Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yosemite Falls aka "Am I Having A Stroke?"

What follows is a mostly verbatim transcript of key moments in my very active inner monologue during our recent ascent of the Yosemite Falls Trail in, you guessed it, Yosemite National Park:

Drive along Merced River to park: Oh, the road is closed and we need to take a fake-looking bridge across the river. Oh, it's closed from a rockslide. Oh, it's a BIG rockslide. SuddenlyI'mhavingflashbackstoTomSloanHell-Trail. Must prevent self from hyperventilating before we even park the car. Does not bode well. Am doomed.

Exiting freshly parked car: Holy shit, it's cold. I wish I had more clothing on [despite fact that I am swaddled in SmartWool from head to toe].

5 minutes later, on first of 1,000 switchbacks : Holy shit, it's hot. I wish I had less clothing on [removing layers of SmartWool].

5 more minutes later, on fourth of 1,000 switchbacks: How many more switchbacks do we have? Who invented the switchback, anyways? That person is an asshole.

5 more minutes later, on eighth of 1,000 switchbacks: Why does it feel like I'm carrying a medium-sized orangutang on my back? I think it's all of the extra food I'm carrying. [Stop and remove carrots and celery; pack not any lighter.] Oh, nevermind. It's the twelve layers of SmartWool I insisted on slapping on.

About 500 vertical feet and about half a mile into our 3.5-mile, almost 3,000' elevation gain journey to the top: We have to be halfway, right? [Spotting something furry behind a bush in front of me] Huh, that looked like something furry. Nah.

5 minutes later, pausing to catch breath for eleventh time: Snarggllfllfllllugh. [Group of hikers approach, ask if we saw the bobcat just behind us drag a fresh kill up the mountainside] Oh. Something furry.

At Columbia Rock overlook: Why does the top of the waterfall still seem so far away? The view is quite nice from here. Let's call it a day and get a hot chocolate. Anybody? Bueller?

Looking at a switchbacking hillside made out of a steep, soft slash of sand: Bwaaaahahahahahahaha - you're so funny, Mother Nature!

Rounding corner, Upper Falls in sight!: NOW can we have the hot chocolate? Or can we parachute down to the parking lot? I can see it down there...

Moments later: Um...why aren't my hands working? WHY AREN'T MY HANDS WORKING????

One more moment later: NOW WHY AREN'T MY FOREARMS WORKING? AM I HAVING A STROKE????? [I tell Team YF that I must stay behind and nap on a sunny part of the slope; Team YF assesses the situation and commands that I sit down and eat something] I am a hiking failure. This is embarrassing.

After eating a delicious lemony Luna Bar, sensation returns: Maybe it was just anxiety. I should do something about that.

Begin ascending last million switchbacks: My mental math tells me that these are a) somewhat exposed and steep, b) mostly composed of granite, and that if I add a) + b), I get c), which entails falling to my death on the way back down the trail.

Reach the top of the damn switchbacks: Oh, glory be! I need to pee and lay down. In that order. [I pee; I lay down] Ahhhh....this is the life. I shall rest here until the rest of Team YF returns from their surely dangerous explorations of the Falls

Laura tells me that if a bear approaches, I should make a lot of noise and throw things at it: WHAT DO YOU MEAN "IF A BEAR APPROACHES"?!?!?!?! [Rebecca places a single, solitary chunk of granite next to me, apparently for throwing at bears] Ok, so this is it. I better enjoy the view before I'm mauled. Maybe I should give them my mother's phone number.

If I were to summarize what happened after this, it would basically entail a) not getting eaten by a bear, b) enjoying an epic view of the Yosemite Valley, and c) clenching every muscle in my body during the entire hike back down.

What Would Ed Do?
Ed's inner monologue would read: "Should I attempt this one barefoot or blindfolded? Oh! I know! With both arms tied behind my back. Cakewalk."