Cloud's Rest


Day one: We arrived to Yosemite too early for hiking but just in time for Meghna to show us the natural climbing ways. Skills sharpened on the brightly collored polymer holds bolted to plywood and plaster in the halls of the climbing gym were barely transferable to the camoflauged suggestions, called holds, of the granite boulders in the great valley of Yosemite. The challenges of pure strength and dexterity tested under the gym’s roof are given a cerebral dimension when the pedantic civilian rules and their safety are removed. Fear quickly enters the game after feet are only slightly off the ground and it builds with every inch and uncertain grip. Like the saliva of Pavlov’s dogs, sweat, not from exertion but from nerve, is beconed by the bell of squeeking shoes in agony as their rubber is stripped from a frantic grab on a near vertical face. The manufactured walls’ end, designated by colorful tape on plaster, is replaced with an endless cliff face that begs you to continue, constantly fighting every logical synapse telling you that you’ve made a horrible mistake. All of the frontal cortex is involved in weighing this balance of excitement and danger, fore a missed calculation would certainly result in sudden death after only the slightest mistake. The day ended in a demonstration of such a horribly calibrated decision as an unassuming person in a greasy ponytail replaced his modest tennis shoes with climbing ones, started on a line just next to ours, that was giving us considerable difficulty, and mythodically and unwaveringly scalled all two hundred and fifty feet.


Day two: We woke to the sound of thunder. Up until that point, feigned ignorance let us avoid the consideration that we would probably be hiking in the rain, as the forecast predicted for weeks. But the thunder was undeniable. We got ready as fast as one can at 4:30 in the morning such that we could get past a point of no return before any torential downpour. If we were going to be hiking in the rain, it would be best to not have a choice in the matter. We would come to find our fears misplaced when waterfalls full of powerful rage took out all of their anger on rocks that dared to stand in their path. The mist of snows’ blood that erupted from battle was sufficient to soak us to the point of saturation. All the while, the rain held off.

The path to the top was arguous but full of events, wildlife, and flora. Gustav, managed to survive a bear sighting, almost certainly due to his owl like perception, I almost walked off a cliff, due to my june bug like perception, and the snowline started a ‘chose-your-own-adventrue’ era where the only rule was to keep going up.

The clouds that we had been expecting were largely absent until the final half hour of ascent, where we raced to the peak. Our arrival to the pinnicle was applauded by God himself as thunder boomed when we first set foot on the Cloud’s Rest Plateau. We had only seconds to see the valley around us before everything was enveloped with fog. In consolation for the temporary removal of our view, a marmot was sent to hide under a nearby rock to wait out the incoming rain. The rain did not come until after a generous variety of hail of various shapes and sizes, always threatening to get large and painful but never acting on it.

Despite all of the moisture, temperatures were relatively warm throughout and the final half of the decent marked a high point when the clouds evaporated, the sun came out, and we were almost instantly dried.