Creating Magic

May your day be sprinkled with pixie dust

Day 6, 7 & 8: To Half Dome and Beyond! (No Kidding!) – PART THREE July 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Faerie Magic @ 9:43 pm

By now you are probably wondering … did she really make it to Half Dome?  Is she just keeping us in suspense?  Will there be a PART FOUR like a bad sequel to a good movie?  Well … you will soon find out! Hold your horses.

At this point on the John Muir Trail, our group decided to take a lunch break, enjoy the falls and take a gander of the surrounding area enjoying the break from the heavy packs and feeling the cool breeze of 80 degrees to cool the sweat on our brows.  The first thing I noticed, who couldn’t?, was another mountain known as Liberty Cap.

Liberty Cap How High

How did this mountain gets its name you might wonder?  I did and this is some of the information I found …. “

LIBERTY CAP has had four other names, Mt. Frances, Gwin’s Peak, Bellow’s Butte (after a Boston clergyman) and Mt. Broderick. It is the glaciated peak on the north side of the Merced River next to Nevada Fall. When Governor Leland Stanford was visiting Yosemite in 1865, he and James Hutchings visited Nevada Fall. The Governor proclaimed his dislike for all of the names, and, looking at an old fashioned half dollar, supposedly produced by Hutchings, he saw the resemblance between the peak and the cap of liberty on the coin and decided that CAP OF LIBERTY was more appropriate. The name Mt. Broderick was then given to the smaller peak northwest from it.

The Indian name was “Mah-ta”, translated as meaning “martyr mountain”.

By now, I looked up and thought, “Well, this looks like a convenient mountain to climb, we are already here and that would save us any further hiking.”  Apparently, no one else agreed and besides our guide informed us that the required pass that you have to have to traverse any of the mountains by foot and the pass we had was specific to Half Dome.

Liberty Cap Shannon

So onward and upward!  The group continued on where we hiked another two miles to our base camp at Little Yosemite Campground.  There we set up our tents for the night, collected water from the river (I used a Swayer Water Filter) and most of us decided to go swimming before the evening set in.  We found ourselves swimming with a garter snake and a rattlesnake who decidedly kept to themselves.  As a group we decided we would get up at 4:30 a.m. and head out by 5:00 to hike the last 2.5 miles UP to Half Dome.

Now you must remember that we started our hike on the Valley Floor at 3500 feet elevation.  In 8.5 miles by the time we were at the top of Half Dome we would have traversed 5000 feet in elevation.

Half Dome2b

Now you see BEFORE we could actually traverse Half Dome, we would have to face the mountain’s little brother, Sub Dome.  Hurtling Sub Dome, which consists of hundreds of large climbing stone steps and dozens of switchbacks, was the daunting part.  I couldn’t even stop to think about it.  If I had come this far, travelled this high up, up, up … I would step each step praying to make it to the top which would be the base of Half Dome, the REWARD!

Sub Dome

The above photo is the last part of Sub Dome … the stone steps become just large, long plates of upward sloping granite we have to walk up.  Is Half Dome ahead of us?  I can’t even look up anymore.  The wind begins to blow loudly and the assistant, Lindsay, reminds us, “The wind is our friend.  He will not blow you off the mountain.  He just sounds loud.”

After scaling up the steps and slopes of Sub Dome, our group decides to take one last break before approaching the cabled walls of Half Dome…

Group after Sub Dome

One detail, important that it is, on this particular leg of the journey, we left our big packs at base camp and just had to tote our day packs of water and snacks up … Thank Heaven for small favors!

Now, you might think that the Bears are the ONLY scavengers around who look for human food … not so!  The local Blue Jays LOVE backpackers and all their goodies.  Even getting so close they beg like a dog at a dining room table.

Blue Jay

NOW HALF DOME … what I have been looking forward to … 500 Feet from the base of Sub Dome to the top of Half Dome at an 80% incline with two metal cables.  Poles every 20 feet or so drilled into the granite with planks of wood mounted to the base of the poles to provide climbers with foot rests.  In some spaces the granite has become slippery and slick even with good climbing shoes due to all the people who have climbed the mountain’s side.  Traffic going up the cables and down the cables go on at the same time.  Etiquette suggests that if you are pulling yourself up, double grip on the right side of the cables, and if coming down, double grip on the left side of the cables.

We arrived early enough that no storms were approaching but clouds were building in the east.  You don’t want to be on the cables nor on the top of the mountain if a monsoon hits.  The cables become lightening electrical conduits and the rain turns the already slippery surface of the granite into a slide.

I AM READY!

HALF DOME!

Top of Sub Dome

Of course, I don’t have any photos of me directly on the cables … uhm, “look ma, no hands!” … although I am a daredevil, I erred on the side of caution and put my camera away while I was pulling myself up the cables … Did I make it!

