July 28, 2017
Hello from California! The trip has come to an end and we can’t believe it. I’m sure everyone has returned home full of stories, but we’ve got a few more moments to share with you!
After our transformation into river rats we ventured west towards Pt. Reyes National Seashore. We drove past rolling golden hillsides while DJ Chappy graced us with her taste in music. We stayed the night at Olema campground, beginning our stay with some burgers for dinner. Sarah, Chappy, Spence and Thomas put their skills to the test and made us one of our best dinners yet. The temperature dropped quite a bit as we were closer to the coast, so Mitchell made a fire for the group to sit around during moonup. Unfortunately the raccoons feasted upon all of Thomas’ American candy bars that he was hoping to take home to Paris, but we began the next day with attitudes of exploration.
We took a long morning drive into the thick fog and through rolling green farmland. Meg, letting her compassion shine, insisted that we stop to share our company with the cows along the side of the road. Following a fantastic photo shoot with the cows, we made way towards the Pt Reyes lighthouse. We felt as though we had stepped back into history as the fog enveloped us and the sound of the waves crashed below us. We ate our packed lunch in the fog and retreated back to the warmth of our van. We then spent a couple hours exploring the town of Pt. Reyes. Sarah drank two hot chai teas before we could ask how the first one was. James ran into his next door neighbor from home, which was a funny coincidence. We looked at some artwork, sifted through the thrift store and enjoyed delectable pastries from the small bakery.
We hopped in the van one last time for the day and drove down Highway 1 towards Half Moon Bay. The group jittered with excitement as we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, catching the perfect view of San Francisco. We arrived to our beachside campsite with time to spare before the sun began to set. We lay in the sand and enjoyed the last bit of golden light before our dinner of Asian noodles. We drifted to sleep that night, the sound of the ocean in the background, with great anticipation for our next day of surfing.
We rose with the sun and met our surf guides just up the road at Linda Mar, Pacifica State Beach. In “the reggae square”, where the surf guides congregate, we were fitted for our wet suits and booties while reggae music filled the air. We balanced our yellow surfboards atop our heads and headed towards the morning swells. Following thorough instruction and introductions, we were guided into the Pacific, eager to catch our first waves. I could compliment every single person in our group on their performance this day. James, with prior surfing experience, caught some waves further out while we worked out our sea legs. Mitchell paddled hard, chasing each wave that came his way. His eager determination shining in all that he does. We all freaked out as Spence rode a giant face wave, a bit unaware of his success while it was happening, his natural talent coming to play. Rebecca was determined the entire day to improve her skills, fighting the nose dive of the surf board, and standing up on the waves.
Sun kissed, salty, and energized by the ocean, we peeled off our wetsuits and ate lunch on Gray Whale Cove Beach. We carried our laughter from falling off surfboards to our intense game of wiffle ball on the beach. We explored the small beach and simply enjoyed each other’s company. We stopped at a cute little coffee shop on the way back “home” and spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach at Half Moon Bay. Some people swam in the cold waves, some went for long walks on the beach, and the rest of us (instigated by Sarah)cuddled in one big pile in the sand, half napping, half conversing. Meanwhile, Jonas, Cat, Arabella, Meg and Zoë cooked our final meal on our camping equipment. They made us the world’s best, and most nutritious, burritos, creating one last great memory with our Coleman stove and dented pots and pans.
We watched the sunset on the beach, as the sky showed off its majestic display of light. We stayed on the beach for quite some time, ending up in one giant pile of 15 humans, slightly uncomfortable but so incredibly happy to be with each other. We stayed in a dog pile for moonup, breaking the tradition of sitting in a circle.
