Little did I know then that I would be making a pilgrimage in September to, of all places, Yosemite...to take part in a "Facelift"...or that climbing would soon surreptitously take over my subconscious. ('Tis a wicked web you SuperTacoans weave!)
So six long months later, more amazing people and discoveries than I could ever have imagined, packing list ready months in advance...my hiking boots mysteriously disappeared (and the muppet was running around with my head lamp...ohhhhhh, no!)...but I had a map and I couldn't miss!
Never mind that I realized driving en route to Merced that all of the signs kept saying "East"...well, I decided to just keep following the GPS anyway. It slowly dawned on me that I had just explained to my hubby before leaving that I would be fine -- Yosemite was dead WEST of SFO -- straight shot -- no problem.
But back to the action, a daring rescue (two missed flights put me in CA in the wee hours EST) and warm welcome by Mouse from Merced...
And too many laughs to count...
We hit the road to Yosemite, caught a few winks in the car, said "hello" to Werner and Merry, and...
MFM and the Mad Bolter
A stop by the bridge to meet Tom Evans aka ElCapPics and a wonderful surprise bumping into the Mad Bolter, himself! I was also bestowed with the honor of my very first view through Tom's telescope to see El Cap...just in time to catch Pass the Pitons Pete happily taking his morning "bath" up on the wall. :D
We drove around and around in circles (how far away could the camp site actually be???), and finally managed to stumble out of the car in the right place.
Hello Yellow Pines! A very happy place to be. Wandered around a bit looking for a spot to pitch the tent, and happened upon a sign reserving a spot for the mysterious Guido. Very cool. Nita greeted me with a beautiful "Welcome to Yellow Pines" sign, which I happily placed at my tent for the duration. (Pic to follow.) Thank you for such a warm welcome, Nita!
I'm a confirmed relativist and just a little fuzzy as to timelines in general (time is a funny concept, isn't it?), but the lack of sleep and change in time zones certainly haven't helped...so please forgive any oversights or turned-around recollections. At some point after setting up camp, MFM and I headed over to the Facelift Registration and got decked out in appropriate gear. Finally got to meet and thank Chicken Skinner, who was the first person I called and spoke with after receiving the email above.
We headed back through camp and out into a marshy area that MFM assured me was safe to walk through. Surprisingly, there was a lot of trash to be found in what appeared to be a not-very-oft-traveled area. The river was next, which made for a nice break for our feet in the heat of the day as we made our way across to collect trash along the trail/road on the other side.
Garbage turned in at the end of the day, it was time to head back to camp. And to finally meet BooDawg! And his beautiful Lisa. BooDawg knew BOTH my birth mom and my birth dad, and has been a constant source of connection, encouragement, guidance and and and... It is because of his encouragement that I even ever originally posted the story of finding my birth parents -- I would have otherwise been far too shy.
As I thought about writing this TR, I wondered to myself over and over why anyone would want to hear about what I was doing wandering about in Yosemite (so far outside of my comfort zone that I was desperately pretending to be invisible). But a voice from somewhere hammered home, again, that it really isn't about me, so I'd better shake right off the fear of exposure. And that there are stories and histories and lives far beyond mine already intricately woven together, and that I am just a small thread so (incredibly) fortunate to have been taken up into the weft.
I largely put off writing because I wanted to give my thoughts and feelings a chance to percolate. Eventually, I thought, the words will come. The photo above expresses how it felt to finally meet and spend time with BooDawg far better than I will ever be able to express in words. For some things, words simply don't suffice.
BooDawg explained that he had a plan for the next couple of days. It sounded great! I think I stumbled to my tent, severely sleep-deprived not too long thereafter. Slept like a bear in winter, and awoke with an unexpectedly very cold nose. ") Best to get moving on chilly mornings, and I think about half-way through my breakfast I realized that a couple of folks had just headed off through the trees for morning yoga. No way I wanted to miss this, so off I went and there were Fletcher and the instructor...and a lot of tall, wonderfully aromatic pines. (I thought to myself more than once that this was the kind of thing people filmed for other people to enjoy at home -- heaven.) I was busy trying not to make too much of a fool of myself not having done yoga in eons, and the instructor began to talk about grounding yourself, but also reaching for that other element called "lila", which was about play and dance and expression...too profound of an impact for words. Really enjoyed this morning practice, and especially meeting and talking with Fletcher.
I know it's a car windshield, but it's the closest picture I have to what it was like to do yoga among the trees...
BooDawg had a plan. Nice hike, great views, 10 miles or so all downhill and trash pick-up along the way...let's do it! (BooDawg posted much better photos in the Facelift 2012 thread.)
