Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite

Many MANY years ago, I hiked to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite with my friends Robin, Albert and Barry.

I figured I’d never be in better shape than I was then so I might as well complete the 18+ miles round trip hike and see the views from the top.

Me and my companions slept in and so we didn’t get a start up Half Dome until around 11 am.

Oh, was that LATE to start!

I remember as we made our way down the trail a mounted Park Ranger stopped her horse long enough to poke fun at us, “Nothing like an early start up Half Dome.”

Or some such nonsense.

Albert was not having any of her smart assery.

He mocked her for the next few miles.

Somewhere along the way, we lost Robin.

Her shoes weren’t gripping the terrain as well as they should have so she stopped at a rest area and read a book while the three of us kept on.



It took damn near forever, but around 3 pm, we managed to reach the base of Half Dome.

If you’ve never been to Half Dome, THIS is what you see when you reach the base:

A rickety little “staircase” attached to the rock face, with periodic wood beams attached like stairs so you can rest securely on the rock.

One side of the ladder is people going up, the other side is people going down.

So don’t go thinking that you get the WHOLE ladder to yourself, now.

Albert blasted ahead, eager to get to the top.

I labored.

I’m not sure I would have made it up to the top at all if it hadn’t been for Barry who kept cheering me on and encouraging me to keep setting one foot ahead of the other.

Finally, Barry and I crested the ridge and arrived at the top of Half Dome.

This is us at the top:

The adventure didn’t end there.

Oh no.

By now, we were starving, having gone through our food and water, so we hightailed it back to Robin at the rest area and continued our climb down the mountain.

By the time we reached the valley floor, Albert’s knees had given out on him.

Even though it was a full moon, very little light reached us beneath the tall sequoias.

Fortunately, I brought one little rickety flashlight to guide us.

And EVENTUALLY we made it back to our car, back to our camp, and back to our lives.

It was QUITE the adventure and I’m so glad I did it.

I’m also infinitely thankful for Barry’s support getting up Half Dome.

Yes, we should’ve brought more food and water.

Yes, we were silly youngsters oblivious of the commitment it took to hike Half Dome.


The Swedish Invasion

The Swede still MIGHT be coming to California for the holiday break.

He’ll be bringing his daughter and I’ve come up with all sorts of ideas for things we can do when they are here.

There’s JUST SO MUCH GOING ON in the Bay Area.

One thing I overlooked that would actually make a fabulous day trip is Yosemite Valley.

It’s open in the winter, barring any sudden winter storms, and I think they’d love to see the waterfalls, mountains, and wildlife there.

All for a $35 vehicle pass.

I put together a wine trail in Sonoma/Napa that features ALL SWEDISH WINERIES, which I think The Swede would like (but his daughter might find terribly boring).

There’s also a wine trail in my neck of the woods, along Pierce Road in Saratoga/Cupertino:

  • Mountain Winery
  • Kathryn Kennedy Winery
  • Sarahills Vineyards
  • House Family Vineyards
  • Ridge Vineyards
  • Savannah-Chanelle Winery

I think one day of wine tasting will be quite sufficient so The Swede will have to choose his favorite (my guess is he’ll want to try the Swedish wineries).

In order to make his daughter happy and not bored with us wine-tasting adults, I also looked into some sporting events we could attend.

The San Jose Sharks are playing the Anaheim Ducks and the Golden State Warriors are playing the Portland Trailblazers.

Who knows if Swedes like basketball, but they DO LIKE THEIR HOCKEY.

There’s TONS of stuff to get up to in the city and one event I found which would be titillating is “A Very Misfit Cabaret Holiday Special” – part musical theater, part burlesque show.

Kid appropriate?

Maybe, maybe not.

Judging from The Swede’s candy bowl in his living room, I know he’s a big fan of candy so CANDYTOPIA might be a good place to visit in the city, with stops at The Buena Vista Café for hot Irish Coffee, a ride on a cable car, and perhaps even a trip to Alcatraz to top off a day of activities.

There’s also a lovely preserve called Point Lobos, and on the trip down there to go for a hike we could hit all my favorite places – Vivolo’s Chowder House, Phil’s Fish Market, Lover’s Point, and maybe even take in a little whale watching.

I’ve literally got 4 pages FILLED with ideas for what we can do when The Swedish Invasion happens and if you want, check out CALIFORNIA.


P.S.  I did find naked yoga for couples, but I’m GUESSING The Swede will not be into that. . .

Death March

My sister heard a rumor in Reno (from a friend) that Angora Lake is an exceptional place to visit.

So instead of going to Donner Lake like we usually do, we drove 2 hours down a narrow one-lane dirt road, to get to the PARKING LOT for Angora Lake.

We were told it just a short hike to Angora Lake.

And indeed, it was a “short” hike.


My sister and I would walk a hundred feet, and stop to catch our breath.

The altitude combined with our lack of exercise made it a GRUELING hike.

I’m not even clear why we made it except that we drove ALL THIS WAY to see a lake and we were damn sure we were going to see a lake.

When we got there, we ordered sandwiches and fresh made lemonade.

But sitting outside eating our sandwiches, the hornets wouldn’t leave us alone and my sister didn’t have her epi pen with her.

So it too was less than ideal.

Finally, we managed to grab some shade, lay out our towels, and relax around what was a truly BEAUTIFUL alpine lake.

Ten minutes later, thunder could be heard. And dark clouds were blowing in.

Not wanting to get caught in a thunderstorm, we packed up our belongings and headed back down to our car.

The only saving factor in the whole ordeal is that my son Duncan chose to hang with UNR friends and so he wasn’t there to bitch and moan about our situation.

I’m certain he would have been quite vocal.

We made it to our car, but my sister’s legs were rubber bands from the hike downhill so I drove us all the way home. . . down narrow dirt roads, through forests ravaged by fire, through all the South Lake Tahoe CONSTRUCTION traffic, and finally home to Reno.

Oh yeah, did I mention the critters in these parts carry the BUBONIC PLAGUE?!

Yes, that’s right.


We stayed away.

Happy hiking!

Missing my adrenaline junkie days

It used to be that every weekend I was up to some adventure – caving in the California caverns crawling through the muck in middle earth:


Flying a single engine Cesna over Napa:


Hiking up mountains and swimming in lakes of questionable origins


And white water river rafting and skinny dipping:


Current cursumstances have put a (temporary) halt to some of my activities. So I am pleased to announce that I’ve managed to procure myself a place on an 82 foot classic schooner that will sail out of San Francisco Bay to the Farallon Islands (indeed, the same Farallon Islands where I intend to go Great White Shark diving)…

Look, can you hear the siren song of the seas calling you?


How about now?


Maybe now?


Maybe NOW?


Well, I’m certainly ready to hop on board THAT! However, what I’m really looking for is THIS:


… because if I’m not going to be with someone who gets my heart racing uncontrollably THIS is the next best thing!

For Jennifer I even came across this:


Nude sailing… although I must admit, the thought of spending a week sailing through the Greek Isles wearing naught but a smile does sound tempting….