Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mackinac Island

As a consequence of events described in my earlier post, I have started visiting exotic locations in the US notably Detroit MI. Places of tourism described by the locals in the mo-city have casino cities across the border and the scenic upper peninsula some 300 miles away from this metro at the top of the list.

I was stranded in Detroit this weekend and after consulting several friends I headed north to see the fall colors in the Upper Peninsula (thanks to Jeanney k.). Its still the beginning of autumn, but I was able to capture some of the splendour.

Fall Colors

I spent the weekend on an Island called Mackinac staying at a small bed & breakfast called the LaChance Inn. Lodging in this fine establishment includes a lavish 'continental breakfast' comprising 2 types of muffins and orange juice. I could alternatively have stayed at the Grand Hotel on the island but have paid an arm and a leg for a little more.

Highlights of the island were the lack of automobiles (and the use of horse-driven 'taxis'), the historic Fort Mackinac and commercial tourism at its finest.

The Arch Rock below was amongst the natural sites, there was also a beautiful cemetry but I guess most would consider more morbid than scenic, so pictures not included.

Arch Rock

Monday, September 05, 2005

Scaling Mt. Fear

I camped at Yosemite this long weekend along with uber-hikers Ritesh and Giri. I will remember this trip for two reasons...camping isnt for the soft city types thats unless you can go without a hot water bath for 3 days and you fancy smoke from campfires billowing into your face and eyes...leaving you with a slight roasted-oak odour, a running nose and eyes half shut.

'Well Done' - Ritesh tending the fire...Me at a safe distance

I will remember this trip because of my last trip to Yosemite where I attempted to scale the Half Dome. It took me almost 4 hours to get to the base of the Half Dome and when I got there...I realized I had the fear of heights. It only made matters worse when I tried to climb the last phase on the ropes only to look down only to see the depths of the valley. I chickened out, threw in the towel and made my 4 hour trek back to the curry village.

I have been looking for opportunities to redeem myself ever since...I took numerous 'giant dipper' rides at the Santa Cruz boardwalk to acclimatize myself to rapidly hurling down large heights :)

I finally got redemption...This weekend we did a 15 mile hike near the Tanaya lake in Yosemite up to a point called the Cloudrest point. The last phase to the top was deja vu time...I sensed my fear on the narrow ridge to the peak with the depths of the valley visible on both sides. I trudged on remembering that defeat was a more horrible feeling than fear itself. I was very pale despite being sunburnt but I continued the ascent.

...And when I got up there I was beheld by an amazing sight...the Half Dome was visible right before us. The peak we climbed was at a higher elevation than the Half Dome too.

Half 'Done' - With Ritesh and Giri and the Half Dome in the background

I had finally conquered the Half Dome...well almost!