BooDawg and LilaBiene, with one of BooDawg's FAs setting the scene
At some point it occurred to me as we were trudging up yet another incline, that I had read somewhere about another rather well-known climber having a similar penchant for drumming up co-conspirators... :D However, had we not had such an excellent adventure with the finest company, I never would have stumbled upon El Cap by moonlight; a sight which nearly took my breath away.
I was never so glad to be in possession of a piece of paper in my life.
Worth more than gold!
Another day of collecting litter, this time more or less micro trash. Who knew how many fruit stickers, cigarette butts and drink box straw wrappers get tossed along trails?
At the raffle later that day, I was blown away by the generosity of the Mad Bolter and the Mastadon. (Little do either of them know how honored I felt to simply be in their presence.) Once again, words simply don't suffice.
At the evening presentations (awesome, awe-inspiring and hilarious), it was truly my pleasure to have a seat next to Silver and the opportunity to learn (as much as his incredible modesty would permit). I hope that next year our respective, precocious little muppets will have the chance to tumble and scramble about together.
The following morning, BooDawg had another plan. This time Ed Hartouni and Mighty Hiker had been roped into taking me climbing (my second time on actual rock, ever). Brave, eh?! We trudged along the trail to the base of El Cap in glaring heat, and the next thing I knew...
HHHHOOOOOO! Gulp. ???!!!!!!!
Thankfully, the actual climbing involved was fairly straightforward, though I did have my moment spread-eagling the rock and squeaking up to Ed to pull-the-rope-tightly-please-because-I-just-did-something-wildly-impractical-physics-wise. ") Bless the two of you for having the patience to watch paint dry as I fumbled around trying to extricate myself from absurdity and find the rather straightforward movement past the bump in the rock (hummmmm...the first hint being the placement of the protection?). And a special thank you to the Townsends for taking me for my first climb just weeks earlier in Maine -- without which, I never would have figured out what I was supposed to be doing.
Photo courtesy of Ed Hartouni
Ed at the top of the Footstool
Now tell me Mighty Hiker doesn't love that rope!!!
Photo courtesy of Ed Hartouni
The Footstool was the chosen climb; a first ascent of my birth dad's with friends in 1959, and Ed's first climb in the Valley. Running my fingers along the various holds on my way up and distinguishing those with a palpable patina of those hands that have gone before from those that probably hadn't ever seen any human interaction (did I seriously just throw dirt into my own eyes?!) was definitely not lost on me. My heart skips a beat in recollection.
It was incredible being able to meet another friend of my birth mom's from the UCLA Bruin Mountaineers, Catherine, and talk with her about some of her memories. I also had the pleasure of meeting another friend of Catherine, BooDawg and my birth mom, also from the Bruin Mountaineers, Ira. I am terribly disappointed I did not take more pictures...but being able to be completely "in the moment" is something I'll treasure for the rest of my life.
Catharine and Ed
Later that night at Meatfest, an incredible memory was created unbeknownst to me...thank you so much to MFM and to everyone who signed the poster, and especially for the Topo on the reverse. It's a dilemma trying to decide which side to frame!
The following morning, I eagerly anticipated learning to aid climb with the Mad Bolter, whose wit and wisdom and ingenuity run truly, incredibly deep. To sum up what he had to say about the adventure, I believe he called me a "disaster"! Thank God he has a sense of humor. In my own defense, I will say that I was very honest in explaining up front that I had only been climbing two times, and that the second time was only the day before. The Mad Bolter didn't believe me. Needless to say, I have a list of equipment to buy, a lot of knots to practice and some serious experience to get under my belt before next year...that is, IF he'll ever take me under his wing again. ;D
LostInShanghai met us as I was extricating myself from the equipment and rope, and it was truly an honor to meet him. I was overwhelmed that he made the trip to Yosemite just to see me and to pass along a couple of very special items given to him by my birth dad, to my daughter and me. Another great surprise was the gift of the rope seen below, given by my birth dad to the Mad Bolter. How I wished we could have spent the rest of the afternoon just talking together...
LostInShanghai, the Mad Bolter and Ben
The days seem to have just flown right by me...I didn't want to leave.
Headed SFO way
Treasures and very, very happy memories surround my sleep at home
But back home to the best hugs in the world from my muppet!
And waiting at my door, a most amazing gift and welcome home from Frank Hoover.
Thank you, Everyone, for creating a "once in a lifetime", unforgettable experience for me, and countless stories I will be able to share with the muppet as she grows up and learns to climb, from my ever grateful heart.
P.S. I'm fixing the pictures!
P.P.S. Thank you, Werner, for the squeeze on the shoulder.
