From the edge of the dome, facing a forest of coal. Not long ago the devil danced here, feeding the trees to his army of flames. From the lifeless rock top, he watched the destruction.

Yet the sun has still set ever since, and the glow from that fire beyond this world shines upon the rebirth that no force can prevent.


The Devil’s Dance Floor

The Devil’s Dance Floor

“How did you get there?”  – the ranger asked.

I walked up the hill and saw another,
Still yet somewhat taller.
I walked up the next and saw one more,
Figured there’d be views galore.

Cannot say the hiking was technical,
Though uphills were quite delectable.

“Well then, you should lead a group today” – the ranger felt the need to say.

No one else wanted to go, but after my first time there I already wanted to return – immediately with camera and phone. With views like those I saw, I couldn’t not get a shot, and given the vantage, I figured there’d be cell coverage.

In Yosemite, the hike to Devil’s Dance Floor from Tamarack Flat is a 30-minute trail-less adventure, mostly crossing forest littered with fallen trees and walking up steep slopes of high-friction granite, typical to the Tuolomne Meadows area.

While staying in the campsite after my climbing friends departed from our Yosemite climbing adventure, I got there wandering randomly uphill in search of a view, but what I found was so amazing that I knew immediately I needed to take photos here. So I jogged back to camp and prepared for a second trip: camera, phone, cliff bar and puffy.

By the time I walked back, it was pitch dark. Moving silently over a foot-ball field of granite in the dark vastness of Yosemite was intimidating. Hiking at night often is, especially within bear habitat.

I repeated my excursion the next day, in need of reception and better photos with a tripod. In the absence of a trail, I never walked the same path twice. No matter how you walk around it, the Devil’s Dance Floor is at the top of a dome that requires some seriously steep walking to get on top of it.

On my way back from this last trip to such a trippy place, I found myself once again worried to hike off trail alone in the dark. I kept hearing echoes of my sounds bouncing off the granite walls I passed by. Eventually though I knew that the last sound had not come from me. I turned suddenly and about 20 yards to my left I saw the distinct two dots of light only a nocturnal animal’s eyes can return. Then I saw more pairs of eyes, all staring at the loud, bright human who had stepped out bounds without company.

“Stay there!” I shouted in fear, picking up a staff of wood.

I figure they were simply dear, perhaps coyotes, as there are no serious pack predators in California.

I am definitely keeping this one high on my list of secret gems.

Pulling Yosemite Granite

Pulling Yosemite Granite

I was here to climb, and climb I did. I had even warmed up my trad skills with a day at the Leap and another at the 90ft Wall in Tahoe.

By the time I was able to commit to another week of climbing with Yen in Yosemite (after doggie health issues forced us to cancel our prior arrangement), she had already invited our mutual friend: Bud. Three more friends from the same group of rock debutants had separately planned to come up and were already in the valley when we arrived.

I had met both Yen and Bud through online mediums: Mountain Project and Meetup. It turned out, there was an obvious energy of challenge between them, who climb at rather similar levels but with markedly different styles. Nonetheless, on this trip, Yen had invited both of us, and it just so happened that he and I we were longing to try a day of climbing together, switching leads up a long multi-pitch.

Continue reading “Pulling Yosemite Granite”

The day this blog started

The day this blog started

I am sitting here in Tamarack Flat, site #3, which all the rangers keep reminding me is the best. Coastline excluded, up here in Tuolomne meadows is just about the only place in California where the weather is pleasant rather than debilitatingly hot.

I may be in the best place on earth, but I am finding it difficult to make the simplest decisions. Should I wake up now? Is now the right time to brush my teeth? Should I stay here another night or head to San Francisco today?

The memories of the past two weeks of climbing tall granite cliffs and domes keep flashing in front of my eyes everytime I close them in an attempt to make a simple decision.

Until yesterday, I was in the company of four amazing climbing buddies. I was energetically hosting democratic ‘Pow-Wows’ to keep the group moving. I was cooking large meals for us and had no qualms asking for help and handing out friendly commands. I had a vision of routes to climbs and a team to lead. Trailing some of them and switching leads with others, I took us up longer and bolder trad climbs than I had ever led before. I felt like I was truly accomplishing something.

Now, I am alone.

I have created this loneliness for myself by succeeding at all my goals. I work a digital 4-hour work week and live a life of perpetual “glamping” in a 1994 Dodge Conversion that I further converted into a full-time shaggin’ wagon of a van. I am living the #vanlife like a pro.

Except that I am living it alone.

I can’t climb alone and regardless – without someone to drag along, pushing only myself to accomplish physical feats in nature is not nearly as fun. Hikes aren’t worth it unless I can share photos of the adventure on Instagram, but not all beauty is photogenic. So I find myself chasing camera-friendly spots like a volunteer photographer, working extra hours for no pay.

I am left alone to battle my thoughts about life, love and tomorrow. Wondering if it is about time I settle and end the heartbreak pattern. Then I remind myself that I have only just started this traveling phase of my life. I decide to stop thinking and get on with the move. Then I remember how hot it is everywhere else, that I am in the best place on earth for today and that I can’t move on with my real travel plans until after next weekend because I promised a friend I would join him on his party bus plans for his birthday.

So I sit emptily; neither thirsty, nor hungry, nor wanting to smoke or even move. I am bored.

I am left alone to battle my thoughts about life, love and tomorrow.

The pattern repeats.

I write until I have emptied out my inspiration bladder. Then I go grab a book I have been meaning to read for a year. Maybe later I will hike to that same spot I was yesterday: The Devil’s Dance floor. The nearly flat surface of a giant granite dome overlooking the entrance to Yosemite valley is the size of a football field and is the only place I can hike to for a view and reception without packing up my van and wasting fuel.

I know that in just a few days I will be surrounded by people whom I love and enjoy. Or so I hope.