Many folks had told me that having done Grand Canyon, Half Dome would be a piece of cake. Well, I found out that Half Dome was more like a tough cookie. The figures might not seem much different from our Grand Canyon adventure last summer- an elevation gain and loss of 4800 ft in around 17 miles. But like many other things in life, figures are not indicative of the experience.
I cannot put a number on how the cold mist from Vernal falls engulfed me, or how it made the rocky trail path so much more treacherous. Neither can I put a number on the beautiful sound of the gushing Merced river, or on the really steep path that it had carved out for us to traverse. I cannot count the number of times I had to stop completely exhausted, my heart beating like drums in my ears, or the number of times I willed myself to continue. Neither can I capture in figures the spirit of exploration among passing hikers, seen alike in a boy all of 10 years and a lady all of 65 years.
I also crunched some numbers, just for the sake of statistics. After all, we live in a world that is obsessed with data and figures..
The number of animals (deers, coyote, bear included) we sighted was more than the number water stations we encountered (just 1!). 5 was the number of liters of water each one of us carried.
The number of seconds for which I was frozen with fear on steps-less sub dome was a little more than 80, which was the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit that day. 90 is what it felt like.
My pulse rate as I started at the bottom of the cables was MUCH higher than 70, which was the angle at which the cables sloped up the dome. 400 feet was the distance to the top.
The number of complete strangers who were kind to me was 12, which was also the number of hours I climbed and walked. And then there was Kathie. I am sorry I did not ask for your full name Kathie, but the harness that you gave away to me without a second thought was probably what strengthened my resolve to go up the cables.
The number of times I smiled at the top of the dome was way more than 37, which is the number of photographs that I took at the summit. 300 is the total number of photographs that I took through the trip.
If that's not enough here are some more figures:
Number of people we were: 6
Number of hours we barely managed to sleep: 5
Number of funny movie reviews and parodies we watched repeatedly: 4
Number of songs we sang late into the night: 3
Number of cuisines we sampled: 2
Number of things I checked-off my wishlist: 1
Number of memories I made: countless.
This trip was like a contradiction in itself. The awesome live music performance at Southgate Brewery (which by the way, serves the best oil-dipped garlic fries and fig desert pizza :-D) was equally matched by the delicious food at Taste of China, mismatched completely by the disastrous late night trip to Denny's. It was almost like a combination of Yo Yo Honey Singh's senseless rap, Irshad Kamil's philosophical poetry and foot tapping country music. It was silly, challenging and fun. Most importantly, it was test of mental strength at more than one level. And I daresay, we passed with flying colors.
Oh, I did see the squirrel, right there, at the top of Half Dome. I was where I wanted to be.