To the Top

Do you see that tiny blue-shirted dot on the very corner of the Half Dome’s cliff wall?  Yep!  That’s me! Woot Woot!  I did it!  Rock ON!

Woot Woot

Good thing my mom didn’t know exactly where I was in this moment or she may have been having a heart attack!  Hi MOM!  Besides the adventure back down the cables, there was one last challenge to face … can you guess?

No, not the weather.   …. No, not the air at this elevation …

There is a toll to be paid at the top of Half Dome.  Can you believe it?!  A toll … wanna know who collects the tolls?

Gold Head Squirrel

I know, right?  The Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.  Their toll?  Well, what else?  FOOD!  I turned my back for one minute and found one inside my day pack trying to run off with my almonds!

You may be thinking that this is the end of the adventure.  Not so!

I mean … I still have the hike back down, the torrential monsoon that hit us hard, the hike back and the drive back to town …. still some grueling adventures to come.

Thank you for being on my journey with me!

Love

Shannon

 

 

 

Day 6, 7 & 8: To Half Dome and Beyond! (No Kidding!) – PART TWO

Filed under: Faerie Dust & Whimsy — Faerie Magic @ 7:44 am

Are you still curious?  I hope so!

Our group leader, Lindsay, a former Forest Ranger and current nature guide, informed the group that Bears had actually begun to profile cars/trucks to know which ones were the easiest to break into and had the most food …. any guesses?

SUV’s that have the window in the rear that lifts up away from the tailgate.  The Bears found from trial and error I am thinking that if they climbed on the roof of the SUV and jumped hard and long enough, like a two-year-old jumping on a bed, that the window would pop open and food would be hiding inside!

Well, you will be happy to know that I, in fact, did not spot one bear on my entire adventure BUT I did spot a hungry buck who had the same idea that the bears did.  I went to the Curry Village parking lot to store my personal items and discovered the buck finding some grub …

Buck Food

After storing my items and having my tent pitched at camp, I decided it was time to wander lower Yosemite and see what else I could discover.  In the not so far distance I heard the burbling of water over stones.  I followed the sound only to discover the Merced River.  A few families were swimming in the cool clear water and I decided to step into the water myself …. ahhhhhh…. WATER!

Shannon Ranger2

Hey! With this hat, courtesy of Mr. Prater, maybe one day I could be a Ranger!  I certainly look the part, don’tchathink?

Many local tourists cross the Merced River via a stone bridge located conveniently across it.  Who needs a bridge when you can tromp around IN the water!

Merced River

I spent much of my time until meeting the rest of the group hanging out in the water.  After discussing our plan of attack for the next day, we headed off to bed.  The first day of hiking would consist of a 6 mile hike to Little Yosemite Valley where we would set up camp for the night before tackling Half Dome the following day.  I thought, “6 Miles! That’s it! No problem ….” little did I know that that 6 miles would consist of hiking uphill the entire time with my 30 pound backpack totting on my back.

Raven, another intelligent scavenger who loved the Curry Village camp sites was the first one to wake me up at 5:30 a.m. the next morning crowing like the morning Rooster!  The group gathered with all of our equipment at the John Muir Trail Head, which would take us to Little Yosemite Valley base camp.

On the way about three miles into the upward climbing hike, huffing and puffing my way up the trail, we made our way near Vernal Falls.

Map

The rapid moving water over the 317 foot waterfall is beautiful to view.  We were told by our guides that although the water seemed to be abundant that it was actually low for the season as they had not received enough snow or rainfall for the year.

Vernal Falls1

One of the many flowers that benefit from the waterfall itself is a flower known as the White Bog Orchid of Yosemite Park.  The mist from the waterfall sprays the side of the trail walls of rock and this delicate miniature orchid is able to grow from the combination of sun and water.  This beauty of tiny proportions is actually often pollinated by mesquitoes in fact!  For more information on this flower you can follow this link:

White Bog Orchid

Orchid Mesquito

Well … many of you who know me well enough, know that sometimes I like to push the envelope … every so often … what is the point of seeing Vernal Falls from a distance … let’s take a closer look shall we!

Over Falls Shannon

Shannon on the rocks please!

Did I say there were only two parts to this story?  Hmmm…. apparently there are three and no one bothered to tell me ahead of time.  We haven’t even made it to base camp for heaven’s sake.  Now you know by reading this story why I called it to Half Dome and Beyond …. it just keeps going and going and going …

I hope you look forward to Part Three!

Love

Shannon

 

Day 6, 7 & 8: To Half Dome and Beyond! (No kidding!) – PART ONE July 23, 2014

Filed under: Faerie Dust & Whimsy,Mother Nature — Faerie Magic @ 6:50 pm

If I had a jet pack like Buzz Lightyear, I probably would have used it if I had known how crazy hard the hike was going to be!  It’s probably  better I didn’t know ahead of time.  Well … are you wondering if I made it out the other side?  Did I make it to the top of Half Dome?  The answers shall soon be seen.

