellations and satellites that traveled through the night sky.

A few more silent moments were enjoyed next to creek while sipping morning coffee and anticipating the crowds that soon would arrive. And they did, surprised to see us at what appeared their favorite spot and the early head start they thought they had. It was getting hot already and soon we were off making our way back down the trail to the car.

And a few more moments were enjoyed next to creek where the bats flew in the evening. The crowds would soon be here, and just like that the first group arrived. Seemingly surprised, coming around the corner, realizing that their spot was already claimed, despite their early start heading up trail to reach it. Camp was already broken and soon we found ourselves trotting down the trail back to the car. It was amazing how many large groups passed us, with no masks or coverings, seemingly unfazed by all concerns, displaying their social distancing at it’s best. We made sure to give them plenty of space and distance while passing us, even facing in different directions at times.

Back at the car, I was happy to see that the little chipmunk had cleaned up the cracker offering I had snug out and left on a branch for him. I know, I know, probably dangerous to leave food right next to the car but it was one small saltine cracker and I didn’t see the harm in it, other than giving the little guy a break and paying for his meal.

After a short drive we found our next hike on the outskirts of Yosemite. Along a man made reservoir, the going was difficult for me, maneuvering a hillside with lose Schale rock that was unstable for the most part, doing a number on my feet. All in all about four miles round trip over the rocks, I was glad to be back what that part was concerned, but not without staying and enjoying this amazing view for awhile. With boulders scattered everywhere and multiple lakes glistening in the sun, it was as arriving in paradise. I quickly added it to one of my most favorite places and in fact we might backpack it next week and visit the other lakes within a loop in the same area. Going backpacking or camping has become the weekly norm it seems and it’s easy to get addicted to. But with views and adventures such as these, is it truly any wonder?

Posted in Adventure, Backpacking, Moon

Full Moon bust

Camp was made and everything was set for the full moon adventure to begin. How exciting, the stars had aligned and free days fell onto a full moon.

As daylight was fading, I retraced some of my steps back to a little shallow waterhole that was full of old, dead, and weathered tree trunks. Still standing were the remains of the past and I had no idea what had happened here. The surrounding area was lush with grasses, bushes, trees and flowers in bloom. A stark contrast, life an death and even here was beauty to be found. For a moment I thought it would look pretty spooky to photograph. I could already envision the moon lighting up the scene with the dead trees like skeletons casting shadows onto the water. Definitely a cool image, but I quickly dismissed the idea as it would have been difficult to make my way back to the tent in one piece. Uneven grounds and bogs would have been challenging to maneuver with just a little moonlight.

Back near camp, dusk had arrived and I plotted myself on a big rock near the waterfall. It wasn’t long until bats came out, cruising up and down the little stream, picking up bugs in midair. It was incredible to watch the speed and precision in flight, while flying low over my head or just making sharp turns right in front of my face. Immediately I was reminded about some childhood tale where I was told that bats like hair and sometimes get tangled up in your precious mane. Mmmh, it didn’t take but a moment to decide that it would be best to keep my hat on to minimize my exposure. I wonder, is that even true or just some tale and folklore? Has anybody heard of that?

Darkness had fallen and the mountains started to light up. A glow was on top of the ridge and the shadow line on the peaks was slowly lowering, exposing more and more rock. The moon must have been right behind the ridge and in about 30 minutes we would see it in all its glory. I began unpacking my drum and started drumming to the full moon (glow) while the bats were still cruising. 30 minutes had passed and the scene showed little change, surely the moon would be out shortly, definitely in 30 minutes. 🙄 I don’t know how often we said that the moon would appear in 30 minutes, but it never did. It was getting cold just sitting there, waiting for the moon to appear, and eventually we called it a night and retired to the tent. Only the tents mosquito netting was separating us from the outside wilderness and a world of wild animals.

Sometime later, much much later that night, I woke up and low and behold caught a glimpse of the full moon. It was traveling behind the mountain ridge the entire time, and it wouldn’t have mattered how many more 30 minutes had passed. Grandmother Moon would have kept us waiting all night. The whole experience paned out different then anticipated, and there was no walking around under the moonlight, drumming and seeing nature lit up. But at least I saw it in the end and with a smile fell back asleep.

Posted in Adventure, Hiking

The final day of my birthday trip

The last day of my birthday trip was one with just a little more physical activity. We hiked 5 miles that day which was still kind of little compared to the last trip, but it was ok to not follow the emotional exhaustion with a physical one. The fact remained that it had been hard to celebrate Mom and my birthday without her being here.

We checked out a lake nearby, beautifully placed, but almost immediately faced culture shock. The campgrounds were busting at their seams with no available spaces. People were running around like ants, everywhere, and it felt as if we were in the city. It was loud everywhere, streets full of bicyclists, the lake (not this picture) dotted with boats, kayaks and paddle boards. The shores were crowded and people just about sat on top of each other. So much for social distancing I thought. No wonder we can’t get this virus under control. All in all it was a turnoff and after scaling the sides of a waterfall with no potential place to just sit and be, we decided to head towards home and find a much quieter place.

And luck would have it and we found it. It was completely the opposite, and I think we only saw two other people along the entire trail, plus a group in the distance. It was there that I realized what this trip had been all about. It was about being still and acceptance. About being more content and being ok with the things that I cannot change. It was coming to terms and reflecting. This trip was about inner peace and self love. To recognize all the hard work I had been putting in, instead of only seeing how much further I have to go. I think it’s easy to fall into this trap and our focus naturally shifts on everything that still lies ahead. We forget to give thanks for how far we have come, what light we bring to this world, how hard our body works everyday to make these things possible for us, regardless of it’s shape that most likely we don’t like and wish it was different. This trip was a revisit to “father surrender” and to realign what was falling out of balance. It was about giving thanks, self respect, shedding social shaming and conditioning, and simply loving myself just a little more.