The next morning we woke early again for our final day of surfing and of our time together. Now that we knew what we were doing we quickly put on our swim suits and hopped right in the water to catch some waves. Zoë impressed us all when she stood up on the first wave of the day and ride in style all the way back to the beach. Cat too was rocking it out with her new surfing skills. Her determination helped her to paddle for wave after wave. After what seemed like only a brief moment in the water it was already time to say goodbye to our surfboard and head back to camp to take care of some business. Everyone really helped out tremendously in the afternoon and we quickly cleaned everything from the van to every single piece of gear. After cleaning up we spent the rest of the afternoon anticipating our banquet, hanging at the beach, and enjoying the last of our time on the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Our last stop before we went to our last night banquet meal was at the thrift shop to find some fun costumes for the evening. Both Jackson and Lindsey were very excited and walked out in style, ready to impress everyone at our Mexican restaurant. Our burritos were so good but still not quite as good as everyone’s outfits. We had prom dresses, a suit, fedoras, sleeveless tiger vests, and much more. What a fun night! After dinner we made our way back to camp for our final moonup. Any proper camping trip would not be complete without roasting way too many s’mores, so that’s exactly what we did as we had our final moonup. We sat around the fire until long after it burnt out telling stories of our favorite moments and soaking up our last moments with our new family.
The last three weeks have been life changing in many ways, and I’m so thankful that we were able to all spend this time together. I know that everyone will look back fondly of our times together, and I know every one of us is leaving today with love for new friends and a wonderful place that is California.
Mimi & Jonas
July 24, 2017
After two days rafting on the American River our group is even closer than we could have dreamed. Eating, sleeping, and just being together constantly for the past 16 days has made us such a tight nit family, and it’s a wonderful thing to share. We had such a blast paddling, singing, and joking around with our raft guides.I can’t believe it is already over and we only have 3 more days together.
After a long night of listening to the sounds of the world and people sing-shouting “hey bear get out here” (purely precautionary!), we awoke to a delicious and well deserved breakfast of bacon, eggs, sweet potato hashbrowns, and sautéed kale. It was so delicious and a great way to start our long travel day down to the American river. To start the ride off Spence made us all a great music playlist to get us excited for our trip. Some of the songs have become our trip favorites-thanks Spence.
About halfway into our drive we realized Sarah wasn’t feeling great and needed to see doctor. So we dropped Mimi and Sarah off in the small town of Oroville and this incredible, supportive group gladly camped in Orovoville instead of continuing to the American river that evening. We found a neat little campground on a lake in Bidwell Canyon. When we arrived Chappy, Thomas, and Lindsey volunteered to cook a great meal. It was so sweet to see how much everyone stepped up with their personal leadership. After visiting Sarah and Mimi we headed back to our campsite where we met our incredibly kind neighbors and their cute dogs. Meg and James were the first to introduce themselves and invited us all over to hang out with their puppies. After a long day we walked out to an overlook had a fun Moonup filled with songs and laughter.
The next morning we woke up early so that we could make rafting before lunch. After a very speedy recovery we swung by and picked up Sarah and Mimi before we hit the road. Before we knew it we were out of the car standing on the shores of the American river about to hop in our boats for the day. The first half of the day was mellow and easy. We were able to swim and hang out, and it was a great way to slide into our first day of rafting. After a great lunch on the beach we got back in the boats for the exciting second half of the day. Zoe and Cat led the group in excitement and screamed their way down all 5 rapid-filled-miles. After one of the larger rapids of the afternoon Jackson and I hopped out of the boat to swim for a moment, but we didn’t realize that there was another rapid right after. As we were swept into the waves Jackson turned on his GoPro and got some great footage of swimming a class 3 rapid. Tired, wet, and happy we dragged ourselves out of the water at the end of the day and headed back to our camp.
We had the pleasant surprise when we got back to camp. There were appetizers and tea set up for all of us, and dinner was cooking. It was great feeling to have someone else cook for you after making all your own meals for 2 weeks. After dinner Rebecca exhibited great expedition behavior and volunteered to clean the dishes for all the raft guides. Arabella decided to set up a hammock city for everyone to hangout in. That night Meg and Spence led our best Moonup yet and left everyone feeling really good about themselves and filling with love.
