Thursday, June 29, 2006

Boulevard of Broken Knees

Yosemite Tramp, Chapter 4

Hiking back down the Yosemite Falls trail was painful. They had built all of these fake steps, as Jen called them, in to the steep switch backs. Going up, oddly enough, one doesn't notice them. The steps are wide enough, perfect for digging one's toes. On the way down, this is a different story.

You see, for most people, down steps need to be taken using the ball of the foot. This is the part of the foot that the majority of the weight is put on during walking. Without a step wide enough, balance is very difficult, requiring more attention to where the foot is placed. It's slow work and we had at least a mile of it.

I was quite pissed off at the trail.

I had less of a reason to be pissed at the trail than Jen. She blew her knee out. Fortunately for me, I did not see the actual moment of knee blowing. I don't really handle see friends pain that well, female friends in particular. I try to be as helpful as possible, but seeing any one on the verge (or actually over the verge[1]) really puts me on the verge of sobbing like a little girl.

Yep, I'm a big old softie[2]. Not the kind of softie that I'll describe in a minute, mind you. I hope I am never described in that fashion.

The best solution to that is really just send Rob and I ahead at our own pace. We made it down to the bottom pretty quickly, dropped our packs, took a drink of water, and headed back up. I'm really proud of Rob, actually. Even after some pretty long days of hiking, he still can be a gentleman.

We met back up with Liza and Jen after about fifteen switch-backs. In what took a little convincing, I was able to verbally wrestle away Liza's pack[3], while Rob took Jen's (I don't think there was a lot of arm twisting there).

We made it back down after the first of two treks into the wilderness a little bruised and broken, but otherwise in good shape.

We had a bit of a run-around after that, riding the shuttles around the park. This allowed for some interesting observations of life for the valley visitors. It was soft and I mean soft. They had hotels, shuttles (who needs walking?), restaurants and bars. We had, well, the stuff in our packs. There were so few backpackers riding around on those shuttles that we became an oddity, another attraction for the softies to photograph. I'm still surprised we never heard the statement "get my picture while stand next to them." Probably due to the smell.

The advantage to this was that the have Fat Tire on tap at the bar. This is one of my all-time favorite beers, and I only ever seem to get it when I'm on a hiking trip. It would be great if they would distribute here in the Midwest, but then it might lose it's specialness. It's become a little gift, a reward for hard work and too much mileage.

Ah, a tasty reward.

[1] What the hell is the "verge" anyway? How does some get on the edge of it. It seems like people hang out on the verge all the time, so is it really wide? Another piece of evidence that it's a really big place is that there are a lot of people on the verge of things: a breakthrough, a breakdown, madness, happiness. Maybe they just like hanging out there, like "he's on the verge, man."

The Verge must be a pretty cool place.

[2] Softie, /'sof-tE/, Etymology: 1soft.
1. a person who enjoys all the comforts of home, while surrounded by amazing natural beauty, which is meant to be explored and enjoyed through hard hikes, whilst carrying everything needed on one's back.
2. a softhearted or sentimental person

I fall under the second definition.

[3] In a fair, physical fight, I might put my money on Liza. The woman hikes on twelve Advil. She's a veritable pharmacopoeia.

[Note] Strangely enough, I didn't really take any pictures on this day. Probably due to the fact that we were climbing back down the same trail we took to get to the top in the first place.


RobD said...

Oh, but there's at least one good photo from that day.

Prettiest Pretty Princess said...

I do consider myself one tough rival when doped up.--Gnarly foot