Top of Crown Peak.
Jake, oh my heart is full. I would not be here if it was not for you knowing me better than I know myself. I cannot even believe that I just climbed this mountain. I’m literally at the top of a mountain.
The trek up was 4 1/2 hours straight up. Many times I honestly thought I couldn’t go on. But I kept putting one step in front of another. Sheer will and knowing you would be so proud of me. I wish you could see me right now. It’s amazing. I am different.
I have so many stories to share about our trip up. James, Pete, Laura, and Dan stuck with me. They pulled me up many a rock. I cried – sobbed really – at the top. Time to head down. 11:40am
We arrived back into camp around 2:30pm. That means we were hiking for over 8 hours.
Jake – there were honestly times climbing up that mountain that I was afraid. Its unlike anything I’ve done physically before. The way up I honestly couldn’t believe it. We were traversing snow, boulder fields and sand – going straight up! There were places that we were seriously rock climbing. I didn’t know my body could do that. I grabbed rocks and pulled myself up. I could tell that Pete and James were a little worried about our route, but they never said anything. We just kept going up. I wanted to cry on many occasions. My shins are tore up. My entire body aches. I’m afraid to lie down because I don’t know if I’ll be able to get up!
Coming down was easier but still took us almost 3 hours! We spent an hour at the summit.
I realized something this morning as I was headed up the mountain. If you were here, I wouldn’t have climbed that mountain. Not because of you – but because of me. I let myself hide sometimes from the hard things because I know you love me anyway and I don’t have to push myself.
Last night when I went to bed and I was having second thoughts, I would have said to you, “There’s no way I could climb that mountain! Those men are crazy! Let’s go explore around the lake.” You would have tried to encourage me, but I wouldn’t have listened. I would have been shut off to the whole idea.
What I’m learning is that I have a deep, deep well of potential that I need to continue to uncover. I need to stop being afraid of the hard route.
I think I will be a better mother and wife because of this experience.
Coming down the mountain took a long time because I’m slow. But I was super sensitive about my knees. Going down is almost as hard on them as going up. When we got back to camp we all jumped into a “refreshing” mountain lake and took a bath. It was frigid. Interesting that bathing and washing clothes out here requires no soap. I’m glad I brought those shower wipes! After the lake I got clean and changed into cozy clothes. I took my dirty clothes down to the lake and rinsed them out and now I’m here. It’s a little chilly. Some wind off the lake. I have an hour and forty-five minutes till dinner. I should take advantage!! I could use a quick nap.
I miss you. This experience has made me want to be better. I feel like I will be! It’s so glorious here sitting on this rock in the sun! My soul is being fed.
The people I am here with are remarkable! We went up the mountain in two groups: fast and “moderate” which meant SLOW.Six men went in the fast group and James, Pete, Dan, Laura, and I went up in the second group.
Honestly I didn’t expect to summit. It wasn’t even on my radar. I figured we’d go a bit up and then turn back. You would not believe the encouragement those men and Laura gave me! Seriously. It was incredible.
When we made it to the top, Greg, Riley, and Ben were there! They had actually summitted with the first group. The route was so difficult they didn’t think there was any way we would make it to the top, so they headed back down. From the top they had found an easier way down (and up) and so they took that route. They were 3/4s of the way down when they saw James on an outcropping and realized that we were going to summit! So they WENT BACK UP to meet us! It was a sweet, sweet moment!
They were all a huge help getting me back down too – the route was less difficult than the route up (which I don’t think we could have climbed back down) but it wasn’t easy. I can’t wait to share my pictures and my stories!!
I love you with all my heart. And I miss you like crazy. I still have 5 days left and I want to cry about that!!!
Question posed to us at our after dinner discussion:
How am I changed because of today’s adventure?
I can do hard things. I have untapped potential. I am my own self. I have much to contribute in the vein of doing hard things. I can be a better help meet to my husband because I am stronger. I have strength I never knew existed. That mountain changed me. For that I am thankful. I want to seek out mountains to continue to push myself to go further than I think I can go.
