Sunday, August 30, 2009

Half Dome Hike

My little family (hubby, daughter and boyfriend, step-daughter), along with our two dogs went up to the very beautiful Yosemite for the weekend. We left Friday morning and camped for two nights. We made reservations for a campsite four months ago. Keith and I decided at that time, we were going to hike Half Dome on this trip. Since that day, we had successfully suckered, I mean talked Loren and Sterling into doing this hike with us. Sara stayed at the campsite with Bella and Boomer.

Yosemite National Park - Half Dome Day Hike (U.S. National Park Service)

This is a 16 mile hike round trip with over 5,000 feet of elevation gain. It can take up to and over 12 hours to complete. Our plan was to get up at 4:30 a.m. and get to the trail head shortly after 5:00 a.m. Well, our alarm didn't go off. Keith woke me up to ask what time it was. It was 5:50 a.m. UGH! Not a good start. We woke up the kids and made it to the trail head at 7:00 a.m. Here we are at the trail head:

Sterling, Me, Keith, Loren

The one and only flush toilet available and it's right about one mile from the start.

There's where we're heading!

Vernal Falls

The trail is anything but smooth and flat.

The half-way point

After this picture was taken, Sterling and I took off ahead of Keith and Loren. It seems Sterling and I were more comfortable going at a faster pace. We stopped here and ate our sandwiches we had packed for ourselves.

When we saw we only had two more miles to go, we got very excited. It was hard to believe we were going to do it! We were going to make it to the top of Half Dome today. We had a new found spring in our step. We were charging full speed ahead. We were even passing people that had started at 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. We were on fire!
Then came this:

It's very hard to explain with words. It's a portion of very steep granite that goes straight up about 400 feet or so (guessing). It's a bunch of switchbacks with steps and the path is about two feet wide, at the most. Here's another shot of it, looking down. Way down!

I looked up. I looked down. I'm very afraid of heights. We were at 8,000 feet elevation. I was beginning to feel light headed. Then I was afraid I would pass out, due to lack of oxygen from being at 8,000 feet. And then if I pass out, I'm going to fall very far. This, of course, sent me into a fit of anxiety. (Sometimes I really don't like my head.) I sat down. I leaned toward the inside as much as I could. I looked up and saw Sterling doing the same thing. Uh oh. Now what? We looked at each other and started laughing a little bit. He said what I was thinking. "We don't have to go up, if you don't want to." I asked him if he wanted to go back down and he just nodded, "yes." We stood up and slowly walked down the steps to "safety". Phew!

We headed back down, laughing about our anxiety attacks. Neither of us were sorry we didn't make it all the way to the top. There's always another time.

A little while later we saw Keith and Loren coming toward us. They stopped and ate their sandwiches and decided they were not going to go up any further. At this point, we all headed down together.

A pine cone bigger than Mount Diablo's?

Merced River in Little Yosemite Valley

On top of Nevada Falls

And now..............................

The best picture ever:

Yup, Sterling and I saw a bear! Actually, we saw THREE bears. Two large ones and a little cub. Oh, the cub was so damn cute. He was hopping through the trees, being silly. That was so great to see. Poor Keith though, once again we are in Yosemite and he didn't get to see a bear.

As we expected, the hike was absolutely gorgeous. I want to do it again, now that I have seen what the approach to the top looks like. It was a lot hotter than any of us anticipated. Even though we each carried 70 oz. of water on our back with two extra 16 oz. bottles, we all pretty much ran out of water. Thank God for a guy named Mark that was filtering water out of the river above Nevada Falls. He filled water bottles for each of us, without hesitating. Sterling and I ran the last few miles down. It was pretty tough because of the trail being filled with rocks of all shapes and sizes, and steps as well. My knee did not hurt one tiny bit and still doesn't hurt today.

We got back to the campsite at 4:30. We had a dinner planned, that we were going to prepare. We chucked the plan and Sara drove over to Curry Village and picked up two large pizzas. After that, Keith and I rode our bikes there and ate a double scoop ice cream cone. We all slept quite well last night.

Until later.............

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I had a dream.......

That I did a triathlon.

So I registered for one.

This one: 6th Annual Women's See Jane Run Sprint Triathlon, Sept 26, 2009 (See Jane Tri)

I have some work to do!

Until later.............

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Deflated Ego

Before I go into how my ego got deflated, let me tell you how I helped inflate someone else's. Yesterday morning I helped get another human being to the top of Mission Peak (2,512 feet). It's not huge but it is pretty big for this area. This time it was my step-daughter, Loren. The morning started off cool and foggy. Perfect for this hike. Unlike a few months ago when I took my daughter up here, this time we went up from Ohlone College. (Locals know what I'm talking about).

