Creating Magic

May your day be sprinkled with pixie dust

Half Dome Adventure: The End … again … Epilogue? July 28, 2014

Filed under: Faerie Dust & Whimsy — Faerie Magic @ 5:16 pm

One of my instructors from the trip contacted us today and emailed us some cool photos that I thought I might share with you!  So awesome!

The first photo I would like to share is actual PROOF! that yes indeed I was on the cables climbing up Half Dome … No … I didn’t photoshop myself onto the top of Half Dome!

Shannon ON HD

That’s me in the middle of the photo, in the blue shirt and green khaki shorts! And look Mom … both my hands are on the cable!  See, this time I was being cautious …. I think most people would be …. almost!

The next photo is a group shot of the ten participants who worked together to get to the top …. as we all know, you can’t make it on a hard journey all by yourself!

HD Group

And I think I may have been channeling my friend, Kris, at this point with my eyes blinking!  Oops … Atleast I have a good smile!

The last photo is PROOF of the impending storm that trashed my campsite!  UGH!

Pending Storm

Now you get an idea of why I got into trouble.  Fortunately all turned out on the up-and-up ….




Day 10: On the Road Again … The End! July 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Faerie Magic @ 3:50 pm

Day 10 and the journey home …. hmmm … which route to take?  So many choices!

CA Map2

Now … I know these days many people use electronic maps and guides BUT what do you do if you get into areas where electronics don’t work? AND what if you get to an area that is CLOSED and REROUTED …. that’s where having a good ‘ole fashioned hand-held paper map is AWESOME … and I just learned to read them four years ago .. you might think that it is a skill that is just second nature … not so!  I had to teach myself how to read maps, and it is so helpful on a long trip especially if you don’t have the whole trip mapped out by Google Earth or Mapquest!

I got on the road at 5:00 a.m. to catch the sunrise through Yosemite once more and decided to take the 120 East toward the 395 South.  I am so glad I did.  All the wildlife and flowers and clouds and trees came out to say good-bye as I left the Valley.

The first thing I noticed as the sun rose over the horizon and cast a glow on the meadows was a family of deer and buck feeding …

Buck It Up

They were all spread out over an acre grazing on the moist grasses in the field.  I walked up as close as I could safely get, my feet getting wet in the dew and feeling the 46 degrees of coolness on the air.

Oh Dear BW

None of the deer or bucks paid me any mind.  So many humans move through this area, they have become accustomed to us on their land, which is why we need to make sure to be mindful and keep them wild by not feeding them and not friending them so that they keep active in their alertness to predators.

Deer Buck Beauty

If Santa Claus is looking for his reindeer, this is apparently where they Summer … Upper Yosemite Valley in Mariposa Meadows.  Even reindeer need vacations too!  Well, I had to keep on with my drive or else I would never make it home.  1 hour down 15 more to go!

The next part of nature to say adieu was a beautiful cloud that sat above the point of Tioga Peak which sits at almost 10,000 feet in elevation.

Tioga Peak

After bidding a fond farewell to the deer and clouds and mountains, the Faeries decided they wanted to say good-bye and I found the prettiest violet purple flower, single and standing alone, tall and proud … when I went to smell it … it smelled like … well, an onion.  When I looked up the scientific name is: Allium yosemitense….  non-scientific name of this flower … lo-and-behold it is referred to as the Yosemite Onion flower!

I may be small Yosemite Onion

When I said hello, she said, “I might be small, but I’m mighty.”  I laughed (I remember Dill or Charles Baker Wallace from To Kill a Mockingbird saying just the exact same thing!)

Yosemite Onion

I concluded my drive on the 120 East where it ended and turned right heading south on the 395 which took me all the way to San Bernadino, California.

CA Map1

On the way out of the Valley the Faeries showed up in cloud form to bid me farewell and happy return!

Faerie Cloud

Once I reached San Bernadino, I was able to catch to 10 East all the way back to Tucson ….

CA Map3

10:00 p.m. and 16 hours later … Home Sweet Home 😉 ( I had the pleasure for 7 of those hours listening to the audio version of the book “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green … a wonderfully written story with great characters and brilliant dialogue)

I have many folks to thank for my successful adventure …

First – Spirit God for creating the spark and the means

Mo Bike for sending me the Yosemite Video that inspired the trip, My sweet supportive Tribe (Sara, Nancy, Kris, Lorelei, Carrie, Ross, Mike, Dave, Tom, Bob), my friend, Sally, for her support and the awesome use of her hiking poles and fleece jacket, my friend Ashley, my friend, Robert,  for his Bear energy and the use of his camping self-inflating mattress and outdoor hat, My mom, sis and nephews for their love and awesome Beach adventure, the Faeries and Angels, Caliber Collision who took care of repairing my little car while I was on the trip!

To More Fun Adventures!




Day 9: When I went down to the valley … July 26, 2014

Filed under: Faerie Dust & Whimsy,Mother Nature — Faerie Magic @ 1:10 pm

As magnificent as my trip has sounded to everyone … it was not without its challenges … most of which occurred directly after the coming down off of Half Dome.  Although I do not typically choose to share some of my personal challenges, I think maybe these might be helpful to others in the future who might not be such avid backpacker/campers … I, too, am a beginner in this area.