Quote shared by Ben at tonight’s discussion:
“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know” Rene Daumal
I am exhausted. Everyone else is out chatting and I’m in my tent. I think today took too much out of me. I’m retreating. I need to be alone. To write, to think, to reflect.
I’m cold. I’ll be glad to cozy down in my sleeping bag. All our toiletries (anything that has a scent) have to be put in a bear canister. I would love to put some lip balm on my dry lips but I’m too tired to go track it down!
We’re headed out tomorrow at 8am. 8:15am actually. Yoga from 7:45 – 8:15. Then we’ll put our packs and go. I think we’re going 7 miles tomorrow. I’m a little nervous. After today I’m feeling depleted. I tried to eat as much as I could at dinner tonight. Plus a few bars. I’m taking my vitamins and I hope thats helping.
We’re heading to Arndt (sp?) Lake and then we’ll spend two nights there. Then a night back here at this lake on the Yosemite side, and then a night back @ Barney Lake – and then HOME!!
I need to sleep. I’m feeling worn down and that makes me want to be home. And I want to stay focused. Present. I want to enjoy the next five days so that I can come back to you strong! It’s Monday night and I wonder how things are going. I miss Josh and Sam and Betsy! I seriously cannot wait to hold them!!! And You. I would love the chance to spend some time together. You and Me. We should try and figure that out.
My body is sore and my cheeks are sunburned. I never once thought about the sun today – at least not as far as getting a burn!
We talked around the campfire (although there was no fire tonight – we’re not supposed to have fires on this side of the lake – we got a notice while we were on the mountain) about the day. Anytime the mountain was mentioned I cried. I don’t know if I’ll be able to tell the story without crying for a while.
During our discussion we were sitting in the shadow of the summit. I kept looking up and wondering how in the world I climbed all the way up there! Dan told me on the way down that on the route we took we could have used ropes and been harnessed in during some of it. Crazy!
We are a changed group after today. Today changed us all. Everyone is closer. More bonded. What an amazing experience. I almost hate to stop writing because I don’t want to forget these emotions or this day. I don’t want to leave tomorrow for the same reason. But I love the poem that Ben shared. I will be different because of today.
I love you. My heart aches to be with you.
A few notes not in the journal:
Looking back, I can smile and tell the story of summitting that mountain without tears and even with a little humor. Ha! Looking at the pics I’m still a bit in awe of that feat. None of us knew what we were up against that morning when we started out. It’s interesting how a little perspective would have changed our entire route. Had we been approaching from the opposite side of the lake, the less severe side of the mountain would have been evident. It was a tough climb for everyone, but my lack of experience made it especially treacherous for our group.
James, Pete, and Dan did a lot of the physical work in getting me to the top. Reaching for my hand, pulling me up, finding routes that were more easily navigated by a novice, that sort of thing. Honestly the day is a bit of a blur in my mind. Especially the time at the summit. I was overwhelmed physically and emotionally. I think we stayed so long at the top to make sure that I was ready to head back down. That took some time. There was a moment about 10 feet from the peak, when I knew I was going to make it and my chest seized and I couldn’t catch a breathe. Perhaps it was the altitude (11,300 ft) or maybe it was anxiety. I’m not sure.
One of my fondest memories of that day is Pete’s encouragement. He spent a good amount of time navigating our route and for about 50% of the time he was telling me that we were 95% of the way done. By the end it was comical. He’d say things like, “just a little further… from where I’m standing it’s all sidewalk.” Or “just over this ridge is a Starbucks!” He kept the mood light when I wanted to die – which was no easy endeavor!
When we finally got back to camp I had to smile as Matt, Bryon, and Gary applauded our return. It felt great to accomplish something so intense. I meant it when I said that the mountain changed me. Of all the days in Yosemite, this day was the most intense. The most challenging. And perhaps the craziest thing of all – I’d do it again.