After a couple of miles, we rose above the fog! There's Mount Diablo, poking up above the fog.

I also took Loren around the back side of the mountain and approached the peak from the south end. It's a much easier climb this way. 4.25 miles of climbing and we were finally at the top. Yay Loren!! Good job. This was to prepare Loren for Half Dome next weekend. I think you will be fine. ;)

We spent a few minutes on the top, looking at the view, eating snacks, taking pictures and feeding Boomer and Bella.

Now onto my ego being deflated today. I decided I would go to Quarry Lakes and do some lake swimming. Now that I feel confident about my swimming abilities, I was not worried about this at all. I figured I could work on my tan and swim at the same time.
I was very excited when I got there. The beach area is HUGE and there was only one other person there, besides the lifeguard. I walked down to the water, took my shorts off and walked into the water towards the roped off area. It was a little colder than I'm used to. It wasn't getting any warmer as I walked in deeper either. It took me 10 minutes to become fully submerged! I almost got back out. I finally made myself float on over and went under the rope. I still wasn't warming up at all. I slipped on my goggles and started to swim. As soon as I put my head under and opened my eyes, I literally could not breathe. So, I kept my eyes closed. That didn't work too well. I may have made it 25 yards before having to grab onto the rope. I could NOT catch my breath. Holy crap! What is happening? I saw a fish almost as big as me and I was afraid he might think my toe was bait! I was able to swim (breast stroke, float on my back, move along the rope) to the other side. Phew! Could I leave now? No? Damn! I went back to the other side, stopping a few times along the way. By the 3rd or 4th trip I was opening my eyes and almost making it to the other side without stopping. I was more than sure it was at least ONE FULL MILE from side to side but was told by the lifeguard it was about 120 yards. Are you kidding me? I did eight laps. That is not impressive, by any means. The other guy that was there told me this was his third time swimming here and it does get easier. I hope he's right.
I won't give up. I'm just more determined to keep trying until I get better.
Until later.............

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Another great week!

Thursday didn't quite pan out how I had planned. I slept awful Wednesday night and woke up in the morning feeling congested and very low on energy. I went to Pilates, which was great, but bagged the rest of the plans for the day, including PT. By late afternoon I was feeling back to normal so Keith and I went out to dinner and did some shopping at Santana Row in San Jose.

Friday morning I went for a (non-trail) run! Boomer and I did four miles along the Alameda Creek Trail. I was so damn happy. I was on the trail before 7:00 because I had to work 9:30 to 5:00. It was overcast and cool. I wore my brace on my knee and was able to run pain free! Yippeeeeee. I am definitely happiest when I can run. No doubt about it. I'm still most comfortable running a 10:00/mile pace. I said this when I first found out about my arthritis in my knee, and I'll say it again, "I will never take for granted, the 30 minute flat run!" If I can do this even once a week, I'll be thrilled. I know, shocker!

Today I joined my husband for a game of golf. We had to wait about 30 minutes before we could tee off, so we hung out in front of the clubhouse. I watched this squirrel hop from golf bag to golf bag, looking for food. Son of a gun, he pulled something out of our friend's bag and ran up the tree with it. It was a fruit roll. He sat in his tree, opened up the wrapper and ate some of it. After a few bites, he jumped down and checked out a few more bags before finding pretzels in a golf cart. He snagged a pretzel and ate it under the cart. I'm sure he's been doing this for a long time. Such a little thief!

Obviously, golfers must feed these animals because this duck got out of the pond to come up to me and see if I would feed her. I didn't.

But Keith did.

Inter-racial ducking........

We walked the course today and my feet were SO SORE afterwards. I think it was from all the standing around too. From the time we got there until the time we got back in the car, it was six hours. I said my feet felt better after running a 50K than they did after walking today.
Something very funny/interesting happened on the golf course. Keith carries a GPS for yardage when he golfs. He always goes to my ball with me and tells me how many yards I have to the pin. (I know, what a nice guy, huh??) Anyway, a few times after he told me my yardage, I would think to myself: 75 yards, hmmm, that's three laps in the pool. 56 yards, oh, that's just over two laps. I even noticed I did that on the Alameda Creek Trail yesterday morning when I would pass a 1/2 mile marker. I was thinking how it seems A LOT shorter on land.
Exercise wise, this past week was pretty good I'd say. I swam three days. I did two trail runs, one flat run. Two days of Pilates. One day of golf. And yes, I worked three days.
I am working 11:30 to 7:30 tomorrow so I plan on swimming before work. I have also decided I'm going to ride my bike to the pool instead of drive. So, as you can see, now enters the bike.
Until later.............

