Yosemite National Park has been my home for almost a week now and will continue to be for the next month. Each time I sneak a glance at the sky the breath-taking view of the granite walls remind me of where I am, Yosemite Valley. I keep asking myself how I ended up here. It still baffles me.
I met my new friend and climbing partner, Jamie, just days ago but her enthusiasm and nurturing characteristics have made it seem like I’ve known her for years. She enables my creative, impulsive cooking style during our communal meal prep while still drawing the line when my creativity gets out of hand. She delicately dices the vegetables and throws spices every which way while I cook the rice and sneak peanut butter and raspberries into my cooking pot. The rice turns pink and we mix our creations together. This meal would be rejected and disapproved of by many but not us. Our open minds and empty stomachs coax us to try this meal. Not the greatest but it meets our meager food standards. Energy and life flow through our bodies and we prepare for the next day of adventure.
Traditional climbing and multi-pitch climbing are completely new concepts to me but the patience and guidance from Jamie have provided constant learning opportunities. She is the master-mind behind the our climbing operations. Each day we cross another climb off our tick list and each day our souls find themselves fulfilled and eager for more. However, there is a constant battle with our bodies. How long can we work our bodies until they need to rest? There are too many things to be done to rest but this is the continuous battle. The last few days we found ourselves at the top of, “Oak Tree Flake,” “After 6,” and “Munginella.” Each held their own individual struggles but at last they were conquered. Our easy day began with the intent to climb a 5.5 route but ended with free soloing our way up two pitches. Our confidence in the rock, ourselves, and then the questionable beginning of the route led to this happening. We shoved our bodies into the cracks in the wall and allowed our bodies to gracefully flow up and over the rock formations.
Our goal for the day had been to make two new friends. We met other climbers while climbing but as soon as our belay stations were separated each was off to yet another adventure. As the evening approached in our Camp 4 campsite it was decided that the goal had to be fulfilled. The overhanging question was “How?” “How were we going to convince two individuals to be our friends?” The answer was “Twist and Shout.” The Beatles’ song rang into the darkness outside of the public bathrooms in the campsite and two guys sat there, beer in hand, waiting for their laptop to charge. Jamie and I followed the music until we were in earshot of the two guys. “So you know how to twist and shout?” I questioned as I got nearer. One of the guys jumped up and excitedly says, “Yes!” He got into the slightly squatted position and began to twist his hips. I knew instantly I was going to be good friends with them. Our new friends, Tom and Alex, were from Ireland and were ending their travels along the west coast in a couple of days. They asked if we had any ideas for things to do the following day and Jamie and I proposed the rope swing. “The rope swing?!” they questioned with curiosity. “Yes, the rope swing,” we decided.
The following day, Jamie and I made our way to the rope swing with our two new friends. They may not have been climbers but they were natural scramblers. They made their way up and over the boulders with ease as we approached the alcove where the rope swing was hidden. Today, they were going to overcome their fear of heights. The valley hung below us as each of us swung out into the open air. We were flying! To celebrate the joyous event our new goal for the day was to find ice cream. Regular ice cream would not do however. We bought double chocolate chunk cookies and chocolate fudge ice cream at the market and created the inspiring ice cream sandwich. New friends in a beautiful place. What more could you ask for?