It was our last day in Yosemite. After watching Alex Honnold climb El Cap in the riveting documentary, "Free Solo", El Capitan was definitely on our list. I also wanted to fulfill my lifelong dream of seeing the giant sequoias. The best place to see them in Yosemite is at the Mariposa Grove, which was unfortunately closed because of the wildfires. The only place open was the Toloumne Grove, where they had about a dozen trees, more than enough for me!
Woke up at the butt crack of dawn. Nervous and excited. Not only am I climbing Half Dome, but I am climbing Half Dome ON MY BIRTHDAY.
Feeling that exhilaratiion that makes you wanna dance a jig yet throw up at the same time. I have never hiked anything like the Half Dome before and it is definitely anxiety-inducing. Am I ready? Do I have enough water? What if I slip on the cables? What if (fill in the blank)...?
I was so anxious couldn't even eat. I had a sip of my Vega protein shake and that was it. I brought 2 of them, a Costco-sized bag of beef jerky, and some protein bars. I should be ok foodwise. I also have about 5 liters of water and Gatorade in my backpack.
Driving out West is so much different from driving out here on the East Coast. Man, the rugged beauty of the Sierra Nevadas really just takes your breath away and there's no feeling like it when you're driving through these mountains and seeing the beautiful vista. In fact, I don't think there's any place on the East Coast that I can properly use the term "vista", IMHO.
The drive from Napa to Lake Tahoe was surreal. The wildfires have created a smoky haze creating what one would imagine a post-apocalyptic nuclear fallout to look like. Was unable to take photos because I was driving but I couldn't imagine living like that every day. The air quality was so unhealthy that it started to affect my voice.
So I turned 41 a little bit over a week ago. Apart from my Hawaii trip last year, I usually spend my birthday overseas, usually in a country I have never been before. With COVID putting a damper on international travel, I decided to go on a camping and hiking trip to the West Coast.
I went with a good friend, Aileen, who usually spends her birthday overseas as well. We decided to go to Yosemite National Park as both of us have never been and planned to summit Half Dome on my birthday.
I was born and raised in the Philippines, a country of 134 ethnic groups, 120 different languages, and 7,107 islands. Growing up close to the capital, Manila, I was most enamored by the southernmost portion of the country, called Mindanao. Though most of the country is Christian, that part of the country is predominantly Muslim.
There are 18 different ethnic groups that live in Mindanao. One of them are the Badjao/Bajau, also known as Sea Gypsies, as they move with the wind and tide in their small houseboats called Vintas. These seafaring people have the most fascinating rituals that illustrate their concept of life and their relationship to the sea. For example, it is said that immediately after birth, a newly born infant is thrown into the seas and the rest of the family save the newborn.
2017 was a roller-coaster ride of a year: went to Cuba for the 4th time, got hit by an Uber driver, established a 110 gallon saltwater fish tank, incurred property damage from Hurricane Irma, visited Paris and went on a road trip through Morocco, went back up on aerial silks after a loooong hiatus, got to meet the most adorable baby in the world; my new nephew Haru, witnessed one of my best friends and my brother-in-law get married after I introduced them 5 years ago, lost a friend who passed away unexpectedly, and celebrated my 17th year wedding anniversary and the end of 2017 in Mexico City. As we say hello to 2018, I look to the past and the future to generate my 2018 goals and resolutions.