After another great breakfast made by our guides we headed out to the river. Today’s rafting was short and sweet. We stared off with a big rapid called the meat grinder, and from then on it was nonstop. We rafted rapid after rapid until the end. I think Mitchell got the award for having the most fun today. He rode the bull 5 times, swam 2 different rapids, and danced and sang the whole way. Before we knew it another activity had come and gone and we were back in the van headed to the coast. We are now all cooking burgers and talking about our explorations for tomorrow in Point Reyes national seashore.
See you guys soon,
Jonas, Mimi, and the gang
July 22, 2017
We have been to the mountaintop and we are finally back!!!
Shasta is such a special mountain, and we all feel so lucky to have spent time in her presence. We got our first glimpse of her on our drive north from Yosemite. We had pulled over on the side of the road for a quick break and there she was all covered in snow, but for some reason Shasta didn’t seem as grand as we remembered. We got back on the road and continued on. All of the sudden as we rounded the next bend in the road we saw another gigantic snowy mountain in the distance. Everyone was so confused, hadn’t we just seen Shasta two minutes ago? What was this gigantic mountain in the distance? We quickly realized that our first view was not actually Shasta but a much smaller mountain at 10,000ft. Our excitement went through the roof as we gazed out the window at the real Shasta and blasted tunes.
On our first day in the city of Mt. Shasta, we took some time to explore the strange and enchanting crystal shops, hoping to see the myth of the Lemurian people in reality. Thomas was very excited to find a crystal formed when lighting strikes sand, and Arabella got gifts for all of her friends and family. I think we could have spent the whole day in our favorite shop “soul connections”, but we still had a lot to do to gear up for climb the following day. Thankfully we were able to prep and pack very efficiently which left us with plenty of time to walk down to Lake Siskiyou at our campground. We had no idea that a prep day could be so much fun. We played and wrestled on the large inflatable playground out in the chilly lake late into the afternoon, with Mitchell and James motivating the playful energy. It was a wonderful end to our first day in Shasta.
The next morning we woke up early and headed to meet our guides in town. They quickly made sure that we had packed everything we needed, and then we followed them up to the trail head where our next big adventure would begin. There was an excitement in the air that you could feel as we put on our packs once again and started hiking. Very few of us had ever done anything like mountaineering before and the idea of climbing high up on a cold snowy mountain in the middle of July was very hard to imagine. Our first day on the mountain, we gained 2000ft in elevation. We went from a dirt trail in a forest to walking on a snowy path above tree line. We finished the day with some killer switchbacks on a very steep slope. Meg faced her fears of heights once more like a champ and made her way through the steepest and most exposed sections. We pushed through our first day on the mountain to arrive at our high camp, which sat right beneath the final route we would be taking to the summit.
Once we set up our tents, we geared up in the appropriate clothing for snow school. Our guides taught the group about snow safety, how to walk in the snow and how to use the ice axe properly. Meanwhile, Mimi and Jonas had dinner waiting for the group once they were done with their snow training. We fueled up with some quinoa, lentils and chicken and quickly put on more layers as the sun began to set. Meg and Zoë led us in a quick yet thoughtful moonup as we were eager to get to sleep. They left us with this quote by Réne Daumal to prepare our minds for our climb:
“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.”
We went to sleep just as the sun was setting, our minds settled on the true beauty and privilege to be on this mountain. We awoke at 2am to the Milky Way and the sky dusted with bright stars. We quietly packed our packs with lots of snacks and “holy mountain water”, zipped up our layers, strapped on or gaiters and wrapped our crampons onto our boots for the first time. Catherine kept our minds on the bright side with her ambitious determination and excitement to “just do it.” We departed camp and slowly embarked into the snow, lit by our headlamps, in four separate groups. We began our ascent with a steady pace as we all felt out of our comfort zone, walking up a snowy mountain in the dark. Although it was just one hour until our first break, it felt much longer. Zoë showed her determination as she pushed through the tough climb.
