Take me to the mountains

“Guys, let’s do a climbing trip.”

Kurt picked up Joe, then me, and off we drove to Yosemite. I hadn’t seen Joe in forever as he had decided to purchase a van and climb in Yosemite. We got burritos, listened to an interview with Alex Honnold, and just caught up on life.  

We got there around 8ish, pitched our tents and I was too tired to walk to the other camp site so my head hit my blue fleece of a pillow (I mean seriously, why pack a pillow?). The next morning I was ready to go.  But everyone was asleep.  Joe was antsy so he was like, “Nicole you ready?” “Yup, totally, but Joe, I don’t know how to lead climb,” I responded. “Aw that’s okay,” he said. We packed our gear and headed to the granite, all the while, in my head I kept asking myself, how is this going to work?

yosemite

We arrived at Harry Daley and started setting up the rope. “So you know how to lead belay, right?”
Me: “Aw no Joe, I don’t.”
Joe: “Ohhhhh. Wellllll.  Okayyyy. Um, I guess I’ll teach you.”
Where the next 5-10 minutes Joe taught me how to lead belay.  I kept asking him questions.  And then the last one, “Wait, what if you fall?!” “I won’t,” he said.

Ohh boy.  It turned out, he didn’t fall, and I did a decent job lead belaying.  PG or Mission Cliffs would’ve never allowed me to do that indoors.  Aw well.  I climbed behind him, unclipping the quickdraws and attaching them to my harness.  It was a lot of crack, and I hadn’t packed my crack gloves.  Side note! I finally learned how to lead! (and thanks to Mansel for being my lead partner during the exam…it took two trips to Sunnyvale before they had someone who could give me the exam and first attempt, I passed!) And I bought an indoor rope (most likely for Matt and I whenever I visit South Bay…I really need to find more morning climbing partners). Woo hoo!

“Joeeeee, Nicooolllle!” we heard someone from the bottom.
“Hey Matt!” I yelled back.  “Hey Todd!”  the two of them were at the bottom of our pitch.

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We finished up the climb, had an amazing view of a waterfall from the top, and simul-rapped back down. Next, Joe really wanted to see Obama (who was in town for the weekend) so we sought him out.  Me, I was in DC for 3 years so the sight of a president was like, “sure thing.” But we didn’t find him – he had done a talk while on his vacation but it was only to the employees of the national park. No one really knew that the talk wasn’t opened to the public – it was just passed along from person to person in Yosemite. We then headed back to camp and there was no one there. So we waited, and each took a nap. And Joe’s climbing guide book was nowhere to be found (aka can’t do any climbs without that thing).  And waited. And waited. We decided to head to a climb anyway and so happened to run into Mansel, Todd, Matt, Chloe, Ransel, and Paul.  “YES!” glad to be back with everyone and we all headed to a climb together. That afternoon we top roped, while putting on bug spray and swatting at the mosquitoes. It was a pretty great day, and tired by the end of it.

The next morning, Robert, Chloe, Kevin and I all went on a hike to Vernal Falls.  It was gorgeous!

falls

And also made me realize I need to hike more in Yosemite – there’s so much to see there.  We pretty much got soaked at one part which was awesome as the waterfall sprayed all over us.  The hike down though – aw geez, the knees!  Ultimately, great trip.

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Oh, those, raccoons.  They creep up on you at the camping site.  I remember they had attacked someone’s tent one night and they pounced on David’s car the last time I had gone on a trip to the Pinnacles.  Todd, Fran and I headed there for an overnight trip.  It obviously had been a while since I last went but it was one of my all time favorite trips, so I was hopeful to go again. Plus the rock there for climbing is epic.  People either hate it or love it.  I love it because you have such a grip on the rock, it feels so gnarly yet at the same time solid, while, well, not being so solid.  The thing with the Pinnacles is that the rock can easily break.

Well, yep, the raccoons were out again.  Gosh darn it.  You just frankly have to scare them away, or well get scared.  Creepers.

Tents pitched and off to bed. It was gonna be an early one tomorrow. We left camp around 7:00 or 7:30 the next morning to hit the trail.

We spent our time in the east side near the reservoir.  It was called “Upper Crust.”  Todd led a 5.5 called Nodal Line – well he practically free soloed it when the rope got caught in the rocks.  Ratings indoors are a lot easier than outdoors.  So a 5.10c at Mission Cliffs would be a 5.10a at Planet Granite which would be a 5.7 outdoors.  Let’s just say a 5.9, 5.10a and 5.10b outdoors in my opinion is pretty hard. I’m still sorta a newbie and the friends I climb with are a lot better, but always good to challenge yourself (so while they’re doing 5.12s indoors I go up to a 5.10d at PG and 5.11b at MC).  We also did Japanese Water Torture rated a 5.7 and walked over to Sound Chaser a 5.10a, and Castles Made of Sand, a 5.10b that I could not do after many attempts.

pinnacles

It started to get hoooooot outside even though we were in the shade. Hiking back we saw a group of boy scouts.  Ermmm, they seriously are walking in this heat?!  It felt like 95 degrees or hotter.

Feathers + fake tattoos (oh the real ones too, I’m just squeamish with needles…LOL) + DJ music + yoga + vegan food trucks and what do you get → Wanderlust.

Last year was my first year at Wanderlust in Squaw Valley – I had actually never been to Tahoe in the summer (you could count our bike ride around Tahoe but we did indeed have snowfall on that trip) before than. We all stayed at Peter and Maria’s. They have an awesome house in North Lake and we’re all about the food – think homemade bread, cheese (I’m always responsible for bringing the cheese #nomnom), charcuterie, homemade pizza (fig and pig!) and more.  Oh yes.  So good.

There’s different options at Wanderlust: hiking, slack lining (I need to do that next year…and I’m really considering buying a slackline for the living room), yoga, yoga, and well yoga, meditation, talks, etc.  I’m pretty much the one of the group who likes to do the hikes in the mornings. And then I’ll do a couple of yoga classes (one of which must include a DJ).  Meditation, while some people love it (that’s awesome!) is a bit too boring for me.  Maybe I need to work more on finding my inner zen or something.

I met Mickey on day 1 at the hike (Shirley Canyon trail) and we chatted the whole time.  She’s a fitness and food blogger (in addition to her other designer job) and super cool. We talked food, sports & health, injuries, life, and more. It was so great to be able to hike up those mountains. I did a yoga class that day too. The next day she and I as well as her fiance went on another hike (hard core yeah!) and then I did a yoga class at the top – you have to take a tram to get there.  Loved it.  And day 3 more yoga. It was great catching up with Peter & Maria and excited to hear more about their adventures ahead – they have a ton of travels planned!

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Can’t wait to go back to those mountains – snow or shine 🙂  Actually, already have that weekend plan, so let’s just say sunshine first. Praying for another el niño though!

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