Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Testing fears and soaking in beauty

After we got camp set up, Ed and I headed out for what we hoped would be a good 13 mile loop. We had found a map that had a 13 mile loop around Yosemite valley that seemed perfect, but we had trouble finding the right trail. However, we did find what seemed correct, and had a fun running along the very powerful river. There were a few other people, but we could see most of them across the river on the paved path.  

After going about a mile, we saw a person crouched down of the trail and immediately followed his gaze. What we saw was beautiful! 

The deer was just grazing in the calm waters, with the huge granite walls behind it. We stopped to soak in the scene for a bit, and then headed on. 

What we learned is that the real, non bike path trails in yosemite, the ones that don't go to waterfalls or famous sites, are not really meant for the people. Tourists, it seems, aren't as big on trails as one might home. What are big on trails in Yosemite are horses. 

As we got to around a mile and a half in, we found ourselves facing about 18 people on horses. They decided to turn around as we reached them, so I hopped out of the way to let them pass. We weren't too worried since we were doing a loop - or so we thought. 

Unfortunately, just up ahead, we came upon a fence across the trail, which announced that the trail up ahead was closed due to a huge rock slide. 

Here is where the first test of fear came up. Ed, seeing normal trail for a bit ahead, wanted to check out the trails and keep going until the trail conditions forced us back. I, on the other hand, am a rule follower. The sign says turn around, I want to turn around. Eventually, I got Ed to see my view and back we went. 

The second test of fear came up all to quickly. Soon, we found ourselves at the back of the horse train. Trying to make the best of a situation, we headed out into this grassy space by the river. 

This was such a lovely stopover. We played around, and then really, quite suddenly, we looked up up and were amazed by what we saw. 

Somehow, we had been running right under half dome without even realizing it! After staring in wonder, and taking some photos, I spotted something even more exciting (the picture above shows the moment where I am saying, "Honey! Look over there!")

This is what I was finding even more exciting than half dome:

Yup, a momma duck and her babies. How fun :)

After enjoying the ducks a bit, I had another moment of facing fear. We got a bit turned around getting back to our trail, and found ourselves separated from our trail by a few wide logs. You could tell by the wearing that this was a common path, and below the logs was just a few inches of dirty water - nothing dangerous. Ed easily sprinted across, without a care in the world. I, on the other hand, froze. I became completely frozen, feeling fear wave over me. 

Ed was not getting it. I had a moment where I wanted to give up and just go around, but I decided to trust Ed. He came back over, and actually held my hand walking backwards over the log to get me across. It was really nice to trust him and to not let irrational fears get me down :). 

After this, I proposed a deal to Ed. He would let me tell him no if something was really dangerous (i.e. going into a rock slide zone) if I would let him convince me to do something that felt dangerous but really was generally safe (crossing a log over a stream). A good compromise. 

Unfortuantely, this test of fears came up again, as we came back to the horse train. The guide in the back told us we could try to pass the horses and so, with some trepidation, Ed and I slowly passed the horses. Now, I am pretty terrified of horses - they are big, powerful animals and I have a healthy respect  for them. The passing was going okay, but then the trail started narrowing and it really started feeling unsafe. Ed was trying to guide me, but I was just starting to freak out. One of the riders in the middle of the train told us that we shouldn't be trying to pass, and that was sort of the final straw. I convinced Ed to wait at the side with me and let the horses pass us again. 

It was a frustrating experience, to say the least. Ed was really frustrating that we couldn't run at all - the horses were moving really slowly. And I was frustrated because it just didn't feel safe, which Ed didn't quite get. 

Luckily, the guide in the back had the horse train stop once it got to better trail, and we were able to safely pass them (though I was still worried - I said "hi" to every horse as I passed so they wouldn't kick me). Finally, when we passed them, we just took off running, burning off our frustration at losing so much time behind the horses. 

On our way back to where we started (and only a few miles of running done) , we debriefed about the horse encounter. We were both feeling frustrated about the experience, but better understood what happened and why we each acted the way we did. 

This short stretch seemed a perfect test for us in how we dealt with fear (and each other), fitting since our wedding was only a week and a half away (now just 4 days!). By the time we were off that trail, we were back to enjoying Yosemite running. 

I did ask that we switch over to the bike trail that I had been looking down on a bit, because I really wanted to run, and didn't want to get held up on the trails. Also, we were going to be running out of daylight, and I wanted to go as far as possible before we had to go back. 

So off on the bike trail we went, and we had a great time. We first headed to the Ahwahnee, where my family traditionally has a meal whenever we visit.

 We took some photos, stopped quickly in the gift shop, and enjoyed walking around the grounds. I got very excited about a deer, until I remembered that I do actually see deer pretty often and maybe it isn't that exciting :). 

Then, we headed towards the falls, enjoying the views, as the evening light framed the falling water. 

We took a few obligatory touristy shot...

and then kept heading down the trail. We eventually headed across a meadow and to the swinging bridge, where we were treated with some great reflective views. 

Once on the other side, we looked back once more towards the beautiful upper falls. 

And then, heading back towards half dome, we returned to camp. 

Next up, our awesomely wet 9 mile hike!

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