On the west side of the mountain, we slowly gained steep elevation. Becoming more and more comfortable with our crampons and ice axes with each step, we began to see the outline of the mountain above us and the crescent moon shining bright, creating a tangent with the ridge line. After about three hours of walking in the dark, the sun began to illuminate the valley below us. The sky transitioned into beautiful shades of red, orange, pink and purple, casting a shadow of the mountain on the landscape opposing it. Ann Chapman proved her bravery and strength as she pushed herself to go as far as she could. We all stopped for a break, loading up on calories and water, to watch the sky turn with its various early morning hues. Our breaks being expedient, we kept moving. We reached one of the steeper sections of the climb, all feeling a bit anxious about what was ahead of us and the soreness we felt with each side angle step. Rebecca kept her whole team moving with silent motivation by not complaining once during the entirety of the climb. We finally made our way over the highest ridge line that we could see from high camp, walking over the edge to see the most spectacular view: Shastina below us to our right, misery hill to our left, and the summit of Shasta straight ahead and above us. We entered into a bright white and wide open field of triangular snow formations on the ground that looked like a ton of tiny mountains beneath our feet.
With the summit in sight, we were all invigorated with a fresh wave of motivation and excitement to make it to the top. We removed our crampons from our feet and left our ice axes behind as we made our way up the rocky face of Misery Hill. The path winded up and up until it opened out to “the football field”, another vast field of bright white snow and ice.
As we crossed the football field, our goal was within such close reach. We climbed one more rocky and winding hill until we stepped up the final rocky path to the summit. We shed a few tears of joy as Sarah led us to the top of Mt. Shasta. Although not all of us made it to the summit (Lindsey, Meg, Ann Chapman and Zoe were so so close!!), each of us knew that we could not have done it without the support of everyone in our group. Spence, with the best attitude (as always), made for great company at the summit as he was kindly checking in on others and celebrating our success, though we were sad not to be all together as a group. Our accomplishment felt surreal as we relaxed atop the summit, forcing more calories and sugars into our bodies and taking silly pictures. Jonas kept the group excitement alive as Mimi and Thomas struggled together with the effects of the altitude. We sat at the top for about 20 minutes, appreciating the view that so few people have the opportunity of seeing.
We quickly made our descent as we realized how exhausted we were and how ready our bodies were for a lower altitude. We plunged through the steps we had already made during our ascent, still smiling with disbelief. Once we reached a safe area, the guides taught us how to glacade down the mountain (also known by our group as booty scooting), a technique where you slide downhill on your butt while using your ice axe as a brake and steer. We followed our guides direction as we booty scooted 3,000 feet down all the way to our high camp. We slid we great speed, swerving through the track we had created, thankful that there are some fun aspects of mountaineering. Jackson caught our glacading action on camera with his GoPro attached to his head, steering with perfect form.
We arrived back to camp, hot from the strength of the sun and bootys numb from the friction of the snow. Lindsey, simply being the incredible human that she is, congratulated everyone with hugs and volunteered herself (along with Meg, Chappy and Zoë) to make dinner for the group that night. We struggled to stay awake that afternoon, being silly with our constant recount of what had just happened. We went to sleep, a bit too tired to process much of anything. We awoke the next morning, field by hot oats, eager to hike down the rest of the mountain to the trailhead where we began. We made it back with haste, said goodbye to our mountaineering boots (forever) and treated ourselves to fancy lunch at Casa Ramos Mexican restaurant. Sure, we all ate way too much, but it felt rewarding.
We then rushed back to or campsite to spend the day swimming in Lake Sikiyou. We swam for hours, played the funniest game of volleyball that’s ever happened, read our books, did some yoga, had some silly photo shoots, and played on the inflatable water slides for one last go round. With Mt. Shasta resting just above the lake, we continued to revel in our recent accomplishments.
Following a spaghetti dinner and one of our best moonups yet (thanks to Lindsey and Jackson), we finally caught up on the sleep that our bodies needed. We are now posted up on the American River, about to dive into two days of rafting! We’re excited for the white water, chill afternoons, and spending more time with each other.
With just under a week left, we’re trying our best to soak up every moment we have together. Our time on Mt. Shasta has not only taught us the strength that we have within us, but the strength that we can receive from those around us.
