Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Half Dome pt 3

So... I took a nap under a pine tree, instead of climbing the cables of Half Dome. Why did I skip the last 400 feet of the hike to the summit? I am deathly afraid of heights. The pictures you see on the internet make the hike look less steep that it truely is. This is a class 6 climb without cables. Many people get stuck due the the fear that flows through your body when looking out from the top. I did not want to be one of those people. And naps are good.
Andrea started her ascent around 12:40 p.m. She made it to the very top at 1:22 p.m. She indicated that there were human traffic jams up there, and that she did have a few instances of doubt, but fought the feelings off. She did drink alot of water and ate snacks. She made it down the face by 2:30, and back at the base of the sub-dome at 2:45. The ranger stated that she was in the last group allowed to summit that day and that we had started a bit late. The ranger was correct; we could see a weather pattern coming in, and at 3:00 p.m. we heard large thunder claps. And we still had 8 miles to hike down the mountain before the sun sets. And one has to keep in mind the sun sets quickly in the shadow of the mountains. Then I got attacked by a tree.....
We stopped and filled our water bottles at the top of Nevada falls, where a tree jumped out onto the path and attacked my sexy thigh. Andrea was totally fried and dehydrated, and soaked her feet in the river while I striped in public to clean off my leg. She did 2 extra hours of hiking, and was ready to eat anything. We finally got off the mountain at 7 p.m. and stuffed our faces with more sausages and pickles. So all added up, we did about 11 hours of hiking (well, Andrea did 11 hours, I did 9 hours of hiking and 2 hours of napping.)

Half Dome pt 2

We reached the top of Nevada Falls around 10:00 a.m. Nevada Falls is the second waterfall on the Mist trail, appx. 2 miles up from Emerald Pool. The path consists of steep stairs, and took us almost 2 hours to climb. Nevada Falls is a great place to eat lunch and fill your water bottles. Do not forget to filter your water. There is bacteria (and virus) in the waters.
The next part of the climb to Half Dome consists of 2.5 miles of relative flat, hot walking around the back of the granite dome, in an area called Little Yosemite Valley. There is a high camp here, and is the base for most hikers who plan on summiting Half Dome. We did not have enough vacation time to consider this option, but it is advisable to hike to this mid-point, camp, and summit the next morning. This method makes for a cooler hike (it was 36c, and add altitude, we were huffing and puffing, breathing hard) and also takes into account fast weather changes. Lighting loves to hit the top of peaks, and summer squalls move in fast. After this relatively boring section of the hike, a fork appears in the trail. Take the left and you will now know pain. For 2 more miles we hiked to the base of th sub-dome, struggling with elevation and heat.
Do not let this photo fool you. This benign scene does not do the next 2 hours of hiking justice. If you have a permit, you are now going to climb up an exposed vertical face, with 200 other people. Fear of falling and lightning, heat exaustion, and elevation is your companion. I went up a little, and decided that taking a nap would be better. Andrea took my leather gloves, gave me her extra gear, and summited. She is one of the dots in the next photo.

Half dome in one day!

