My Favorite Nephew Named Caleb came to California this past week. Having never been out here, I decided that an impromptu road trip to Yosemite was in order. It’s only 6.5 hours each way, so why not, right?!? Add in a 5 hour death march hike to the top of Yosemite Falls and it sounds brilliant. He was in, I was in, so at 4 am on a Friday we hit the road. (Check Facebook to see more photos)
For those who haven’t met him (and statistically that should be most of you) , let me say this: Caleb can talk. We chatted the whole way up to the park and into the beginning of the hike. As I caught up to the summit, age caught up to me. With each passing step I got a bit more exhausted. Not super cool when you’re hiking with an 18 year old kid who is headed off to play college football in the fall! I really began to question my ability to finish what I had started. I am all about tenacity and stubbornness, but the 4.5 mile “stair climb” (with about 3K elevation gain) on granite was winning the battle. Like recovery, hiking should not be done alone. I could not “white knuckle” my way through it without the help from some friends. Caleb was great, but let me share about my new friends Craig and Ingrid.
As you hike the trail you tend to pass people who are resting then they pass you as you rest. I met Craig and Ingrid (from Northern New Jersey) in this way. We chatted, took a selfie, then after a small pep talk I moved on. A while later on one of my rests I saw a couple of newly familiar faces trudging up the trail. I let out a loud cry of “Innnnnnnngrid!!!!!! …… Craaaaaaaaaaaig!!!!!”. I can say this, it got real quiet on the trail for a moment. Caleb hasn’t spent much time with Uncle Paul, but his Mom had prepped him about her Favorite Uncle Named Paul. There is NO amount of prepping that can suffice for what the experience can be though. He was startled and they were a bit panicked. Then I watched the recognition wash over there faces. It was a friend on a difficult trail in life. Relief replaced exhaustion. Joy put pain in the back seat. Smiles melted frowns.
It was tough. I had cramps. I have an infected toe. I’m gonna lose two toe nails. But WE MADE IT!!! Because we remembered to…