Until next time!
Mimi, Jonas, and the peeps
July 16, 2017
Hello from California! We are currently laying beneath thousands of stars and an illuminated Milky Way, recounting the experiences we’ve shared over the past six days.
We awoke on July 10th singing happy birthday to Zoë and surprised the group with pancakes for breakfast. We enjoyed the morning with a cup of coffee in hand (some of us) and too many pancakes in our bowls. We spent the majority of the morning hours preparing for the journey that was awaiting us. The group impressed us with their ability to quickly accomplish the tedious tasks that needed to be done in order to make our backpacking trip happen.
After eating the last of our deli sandwich ingredients for lunch, we stuffed our backpacks into the U-Haul and hit the road. We apologize for the delay on the last trip update. We spent quite some time searching for service to send it, but eventually decided that our efforts were not going to be successful. Once we arrived at the Alder Creek trailhead, we took a group photo as proof of our once clean bodies and waved goodbye to the van. With our packs strapped on tight, weighing heavy with gear and food, we hit the trail. Once we entered the great Yosemite Wilderness, we felt an immediate shift in the air, overwhelming us with joy and excitement for being surrounded by the beauty of nature. The sun felt brighter, the trees grew taller and we suddenly became aware of the symphony of sounds that made up the natural world we had entered into. Mitchell led us with eager speed up the first uphill of the day. His excitement set the positive tone that we needed to start our trip on the right note. We trekked approximately four miles before reaching our first backcountry campsite. It sat upon an elevated formation of flat granite rocks that gave us a sneak peek into the valley beneath us. Some folks went for a water run up the stream while the rest of us set up camp. Cook crew got rollin’ with some pesto pasta in the “kitchen”, cooking just enough to fill our ravenous bellies.
Meanwhile, Thomas started a fire in the fire pit for the group to enjoy. It was raging at a temperature that was a bit too high for the summertime heat, but once it settled down a bit, we nestled up next to it and watched the sun show off its vibrant orange display of a sunset. Once it dipped behind the mountains, Meg led us in our first Moonup of the backpacking section. The quote that she chose to share with the group was interrupted by a sound just past our campsite that sounded like an aggressively dying cat. We were startled by the unknown sound and in our hushed silence we quickly realized that it came from a mountain lion that was startled as it came upon our campsite. Before anyone had a second to think, Jonas immediately stood tall on a rock and began to yell at it. He saw its bright green eyes checking us out, and quickly turn to scamper back in the other direction Before we knew it, we were all standing on rocks, making ourselves looking big, banging pots and pans together, singing and yelling loudly. What was originally a moment of fear turned quickly into the most fun we had had yet, just by scaring a mountain lion away. Luckily, mountain lions are more scared of us than we may think, and we were able to scare it off quickly, letting it know that this was our place too.
With adrenaline and excitement rushing through our bodies we tried to settle down in order to finish Moonup but ended up just replaying everything that had just happened and how exciting it was. We sang one last loud song before crawling into our tents just to let the wilderness know that we were there. Some awoke early the next morning calling us out of our tents as they mistook the sound of ravens for more mountain lions. We assured them that the ravens were just ravens being obnoxious and that our chances of seeing another mountain lion were very slim. Luckily, we were right.
We fueled up for the day with a bowl full of oatmeal and hit the shady trail for our second day of backpacking. We hiked about 5 miles this day, our bodies still adjusting to the company of our packs. This day welcomed us with a few more uphill challenges, quickly shaping us into strong hikers. Regardless of the back pain she was experiencing, Lindsey proved her tough attitude as she made it uphill without complaint. We were quite the sweaty bunch by the time we stopped for lunch. Our lunch break on the trail turned into a couple hours of just hanging out in the shade, which felt really great. We made it to our campsite, eagerly rushing towards the stream to cool off our hot bodies. Slap happy at the stream, Spence shared some impressive dance moves with us, having us laughing real hard. We had a lot of fun that afternoon hanging out at our campsite and playing cards. Ann Chapman (Chappy) kept the silly vibes rollin’ with her victory in the water game. A game where two (or more) people hold a mouthful of water and stare at each other, trying not to laugh. She was unbeatable. Cook crew made a pad Thai dish with a sauce that we call “Tommy sauce” that left us wanting more. We happily ended the meal with Oreos though. James and Lindsey led us in a Moonup that helped us get to know each other better on an emotional level. Thankful for each and every person that happened to be on this trip, we gazed at the countless stars in the sky and dozed off to sleep for the night.