WARNING: Some content is meant for ADULTS ONLY!

As we headed down the mountain and were making our 3 mile trip back to Little Yosemite Valley and our campsite with the intention of packing up and heading all the way back to our original starting point from the day before … a storm, which had been brewing in the distance, a storm, which up until this day didn’t reach the valley until 3:00 p.m. … decided … on this day to greet us early.  Sometimes it isn’t so great being the first one back at camp!  But that is besides the point … I was.  I began to break down my gear, take the rain fly off, lay my things on the ground … WHEN…. a deluge of water began to pour from the sky!

All of my gear, my pack, my clothes, my sleeping bag, tent … all drenched! UGH! … I emptied my backpack of what water I could and stored it in the bear box and ran promptly into Lindsay, the assistant guide’s tent.  We waited and waited and waited and waited for the monsoon to pass.  I got colder and colder and colder and became sad knowing that I was wet and cold and had no dry clothes to change into at this point either even once the rain stopped.  CRAP!  AND  we still had to hike 6 miles from this point back down to Yosemite Valley with our 30 pound (now 40 pound packs with the water) …

Two hours later, rain slowed enough for us to pack up, everyone emerged.  I squished as much water from all my gear as I could and gathered water drenched clothes and pushed my water engorged sleeping back back into its now too tiny home filled with remnants of mud from the flooded campsite.  We made our way to the river to restock our water packs when one of the other participants and her wife looked at me and said, “Shannon, you look really cold and really hungry.”  I denied it, but they were right.  Pegha said, “Oh no!  You cannot hike back like that.  You will get hypothermia.”  Pegha took off her now dry rain pants and handed them to me to put on.  I took off my drenched hiking pants, rung them out and slung them over my backpack.  Sirie, Pegha’s wife, took off her dry, warm, long-sleeved shirt and told me to put it on after taking off my own long-sleeve water-logged shirt.   AHHHH … so much better … it is nice when you receive help especially when it is from people who don’t know you that well but as humans, know that you could get sick and so step in to be of service!  At that point they fed me a bowl of hot beans and rice (which although sweet and tasty and nourshing would later come back to HAUNT me!) … I know your curious … I did say this particular post was full of ADULT content … I guess you presumed Nudity, Sex, Profanity … Yes, No, Yes … As you have see the nudity part from the story above…. Pegha and Sirie also put a enzyme tablet into my water bag to re-hydrate me …

6 miles back … all that once was UP UP UP was now DOWN DOWN DOWN … Around mile 4 … I begun to realize that there were certain things on the trip that if nothing went wrong, my equipment was perfect BUT if challenges occurred, my equipment, not the best for this type of trip.  I rather quickly collected a list in my head of what I would need to change out for another trip of this nature.

1.  Hiking shoes:  MINE:  Good condition, broken in … wonderful for the hikes I’ve done

NEW:  Hiking Boots! with ankle support … by the last two miles downhill my ankles were so sore, I admit, I was crying … most people who know me know I don’t like to show my weaknesses … at this point in our group though I was by myself with some of the group ahead and some behind.

2. Backpack:  MINE:  Good support, good waist band, good harness and steel frame.

NEW:  Backpackers pack where all the equipment fits inside the frame with nothing loaded on the outside and is waterproof!

3.  Hiking Poles:  MINE:  Adjustable with spring action (Thank you Sally!)

NEW:  Hiking poles adjustable with clips instead of a turning screw mechanism

4.  Cooking Equip:  ME:  None

NEW:   A small portable Jet Boil … many of our campers had these small portable apparatus’ and I became jealous after deciding I wanted some hot tea to warm up with.

5.  Rain Gear:  MINE:  Rain Jacket – single layer

NEW:  Waterproof Rain Jacket and Pants with double layer insulation!

Okay, okay … so now I know!  Atleast I survived in order to learn what I did well with and what I could do differently … that’s Life right?

So at this point in the last mile, with my body warmimg up, the beans and rice cooking in my intestines and the enzymes in the water rehydrating me … well you can guess … maybe … I begun avidly to pray to GOD …. “Please don’t let me shit myself on this trail … Yes a bear does shit in the woods … But I don’t want to …”   My prayers were partially answered … PARTIALLY …

We made it back to Yosemite Valley and now I needed to find lodging.  I was supposed to camp one more night, but as you might recall, all my gear is wet and gross.  I drove 90 minutes west to Buckmeadows Lodge and hope one, there was a room and two, a restroom cuz now my intestines are not happy.  I found a room! Yes! and as soon as I stepped in the room, well … lets just say … I was 20 Feet from Stardom! …I am not proud but at this point, I was grateful for a toilet, a tub, a restaurant next door with hot food and a comfy warm bed to crawl into before the drive home the next day.

As you have noticed this blog post has NO photos … I didn’t think you wanted that much information!

I also want you to know that success is not without its hard journeys and shit!

Enough of that …. Now … for some more pretty pics on my journey back to Tucson …..

That’s the NEXT and LAST Post form this adventure!






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.



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!






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.


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!




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.


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.


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 ….





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 …


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 ….


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


Surrounded Beauty

by Love …

Lake and Cloud

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

I’d like to think so …


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!




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