In October of 2017, mi boyfriend (James) and I went on a month roadtrip through the West Coast of the US with a goal in mind. To visit Yosemite and Joshua Tree National Parks in California, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, and Zion and Bryce National Parks in Utah.
To give you some context about why we decided to do this trip, I have to mention that James is a professional photographer and writer. He has published guides to four National Parks in the Us, including Yosemite, Joshua Tree and Grand Canyon. So, he is an expert on National Parks!. See www.jameskaiser.com
Since I met him ten years ago, the idea of visiting these parks with him as my guide, became the number one on my bucket list. But unfortunately, over the years we haven’t been able to do it.
When I had the chance to take two months from my job, I knew it was the moment to check this trip off my list. James was in charge to plan the logistics, get the entry permits to the parks, book the lodging and pretty much, deal with the whole itinerary. I was in charge of buying my airplane ticket Bogota-San Francisco with miles. Perfect, don’t you think?
Yosemite National Park
The first park visited was Yosemite, 4 hours away from San Francisco and 6 hours away from Los Angeles. Our main goal in Yosemite was to get to the top Half Dome, one of the most emblematic places in the park and one of the most beautiful, dramatic and risky hikes in the US.
To be able to get to the top of Half Dome, James had to get the “Wilderness Permit” and “Half Dome Permit” with 7 months of anticipation through the lottery process that starts every year in March. There is a limit of 300 people per day on the trail to Half Dome.
From San Francisco we took the routes I-580 and CA-120E, and arrived to the park just before sunset.
We spent the first night in Half Dome Village, a campsite with tents already setup, shared bathrooms and restaurant service. There, we only needed to make sure to not leave anything in the car and store all our food and stuff in the bear-proof lockers. Like in the comic, Yogui the bear, the bears in Yosemite can smell food into the car, and will do everything to get it.
The next day, we started our journey very early, got our backpack ready and started the hike to Little Yosemite, where we planed to camp for the night, prior to trying the summit to Half Dome.
After 8 hours of hiking, 8.4 miles (13.57 Km), and have passed through the majestic Vernan and Neavada waterfalls, we got finally to Little Yosemite.
Little Yosemite – Base camp to the top of Half Dome
Little Yosemite is located half way Yosemite Valley and Half Dome, at 6151 feet (1875 mts) over sea level. The campsite features compostable restrooms and metal bear-proof lockers. There are not showers nor water. You can take water form the Merced River, that is nearby the campsite, but you need to treat or filter the water before using it.
Once, we got there, we looked for a private camping spot close enough to the restrooms. There, we set our tent and cooked dinner before it got too dark. The menu consisted of wild mushroom couscous, smoked salmon, and a hot cup of tea, because the cold weather was killing us.
The night at Little Yosemite was very cold (we went at the beginning of October), and although we have packed winter sleeping bags, the weather was still cold and it was difficult to fall asleep (This was my first time camping in the wilderness). The next day, we started the hike at 6:00 am, with everything except the tents in our backpacks, and covered from top to bottom to fight the cold. Our goal for the day was to get to the top of Half-Dome and to descend to Yosemite Village at the base of the park in the same day.
The hike to Half Dome was wonderful, with every step, the temperature was rising, and the views even better. After the first hour of hike, we stopped to take off some of the layers we had over us and also to apply sun protection.
On the Way Up to Half Dome
After 3 hours more, we got to the base of Half Dome (Sub Dome), and I had for the first time in front of me, that giant granite rock overlooking Yosemite Valley at 4000 feet. Just 1% of the park visitors attempt to get to the top of it. Right there, the anxiety and the fear surrounded me, and I started crying and thinking I wouldn’t make it.
I told James, I thoght I couldn’t make it, and I seated for a while to meditate while he was getting ready his photography equipment. He wanted to take 360 video on the way to the top. When he finished with his equipment, he took out a rope and a carabiner from his backpack to tie me to the metallic cables. He asked me to relax, and told me that everything will be fine. He also assured that the views up there were incredible and worth the hassle.
After wards, I couldn’t do anything else more than trusting him. I tied the rope to my waist, and started my way up.
The following minutes were the most challenging, frightening, but also surprising and happiest, that I could have ever imagined.
On our way up, there were moments where I wanted to quit. My arms were tired and whenever I looked down, the fear took over me. James, patiently urged me to go up and reminded me of the views up there. He said that the views will compensate my effort.
After 30 minutes on the way up, we finally got to the top! Andrea Rincon, me, was at the top of Half Dome!
Once at the top, James showed me the gorgeous views that I’ve seen just in pictures, and yes, there were amazing and better than I expected. After a while he asked me if I wanted a picture at Taft Point, the famous rock overlooking Yosemite Valley, and I said of course. I knew, that was the spot to get a great pic for my social networks, haha.
After setting up the tripod and the camera to take automatic photos, both James and I went there. I went ahead to look for the best spot, and when I looked back, James got on one knee, took a ring out of his pocket and proposed!
I couldn’t believe it! What a extraordinary way to propose! An original proposal, full of adrenaline, adventure, great views and aligned to our style. That was my reward to overcome my fears and trust on him.
Then, after the surprise, we took a couple of pictures for posterity, and started our descend to Yosemite Valley, where James had another surprise for me.
What do you think about this proposal at the top of Half Dome? Would you like to receive an adventurous proposal like this one? What would be your ideal proposal?
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