The third day of our trip had us hiking about six miles until we reached Bridalveil Creek. As we climbed over large trees that had fallen on the trail, which was quite the task for us shorties, the trail eventually opened up into Westfall Meadows, a picturesque green meadow, speckled with flowers and encircled by tall Jeffrey pine trees. Sarah and Thomas led us through the trail-less meadow, committing to the wet and muddy ground. We slushed through the tall grass, our feet suctioning to the muck with each step. Amidst the muck, we tried our best not the trample the hundreds of purple wildflowers that surrounded us.
We finished the hike with wet boots and sopping socks, eventually arriving at our quiet campsite which sat right next to a small rapid on Bridalveil Creek. We immediately dropped our packs and rushed towards the chilling creek water. We swam down the stream and basked in the sun atop a large rock like lizards. James, being the spontaneous motivator that he is, encouraged each of us to lie down in the small rapid, allowing the water to fall over our heads. We spent majority of the afternoon at the river, feeling clean, content and refreshed.
At the campsite, Mitchell, Thomas and James took orders and cooked quesadillas for the group. Jackson, the official trip photographer, taught the group about his camera and entertained us with silly photo shoots while we awaited our masterfully crafted quesadillas. We hit our ground pads early that night with intentions to rest up for the long day ahead of us. We awoke the next morning before the sun, packed up camp in the dark and hiked 2 miles to Taft Point. We arrived just as the sun was illuminating the valley below us and casting sleepy pastel colors on the clouds. Once we arrived at Taft Point, we slowly peeked our heads over the edge to witness the 3,000 foot drop below us and the spectacular view of the valley that we had just been climbing in a few days before. Once we filled our camera’s memory cards with breathtaking photos, we lit the stove for some hot coffee and tea and spent an hour in silence looking out over Yosemite Valley. Feeling renewing and full of powerful intentions, we journeyed on.
With 10.5 miles left for the day, Taft Point filled us with the peace and energy that we needed to make it through. We stopped for lunch at the famous Glacier Point where we emptied our iodine purified water bottles from the backcountry and happily filled them with fresh water from a fountain. We journeyed on once more, with glorious views of Half Dome for the next few miles. We made our way down switchbacks towards Illilouette Falls. Once more, James’ spontaneous personality had us stopping for another break to swim in the river and slide down a large smooth rock into the cool waters. Soon, majority of the group followed with pure excitement for the spontaneity of the swim.
With Catherine (Cat) and Jackson as our LODs, the pushed us up the next uphill section, encouraging positive attitudes. We defeated the uphill switchbacks and made our way downhill once more towards Nevada Falls. The river was raging over the cliff side as we stood behind the railing that separated us from the fall of the river. Meg faced her fears of heights once more as she crept towards the edge to look out over the rushing power of the waterfall as it fed into the river below. We all felt proud of her, considering that it was a very scary lookout to be near. With one more mile of uphill, we finally made it to Little Yosemite Valley, our campsite for the next two nights. Our site was nestled right behind the east side of Half Dome, towering high above us. We arrived with shouts of joy, proud of the miles that we had hiked and eager to free our sore feet and painful blisters from the constraints of our hiking boots. We were so incredibly proud of this group on this day. They blew our expectations out of the water, hiking the entire 12.5 miles without a single complaint and only positive attitudes. The day was pain free as they made it seem like a cake walk. Without our luxuriously long breaks, this group would have finished the hike in crazy quick timing.
