July 13, 2017
Tomorrow, July 14, 2017, is the sixth anniversary of the beginning of my final trip up Half Dome.
Today, July 13th, 2017 is the sixth anniversary of the day before my final trip up Half Dome. It was more comfortable. In fact, here’s a picture of six years ago today:
Picking up where we left off…
…Then we all took off back to camp. After a few miles, I, as is typical for me, fell a bit behind. Fortunately Shawn stayed with me. I say fortunately because I would still be up there somewhere if he hadn’t.
Shawn and I were moving along reasonably well for an hour or so before we started the real down-hill part of the slog. It was getting hot and I was going through a lot of water – or rather, a lot of water was going through me. From inside my body, out through my skin, through my clothes and back out into nature. Some serious perspiration going on there. The more I sweat, the more I drank and the more I drank, the more I sweat. It became a vicious cycle of drink and sweat, drink and sweat, drink and sweat. I was sweating so much that I didn’t think I would have to urinate for a month. (As it turned out, that was about a week short of the actual time. Not a bad guess on my part, don’t you think?)
- It’s time to interrupt my story and provide a conversion table, of sorts. In this case, we will be utilizing actual scientific and mathematical calculations to convert ‘Whiles’ to ‘Miles’. For example if I was to say, “I had made sure to cut my toenails before the trip in hopes of them not ramming into the forward facing end of my boots, and that seemed to help…for a ‘while‘”, you would have no idea how far I had progressed during that ‘while‘.
- Additionally, even if I made it clear that I had progressed ‘x’ number of miles during that ‘while’, you would have no idea how much actual time had passed while accomplishing that feat (or ‘feet’, as you will see later), so it becomes necessary to provide a second table – that table being a conversion of ‘Miles’ to ‘Hours’.
Before we begin, it is necessary that I provide accurate data regarding the distance, altitude gain, total altitude and the typical time required for the completion of the trip. Now, I realize that this information is readily available through an internet search, and I know that such sources are “touted” as always being “accurate”, but I have decided that the most reliable source for this information is actually the front of the shirt that I got after my first trip up the rock in 2005 (one of the ones that didn’t nearly kill me the most.).
Don’t get me wrong – I trust some of the information found on the internet. I really do. But I have known this shirt for twelve years and it has never once failed to provide me with good data. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the World Wide Web…
I have complete faith in my shirt.
As you can see, the total miles in the round trip is 17 miles from the trail head. To this could be added the distance to and from the camp site – figure about 2 miles. This would give us a total of about 19 miles, give or take a few centimeters if we were going to use those figures. But we’re not, so 17 miles it is.
Now, on with the calculations:
Total distance: 17 miles / Total time: 20 hours = .85 MPH average
1 ‘While’ converts to 2 hours or 1.7 miles, based on the average speed of the legs attached to the lower half of my body.
*However: The rate of speed achieved during the uphill portion of the hike was substantially less than the rate of speed achieved during the return trip.
*This is completely counter-intuitive, I know. Things normally go faster downhill than they go uphill. But I am not a normal thing…
It took approximately 8 hours going up. We were on top for about 45 minutes, so subtract that from the total time. That leaves about 11 hours and 15 minutes for me to get back down.
Return distance: 8.5 miles/ Return trip: 11.25 hours = .75555555555555 MPH average
1 ‘While’ converts to 2 hours or 1.51111111111111 miles, based on the average speed of my descent.
Back to the story…
In the first couple of hours, my legs started to cramp up a bit – not charley-horse bad, but enough to slow me down a some. But I was still limber enough to keep moving somewhat steadily.
And this is where I really started missing my “downhill boots”…
I had made sure to cut my toenails before the trip in hopes of them not ramming into the forward facing end of the boots on the way down, and that seemed to help…for a while. But a ‘while’ is not enough to get me back down to the flat land on the valley floor. In fact, in this case, a ‘while’ converted into ‘miles’ becomes about 1.51111111111111 miles over a period of 2 hours – not that far when you consider we needed to go 8.5 miles.
But I digress (again).
Now, where was I? Oh yes – my toes. There is not a lot that is more irritating than to take a step and have the toes on that foot slam into the front of the boot you are wearing. It’s OK on a temporary basis, I guess, but after a while it really starts to hurt.
Imagine the nail of your big toe being slowly lifted and separated from the flesh with every step you take. Then imagine the same thing on the other foot with every other step you take. That’s about what it feels like.
And that’s what was happening with my feet with each step. And that was after only 1.51111111111111 miles of the downhill return out of the way.
Oh! Look at the time! I have to get to bed. Grand Hike Finally on the 15th…