On the morning of meeting my hiking group which was through the Yosemite Conservancy, I drove into Lower Yosemite Valley.  Upon entering the valley, I pulled over and was greeted by the Stone Gatekeeper who stood in the middle of the stream.  He called himself George.

Gateway George

I asked him if it was okay for me to take a close-up photo for my friends and family.  Although he wasn’t too enamoured of the idea, he did agree to the portrait.

George

After George’s photo shoot, his friend, Butterfly, showed up at the water’s edge asking politely, “May I also be in the story?”  Of course, I agreed because how can my story to Yosemite that has Unicorns not also contain Butterflies.

Butterfly

Once I earned George’s permission to head into the Valley of Yosemite, I thanked him and Butterfly and was awe struck as I turned the curve in my car where the view opened into a waving grass, yellow wildflower covered valley floor surrounded by enormous mountain ranges, whose names I would soon become more familiar with (and if you continue to read on…. so will you)

The Valley

The Valley Floor of Yosemite is around 3800 feet in elevation … me in the photo, at 3800 feet, oh so unaware of the hike ahead of me!  Me, blissed out in the yellow dazzling wildflowers, thanking God that it isn’t Dorthoy’s field of poppies in Wizard of Oz or I would never have completed my adventure … and aside from some ground squirrels around me, I didn’t see any Flying Monkeys either.

Valley Floor with S

I spun around in a circle to take in the view of the surrounding mountain ranges rising up around me….

Valley View  WD

The glow of shimmering lemon yellow wildflowers pushing up from the valley floor …

Valley Flowers

The first mountain to catch my eye was El Capitan, Rock Chief, rising 3000 feet from the valley floor.  He is made almost completely of granite and is a favorite mountain for rock climbers and base jumpers to scale.

El Capitan

The next peak to catch my attention from the valley floor was Sentinel Rock reaching up towards the sky to reach an elevation of 7000 feet

Sentinel Rock

Once inside the main camps for Yosemite, I headed over to find my first night’s camping space.  The Rangers showed me to Space 44 in the Upper Pines Curry Village campground.  I was the first one in our group to arrive, so what’s new there right?  I set up my tent at noon so I would have the rest of the day to explore Yosemite. I think I did a fine job of pitching and staking my tent, rain fly and all.

Camp My Tent Curry Village

One of the most important pieces of information I learned from the Rangers was BEAR BOXES, BEAR BOXES, BEAR BOXES.  All food must be stored in these bear boxes at all times except when you are actually going to be consuming your food.

Bear Box

We were even required to sign a waiver and form saying we understood the dangers of leaving our food out … and what I learned is it isn’t just food … ALL scented products like toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, hair products, bug spray, sunscreen … anything with a strong scent is attractive to a bear … which brings me to a question of what prevents a bear from attacking me in the middle of the night in my tent if I have shampooed hair, deodorized underarms with skin slathered in sunscreen and lips covered in lip balm all covered by bug spray … shouldn’t I, too, be stuffed inside the bear box???

Bear Box1

Bear Box Rules2Part Two … to follow ….

 

XOXO

Shannon

 

Day Five: Yosemite – Love at First Site July 17, 2014

Filed under: Faerie Dust & Whimsy,Mother Nature — Faerie Magic @ 9:53 pm

Bet you are wondering, “are there Unicorns?  did you see one?” … Just wait … you will see …

My first day of adventuring into the wilderness that is Yosemite National Park … words? … I probably shouldn’t write too much and let the photos speak for themselves … I may add some brief commentary as needed …

6:00 a.m. – a Yosemite Sunrise – Brilliant!

Sunrise over Yosemite

Hues Pink Purple Gold before the Sun shows His face …

Sunrising

Where 56 degrees meets the warm water from the day before … mist rising and curling …

Misty Tenaya Lake

Tenaya Lake with its curving shores bringing her water right to your feet….

Tenaya Lake2

Yosemite’s beauty surrounds you on all sides.   Above you, the clouds curl and roll with the breeze…

Sunrise and Clouds

And when you thought that only clouds can be in the sky, you find them under your feet too!

Glory Be2

And what you are fishing for in this great lake ends up sitting right in front of you.  What you thought was your imagination is suddenly real.

Meditation Spot

You may even look up in gratitude ….

Selfie2

Only to find the Moon starring back at you ….MoonStone

Smiling down at you

Over a stone face …

Faces of Stone

That’s when you know your surrounded …..

Lake Surrounding

Completely….

Surrounded Beauty

by Love …

Lake and Cloud

So … you’re still wondering … are there Unicorns?

I’d like to think so …

Unicorn1

And we are friends.

