This trip was somewhat a pilgrimage back in time. Smith Rock State Park was where I first fell in love with climbing, on a school trip at the ripe old age of 12. I've been back since then, but not in a long time. Returning to such a singular landscape- those iconic jagged ridgelines, the serpentine river, reflecting the sky, is one way to go back in time. I hope the twelve-year-old me would have been psyched to meet the twenty-eight-year-old me on those dusty trails and climbing those rosy walls.
I did make a point to climb the 5.7 on the Rope de Dope boulder, which is where most of the school trip was spent. I must have climbed that route 50 times over the 4 or 5 days we were there. It's still the same- I'm a little taller, a little wiser, but I still enjoyed it.
We left Smith, a little sadly, but in time to ditch the weekend crowds and the hot weather.
It was on to California!
We stayed near Lake Shasta, or Puddle Shasta. The low water levels were staggering! But the weather was dry, the Park Ranger was friendly ("Oh, I can't believe they charge people to stay here. I never check on that. I just want to prevent some of the wild teenage parties that happen down here. Bonfires and nonsense. Just find yourselves a quiet spot away from this main drag, you'll be fine.), and the sunset was lovely. We were happy to be back in beautiful California!
The next day, we arrived in Pleasanton and met up with my family. My lovely cousin Sarah married Erick Bogner on May 9th. It was a beautiful ceremony and an excellent party.
The Bride prepping Hailey- the ring-bearer.
We wish them the best!
It so happened that the Sunday after the wedding was Mother's day, and my Mom and one of my sisters and I were all together, so we all took a hike. It was great to spend time as a family.
It seems to happen so rarely these days!
We left the Bay Area on Monday morning and headed for Yosemite.
Sweet, sweet, Yosemite.
We managed to snag the last spots at Camp 4 when we arrived, and then headed straight to Nutcracker, a classic 5 pitch 5.7. The sun was shining, there was a bit of a breeze through the Ponderosas and bay trees. There was a party ahead of us- they were just starting the first pitch when we arrived. We took an alternate route, hoping to pass them, then they bailed. We had the place to ourselves. As we climbed higher we emerged from the trees and the valley floor opened beneath us- What a place! I had almost forgotten. Photos are misleading- It's big.
Our second day in the Valley we climbed Snake Dike- another classic route, which follows an incredible winding vein of stone up the shoulder of Half Dome. It's a big day- a six mile approach, 2000 feet or so of climbing, and a nine mile descent. It took us about 11 hours. The climbing is easy, but a bit scary- the bolts are sparce to say the least, and options for gear are few. That said, I found descending on the famous cables (which all the tourists climb to summit Half Dome) far more frightening!
*Interesting side note- The speed record for going from the valley floor to the summit of Half Dome and back is 2:17:52. It was set by the late Dean Potter- a climber and base jumper who died when a base jump went wrong the day after we left the Valley. We were hoping to see him on the route, just blitzing by... Alas.
The next day, we rested- we had no choice in the matter. So we hiked to the base of El Cap, just to gaze in wonder.
We visited the Awahnee Hotel, where we were married, almost exactly six years prior.
I love seeing the dogwoods in bloom.
We did a bit of bouldering in the afternoon.
I sent a fun little V1, while Cody crushed his first Valley V8.
It was a glorious trip. Yosemite holds so many of our shared memories, and we hadn't been there since our wedding! But the weather was closing in- they were predicting snow- so we packed up and headed back north.
We had a great visit with my Aunt Chris in Eugene, then hightailed it back to Seattle. We had stuff to do, like buy new anchor chain, assemble our new self-steering wind vane, and provision the boat. We're ready. We head North tomorrow. We'll try to keep you posted here.
Hope you're all livin' your dreams....