Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Odyssey - Part 5

And then do you know what we did next? We teamed up with Joel and Jenica and their boys and left San Francisco Monday morning and drove ourselves right over to Yosemite National Park.

It was stunning, two words: stun-ning.
Here's what we loved: the mountains. El Capitan and Half Dome especially, so easily recognizable from within Yosemite Valley. And the greenery crawling all over those beautiful rock walls. I can't over-emphasize the gorgeousness. Yosemite was definitely another place where I wish we had stayed longer. Days and days to drive around the whole thing and hike all the hikes. A few more days would have been especially nice because, guess what? The one half-day we were there it rained. Then it poured. Then it showered. When we were first driving in it was just really cloudy (see photos above), but pretty much as soon as we got settled in and were ready to go the clouds burst and didn't quit. All that soaking rain coupled with temperatures hovering in the 40s, frankly I'm surprised we look back on it with fondness. But we do.

We drove all that way and had reserved a place to stay the night. What was there to do besides fashion some quick trash-bag ponchos for the kids and make the most of it?

Lower Yosemite Falls

Scott and Joel ventured on up to the very base of the falls.

By the time we finished with our outdoor exploration we were soaked and chilled to the bone. So we headed back to our campsite (we stayed in a small tent-ish shelter with three cinderblock walls and a canvas ceiling plus canvas curtains in front), and got everyone changed into warm, dry pajamas. We wrapped everyone up in blankets, and while Scott told the little girls a bedtime story the big kids went over to their cousin's tent to play Yahtzee. We all turned in a little early, glad to be close together in that little tent, living out our adventure we'd planned for so long. I know how awful it sounds, I know. But I'm not lying, it was anything but awful. Thanks, Joel and Jenica, for spear-heading the extended time together.

The next morning, as we were headed out on the next leg of the odyssey the sun was shining and we couldn't help but to start planning a return trip (but yeah, we'll go when it's a bit warmer). Our route took us over Tioga Pass, which was closed because of ice when we were ready to leave so we had about an hour to climb around on rocks while we waited for it to open up.

Tioga pass was full of beautifully snow-covered pine trees and took us up to 9943 feet. But just one day of driving and the cold of Yosemite seemed a distant memory as we basked in the warmth of our next destination--St. George, UT.

Here we stayed with our good friends who used to live in Knoxville, the Christians. It's a good thing we did, because they know how to show us a good time...including but not limited to swimming at the pool, roasting s'mores, and having a cookout. But first we needed to work up an appetite, so we loaded everyone up right away and headed to Zion's National Park (I know, I know, National Parks two days in a row! Who are we, Ansel Adams?).

We decided to hike Angel's Landing. Guess what there was plenty of opportunity to do along the trail? Yes, climb up on rocks.

Most of the kids and Jenny and I only went as far as Scout Lookout just above Walter's Wiggles (look at the second photo on the link and you can see the Wiggles...I carried Lydia on my back up those bad boys. I know. I'm awesome).

The view from Scout Lookout
The last half mile of the trail we knew was more difficult and dangerous. So Jenny and I took the kids and began a leisurely walk back down, taking plenty of time to stop and look at an owl and make some great cakes out of red dirt. But not all of the kids came down. Ben and Josh each decided they wanted to go for the summit, so they went with Scott and Brett all the way up. Neither they nor Scott realized just how treacherous it would be, with steep drop-offs on either side of the narrow path. Both boys were scared as they clung to the anchored chain with one hand and held fast to one of the dads' hands with their other. Josh was pretty much hyperventilating most of the way and was heard to remark, "This shouldn't be called Angel's Landing, it should be Devil's Pass." But guess what?

They did it.

We were so proud.

(Notice Ben's death grip on the pole. And Scott's death grip on the boys. And look at Josh's face. That's his absolutely terrified smile.)


Troy said...

Those boys are braver than me. I couldn't get to the summit.

Natalie said...

so when i read you took them on that hike my jaw dropped. i've never done it but the family did it one trip west and i got sick just looking at pictures. the stories they told... i don't do scary hikes. i got to say though, that summit picture is amazing!

Sharlene, Mom, Grammy said...

WOW,WOW,WOW!!! Simply amazing. The pictures are absolutely out of this world in gorgeous-ness!

Makes me want to go to Yosemite, for sure, but hiking to Angel's Landing (Zions) looks a little scary! So proud of your boys.

Love the pix of the boys tucked away in the rock mountain.

Anonymous said...

Cruzes conquer mountains!

joelb said...

good memories for us too.

btw, when i first read that i thought it said you watched an owl making dirt cakes. and you weren't even making a big deal about it!

Brad said...

I didn't know you were going to Zion. You should've talked to us first about Angel's Landing :) Joel, you act like owls making dirt cakes is a big deal or something. So not.

Beth said...

I am loving reading about your trip, and your pictures are AMAZING!! However, the Angel's Landing picture freaked me out-what brave boys!!