Unicorn and Me

Love at First Site … that’s Yosemite National Park!

I will be going off-line for the rest of my journey backpacking into the wilderness to meet Half-Dome face-to-face.  See you when I come out with more adventures!

Hugs!

 

 

Day Four: From Here to Eternity …. (atleast that’s what the drive felt like) July 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Faerie Magic @ 9:54 pm

  I should know by now that my estimates with time and driving are usually OFF completely by atleast two hours not accounting for traffic, accidents, road work, unknown traveled routes and small animals needing to be fed ….

  I traveled from San Diego to Groveland, CA today expecting an 8 hour drive … ehm … well, it was more like 11 hours!  But I did it! I drove I-5 North to HWY 99 up through Bakersfield and Fresno.  In Fresno at one of my stops to get gas, I came out to my car from using the restroom and three small dogs were all sitting by my car.  They all looked up at me happily grinning, “So! You got any food?” … “I have some water, what about that?” … “The little black dog of unknown origin spoke for the other two dogs, “Water? No thank you.  Food.  Got any?” …. “Okay, okay … I do.  Hold on.”  Digging around my cooler, I found some leftovers of pork and brown rice.  I passed out the food and poured them some water into a dish I had.  They thanked me kindly and skittered off into the nearby neighborhood.

  From HWY 99 I took Route 41 briefly and headed up Route 49 … where 16 miles of winding mountain road took me an extra 90 minutes … but … I love windy, curvy roads.  I met up with the Merced River stopping for a photo op at the bridge.

Merced River CA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  The 49 connected with the 120 East … at last! … 10 1/2 hours later from San Diego … that’s when I re-read the direction page I printed from the Hotel Charlotte where I am staying … “Only take the 49 Route if you like long, scenic, death-defying windy roads” … that totally makes sense! … 8 winding miles later on the 120 and I made it to Hotel Charlotte in Groveland, CA

Hotel Charlotte

  The town of Groveland is small, charming and cute!

Groveland CA2Groveland CA8

Groveland CA7

Groveland CA6Groveland CA4

Groveland CA1

Groveland CA5

   Hotel Charlotte has its own restaurant with a wonderful chef and awesome fresh menu of locally grown veggies and blends of tastes from Yam Gnocchi to Sauteed Pork Tamales with fresh Mole sauce to Roasted Veggies with Lentils … as you can see … I was so hungry that I ate my meal before I had a chance to take a photo!

Groveland CA HC Dinner

Oops!

I did get a photo of the yummy dessert … Fruit Pudding Cake with Yogurt and Fresh Berries

Groveland CA HC Dessert2Groveland CA HC Dessert

Now off to bed I go to rest up for a day of exploring Yosemite tomorrow before the big hike in a couple of days! … Are there really Unicorns at Unicorn Peak I wonder?

Hugs

Shannon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Three: Sunsets in San Diego July 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Faerie Magic @ 10:45 pm

After a full day of boating and body surfing, our family had the awesome adventure to hang in the ocean with a pod of passing dolphins, who showed us that they, too, liked body surfing in the rolling ocean waves.  Yet another awesome blessing!  …. this adventure was experienced by us as we swam in the ocean and so no photo ops presented themselves … I am sure you can use your imagination to fill in the picutre!

My journey in San Diego for this leg of the trip ends with a gorgeous sunset on the pier in San Diego … I bet you can just smell the salty air!

Sunset

And just imagine standing where the surfers are standing knowing the blessing of another setting sun ….

Surfers at Sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing you a wonderful night!

Hugs!

Shannon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Two: A Day at the Beach July 14, 2014

Filed under: Faerie Dust & Whimsy — Faerie Magic @ 10:10 pm

As we arrived at Mission Beach, we were greeted by friends ….

The trees said hello …

Banyan Tree

 

 

 

 

The Seagulls sat waiting for some tasty treats … “Mine, mine, mine, mine”

 

Seagull

 

.… as we made our way onto the sands of the beach, we heard the crashing of the ocean waves on the shore ….

The Waves2

I smiled since it has been two years since I last made it to the beach.  The gentle ocean breeze, the smell of the salty air, the mist of the ocean spray ….

Selfie

My nephews had a blast chasing one another ….

The Chase

My younger nephew was so excited to be at the beach again that he leapt….

Leapin Lizards

and jumped for joy ….

Jumpin for Joy

While he was busy playin’ in the surf, my older nephew was apparently sent wishes of fun from a nearby Faerie Girl … some of the Faerie Dust may have landed in his eye!

A Faeries Wish

…. as the sun set on our day of fun …. I knew that we had been blessed with a day of magic in the surf ….

Surf Boy

We shall see what magic the day holds for us tomorrow ….

(not seen in the accompanying photos would be my mom and sis … who requested to be kept behind the scenes!  )

Hugs!

Shannon

 

 
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