Rebecca, Jackson and Ann Chapman were selfless group members as they volunteered to cook dinner for the group. Our exhaustion really made it difficult to feel motivated for anything, regardless of our hunger. They made couscous and lentils for dinner and cleaned all of the dishes without complaint. We circled up underneath the tall pines of our campsite and went around Moonup talking about our highs and lows of the day. We entered our dream worlds quickly, feeling proud, accomplished and unified.
We slept in the next morning, slowly rising for chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Jonas worked his magic on the backcountry griddle, perfectly browning our pancakes, cooking up more than we could eat. After our slow morning, we made our way to the river for a day full of swimming. Majority of the group braved the cold water and swam to the other side, allowing the current to guide them, for a large sunny rock. We spent the day swimming, resting in the sun and doing yoga and handstands on the beach. Some, on the other side of the river, spotted a black bear grazing in the brush in the distance. We played a game that helped us learn about each of our roles and characteristics as leaders. Be sure to ask what everyone’s leadership role is once they get back home (shout out to all of my relationship masters)! Our day revolved mostly around eating, so we spent some time whipping up some tasty quesadillas… and more pancakes… for lunch. We swam for the last of the sunny hours of the day, and made our way back to camp once the heat of the sun began to fade. Mitchell entertained us with his impressive dance moves while we enjoyed some hot cocoa and simply hanging out with each other. Cook crew treated us to some beans and rice for dinner and we obviously emptied the Nutella jar before the day ended. Rebecca and Zoë led us in a memorable Moonup that had us all hugging each other before we separated into our tents. Our rest day was quite the restful, meaningful and enjoyable day.
We rose with sun and the sounds of the company of the vibrant blue Stellar Jays in our campsite. We ventured out for our final day of backpacking, fueled by God’s great gift of polenta corn grits for breakfast. Our final day of five miles felt like a breeze at this point. Arabella led the pack with a big smile and tangible excitement down downhill past Nevada falls, alongside its flowing river and towards Vernall falls. We joined the famous Mist Trail, looking out over Vernall falls as two rainbows touched each edge of the waterfall. We carefully hiked down the steep steps alongside the falls as it heavily misted us the entire way. We felt as though we were in some sort of enchanted land. The last couple miles flew by as we finally reached Half Dome Village, the final destination of our backpacking trip.
We treated ourselves to cheesy burgers, veggie burgers, fries and some long awaited cold drinks. After a necessary shower, cleansed from our layers of dirt, we felt reborn into society with a new perspective on life. We waved goodbye to Yosemite Valley and headed towards Tuolumne Meadows for our final night in the area.
After eggs and bacon for breakfast, we stopped for a quick swim in the beautiful June Lake and are now on the highway headed north towards Mt. Shasta. Of course we had to stop for In-N-Out for lunch. Although we are sad to leave Yosemite behind, our memories from our time there will be carried with us always. Over these past six days, we have learned more about ourselves, each other and this beautiful world that we live in. Our spirits are full with a new appreciation for the outdoors and we’re excited for new experiences to come in Shasta.
We’re jammin’ in the van with a few hours left of our drive and sending love to all of you!
-Mimi & Jonas
July 13, 2017
Jonas and Mimi were able to find a bit of cell service and sent in the much anticipated climbing update. Enjoy:
Greetings from Yosemite!!!!
Hello friends and family, there is no need to be worried about us because we are having a blast already! Every single person in this group has far exceeded our expectations with the way they have seamlessly made us feel like a family. We had a good amount of time in the airport to get to know each other. Once our long-awaited Arabella arrived, with huge smiles and hugs all around, we hit the road towards Yosemite. With four hours of driving ahead of us, Thomas kept us entertained with an introduction to French rap. Reaching hangry status, we stopped along the way for a well-deserved pizza dinner. We drove through rolling yellow hillsides and Sarah captured each perfect scene of golden light on her camera as the sun slowly set. We finally arrived at our campsite right outside of the Yosemite National Park entrance and fell right asleep in one big pile on the ground under the full moon light.