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Still no Miguel

Jana's front door is literally right across the street from my driveway. When we go for a hike together, the dogs know it. Jana has to open her front door, look down the street for cars and then release the dogs to run over to my house. Spike (the tree climber) will begin his jump into my car, halfway up my driveway.
Izzy is always right behind Spike.
We picked up Bella and headed up to Lake Chabot in Castro Valley. Today is six weeks since I sprained my ankle on this loop. This was our second attempt to find Miguel and thank him for carrying me out of there that day. No such luck. He told us he did the inner loop every day. We have gone at the same time and did the loop in the same direction. Maybe if we don't try so hard, we will run across him some time in the future. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Boomer stood guard on the dock as the black doggies jumped in the lake to cool off.

Here, he started barking at Spike because evidently he was going out way too far. Bella followed the black dogs right over the edge of the dock, into the water. I don't think she knew she was going to go in the water. It was kind of funny, until it looked like she had forgotten how to swim. She swam to the shore though, with Jana and I coaxing her along.

They all made it out of the water safely and we headed down the trail, continuing around the lake.
Here is their last bit of freedom before having to be leashed for the final couple miles of the loop.

And finally, the group photo.

I did run most of the 8.5 mile loop and I must say it felt really good. The only time my knee bothered me was when we were on the flat, paved part. I had my ankle taped up good and I was very cautious about keeping my eyes on the trail in front of me.

Yesterday I swam another 2000 yards after Pilates. I'm getting more and more comfortable with breathing on both sides. Yesterday I was changing sides with each lap. I'm slower breathing on my left side but that's improving too. Pretty soon I will start working on alternating every three or five breaths. I am very happy about the cardio workout I get from swimming. I feel like I have a great mixture of activities to keep me busy right now. That makes me happy. ;)

Pilates and swimming on the schedule for tomorrow. Oh, and an appointment with Floyd.

Until later.............

Monday, August 17, 2009

Run. Swim. Now I just have to get the bike going.

Tell me how often you see a Peacock on your way to a trail head? Hmmmmmm? Didn't think so! How lucky were we today to see this beautiful creature?

The dogs barked as I snapped the photo above, so he flew on top of the roof. I can honestly say I've never seen a Peacock fly. Quite a scene. It doesn't really look natural.

Garin was the place my step-daughter, Loren and I went this morning. It is getting more and more gorgeous every time I go there. It's looking a lot like fall already. Oooh, I do love fall!

After four miles on the trails, I went to the pool and swam 2200 yards. That's two days in a row, folks! 72 laps yesterday, 88 today. And, I think I'm going to do it again tomorrow. I'm surprised (and happy) about how much I'm enjoying the swimming. I use earplugs in both ears now and that makes a huge difference. Today I was splitting a lane with one guy for half the time and then I had the entire lane to myself. Yesterday I had to share a lane with FIVE other people. That sucked!

I saw Floyd this afternoon. He didn't torture me too much. He MAY be back in good with me. We tossed a basketball back and forth while I balanced on one foot on top of a box. Tricky! He kept throwing it just out of my direct reach so I had to bend to catch it, and stay balanced. No worries, I didn't miss once! My range of motion is almost perfect. My ankle is not as stiff as it felt last week. Basically, the ankle is getting better. Yes, I know. Floyd's torture must be helping.

Until later.............

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Family fun, a new run, and my Dad is back

Keith and I took the girls to the Improv in San Jose last night to see Wanda Sykes perform. We had dinner at the club before the show. When our dinner came to the table it was not hot so the waitress took it back to the kitchen. She told us the manager would bring our plates out when they were done and he wanted to buy us a round of drinks. Since Keith was the only one drinking, the girls and I each chose a dessert! Why not, right? Wanda Sykes was very funny. I haven't laughed like that in a very long time. Laughing feels so good too!

This morning I went up to Oakland/Berkeley and played around in the hills for a couple of hours. I've been hearing (reading) about how nice these trails are so I decided to go see them. I went to a trailhead off of Grizzly Peak Road. Again, I had no trail map so I just turned whichever way I thought looked good, usually choosing the one less traveled. I managed to find my way back to my car without any problem at all. I want to go back up there again when the air is not so smoke-filled because it appears there are some gorgeous views of San Francisco and Mount Diablo. I get so amazed at the beautiful trails I have so close to where I live. The drive was only 35 minutes. No snakes or furry animals today, but a few nice photos:

My dad is back in the hospital in San Francisco. He developed an infection from the bypass surgery he had back in June. He had to have emergency surgery to clean it out today. I went up to the hospital this afternoon to pay him a visit. We have talked on the telephone a number of times since his surgery so seeing him again was not awkward at all. He has put some weight back on and he was in very good spirits. If you have to stay in a hospital for a number of days though, it has to be much easier to handle when you have views like this from your room:

Tomorrow I swim before going to work. Yes, I will! The snooze button will not win this time.
Until later.............