A most excellent TR, documenting a most engaging and unique Life AND Facelift experience. Thank you so much for your kind words here. But words cannot express what an honor it was for all of us whose lives you've touched to share our lives and those of your birth parents (to the extent we can) directly with you. We all know that this is just the first installment of more TRs that will follow, but this FIRST ONE will always have a special place in all of our lives.
On your next visit west, I'll see if I can arrange to have more of your birth-mother's friends present since you've now made such great connections to the community to which Bill DOLT belonged.
WOW, such an awesome story. I think you should be considering writing a book. Thank you so much for sharing and becoming part of our family, actually you always have been part of the greater climbing community just that none of us were aware of it!
edit: literally following in your fathers footsteps on The Footstool...how cool was that, eh?
Thanks so much for posting this, Lila. It is just heartwarming how the Yosemite climbing community has "adopted" you. In spite of the outlandish, irreverent and downright preposterous posts you often get in the Taco, there are some wonderful human beings out there.
Thanks Audrey for a great trip report and a good discussion at Meatfest about how children feel about their adoptive parents. You soothed some of my anxieties about adoption. Thanks for joining this band of dirtbag climbers. Hope to see you next year!!
Good job on meeting Anders. We aren't all like him. :-)
Next year, maybe you can meet Tami at the FaceLift. We thought that for first impressions (Jane Austen) you really ought only meet the relatively normal, sane members of our community. Using those adjectives flexibly, mind. Next year, who knows?
And thank you to opening your heart to us. It was really great camping with you at Yeller Pines. Hope you can make it back next year with your daughter. I know nita would love to spoil her for a few days.
Thank again for sharing your journey with everyone Audrey. It continues to be amazing!
When I first read this report, something about your "muppet" photo and the photo of your dad from Frank Hoover moved me. Maybe something about the transcendence of generations got encapsulated there. And you are the bridge between two of them. Much magic here.
lila, ( Sanskrit: “play,” “sport,” “spontaneity,” or “drama”) in Hinduism, a term that has several different meanings, most focusing in one way or another on the effortless or playful relation between the Absolute, or brahman, and the contingent world. For the monistic philosophical tradition of Vedanta, lila refers to the way that brahman is expressed in every aspect of the empirical world. Some philosophers argue that lila springs from the abundance of divine bliss, which provides a motive for creation.
Or as our teacher explained, lila is walking into Camp 4 looking/hoping for the perfect partner and she just materializes on the spot! Very cool in light of your chosen handle here!
LilaBiene, it's odd that I was lookin' for a video with a rock 'n roll 'n rockin' rock climbin' theme 'n this'n presented itself in a youtuberiferous flash of such erratic velocity that it made me think of Arlo 'n the pickle 'n how we're all goooo'na die but all we want to do is take that next step. Oh, 'n it made me think of your recent exploit on the east coast cliffs 'n so here, by Gollum. That's a Tuolumne climb, no doubt.
I wonder if you have seen Buckaroo's photos of you and the Muppet and I at the OCF. Odd things come in threes.
Hey Silver! Thanks so much for the pictures -- I still feel the awe.
Just back from 10 days in CA around the Oakdale Climbers Festival, truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even managed to make it down to L.A. to visit Bill's resting place. While I doubt the "wall" he's hanging out on was the type he had in mind, at least he's only a pitching wedge away from Joey Ramone's grave.
I say that lightly, but the truth is I think it'll be a while before I can get through a day without crying. It was incredibly heavy seeing so many people still so affected by the loss of their good friend...their aching sadness is palpable.
If nothing else, I hope that going forward I will be able to honor him and make him proud.
Wow, what a story! Obviously I left the Facelift too early, ( and missed oakdale entirely) but other destinies were calling...
What a long (short?) strange, wonderful, Trip! Do happy for you. Thanks for telling us about it!
Missed ya sunday, but my stepmom came down to NYC from Amherst and we had brunch.
While waiting for a table at a crowded restaurant a couple next to us with 2 girls about muppet age names were called. I said to them "Lucky you!"
The mother looked at me flustered and said, "Lucky us? Right! We've been 12 days without power. Lucky us!"
edit: on the sea wall at malibu, "DORA LIVES" (famous surfer, miki 'da cat' dora/who passed away in '02) ... he lives on in us surfer's campfire gatherings, stories, pics & vids etc.,! but first & foremost, he lives on in our hearts!
...if anyone in the New England area has some free time to climb with a neophyte, I just got laid off and my last day of work is this Friday. I'm going to need some help staying out of trouble...
There are a few of us Easterners around this site, including some near to Boston. Of course, I can't speak for them, but if you want to come down to the Gunks for some climbing, I have many free days (meaning days that could be freed up) during the summer, and I'm reachable via ST pm.