We rose bright and early the next morning with excited anticipation for our first day of climbing in Yosemite Valley. Our climbing guides helped us get fit for our climbing shoes, helmets and harnesses, and we made our way to our climbing destination. After a lesson in how to tie figure 8 knots, how to belay, how to repel, and all of the necessary climbing techniques, we geared up to give it a try.
We made our way to the top of the wall we were soon to climb and learned how to repel ourselves from the top. We then began climbing from the bottom in groups of three: one climber, one belayer and one backup belayer. Spence began with a champion attitude, being the tallest one in the group, with shoes that weren’t quite big enough for him. His tolerance for adversity helped set the positive tone that we needed for the day! We quickly learned that granite slab is not easy to climb on and proved to be quite the challenge. Meg showed her bravery as she faced her fear of heights and was one of the first ones to get her hands on the wall. We fought through our uncertainty of standing on tiny footholds and the uncomfortable nature of holding onto tiny finger crimps. Rebecca gracefully scaled up each climb, making us positive that she had done this before.
We ended our climbing day with tired bodies and accomplished attitudes. We headed back to camp and began preparing our first camp dinner. With Spence, Thomas and Lindsey on the first cook crew, we whipped up some tasty green chicken curry for the group. Lindsey’s chef-like mannerisms were exposed as she chopped all of the vegetables with professional speed. Following dinner, Ann Chapman and Jackson led us in an incredible moonup full of games, inspiring quotes and poems, a song and a question that helped us to get to know each other better. We got some good rest this night to prepare us for another full day of climbing.
For our second day of climbing in the valley, we met our guides at a spot that was a bit taller, more challenging, and required more specific climbing techniques. Our guides demonstrated how they built the anchors that held our ropes and taught us all about the equipment that is used for traditional climbing. They also introduced us to crack climbing and showed us the odd ways in which we would be cramming our hands and feet into the crack to climb today.
Ann Chapman was a loyal belayer for much of the day, making each climber feel secure and safe. Catherine, being small but mighty, showed her ability to climb up a tiny crack with positivity, determination and ease. Jackson looked like a professional climbing up with his camera attached to his harness, capturing some amazing shots from the top. Everyone in the group proved their strength and ambition today as each person tried their hardest and climbed the routes over and over until we could climb no longer. James and Mitchell both outlasted the groups strength as they both climbed the longest route not only once, but for a second time at the end of the day.
We left the Valley full of pride for our climbing accomplishments. We then spent the afternoon preparing for our upcoming backpacking section! Everyone was incredibly helpful in lending both hands for whatever needed to get done. One group made gorp (good ole raisins and peanuts) and split up snacks for the group while the others set aside all of the gear that we would need for the trip.
Sarah, Ann Chapman and James made up the cook crew, with successful efforts in making fajita bowls. James put some magic into making the guacamole and boy was it tasty. We circled up for another wonderful moonup led by Spencer and Arrabella, and Mitchell ended the night with some serenading tunes on his ukelele.
We awoke the morning with a special feeling in the air…. because it’s Zoë’s birthday!!!!!! She is so wonderful and we are all so happy today that she was born. We surprised the group with pancakes for breakfast and gifted Zoë with a very fancy junior park ranger badge. We are currently packing our backpacks and sorting out all of the food for the trip. Soon we’ll be hitting the Alder Creek trailhead for a magical 6 days spent in the Yosemite Wilderness!
Next time you hear from us, we’ll be much dirtier, ready for showers, and full of new experiences. Until next time!
-Mimi & Jonas
July 12, 2017
Hello Yosemite 2 friends and family!
I know you are all anxiously awaiting to hear how the trip is going. We talked to Jonas & Mimi after their climbing section, just before they embarked on their backpacking section. Due to cellular service issues in Yosemite, they were not able to get their trip update through to us to post here. Rest assured, they are having a great time and were thrilled to get their backpacking section started. As soon as they finish their backpacking section, we will have a double update for you to hear about their climbing and backpacking sections. We hope all is well back home!
-Moondance Administrative Team