My sister-in-law, Andrea and I hiked from th valley floor to the summit of Half Dome in one day. Yep, that is 16+ miles hiking up a mountain, from 4000 feet at the valley floor, to the peak at 8800 feet. And it was an adventure.... Half Dome Half Dome is a granite rock fomrmation, located in Yosemite Valley, California. It rises over 8,800 feet above sea leval. Its distinctive flat face was created by glacial movement, creating a steep, slick hump rising out of the valley floor. It is a California icon, revered and memorialized by many artists, historians, and mountaineers. The photographer Ansel Adams created stark black and white studies of this formation. Royal Robbins summited this peak in the 1950's. North Face uses Half Dome as its company logo. In 2005 the Federal government memorialized Half Dome on the back of the quarter.
We both live in the San Francisco Bay area. We entered the lottery on the park service website at 12:01 a.m., two days before our ascent, attempting to get a spot on the cables of the Half Dome. About a year ago the park service implimented a lottery for recieving permits to summit half dome, due to safety and the crowds. It is surprising that there are crowds on this catagory 3 climb with cables, and catagory 6 without cabled hike. This hike is for real climbers, who are in very good shape and have no fear, not the hundreds of day hikers. Andrea and I are not climbers, however, we both just completed a marathon two weeks prior to the climb, we had proper leather gloves, 6 liters of water, salt tablets, and proper shoes. We were also aware of the danger, and knew that if we could not summit, that is fine. We drove up the night before the hike, pitching camp at the Hodgdon meadow campsite, a 40 minute drive away form the valley floor and trailhead. As a last minute camper, this site is the easiest to get into. Our car overheated, so the evening consisted of attempting to find coolant. I was super surprised that in Yosemite Village there is a DisneyLand of restaurants, stores, parking, fancy platform tent rentals, and a garage (for car repair). We ate dinner early, sausages over a roaring fire, bear proofed the campsite, and bedded down early, me in my bivey sack, and Andrea in her dome tent. At 4:20 a.m. our campsite was visited by a bear, snuffeling and crunching chip bags (not ours). It was fortunate he woke us up; but for him we would not have woken up early enough to summit. Things always take longer than you expect, so Mr. Bear was a lucky alarm clock. We ate, packed up the site and moved it to the next night site, unpacked, and then headed out to the trailhead, where we parked at Curry Village and took the 7:00 am bus to the official trailhead, a steep, paved path to the base of the first waterfall - Vernal Falls. The start of the Half Dome trail is at Happy Isles trailhead, and starts with the Mist Trail. There you have a choice of trails for Half Dome, either the very popular Mist Trail, which looks like the stairs to Mordor, or the John Muir Trail, which is a little longer, not as steep, and not as crowded. We chose Mordor.
At the top of the Mist trail is Emerald Pool, a deceptively dangerous pool that looks inviting. The day we were there 2 children died in this pool, wading in and washed over the waterfall. The surrounding rocks are slick, even when dry, and water levels can unexpectedly change. A squall can rain on a peak many miles away, and the water level can change in a flash, pushing a strong current over the falls.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Marathon foot - gross!

Penis shaped blister, 3 days after draining....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


First Marathon - July 29, 2012 SFO

On July 29, 2012, I ran my first 26.2, at the San Francisco Wipro Marathon. My finishing time was 5:19, appx. a 12:10 pace. Not great, slow, but I ran without any problems and enjoyed the day in full. The day started at 3:30 a.m. with coffee and clothes. At 4:30 a.m. my brother, who was running the half, came and drove both me and Andrea, my sister-in-law, to the start. His intention was to run just 5K and to win a bet that he would show (since the year before he forgot to pick up his bib.) Our wave started at 6:30, so we had to stand around for an hour, wrapped in a snuggy I brought. At the gun Andrea sprinted ahead and Carl paced me at 11:00 a mile for the first 4 miles. At the 4 mile mark he dropped out to catch the bus and cook a post-run feast. My 1/2 marathon split time was exactly 2:30 - not bad. At mile ten my brother Joe left me a care package by the side of the road, with beers and chips. I chugged a beer - a perfect carb for a run. In Golden Gate Park, my mom, sister-in-law Adriana, and brother John had a cheering committee and care package; I at Snickers and Coke with my salt pills. GGP is the worst part of the route because it gets repetative with a few loops. I much prefer the city routes. Husband Hugh meet me at mile 20 with a sign and another Coke, the perfect pick me up for the final leg. At that point the whole race was just a fun run, and pretty uneventful and pretty standard. Since San Fran is part of my regular running and training route, (and I have done many fun runs in the City) this marathon physically felt just like a regular long weekend run. My body did not recognise that this was a special event. The only time I started feeling differently was mile 24 and 25 where I started to get angry. I have read many magazines and a few books on training for a marathon, and I do not recall reading about anger. Hitting the wall, fear, excitement, being overwhelmed - all of these things are mentioned in books. But not anger. I was angry at all the walkers and folks giving up. I had a massive urge to start pep talking people to get going and finish strong. Of coarse I kept my mouth shut. The last thing a stranger at mile 24 of a marathon needs is some stranger yelling at them to start running. I never stopped runnning for those last 2 miles, and in fact, I ran after hitting the finish line until I got my metal. Then I sat down. I didn't want any food, just water and another beer. It felt good to sit. I was very happy to sit. But I felt great. No muscle pains. I did get one big blister on the right foot, but that's normal. The next race I will need to train a little differently. I will need to monitor my nutrition a little more carefully - I gained weight training for this marathon. Too many carbs. Too much pie. And I need to add strength training for the lumbar spine. That is the only sore spot - lower back. And I need a better psychology for race day. Placing myself in the last wave with the slow folks (which I am one of) brought my spirit down and made me angry. I need to be in a wave with upbeat hyper folks who shout and scream and cheer, even at the end! Yep - I have 2 more half marathons on calendar in September, and plan on signing up for my second full.