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It took me a while, but I finally managed to tag all of my pictures from Hawaii, Yosemite, and a night up in San Francisco. I would have had them up earlier this week, but my router froze while I was at work, and I couldn't get to my server. That problem has been resolved, and I finished up everything today. They have now been posted.

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 12:38 AM

Two weekends ago, on a beautiful Saturday morning, I made it to the top of Half Dome. I went with some friends from work, one of whom had done it just a few weeks prior. At his advice, we stayed in a condo just outside Yosemite, and thirty minutes from the trailhead. We left work an hour later than I had hoped, which meant we hit rush hour traffic. This meant that it took us an hour and a half longer to get there than it should have, and we arrived at the condo pretty late, at around eleven. We had been planning to get to the trailhead at three the next morning though, which meant we weren't going to get much sleep.

We did make it to the trailhead roughly when we wanted to the next morning. We had headlamps so we could see where we were going, plenty of food, and plenty of water. We were very well prepared for the sixteen miles we had before us. The first two and a half miles were quite strenuous, with plenty of switchbacks. It was quite a steep climb. I was thankful when it leveled off, and even more thankful that it stayed that way for a good deal of time. The sun also came up, which was good because the last two and a half miles were even more difficult than the first. The steps became very high, and eventually they went away altogether, leaving sheer rock to be scaled for the last bit of the trail. Then came the cables.

I actually didn't find the cables to be that bad. I took them at a leisurely pace, resting on some of the wooden planks. I was passed by some people who were just faster than I was, and also by some people who I thought were crazy, practically running to the top. In our group of five, I made it to the top third, and I made a point to take pictures of the remaining two making their way up. Shortly thereafter, though, we had a rather nasty surprise. For whatever reason, somebody thought it would be a good idea to climb all the way up there and kill himself. He didn't jump off though, which had to be a first. He actually shot himself. We didn't go looking for the guy, but somebody had told us what happened, and that the rangers, who were not yet there, had requested people to go back down the cables. After taking in the view, we made our way back down.

I thought that going down the cables was easier than going up, but not everyone could agree on that. I made it down second, and the other three took a while to make their way down, and I did manage to get pictures of all of them on their way. After having lunch at the bottom of the cables, we began the long hike back. In the daylight, though, we had plenty of scenery, so we stopped every now and then for photos. After what seemed like an eternity of walking, we finally made it back to the car. After trying unsuccessfully to find the visitor's center, three of the others quickly fell asleep. I stopped at the Tunnel View lookout, and then we made our way back to the condo. We slept in a bit the next morning, and we made our way back to San Jose.

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 12:35 AM

Two weekends ago, I managed to finally make it up to Rocky Mountain National Park. I have been there a few times when I was younger, but I had never been with an SLR. The park did not disappoint me; the Continental Divide is quite beautiful there. I also visited a few lakes in the park, and I also had the good fortune to see some animals. The elk were in velvet, and there was a group of just under a dozen bulls grazing and sitting near the road. Needless to say, my super-telephoto paid off quite well. And if that wasn't enough, I was rewarded with a mother moose and her calf at the Grand Lake entrance station, making me very glad I decided to take the road all the way through the park, despite the lengthy drive home.

Last weekend, I stayed in California instead of going home, and did a road trip of sorts. Though I invited quite a few people, I ended up going by myself, which I certainly didn't mind. I planned out a bunch of small hikes using the excellent resource yosemitehikes.com. On Friday, I did most of the Yosemite Valley hikes I wanted to see, as well as those along Glacier Point Road. I even stayed for sunset up at the top. I was a little disappointed in the sunset; there was just the right amount of clouds, but they didn't light up as much as I was hoping. I was still glad I stayed though, even if it meant I had to drive down to Fresno in the dark. Luckily not many others were doing this, so I made it down in decent time.

The next day I went back up to see the sights along Tioga Road. Everything was beautiful, from Olmsted Point to Tenaya Lake to Tuolumne Meadows. Because I went back down to Fresno a little earlier that night, though, there were plenty of annoyingly slow drivers on the road, at least after I got off of Tioga, so it took me a while to get down.

I had originally planned on spending Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the park, but I was apparently too efficient in my sightseeing. The only hike I had left that I wanted to do was the Mist Trail, but I'm planning to go back with friends to climb Half Dome, and this trail is part of that hike. That coupled with the fact that driving up and down the mountains is so painfully slow, I decided to cut out a day early and drive through Santa Cruz, and then up the Coast Highway a ways. I spent some time on the beach, found a few lighthouses, and enjoyed the coastal scenery before finally heading back to San Jose.

Photos from both trips, as well as a visit to Bocci's Cellar, have been posted.

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 9:22 PM